The Garden of God
Beauty For Ashes Part 5 - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 6 - THE GARDENER WAITS FOR THE FRUIT
In the lifelong process of seeking to walk with God there is of necessity a going back to first principles where we have let them slip away. God remembers our "first love" and He always seeks to bring us back to that. It is not a looking back for restoration of those precious experiences we knew in the past, to a delight in spiritual feelings and manifestations we used to have, or to some of those gracious workings. in the Church that we saw in former days. But it is a coming back to "first love" and a "going forward" with God, into new dimensions of His love and truth. This of necessity requires a changing of our desires. He wants to bring us to the place where we "delight ourselves in the Lord" ...and in nothing else.
Very shortly after the flowers of grace fade away from our trees, and the petals fall to the ground the Gardener comes to see if the fruit is forming. And strange to say, ...though we are wilting there on the ground and wondering what it is all about... He is not the least disturbed about it. He looks and He sees the beginning of fruit, and He rejoices. He takes delight in those who continue to submit to His strange dealings, even though they do not understand. There is nothing strange about it as far as He is concerned for He is working all things after the counsel of His own will. But they are strange to us. We thought all along that He was looking for a zealous young man or woman who would be willing to travel the world preaching the gospel to the nations, with power and signs and wonders. And we never realized that His real intention was to conform us "to the image of His Son". And then we remember how our Lord Jesus had come to the place where He was totally approved of the Father, before He had been sent forth into His great Messianic ministry. Let us consider this thoughtfully:
Before Jesus did any mighty works...
Before He went out preaching or prophesying or teaching the people...
Before He healed any that were sick or raised any of the dead...
Before He gathered His disciples about Him and taught them the Gospel of the Kingdom, and sent them forth to preach...
Before He had done any of these wonderful works,
There came a voice from Heaven saying: "This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased".
I always thought it was because He did all these things that God was so pleased with Him. But now I understand that all those wonderful works He performed were not the cause of the Father's approval but the result of it. And if we are persuaded this is truth, we will ask God to keep us hidden away under His mighty hand, rather than to send us forth in powerful ministry. We will pray, "Lord, make me to be a vessel approved unto God" rather than "Lord, use me... use me!" As a young man I remember praying earnestly:
"Lord do not send me forth in ministry until You know I am prepared... till You know I will not make shipwreck." And I remember thinking this might take another two or three years. Nevertheless I am thankful that He did not gratify my secret desire to do great things for Him, when He knew my heart was not prepared to withstand the pressures and temptations that come with an enduement of power that has not been refined with the fires of sanctifying grace.
True Fruit from the True Vine
We must know what God considers to be "good fruit". One of God's servants rejoices in some new thing they feel God is doing... and another runs from it. One says, "I know this is of God, because I see good fruit..." And another says, "I don't want it because I see a lot of bad fruit". And each of them will quote the scripture: "Ye shall know them by their fruits". So it is very evident that we must know what God considers to be "good fruit" growing on a "good tree", if we are to judge by "their fruits".
First then, we must understand that our Lord Jesus is the Good Tree, the True Vine, and that there is no such thing as "good fruit" except it comes out of vital union with Him. He tells us very clearly, "Without me ye can do nothing". He is not saying we can't do anything without His help. He is telling us clearly that "apart from Him", if we are not a branch in the vine, drawing our life from Him... we can do nothing. (See Jn. 15:1-16). We might be doing many wonderful things in the estimation of men, but if it does not spring out of our union with Him, God says it is nothing. Therefore only those who come to this abiding union with Him will know what He means by "good fruit". It takes a great working of God in our hearts to bring us to this. Jesus tells us, "I am the Truth". He is clearly telling us: "Observe Me, look at Me, consider My ways, hear My voice... and you will discover the Truth, for I am the Truth". He preaches to all men the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven; but only as we walk with Him do we begin to understand that He Himself is the very embodiment of what He taught. We hear His beautiful "Sermon on the Mount", and are greatly fascinated with the simplicity of it all. Then suddenly we begin to realize He is just speaking out from His heart, ...out from what He is Himself.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit," He said. Was He laying a heavy burden on us... telling us to do the impossible? No, He is seeking to change our desires and our goals. He was "poor in spirit".., and if we would be like Him, He is showing us the way. Here was One who had nothing in Himself... no agendas, no plans, no programs of His own to fulfill. He was "poor in spirit". He was always totally dependent upon the Father for His life and ministry in the earth. As He heard from the Father, so would He speak. As He observed the ways of the Father, so would He walk in those ways. As He knew the desire of the Father, so would He move under the anointing that accomplished the desires of the Father.
"Blessed are they that mourn". We see Him as one that "mourned". Not for Himself, but for the grief of His people. True "joy" is not quenched when God's people mourn for the grief of Zion. It is this that nurtures the true joy of the Lord. For God gives "the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness". Jesus was a "Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isa. 53:3). But it was all because of "the joy" that was set before him that He "endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2). His disciples saw Him mourning over the apostasy of His people, and weeping over the City of Jerusalem, as He foretold their inevitable doom. (Lk. 19:41-44)
"Blessed are the meek". Jesus preached this to others, because He knew how "blessed" He was in being "meek and lowly in heart". He was not weak. He was strong in virtue and character, but meek and lowly in heart. Why? Because He was under the total discipline of the heavenly Father, and His only desire was "to do the will of Him that sent Me". We see Him fulfilling the prophesy that spoke of the King coming in meekness, "Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass" (Matt. 21:5). His disciples thought to themselves, "Finally it is happening... He is about to be revealed as Israel's Messiah!" And He was indeed, But at that moment He was riding into Jerusalem, meek and lowly. The disciples rejoiced with the crowds, for they all thought He was on His way to take Herod's throne when in fact He was on His way to the Cross. For this was to be the first phase of His coronation as King. To sit on Herod's throne, or on Caesar's throne, was far from His heart. He rode through the gates of Jerusalem on a donkey, knowing that shortly He would die "outside the camp" on a Cross... and rise again to sit on the highest throne in all the Universe, "far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come" (Eph. 1:21)
We see a Man that "loved righteousness and hated iniquity". He hated iniquity with all that was within Him, yet how many knew His weeping heart? For even as He was lashing out against iniquity, He was grieving over the people who did not know the day of their visitation. Even His enemies knew this strange combination of His Love for God, and His hatred for iniquity. And so they devised an evil plot to catch Him in His words and actions. They brought to Him an adulterous woman, "taken in the very act". His religious enemies knew He showed a lot of love and mercy. And they knew He stood for righteousness. Now they would test Him in such a subtle way that every one knew He would be caught in the trap they had devised against Him. How would Jesus avoid this trap? It seemed He would have to go one way or the other: either forgive the woman and despise Moses' Law; or accuse her, and make Him to be merciless like themselves, But Jesus stooped and wrote something on the ground. Twice He did this. I am reminded of a famous sermon by an old friend who has gone on. The sermon was called "Jesus stooped twice". He mentioned how God "stooped" down at Sinai to write His holy law on tables of stone, with a finger of fire... a law that brought judgment on the whole nation, and on all those who have tried to keep the law ever since that day. Then in the fulness of time He "stooped" again, this time in great suffering and humiliation... to cancel out the sins of His people by becoming a curse for them, and taking their sin upon Himself... "that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). One word of wisdom from Him who is the very wisdom of God, was enough to cause the woman's accusers to squeeze their way out of the trap they had set for the Master, and was now springing shut on themselves. "He that is without sin among you," He said, "let him first cast a stone at her" (Jn. 8:7) ...And silently her accusers crept away, convicted in their own conscience.
O the infinite heights and depths of our Redemption, that God Most High and Holy, who hates sin with every attribute of His Being... yet in the fulness of time "stooped" to our level of weakness, and died on the Cross as our Sin Offering, that we might rise with Him to walk in "newness of life": justified and cleansed through precious blood, and wrapped in His own garments of grace and truth and righteousness.
By Their Fruits ye Shall Know Them
"Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them..." But we had better learn more about the Good Tree and the Good Fruit as we see it in Jesus, or we will never know the good fruit from the bad... We will never know the difference between the Manna and the quail... We will never know what is Spirit, and what is flesh We will never know what is Truth and what is error We will never know what is "figs and grapes", and what is "thorns and thistles".
"Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matt. 7:16). Certainly this is clear enough. But only as His disciples walked close with Him would they come to know the difference between the good fruit and the bad. Their concepts had to be drastically changed, and the Lord was very patient with them, as He is with us.
Learning from Him
They must learn from Him. Then they would understand it was "bad fruit" when they wanted to call fire down from Heaven upon those wicked Samaritans who rejected Jesus. He told them they were motivated by a wrong spirit, to suggest things like that (Lk. 9:55).
They must know it was a sign of "bad fruit" when they sent the mothers and their children away, while they were so busy "managing" the crusade of this great prophet of God. (Mk. 10:14-16).
They must learn that it would be "bad fruit" if He were to set up a carnal Kingdom for Israel there in Jerusalem, and drive out the Romans who oppressed them and all the while sin was reigning in their own hearts.
They were slow to comprehend that the Son, who was fully approved of the Father, must confront the people with the Truth and the Light of the gospel... and then die on a Cross, as their true Passover Lamb. And that out from this act of obedience, much good fruit would come forth.
They must learn that they were not called of God to win the popular support of the people, but to do the will of the Father. Our Lord knew how to handle the acclaim of a carnally-minded people. When they came "by force" to make Him their King, He simply walked away from it all. He left them to the delusion of their own hearts and "went into a mountain himself alone" (Jn. 6:15). He knew God's agenda for Him, and it was to die on a Cross... not to exercise lordship over a wicked generation.
Jesus knew what "good fruit" was, because He did only those things that pleased the Father. He knew His death on the Cross would be a victory of such magnitude that He would crush the Serpent's head, and redeem the sons of Adam's race from the power and dominion of the Evil One. He knew that "the corn of wheat" would not bring forth any good fruit until it would "fall into the ground and die". We too must learn the secret of the Cross, if we are going to bring forth "good fruit".
Good Fruit .. a Reproduction of His Life
It is harvest time and He comes into His Garden to see if His bountiful blessings upon us have brought forth something akin to Himself, something that would delight His own heart. Something other than He gave. He does not want to get back simply what He gave. He is not going to dig up the seed to see if it is still alive. He wants something like Himself that comes out of that Seed. We can scarcely comprehend this. How can we return anything to Him, except what He gave? Only when we begin to comprehend that the gifts and blessings He gives us are intended to nurture us with grace and obedience, so that good fruit will issue forth from the heart. Only as there is a reproduction of His own character and nature in us, in response to the many blessings He has poured into our lives. He does not come looking to see how blessed we are, how happy we are, how well His gifts are functioning in our lives, ...or how much joy we are feeling in the rain He is sending from Heaven. Rather He comes to see if the rain and the sunshine and His watchcare over us has reproduced more of His Son in our lives, more of the beauty of Jesus. He goes from tree to tree looking for one thing only. He goes from vine to vine... and if He finds "leaves only", His heart is saddened. He is not looking to see if the ground is moist. He is not there to admire the flowers, or to see if the leaves are still green. He is looking for fruit. "Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits" (Song. 4:16). He looks for something that is akin to His own nature and character. Because it is only that which comes forth in His own image that can give Him rest, delight, and joy.
Good Fruit ... Not in Wonderful Works
We are all familiar with the warning of Jesus that many in the day of judgment will say, "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" (Matt. 7:22). Some say these people were professing to have done these works, but were lying. But this has nothing to do with it. Notice the context in which Jesus spoke these words. "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt. 7:19). "You will know them by their fruits" is only meaningful if you know what God considers to be "fruit". It is not in the manifestation of gifts which God gives freely to all, but it is that which comes forth in the lives of those who "do the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). It's not in the signs and wonders. It's not in the miracles. It is not in the casting out of devils, The Lord makes it clear to them, and to us, that His righteous judgments will not be based on the performance of miraculous works, but will be based entirely on whether it is "good fruit" from a "good tree".
These are very solemn observations we are making. God said to His people of old, "Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself" (Hos. 10:1). The Gardener looks down from Heaven and sees the fruits of human achievement, where men are glorifying themselves rather than the Lord. Israel went his own way, doing his own thing, bringing forth fruit for his own glory. And "according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the (idolatrous) altars" (Hos. 10:1). We must walk close to the Lord and know His heart, or we are not going to know the difference between the good fruit and the corrupt fruit. I fear many of God's people are filling their baskets with thorns and thistles, and thinking they have gathered grapes and figs... because of the great works they see.
Approving Excellent Things
We hear this phrase a lot: "Don't judge!" But let us understand judgment in its proper perspective. I know Jesus said, "Judge not that ye be not judged" (Matt. 7:1). We are not to be vindictive, but we are to exercise "good judgment" in our associations with men in the Church or in the world about us. He said, "I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true" (Jn. 8:16; also Jn. 5:30). And to His disciples He said, "Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (Jn. 7:24). Surely it is evident from these and many other passages that God wants His people to "judge", in the sense of knowing what is right and what is wrong... and then doing what He wants us to do about it, or leave it alone. We are to judge righteously, not according to appearance, and not as one who is condemning another. For as surely as we do that, we are leaving ourselves open to be judged in the same manner (See Matt. 7:2).
We must come to know God so well that we will know what He approves, love what He loves, and so be able to discern what is good in His sight, and what is evil. And it is for the lack of this kind of judgment (or discernment) that so much pollution is sweeping through the Church. We do not go about pronouncing judgment against God's people. We had better become merciful priests in His House before God will entrust us with authority to deal with the uncleanness that is there. I have seen a lot of cruelty in some of God's servants, who felt that because of their authority it was their responsibility to cast judgments on the erring ones, or whom they perceived to be in error. A merciful priest in God's House will do a lot of heart-searching before He judges others.., and will (like our Great High Priest) be willing to lay down his life for his erring brother. Let God's faithful priesthood reflect much on what Jesus said, "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Matt. 7:2).
Certainly God will raise up a holy Zadok priesthood, whose judgment will be accurate, pure, and merciful. And they will judge righteously, because God said "they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me" (Ezek. 44:15). It will be out from this beautiful priestly relationship with God that they will teach God's people "the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean" (vs. 23). This righteous priesthood will "have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity" (Heb. 5:2.). They will have learned "mercy" for they themselves have been hurt, wrongly judged, misunderstood, and falsely accused. But it caused them to draw closer to God, and to minister unto Him, and to stand before Him.
The Fruit of Knowledge and Discernment
Now I recognize there is, in the gifts of the Spirit, words of knowledge given by God, and discerning of spirits. But many who are endued with this kind of gift and enablement have not known what it is to show mercy. If one's knowledge and discernment does not spring forth from a love relationship with God, his judgment is likely to be harsh and cruel and destructive. And so the apostle prayed for the Philippians that they would pursue a higher realm of judgment: "That your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment (or 'discernment')" (Phil. 1:9). He is talking about "the fruit" of discernment, a knowledge and discernment that springs from one's love relationship with God.
Do we understand what he is saying? "I want your love to increase more and more, so that out of a heart of love, ...love for God and for God's people... your knowledge and discernment will be pure, and will spring from a pure heart." For you can be sure that the more we draw near to God and love Him, the more we will know His heart, and the more clearly will we understand what pleases Him. And so the apostle goes on to say: "that ye may approve things that are excellent" (Phil. 1:10) As we know how to approve those things that are "excellent" in His sight, then we will be enlightened to avoid the evil way, or the way that is inferior and walk in God's way.
First, our love must "abound yet more and more". Then in loving Him and walking in His way, we are able to discern and to judge righteously... and so come to the place where we know what is excellent and pleasing to God. We cannot discern the evil, except as we know what is good. We do not somehow stumble into the truth by studying the areas of falsehood. We do not walk in the light by searching out the realms of darkness.
And then as we abide in Love, and know what pleases the heart of God... "good fruit" is the end result. "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God" (vs. 11). God is looking for "fruits of righteousness". And when we understand that Christ alone is our "righteousness", then more and more must we con
fine ourselves to Him. For only in union with Christ will we bring forth in our lives the fruit the Gardener is looking for.
Chapter 7 - The Wheat and The Tares
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