THE IMPORTANCE OF FRUIT
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.


Bearing fruit is so important in the Kingdom of God that the believer who does not bear fruit is cut from the Vine, removed from Christ. The reason bearing fruit is so critical has to do with Godís purpose in calling out the members of the Church from the ranks of mankind.

The purpose in calling the Israelites of the old covenant from among the other nations of the earth was that they might be the guardians of the moral law, the Ten Commandments. The purpose in calling Israel (the members of the Church) under the new covenant from among the ranks of mankind is that they may portray in themselves the eternal moral law of God. The fruit God is looking for is Christ in the saints. Christ is the eternal moral law of God made flesh.


THE IMPORTANCE OF FRUIT

"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 it will be even more fruitful." (John 15:1,2óNIV)

Bearing fruit is so important in the Kingdom of God that the believer who does not bear fruit is cut from the Vine, removed from Christ. The reason fruit is so important has to do with Godís purpose in calling out the members of the Church from the ranks of mankind.

The purpose in calling the Israelites of the old covenant from among the other nations of the earth was that they might be the guardians of the moral law, the Ten Commandments. The purpose in calling Israel (the members of the Church) under the new covenant from the ranks of mankind is that they may portray in themselves the eternal moral law of God. The fruit God is looking for is Christ in the saints. Christ is the eternal moral law of God made flesh.

The Lord Jesus Christ tells us that He is the Vine God has planted. God the Father is the Farmer.

Then the next thing the Lord tells us is, "He cuts off every branch in me that does not bear fruit."

When you think about this for a moment you can see the gulf between the Christian religion and the Kingdom of God. Our religion presents ideas concerning how we are saved. However, the Lord tells us what God regards as supremely important when He says, "If you plan on being part of Me you must bear fruit."

Because of the current unscriptural emphasis on making proselytes to our religion, some are teaching that the fruit of which Christ is speaking is "getting souls saved." Getting souls saved is not the fruit of the Christian. This would be to say that the fruit borne on the branch is more branches.

It is true and scriptural that when we bear the fruit of Christ it is a tree of life for other people, and the result is, other people are drawn to God. This is the meaning of the following:

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30óNIV)

A parallel passage is found in Daniel:

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:3óNIV)

In fact, the purpose of God in the Church is that it might be the moral light of the world. The Lord told us when people see our good works, the good works proceeding from Christ, the Fruit who is being formed in us, they will glorify God.

So we win souls to God and to righteousness, not primarily by convincing them to join our religion but by abiding in Christ so they may see the overflowing Life of Jesus in us. How does that sound to you?

For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesusí sake, so his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (I Corinthians 4:11óNIV)

The Lord Jesus is telling some of us who are preachers that He wants the believers to look to Him in a new and more intense way. He is ready to bring forth His Life in us to a far great extent than we have believed would be possible in this world. In order for the Life of Christ to come forth in us to this extent we must cooperate with the Holy Spirit.

We must cooperate with the Holy Spirit as never before because bringing forth the Life of Christ in us to a greater degree requires that our adamic personality be diminished to a greater degree.

When we first receive Jesus, God welcomes us with open arms. There is much in our personality that God is not pleased with, but He overlooks these adamic traits and forgives us through the blood of the slain Lamb, Jesus Christ.

When a suitable amount of time has passed, and we have pleased God with the amount of grace we received initially, God comes down to prune us. The purpose of the pruning is to cut back the unnecessary growth of religious and other activities that have accumulated in us to this point.

Now we pass through a time of Godís "anger," so to speak. He seems to withdraw from us. He attacks (a suitable term!) the elements of our personality and behavior He is not pleased with.

"In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you," says the LORD your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:8óNIV)

During this period He may tear us to pieces.

Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. (Hosea 6:1óNIV)

Have you been there yet? It isnít much fun, is it?

But such times of Divine anger, seeming withdrawal, tearing, and injuring are as necessary for us as they were for Jacob. They are the cup we must drink if we would bear the quantity and quality of fruit God desires.

Jacob possessed treasures: his four wives and his many children. It seemed like Esau was going to come and murder him and his family.

Jacob could have taken his male servants and planned a strategy to defend his possessions. Or he could have attempted to placate Esau with gifts, which, in fact, he did.

But Jacob, because of the call of God on him, did what we all must do when God calls us to account for our conniving and thievery. He did not rely on other people to deliver him. He did not frighten his family to death. He went alone to seek God. The old heel-snatcher was facing truth at last.

God could have overpowered Jacob easily. But God does not cut across an individualís integrity. Jacob clung fiercely to God until God agreed to bless him.

If you are going through your struggle with God as you are reading these lines, do not attempt to manipulate people and circumstances in order to stave off the day of reckoning. Walk through the pain. Lay hold on God and donít let go until He blesses you. Then you will obtain peace and deliverance.

When Jacob arose his name was changed from the "supplanter" to "he struggles with God." Jacob drank deeply of the cup, as all who have been destined for high rank in the Kingdom must do; and the fruit of his wrestling with God has been incredible. God called him and his descendants "Israel," the struggler with God. And so it is true that all whom God has called to Himself spend their days struggling with God.

We have a fallen, sinful, self-willed nature. No amount of religious activity can do other than strengthen this nature. It is only as we abide in Christ that the fallen nature will perish and the Life of God will come forth in us.

The fruit God is looking for in each person who receives Christ is, as we said, the revelation of His eternal moral law. Iron righteousness. Fiery Holiness. Stern obedience to the Father. God is looking for righteous behavior, a pure, holy heart, a love for Him that transcends all idols, and a mouth that is a river of life.

When such do not come forth after an appropriate time we are removed from Christ as being a useless branch. How different this is from our perception of the Christian religion!

To abide in Christ means we are progressing toward the point where every moment of every day is spent in His Presence. To the new Christian just starting out, such concentration on Christ may seem an impossible achievement. To get to the place where we are praying without ceasing may appear to be as difficult as climbing to the summit of Mount Everest.

Actually it is just a matter of training ourselves from the time we awaken until we fall asleep to keep looking to the Lord for every decision. Time for prayer must be set aside each day. We must meditate in the Scriptures. But above all we must keep looking to the Lord. God helps us to look to Him by sending trouble on usótrouble that demands we pray for help and deliverance.

The mistake often made by believers is to blame the tools God uses to chasten them. When they do this they become bitter and no fruit of Christ is borne. This is the situation in which numerous church-attenders find themselves.

But the victorious saint keeps pressing forward in the Lord Jesus. Each crisis becomes an opportunity to look to the Lord, to die a little in the fallen nature, and to gain a little of the Life of Christ. All things are working for our good when we continue to love God and trust His absolute faithfulness.

The mainspring of the Christian life is death and resurrection. As we abide in Christ trouble comes to us each day and also a portion of grace by which we can overcome the trouble. If we learn our lesson for that day, the next day we experience more trouble and more grace. Day by day, moment by moment, year by year, we die and we live; we die and we live; we die and we live.

The end result is the forming of Christ in us. The fruit we are to bear is Christ. He alone has the Personality and behavior that God accepts. As we are willing to give place to Him, He comes forth in our life. Then the Farmer is receiving the benefit of His planting.

Christ is the Vine, the very Rootstock from which the Kingdom of God proceeds. The Christian religion is of use only as it fosters the growth of Christ in the believers. Each church activity must be serving, directly or indirectly, to nourish the growth of Christ in the believers. When it does not it should be discarded.

Now let us think about why fruit is so important that if it is not borne in us we are removed from our place in Christ.

Before the earth was created, apparently, a rebellion occurred in Heaven around the Throne of God. As one preacher said, this was the first church-split.

It may have been true that prior to the rebellion of Satan, who was seeking to be a god other than the Father, there was no consciousness of good or evil. Perhaps the eternal moral Nature of God was not known.

When Satan exercised his own will against the Father (and all sin has proceeded from Satanís self-will), there came a need for the knowledge of good and evil and of Divine judgment.

Then God formulated in His mind a tremendous plan. He would create a new race and make the angels servants to it. He would make the people he created a living revelation of His eternal moral law, and they would judge the angels and put an end to rebellion.

So God created man and put him in a garden. In the middle of the garden God placed the Tree of Life, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is the eternal moral law of God.

God told the man not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because God knew the man was unprepared to cope with the fact that he was living in nakedness, in a shameful condition.

It was not until God wrote the Ten Commandments on tablets of granite that angels and people understood the moral law of God. Prior to this time it had been in the conscience. But now it was written so there could be no ambiguity.

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, (Ephesians 3:10óNIV)

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (I Peter 1:12óNIV)

Now Satan, the wicked angels, and the righteous angels, understood Godís attitude toward the rebellion in Heaven. The Ten Commandments are a judgment against Satan. They are telling him and the other angels that God alone is supreme and there are to be no other gods as great as He.

All of the Ten Commandments have to do with our relationship with God and with other people. The world is destroying itself today because people are not rightly related to God or to one another.

Since the Jews had to obey the Ten Commandments in their fallen nature the results were not satisfactory, as God knew would happen. But God had made provision through animal sacrifice so the worshipers could have a sense of sins forgiven and restored fellowship with God.

Meanwhile God had found One who pleased Him totally, One who loved righteousness and hated wickedness. God decided to make Him the Vine, and through Him to teach angels and people how to behave so as to please God.

But first the chosen One had to become a sin-offering so God could be reconciled to His own creation. This Christ did, and His blood answers to all sinóto the sins of the whole world; to the sins of every person who will place his or her trust in Him.

Then God brought the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and established Him at His right hand for eternity, now possessing all authority in Heaven and upon earth.

The next step is to bring the eternal moral law of God to the attention of the nations of the earth.

The Jews were the custodians of the Law of Moses. The tablets of stone, the Covenant, were carried with them in the Ark of the Covenant. When they invaded Canaan they were bringing with them the holy Law, the Covenant. The Law was a judgment against the demon-gods of the people of Canaan.

Under the new covenant the eternal moral law of God is written on the mind and heart of the believer. Thus the believer becomes the covenant, the living revelation of the moral law of God. The believer becomes the law made flesh. Christ Himself is the Law who is formed in the disciple.

As soon as Christ has been formed in the Christians, which is the fruit the Father desires, the world will have a moral light by which to live. When no fruit is coming forth in the Christian, there is no moral light, no law by which people are to live. Then the Father perceives the branch is useless and He removes it from the Vine.

It appears God is emphasizing today that it is time for Christ to be formed in us to a much greater extent than ever before.

Notice the following:

Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn. (Matthew 11:30óNIV)

The idea is that the weeds cannot be removed from the wheat until both the weeds and the wheat come to maturity. This tells us that in the last days both wickedness and righteousness, Antichrist and Christ, will come to maturity in people.

As we approach the end of the age there will be a major increase of the fruit God is looking for. Christ will come to full stature in the Lordís people.

Notice also:

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lordís coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lordís coming is near. (James 5:7,8óNIV)

The autumn rains are for the purpose of planting seed, and corresponds to the events of the Book of Acts. The spring rains are to bring the crop to maturity so it can be harvested.

This tells us that there is to be an outpouring of Godís Spirit on the churches of the last days. While this outpouring will include mighty signs and wonders of all kinds, its purpose is to bring Christ to maturity in the saints. The coming of Christ to maturity in the saints is the maturing of the fruit for which God is looking, that is, His eternal moral law demonstrated in people. All this is so the saved nations of the earth may know what God expects of them.

Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3óNIV)

The law of God cannot "go out of Zion" until it first has been formed in and practiced by the members of the Body of Christ.

Let us see what God says further about this.

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. (Isaiah 61:11óNIV)

When we truly receive Jesus Christ we are born again. This means Christ, the living Word, the law made flesh, is born in us. This is the Seed that God has planted in the earth.

Godís intention is that what He has planted shall bear fruit in the sight of the nations of the earth. Thus we become the light of the world. All people shall see the righteousness and praise that is the Life of Jesus Christ in us, and seeing this they shall begin to be transformed into the kind of people God desires in the earth.

In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit. (Isaiah 27:6óNIV)

God wants the whole world filled with the Fruit, which is Christ. Christ always loves righteousness and hates wickedness, and God wants this to be true of every person on the earth.

We can understand from this why the branch that does not bear the fruit of righteousness is removed from the Vine. It is useless in Godís Kingdom!

For Zionís sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalemís sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. (Isaiah 62:1óNIV)

In the beginning God created all things through to the new Jerusalem. Then God rested, because His Word will accomplish His purpose in Christ. Part of the great fulfillment of the Divine purpose is the shining of righteousness from the Christian Church. Her salvation is her deliverance from the person and ways of Satan and her full reception into the Person and ways of God. All the ends of the earth shall behold this revelation of the Person and ways of God.

The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. (Isaiah 62:2óNIV)

"The nations will see your righteousness." The righteousness the nations shall see is not the righteousness of religious people seeking to behave correctly. Rather it is the righteousness of God Himself which has come through Jesus Christ into the personalities of those who have been abiding in Him.

In the Book of Revelation we see the fulfillment of Godís intention in Christ:

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:24óNIV)

The expression "the nations will walk by its light" means the saved peoples of the earth will perceive what God expects of them as to their relationship to God and their relationship to each other. Each of the Ten Commandments has to do with relationships, as we have said, and the fuller expression of the eternal moral law of God which is written in our mind and heart under the new covenant also has to do with relationships.

The world is destroying itself today because the people do not love God with all their heart and they do not love their neighbors as themselves. But they are helpless to rectify this situation because of the pressure put on them by Satan and his demons.

The first duty of the sons of God as they descend through the air with the Lord Jesus will be to drive Satan and his helpers from the earth. Then the saints will ascend the thrones in the air that govern the spiritual climate of the earth, and the nations will become receptive to the laws of the Kingdom of God, such as the Sermon on the Mount.

None of this redemption is possible, however, until Godís people move past the Pentecostal experience into the next feast, the feast of Tabernacles. For it is in the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles that the Lord drives Satan from us and brings forth His own Life in us until we begin to reveal in ourselves the eternal moral law of God.

The spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles is available to any Christian who is willing to forego his own ideas, his own pleasures, and permit the Lord to have His way in his personality. We must "let go and let God," as the old saying goes.

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23óNIV)

Before the Father and the Son are pleased to make Their abode in us there must be some housecleaning. We must surrender all to the Lord. Then the Father and the Son will make Their eternal home in us.

It is time for this to take place today. But first we must endure the Lordís dealings, as we mentioned previously.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:2óNIV)

As the Lord comes to us He prunes back the fallen nature. He has to deal with us severely so the worldliness, fleshly lusts, and self-will are cut back. This experience is as painful as we make it. If we are willing to let God have His way in our life the experience of pruning is merely uncomfortable. But if we resist the Lord the pruning becomes almost more than we can bear.

Our idols must be torn down. The first and greatest commandment is that we are to have no other gods before the Lord. The removing of our idols may cause confusion because we think we are losing all that is valuable. Actually all that is being removed are our bondages.

Expect God today to come to you and deal with your thinking, your actions, and your speech. Your whole personality must be pruned so Christ can come forth in you in a greater way than has been true previously.

One of the biggest hindrances to the fruit of Christ coming forth in us is our self- will. God deals with our self-will by bringing us through many years of delay before the promised fruitfulness comes.

Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband, says the LORD. (Isaiah 54:1óNIV)

Great fruitfulness came forth from Sarah, from Hannah, from Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. But before it did there was a long period of waiting.

Sometimes God makes wonderful promises to us, but then nothing significant seems to take place for many years. This seems to be the way it is when fruit of special importance is to be produced.

There is a cup that all of Godís kings must drink, and it must be drunk to the last drop.

Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. (Isaiah 54:2óNIV)

God keeps promising us the most marvelous things and yet nothing happens. We can try to help God out by bringing forth an Ishmael, but we will create a wild man if we do. When God makes a promise to us we are not to turn away from God and make it happen. What God has promised He is well able to accomplish. We do not need to scheme and "marry" some strange, exotic "woman" to get what we want. The promise will come through good old Sarah.

For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. (Isaiah 54:3óNIV)

Can you imagine a promise as fantastic as this being made to someone who has no children? God deals this way with us if we have been chosen to bear extraordinary fruit. We look around at other people who are making things happen. They are not impressed with our claims that we are waiting on God and trusting Him. They let us know that God helps those who help themselves. Hagar mocks Sarah.

Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. (Isaiah 54:4óNIV)

This is what we are afraid ofóthat those who have despised us will be proven right. We really were mistaken. God is not to be trusted in this manner. We have been chasing the wind. We should have been out "doing Godís work" like everyone else. Look how they have prospered!

But God promises those who look to Him that they will not suffer shame, disgrace, or humiliation. Yet we have waited on God since we were young. Now we are old and nothing has happened. None of the marvelous promises have appeared. It must be that God is just not that real. We have to be practical and employ various strategies if we are to build the Kingdom.

There are many books out now on church growth. Why donít we hire a church- growth expert so he can teach us how to gain members? The professionals can show us what we are doing wrong.

For your Maker is your husbandóthe LORD Almighty is his nameóthe Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. (Isaiah 54:5óNIV)

Yes, I know God is great. But does He care about the details? Is He waiting for me to do something? When I pray He keeps on telling me of the marvels He intends to perform. Maybe I have been deceived.

But He says He is my Husband. This should mean He really does care and know. Why would He promise me something and then not do it? I just canít believe He would let me down.

Some day I will look Him in the face. I will not turn away. I have walked in integrity. I have done all I know to do. I have left no stone unturned.

If I have been wrong I have been wrong. But all He has to do is speak one word and I will obey. Why then would He permit me to be deceived? I will yet hope in God.

The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spiritóa wife who married young, only to be rejected, says your God. (Isaiah 54:6óNIV)

Maybe we were used by the Lord when we were a new Christian. But then what happened? Others graduate from Bible school and in two years they are pastoring a church of three thousand people. But that is not the way it was with us. As we followed the Lord He did not make us a great one in the church world. And so we have watched young men and women rise to fame and success, but we have had to be content to remain obscure.

Still, there is always the Lord. He is present and we are learning of His ways. Somehow He does not seem to be as impressed with much of what takes place as one would guess. It really doesnít matter anyway. I would rather be with the Lord and know Him than to be highly esteemed of people. How do you feel about this?

"For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you, says the LORD your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:7,8óNIV)

We spoke previously in this essay about the period of anger and seeming abandonment that we experience before we enter the fruitfulness God has promised us. Such periods indeed are dark, seemingly hopeless days. We have to keep reminding ourselves we are in a tunnel and not a grave.

We can remember the happy times when we were young in the Lord, the joyful choruses, the brave declarations of undying faith. We can remember them mentally but not emotionally, not how we felt at that time.

Will we ever come out of this darkness? Then we realize we do not know if we will receive our answer in the present life, and so we put our hopes beyond the grave. We know God is good. We know God is faithful. Somehow it will work out.

No one else understands. Other Christians do not know what we are talking about. They tell us to just have faith and all shall be well. Then they return to more cheerful duties.

One day at a time. One minute at a time. Misery!

But slowly God returns. Little by little confidence is renewed until it becomes difficult to remember those dark days.

Somehow, I canít tell you how, there is a new, a different knowledge of God. It is as though before the period of darkness we heard about God but now we know God. Others are unimpressed. But we realize there is a difference, and much of what goes on in the churches now seems shallow and fleshly. We are on a higher plane.

Yet the struggle with God has not ended. One still has to guard against deception. Satan is ever at hand to lead astray. There is no great fulfillment of the promise, but there is the beginning of fruitfulnessóperhaps eternal fruitfulness!

To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:9,10óNIV)

Notice that we are not getting great promises now of spreading out to the right and left and dispossessing nations. Rather the promises are directed toward our relationship with God. It makes sense, doesnít it? Before we can bring forth eternal fruit we first must become rightly related to God. Maybe the fruit we shall bear now will be of greater quantity and better quality than if we had been instantly successful as a young minister. We have come to know God and God has come to know us. It really is worth it all but I would not care to go through it again.

O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise,~ your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. (Isaiah 54:11,12óNIV)

What do you know! Our barren woman has become the new Jerusalem, the moral light of the world.

Through Jobís painful trial millions have been comforted during their struggle with God, and Job himself profited in his knowledge of God.

Through Abrahamís travail the Seed gained victory over the enemy and the nations have been blessed.

Through Jacobís struggle Israel received its name, though Jacob was left lame.

Through Hannahís ordeal Samuel, the great judge of Israel, was born.

Through Christís agony the creation was redeemed.

Through Paulís crucifixion the epistles were written that have changed the course of world history.

Through the humiliation of barrenness the saints have become the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb.

This is the way God works.

The precious stones found in the foundations, battlements, and walls are the elements of character that have been wrought in the saints as they have labored under heat and pressure. There shall be an actual city, I have no doubt. But it is clear to me that the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb, is just thatóthe glorified Christian Church.

All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your childrenís peace. (Isaiah 54:13óNIV)

If you are remaining faithfully in the darkness and fire where God has placed you, why donít you claim the above verse for your children?

But for those who insist on managing their own salvation . . .

But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:11óNIV)

And then we find:

In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you. (Isaiah 54:14,15óNIV)

The righteousness we have hoped for and sought has now become ours. It is the fruit of abiding in Christ. It is the new nature that reflects the eternal moral law of God and is proceeding from Christ who has been formed in us during our struggle with God.

Christians look to Heaven as being their place of safety when they die. The Scriptures do not promise us safety in Heaven. Our protection from the enemy, our deliverance from tyranny and terror, come from God, who at one time had been angry with us because of our sins but now has received us to Himself for eternity.

See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc; (Isaiah 54:16óNIV)

When we are waiting on the Lord, trusting in Him to bring His promises to pass in our life, we have no reason to fear. All instruments of destruction come from the Lord. When the Apostle Paul received the thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, it proved to be a device God was using to make sure Paul was leaning on Godís strength and not on his own.

Many nations are being raised up to threaten America. They may conspire against us. This is because our ways are not pleasing to the Lord. The Christians in America must begin to keep Godís commandments if they wish to turn away from their land the severe judgments that are at hand.

Even if the Christian churches will not repent, insisting they are saved by grace and are ready to be caught up in an unscriptural "rapture," God will keep under His protection the individual believers who are looking to Him continually. They and their loved ones will abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

"No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me," declares the LORD. (Isaiah 54:17óNIV)

Whenever we turn away from fleshly religionists and seek the mind of the Lord, self-willed believers will accuse us and slander us. Whoever departs from wickedness makes himself a prey of the carnal Christians. When this happens we are to go to the Lord and make sure that the accusations coming against us are not true. If they are we are to repent. If they are not true we are to wait on the Lord until He justifies us and brings forth our righteousness as the light and our judgment as the noonday.

If we choose to be obedient unto death, as was true of Abraham, then our fruit will be as Abraham. If we are willing to drink the cup of self-denial, the course of world history will be turned toward God.

God grant us the desire, courage, and strength to drink the cup, without hope of reward (other than to please God), so the fruit of our life will show others how to serve God appropriately.