Justification Explained

Fruits, Works and Grace

Matthew 13:24-30   Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”

Matthew 13:36-43 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, “Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.” He answered and said unto them, “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

The Wheat and the Tares

The parable of the wheat and the tares contains subtle messages not immediately obvious to those who don't know what tares are, of which I was one. Apparently tares are a variety of wheat which does not produce usable grain, i.e. it has no fruit. Unfortunately it is very difficult to tell the good wheat and the tares apart. At harvest time the difference is obvious. The wheat with no fruit is the tares. It is torn out by the roots and burned so that it does not sprout again next year. The wheat is harvested in the normal manner. The obvious message is that the wheat and the tares are left to sit side by side in the same pews until the time of the final judgement. The less obvious message is that the fruit will tell.

At the time of the final harvest, God will inspect the pew sitters one by one. Those who have produced nothing, whose heart has steadfastly remained a stopped up well, whose only accomplishments are those achieved because they were driven to it, God will pluck them out and caste them into the outer darkness where there is wailing and the gnashing of teeth, even as they cry out “Lord did we not professey, did we not cast out demons, did we not speak your name?” There is a place where fear should be alive and well, the fear of the Lord.

James 4:6-10   God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Ye Double Minded Be Afflicted

Luke 13:6-9   “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.’

Matthew 21:19   And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever.’ And presently the fig tree withered away.

2 Corinthians 5:9   Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

Why Cumbereth It

Works matter. We should all know that we are not justified by works, however: “all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works’ (Revelations 2:23). Does this seem like a contradiction? Perhaps, but consider a man who exclaims that his life has been utterly transformed, but observation over several weeks or months reveals in practice that nothing about him has changed except perhaps he boasts more about his church, or he is a bit more harsh in his judgements. The world will judge his fruit and say the man has not changed at all, that his claims are a sham. I am afraid, so will God.

James argues this point forcibly: “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone’ (James 2:14-17). He goes on to argue that Abraham's faith was born out in his willingly placing his son upon the alter. “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God’ (James 2:22-23). Faith without works is belief without committment. James points out, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?’ (James 2:19-20).

There are many in the church today who believe in God and honor Jesus Christ, but they have not committed themselves to Jesus in any tangible way. Are they really any different than Legion who inhabited the Gadarene demoniac. “When he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?’ (Mark 5:1-12; also Luke 8:26-32). Jesus, when he cursed the fig tree (Matthew 21:19) was showing us something of the judgement that we might tremble, turn and repent. Jesus explains this in a parable “if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down’ (Luke 13:6-9).

Matthew 7:19-20   Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

John 15:2   Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Revelations 20:12   the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Every Branch That Bears Fruit

He purges the fruitful bough, the unfruitful bough is bound for the fire.

Jesus follows up His statement above: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity’ (Matthew 7:21-23).

Romans 11:17-21   And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee.

Hebrews 6:4-6   For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Hebrews 10:26-31   For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses´ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Matthew 13:41-42   The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Boast Not Against the Branches

Traditional theology teaches: once saved, always saved. This passage seems to cast serious doubt upon that notion.

Revelation 20:13   and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

Judged by Fruit

Justified by Faith

not by works lest we boast

John 15:4   As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself...

Doing Everything Right, But Still Wrong

*All Bible quotes are from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

Wm W Wells: Thursday, December 12, 2002

Copyright © 2002 Wm W Wells. May be copied freely without alteration.