In my last post we looked at Paul’s illustration of the root and branches. We’re told that as Gentiles, we’ve been grafted into the holy root.
You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.
Sometimes we get the wrong perspective, as believers. We concentrate on the fact that they were broken off so that we would have a place in God’s kingdom.
The problem is that when I take that view, it makes me the center. In actuality, they were broken off because of their unbelief. It had nothing to do with whether or not I would be grafted in.
On the other hand, we as Gentile believers, remain by faith. So Paul tells us not to have a lofty mind. We’re no better, just because we trusted God. Instead, there should be some holy fear mixed in.
This is how Jesus put it.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
The simple fact is that we remain in Christ – the holy Root – by faith. Otherwise we wither and die, spiritually. That’s where this fear comes in. We need to understand that fear is not always a bad thing. The right kind of fear is essential to our Christian walk.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
Scripture is clear that by faith, Noah…feared. This fear came when he was warned about unseen things. Yet by his faith – fearing to miss out on God’s best for him and his family – he obtained righteousness.
In Romans we see the kingdom of God as a living olive tree. That testimony brings condemnation on the withering branches lying on the ground. It’s a sobering call to remain in Him. Please understand, we don’t fear Him, but we fear the possibility of losing out on this life-giving Root.
For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
The question is whether I trust Him or not. It’s not about doing or saying the right things. It’s understanding the character of the God we serve.
Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.
Throughout the pages of Scripture we see the twofold character of God. One part is His kindness. If you remember, this is one of the fruit of the Spirit. It speaks of the fact that God is good to the undeserving.
The other side of the coin is God’s sternness, or literally, sharp decisiveness. God has the ability to make the hard choices immediately.
Those without faith fell immediately. But, those who trusted in Christ were immediately shown kindness. That’s why there’s a warning for us to continue to remain in Him. This is especially true in these last days.
Question: What does it take to remain in Christ?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi