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The Rejected Bough

Testimony of Truth
People of The Living God


        In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, we have a very important teaching which Jesus gave to His disciples shortly before His crucifixion.  It is commonly called, “The parable of the Vine and the Branches.”  The heart of the message is that everyone who is a true follower of Jesus Christ must bear good fruit.  Some of the fruit to which Jesus refers are the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 4:22-23.  The only possible way to bear the desired fruit is for the believer to abide in the Vine, and that vine is Jesus Christ.  According to Jesus’ teaching, the branch which does not bear good fruit is cut off from the Vine, it withers and is cast into the fire and burned.  While the lesson presented in this parable is very easy to understand, it is not so simple in application to one’s life. Abiding in Jesus is something that takes diligence, perseverance and consistency.  It is very easy for things of this world, the cares and responsibilities of life to crowd out the time necessary to maintain one’s personal relationship with Christ.  We live in a world where so many activities and obligations press us and demand our time, our resources and our energies and create an atmosphere where abiding in Christ is much more difficult than when life was simpler in past ages.  It’s not that their life was trouble-free or undemanding, for it was not.  Those who lived a hundred years ago worked long hours under difficult conditions in order to provide the necessities for their families.  But while their life was tough, they were not encumbered with so many demands to “keep up with the Jones.”  They had no home entertainment to keep them from going to church.  They had no air conditioning to keep them inside, so they went out and fellowshipped with others. Neighbors knew each other well and visited, but today, wherever you go, people are talking on their cell phones rather than communicating with others.  Yet in today’s world cell phones have become a necessity.  If you break down in your vehicle, you can’t find a pay phone to make an emergency call.  Pay phones are no longer available.  But once one spends his hard-earned money for a cell phone, then he has to add all the extras which costs even more.  Cell phones, internet connections, xfinity TV, Netflex, gaming computers, etc. not only require us to labor to provide these things for ourselves and our families, but they are the very things that rob us of our time necessary for abiding in the Vine.  In the past, none of these things existed to destroy our relationship with Christ.  So, today men labor long hours, not just for necessities, but for luxuries, the very luxuries that tend to lead them away from the Vine in which they must abide if they are to produce good fruit.  While it is true that some of the means of communication have become an asset to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, at the same time, Christians using them in a productive manner must be careful, for they can very easily fall into the trap of wasting hours on foolishness and deprive themselves of the time required to bear fruit by abiding in the Vine.

        One very important point in Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 15 is that unless one abides (dwells, lives) in Christ Jesus, he cannot bear good fruit.  Many men and women today think that because they go to church regularly, pay their tithe and don’t commit gross sins, everything is okay between them and the Lord.  Such is not the case.  Abiding in Christ is to dwell in Christ every day, not just a couple times a week or when it is convenient.  In the fourth verse of John fifteen, Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”  Can it be stated any more clearly?  To bear the fruit God requires cannot be produced apart from dwelling daily in Christ Jesus.

        To abide in Christ one must first be born again.  This is when he becomes a child of God and is grafted into the Vine, Christ Jesus.  Abiding involves spending time in God’s word and in prayer, which then works in the heart to bring about total commitment to God.  The branch must submit his will to the will of God; it is the only way he can produce good fruit.  As the Holy Spirit enlightens the scriptures to his mind, he conforms his life to what the Holy Spirit is teaching him in God’s word.  When he reads in the Sermon on the Mount that one must go the extra mile, he applies that command to his life.  When he reads in Matthew 5:44-45, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven,” he realizes that to be an accepted and pleasing child of God, he must apply this lesson to his life.  This is bearing “good fruit.”  Any Christian who does not abide in Christ by conforming his life to the will of God will be cut off and cast into hell fire.  The lesson is that simple.
The Rejected Bough

        A bough is defined as “a main branch of a tree.”  From a spiritual perspective, a bough might be considered a church or a nation which was specifically blessed by God because they were living according to God’s word.  Israel of old would be considered a bough, for they were God’s chosen people and His blessing rested upon them when they followed His commands.  It seems obvious to me that a more modern bough was the United States of America.  Many of those who came to this country came because they wanted to serve God according to the dictates of their own hearts.  They wanted to be free to live their lives according to how they understood scripture commanded rather than having the state or some rich and fat religious organization forcing their ideals and theologies upon them.  They were tired of the money hungry institutions demanding more and more while at the same time violating the very word of the God Whom they claimed to be serving.  Like the Pharisees of old, they had instituted their own rigid legalistic creeds, their man-made, man-concocted and man-instituted form of religion, which served to make themselves lords over the common people.  America became a refuge from such dictatorial organizations and their leaders.

        However, not all those who came to the new world came for religion freedom, for there were also those who came for the wealth they perceived to be available.  In spite of those who came for selfish reasons, God blessed this nation because of those who came for the purpose of serving Him according to His word.  Most Americans have heard of a famous quote by the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville, “America is great because she is good.  If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”  He wrote this after having traveled to America, and he saw the morality and general goodness that existed among most of the people coupled with the freedom offered by the American government.  This government was based upon Judeo-Christian principles.  God showered His blessings upon this nation because there was a reverence for God and His word and many lived accordingly.

        But we must always remember that God also brings judgment upon a nation which violates His word.  He brought judgment upon His chosen people Israel many times when they sinned.  God’s judgment has also been upon America when she has not followed God’s teachings.  One of the greatest transgressions in American history is the slavery imposed upon the black race.  The sin did not exist only in America, for black men kidnapped and imprisoned their black brothers and sold them to slave traders.  Many of those men and women captured and sold never made it to their destination because of diseases and sickness.  When one became sick on the trek to America, they were tossed overboard like unwanted refuse in order to keep the sickness from spreading to other slaves.  Many boats packed tight with slaves were only half filled by the time they reached America’s shores.  Was this according to God’s word?  Absolutely not!  How could these actions demonstrate God’s command to love your neighbor as yourself?  Yet even “Christians” purchased slaves and used them for their menial tasks.  It is true that many slaves grew to love their owners because they were treated humanely, but many others were abused and mistreated, and some even died at the hands of their masters.  Did God judge America because of slavery?  Look at history.  God’s judgment fell upon this nation as this country was divided, with the result being the Civil War.  Of course, we understand that the Civil War was not directly over slavery, rather it was over states’ rights.  Yet slavery was one of the main platforms that Abraham Lincoln ran on and, once elected, he began to form an army for the purpose to force the issue.  The south immediately responded by seceding from the union and raising their own military to protect their land and freedoms.  However, this was the judgment of God upon a nation who claimed to be Christian, and God’s judgment brought about the death of more American men than any other American war.  The estimates range anywhere from 490,000 to 700,000 men.  God judged this nation severely and still today, over 150 years later, America is still reaping the consequences of that great transgression, for the strife between the races still exists in America.

        Today we live in a generation which has rejected God’s word.  We live among a people who can kill over a million babies a year through abortion, sanctioned by our government, and think that God does not see.  But be assured, just as Abel’s blood cried out from the ground and God heard, so God hears the cry of the unborn, slain in their mother’s womb.  (God does forgive those who have had abortions, and there are many women who have come to Jesus Christ in repentance and have received of God’s glorious grace in forgiveness.  So if there are those who bear the guilt of this transgression, remember, there is a God in heaven Who forgives, for He paid our sin debt on the cross.  Praise God!)  Many, if not most, Americans do not even believe in God anymore, so they go about their business serving the gods of this world, pleasing their own carnal appetites and are ignorant of the pending judgment of God that hangs over this nation.  They can shove God out of the classrooms leaving our children exposed to humanism and atheism so that this generation is void of any concept of God or His word.  They are taught “situation ethics” leaving them with no standards upon which to base good and evil.  America refuses to have God’s law in her courts so that His word is no longer the standard for right and wrong.  In entertainment, God is used only as one to be mocked and laughed at.

        Consider a few portions of scripture which confirm God’s judgment on America is close at hand.  I Sam. 15:23, “Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”  This scripture is in reference to King Saul who refused to obey God’s commands.  Therefore, God rejected him from being king.  Because America has rejected God and His word, God will reject this nation from being a world power.

        Jer. 6:19, “I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words nor to my law but rejected it.”  Jeremiah is warning Judah that as God rejected Saul for disregarding His word, so God will reject Judah as a nation for the same reason.  Consider seriously Jeremiah’s warnings in chapters six and seven.

        “Reprobate silver shall men call them, (Judah) because the Lord hath rejected them” (Jer. 6:30).  “for the Lord hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath” (Jer. 7:29).

        In the New Testament, we have a similar warning in Hebrews 6:7-8, “For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”

        When God pours out His blessings, He expects good fruit, whether the blessings fall upon a person or a nation.  When thorns and briars are the product, that branch or bough will be cast into the fire and burned.  Jesus warned in Luke 17 that things would go on as normal up to the time that judgment falls.  Luke 17:26-29, “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.  They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.  Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.”

        For those who have been taught that Christians will escape the judgment of God, do not be deceived.  Judgment begins at the house of God.  Those who think they will be raptured out have been deceived.  There will be a way in which God will keep and protect His people but it will not be a rapture.  Every Christian must begin to seek the Lord and have his ears tuned to hear when God speaks, for He will lead those who are seeking Him and will make a way for them through the times of judgment.  Abide in the Vine.  Dwell in His presence.  Read and study His word daily and remain in a constant state of prayer, and you will be able to bear good fruit and God will go before you. 

God bless.    Bro. Alfred King