Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 5 Study # 31
Thesis: Discipleship requires a "long haul" commitment to "living up to Nature".
Introduction: Jesus said that there is a major "problem" for everyone who would be a disciple of the Truth. It is the underlying root of the three manifestations which He addressed in Luke 6:39-42. In that unit of thought he addressed the blind guide, the superior disciple, and the hypocritical speck remover. In our studies we have tried to make it as plain as we can that the one thing that ties all three of these problems together is what we have called "status-seeking", the desire to look good in the eyes of men.
We noted a progression in Jesus' teaching. First, there is "status lust", plain and simple, in the putting of oneself forward as a guide to the blind. Second, there is an undercurrent that drives "status lust": fear ... the disciple who claims superiority to his Teacher so that he can be free to not do what he is afraid to do. Third, there is a second undercurrent: aggression ... the hypocritical "speck remover" who simply wants to dominate others.
These three manifestations of the same problem were presented by Jesus as examples of what works against the development of compassion in true disciples.
In the text before us today, we see that Jesus is not yet finished with His subject. In Luke 6:43-45 we find that Jesus lays out a "natural" reality that is supposed to address the core conflict between the development of compassion and the death to status lust. This "natural" reality is this: good trees produce good fruit and useless trees produce useless fruit. Following hard upon the heels of this "natural" reality is a second "natural" reality: men depend upon the appearances of things in order to pursue their courses (they gather fruit according to what they see). Then, in conclusion, Jesus applies the "natural" reality to men by insisting that His disciples understand that their behavior will flow out of their "natural" state.
This morning we are going to at least begin a study of Jesus' use of the "natural" to provide motivation for those who would be His disciples.
June 1, 2008
- I. Jesus' Appeal to "Nature".
- A. Jesus' appeal to the "every tree" phenomenon is, at root, an appeal to the residue of God's good creation in the context of His consequent subjection of it to corruption.
- 1. In Romans 8:20 Paul claimed that God has subjected the creation to the corruption that Adam introduced by means of his rebellion.
- 2. Because of that subjection, even the non-personal aspects of God's creation are involved in a kind of contradiction of the Truth.
- 3. But, even with the involvement of trees in the bondage to corruption, some things remain as illustrations of the original divine action.
- 4. One of those residual realities is this: plants produce fruit according to their created identity.
- a. Good trees produce good fruit; flawed trees produce useless fruit.
- b. Thorns do not produce figs; briars do not produce grapes.
- B. Jesus' appeal to "nature" is a continuing biblical theme.
- 1. In James 3:8-12 the inspired apostle posits the contradiction that exists between fallen human beings and the residue of the goodness of God in the impersonal creation.
- 2. In a most remarkable story in Mark 11:13-14 Jesus cursed a fig tree because it was a participant in the corruption of Adamic sin.
- 3. The authors of the biblical text regularly decried man's corruption by using the "obvious" residue of God's goodness in the impersonal creation as a contrast to man's "obvious" willingness to participate in the rebellion of Adam against God.
- C. Jesus' appeal to "nature" is extremely problematical for men.
- 1. "Nature" reveals how things "ought" to work.
- 2. The Gospel argues that there has to be a "nature" change before there can be any production of good.
- a. Vipers have to be transformed by regeneration before they can be doves.
- b. The Law failed because it demanded the fruit of righteousness from men whose nature was unrighteous; the Gospel claims success because of the transformation of the heart.
- 3. But the Scriptures are replete with examples of men who possessed the transformed heart and, yet, demonstrated the reality of an untransformed heart.
- a. In respect to the central thesis of our text -- status lust kills -- the Bible has "classic" examples of the failure of declared believers pursuing status lust.
- 1) Peter -- in Luke 22:31 and following and Galatians 2:11 and following.
- 2) Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5.
- 3) Simon in Acts 8:13 and following.
- 4) James 3.
- b. This reality remains even in the face of Romans 2:29.
- 1) In the "holiness" and "you can, too, lose your salvation" camps there is a misunderstanding that is often expressed like this: a "true" believer would not do this or that.
- 2) In the "Calvinistic" and "you can not lose your salvation" camps there is a misunderstanding that is often expressed in the very same way.
- 3) The fact is that there is an absolute purity at the core within that is taught both by Paul (Romans 7) and John (1 John 5:18) but that purity is significantly compromised at the outer expression level because of the vacillation of the love/faith issues in the unrenewed minds of the people of God.
- II. The 'Bottom Line' of Jesus' Instruction.
- A. Jesus has already insisted that His disciples yield to the development of compassion within them.
- B. He has revealed what keeps that from happening.
- C. His summons is the commit to the "long haul" of deliberately ferreting out the attitudes that hide status-seeking so that they can be forsaken.