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I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, He taketh away and every branch that beareth fruit He purgeth it that I may bring forth more fruit . . . He that abideth in me, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing . . . Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit . . . These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment: That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:1-13)
This Scripture cannot, by any fair treatment, be harmonized with the first grace—all grace theory. No man is in Christ, the true vine, until he had experienced that wonderful work of God by which he was severed from the first family—the Adamic root—and grafted into the second Adam, the Christ vine. And all branches thus transformed who prove unfruitful, the Father takes away; they lose their connection with, and cease to draw life from Christ. But these grafts that prove a success, that abide in Jesus, and bear fruit, “the Father purges, that they may bear more fruit.”
Could language more emphatically teach a second work of grace than this? Can the sophistry of man, or “the gates of hell,” overthrow these sayings of the Son of God? Fruit bearing branches, the Father purges, hence a divine work, a second change.
Purge is from “kathairei;” that all may see just what that word means, I will set before you every place where it occurs in the Greek Testament, translated as follows:
Purge. John 15:2; Hebrews 1:3, 10:2; 2 Peter 1:9; Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17; Mark 7:19; Hebrews 9:14 and 22.
“Katharos,” the adjective clean. Matthew 23:26, 27:59; Luke 9:41; John 13:10-11;15:3; Acts 18:6; Revelation 19:8, 14.
Pure. Matthew 5:8; Acts 20:26; Romans 14:20; 1 Timothy 1:5, 3:9; 2 Timothy 1:3, 2:22; Titus 1:15; Hebrews 10:22-23; James 1:27; 1 Peter 1:22; Revelation 15:6, 21:19, 21; 22:1.
“Katharizo,” make clean. Matthew 8:2, 28:25; Mark 1:40; Luke 5:12, 9:29.
Cleanse. Matthew 8:3, 10:8, 9:5, 23:26; Mark 1:42; Luke 4:27, 17:14; Acts 10:15, 11:9; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 5:26; James 4:8; 1 John 1:7, 9; Mark 1:44; Luke 5:14.
Be Clean. Matthew 8:3; Mark 1:41; Luke 5:13.
Purification—Purifying. John 2:6, 3:25; Luke 2:22; Hebrews 9:18.
Thus the reader can see that the word here rendered “purgeth” is everywhere used to represent moral cleansing. In fact, the word cleanse is derived from no other word in the New Testament. The same word is translated purge in Hebrews 10:2, “The worshippers once purged should have no more conscience of sins.” And cleanse in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness.” Also see 1 John 1:7,9.
I have taken these pains in order to show that the Father’s purging of the branches is the same that the Apostles enjoined upon the churches to seek through the blood of Christ. How absurd the cry that those who profess a second work were back-slidden or never had been converted. They are not the kind the Father purges; all such have to repent, be grafted into the living vine and bear fruit before ready for this work. Only fruitful branches receive this grace. This is true in fact as well as in the Word.
The most spiritual, conscientious and useful Christians are always the first to enter this more pure and excellent way. Yea, doubtless the very reason that comparatively few believe and enter therein is because the number who actually bear fruit are few. If we measure with the standard of God’s Word—and from it there is no appeal—we are forced to the conclusion that but few of the great mass of church members are actual branches in Christ; for, Jesus says, “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit” (John 15:5).
Dear reader, before you conclude that you need not this perfecting grace, please measure yourself by this test: Are ye bringing forth “much fruit?” Does your pious life lead many souls to Jesus? Are you indeed “gathering with Christ?” If not, it is no surprise that you do not receive the blessed doctrine of entire sanctification; you are not the kind the “Father purgeth,” but such as He “taketh away.” See well to this. Perhaps you can point to some good works; to patient endurance for Christ’s sake; to zealous labor in His vineyard. Yes, all this, and more, and yet you may need the grace of repentance before prepared to seek perfection.
Can you honestly claim superiority to the church at Ephesus of which Christ speaks thus:
I know thy works and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil; and thou hast tried them which say they are Apostles and are not, and hast found them liars; and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast labored and hast not fainted. (Revelation 2:2-3)
I know of few, if any, churches in the merely justified state that compare favorably with this one. They were not drones, but workers. A large portion of the religious zeal in the world is through sectarian motives; but Christ, who knoweth all hearts, acknowledges that those labors were through love to Him, “for my name’s sake.” They were also constant and persevering: “hast labored, and hast not fainted.” Christ also attributes great patience to this church as well as correct discernment of spirits. Yet with all these excellent qualities that would secure a high standing among the churches of the present day, they were not in a condition to receive the Father’s purging. For, says Jesus:
Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee: because thou hast left thy first love. Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy fist works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Here is the lamentable condition of the present church. Notwithstanding all her boasted “works,” she has “left her first love.” In heart at least she is turned back to Egypt . Needing repentance—the “first work”—she is not prepared for the “second grace.” Here we can see how extremely difficult it is to stand until we get beyond mere justification—“have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.” If a man were to attempt to abide in the state of deep penitence for sin he would doubtless fail because this is no standing ground. The same in a modified degree is true of justification; they are both transition states. We never cease to be penitent or forego the joy of justification by advancing to higher ground; but God designs that repentance should lead to pardon and justification to entire sanctification. And having thus “done all to stand, we can stand therefore” being “perfect and complete in all the will of God.” To stop short of this point were like a man attempting to hold a position on a steep hillside where only a sufficient foothold can be gained to pass rapidly to the summit.
Is it not a fact patent to all observes that young converts almost invariably possess more love to Jesus, to brethren and enemies, than older saints do who have not received the Father’s purging? The young convert will rush to and embrace his most bitter enemy while it is almost impossible to get older members of the church who have had some petty grievance near enough together to touch fingers; and yet, when we teach them the glorious gift of perfect love they tell us they are growing in grace. They thus conclude they can get on better in prayer and speaking than when first converted; while the contrast between their present coldness and newborn fervor shows that they have lost their first love and relapsed into a decent morality and formal servility.
But, what is the nature of this divine purification? When a scion is engrafted it always contains the sap and nature of its native tree; with this is mingled the sap and life of the new root; which, I am told by persons who have witnessed the fact, sometimes produces a mixture of both kinds of fruit. Now, before that graft could be purely and exclusively of the tree on which it stands, it must undergo a purgation from all the elements of its original root. So also we bring with us the Adamic nature, which must subsequently be cleansed out of our moral system in order that we may bear the unmixed “fruit of the Spirit of Christ Jesus.” It is not an outward pruning, or self culture, but an inward cleansing; the removal of the Adamic taint which God alone can do. “For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed; for the Lord dwelleth in Zion ” (Joel 3:21). Thus God “makes the tree good, that the fruit may all be good.”
I close this chapter by calling your attention to the indisputable evidence of two distinct works of grace. It cannot be denied that the ingrafting is a work of God; and without impeaching the testimony of Jesus, a subsequent work of purification must be conceded. What must we think of that Christian who says he cannot believe in this second and all cleansing grace. Surely there is no lack of testimony, neither is the testimony involved in obscurity, so as to require great erudition to apprehend it. All that any one needs to believe in a second work is a heart to credit the words of Jesus and the ability to count two. For, if God does one work of ingrafting, and subsequently another work of ingrafting, and subsequently another of purging, surely the latter is a second work.
I have decided to honor the vine;
Purge me, dear Father, the power is thine.
Nothing am I. Everything He.
Christ is the all and all in me.
I am determined henceforth to bear,
The unmixed fruit of the Spirit so fair.
A branch am I; the life is He.
Christ is the all and all in me.