And seeing a fig tree by the wayside he [Jesus] went to it, and found nothing on it but leaves only. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. (Matt 21:19, RSV)
To provide for them that… that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isa 61:3, KJ2000)
So many Christians are worried about doing “good works,” “bearing good fruit” and “saving people.” To bring forth good fruit to God we must first be the planting of the Lord that He might be glorified. We must be born of the Spirit of God or we will never be able to bear spiritual fruit. Jesus said, “Every plant my Father has not planted will be rooted up.” We cannot come to Christ unless the Father draws us. All we can do is believe and even saving faith is a gift from God. So, once again, just as God said, “Let there be light,” nothing happens without it coming out from Him!
When we find that we are His planting and have saving faith and have His Spirit in us, what is next? What works must we do to please God? Here is where many of us go wrong. All our lives up until salvation we “Dressed ourselves, stretched forth our hands and went where we want to go,” but in the kingdom of God that old Adam in us is totally useless to Him. Like Jesus said, “The flesh profits nothing.” But how many, for instance, read in their Bible what is called, “The Great Commission,” and then set out to get people to say a “sinner’s prayer” and get them to go to their “church” as if that is the will of God in the life of every believer–to go out and save people.
One time my wife’s mother told a story about when she was working in her husband’s lock shop that was located on the “skid row” part of a town in western Washington. It seems that this old drunk named Charlie knew she was a Christian and he came into their shop one day and boasted, “I am a born again believer! Why I even got saved by Billy Graham.” To this she said, “That is the problem, Charlie. You were saved by Billy Graham instead of by Jesus Christ.” We can go out and get people to repeat a prayer for salvation, but if the Father has not moved on them to repent and come to Christ, all we end up with is a bunch of still births that require constant maintenance to “keep them saved.”
Recently a brother wrote to me saying, “I know in the bible there is a passage that says ‘I never knew you’. I know I have friends who only take the part of that passage that talks about sinning and forget about the “I never knew you” part…”
The passage he referred to reads as follows. Jesus said:
“Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” (Matt 7:19-23, KJ2000 – emphasis added)
Where does this put our oft used evangelizing question, “Do you know the Lord?” It seems that salvation hinges on Christ knowing us! Obviously, our all knowing God knows every hair on the head of every person ever born, so this word “knew” in the above passage has to have a deeper meaning. In reality Jesus, longs to know you and for you to know Him in the most intimate way as His eternal bride.
The full meaning of the Greek word translated “knew” and “know” is missed by most Christians. They think that it is up to them to “know” Jesus, so they study their Bibles in a shallow way using only their intellects and miss the whole meaning of any of it. The Spirit of Christ has to be our teacher. All true life-changing knowledge comes through Him by revelation. Those two who walked and talked with our risen Lord along the road to Emmaus did not understand all that the prophets had spoken of regarding Christ, even though they knew their Bibles. Until Jesus opened their eyes it meant nothing! Once He did it took on life and their hearts burned within them. Jesus spoke to the Pharisees who knew the Bible saying, “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:38-39, RSV). It was Bible teachers and searchers that missed who Christ is and had Him crucified. Salvation requires an intimate life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Here is what the Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary says about this word translated “knew.”
G1097 γινώσκω ginosko (ǰiy-nō’-skō) v.
1. to know (in a concrete manner, and not merely from a personal perspective or experience).
2. (emphatically) to absolutely know, to know without exception (i.e. knowing, but not merely to know based on personal observation or perception, but also based on actual rational truth; not merely that which is based on or bound only by sight and experience; such knowing comes from Yahweh to completely grasp and have the comprehension of, as well as why and how, and to have the astuteness to apply it freely without error).
3. (by ancient Hebraic euphemism) to have intimate knowledge of (that is to say, to have carnal knowledge of; explicitly, to have had sexual intercourse with).
The same word, ginosko was used in this text which speaks of the sexual relationship that Joseph had with Mary, “Now, being roused from sleep, Joseph [did] as the messenger of the Lord bids him. And he accepted his wife, and he knew her not till she brought forth a Son, and he calls His name Jesus.” (Matt 1:24-25, CLV – emphasis added). Jesus desires such deep intimacy with us and the fruit of that intimacy is found in the works that we do. We become trees that bring forth good fruit. First the Father plants us and then He is the one who pollinates us by the Spirit so we can bring forth His fruit. Bad fruit and the works of iniquity mentioned in the above text come from those who try to do the spiritual works of God from their flesh without those works being born from Christ’s intimacy working in them.“Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works?” All our works are iniquity without His doing those works in and through us. We must be born of the Spirit and so must our works be.
The works (spiritual fruit) that we are to do are mentioned by Paul, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10, KJV – emphasis added). First, we are being re-worked as His workmanship, not the workmanship of Adam. What is born of the flesh is still flesh. We cannot fix ourselves! We are placed in Christ and He in us and this is where the life changing power of God takes place.
This is the place that the good works and heavenly fruit come from as well. Can we read the Bible, mimic what we read, or guess what His fruit will look like? No! All we can do is rest in Him. Couples who try too hard to have a baby often can’t have one. Fruit requires intimacy and rest. In the same way, the works that we are to do and the fruit of our oneness in Christ has been “ordained that we should walk in them.” It all has to come from Him. The Father plants us, the Spirit gives us life, and Jesus pollinates us. As Christ’s bride all we can do to please God is to lie back and let Him do the work in and through us. This is what real faith is about! “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.”