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The Song Of The Vineyard Part 3
© 03.17.19 D. Eric Williams

This article appeared in the March 21 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle

A couple weeks ago we discovered that God has a heart for the vulnerable and oppressed Thus he warns the powerful and the rich against using their position of influence or wealth to take advantage of the weak (Deuteronomy 24:14, Ezekiel 22:29, Zechariah 7:10, Matthew 23:14, James 5:4)). And so, to be righteous or godly, means, in part, to care for the weak and vulnerable. To be ungodly is to oppress them and to do violence against them.

Is interesting that this "class" of sins is the most prominent in the Scripture. These days we are hung up on a certain category of sins that, while inexcusable, do not garner as much ink in the Bible as the oppression of the weak and vulnerable. I’m talking about the sexual sins of every kind that plague our nation today. Nevertheless, it seems we have our priorities messed up. We are fixated on the one and ignore the other and I cannot help but think that a proper alignment of our priorities will be the spark for Christian revival in our land.

Now, lest we believe everything is different today, look again at John’s gospel: "[the Father] cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit" and "anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers" (John 15:2a, 6, brackets added). You can be in the church and be part of what’s going on but if you do not remain in Jesus you will eventually be thrown away and whither. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here except to tell you that you might spend your entire life in church and come to the end only to discover you were very early on thrown away and withered because you were not abiding in Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:21).

So, how do we know if we are abiding in Jesus? How do we know if we are producing good fruit rather than bitter grapes? Well, it may not be popular, but the Bible tells us we know that we know Jesus if we keep his commandments (1 John 2:3). That was true for the people of Judah and Israel (keeping God’s commands) and is true for us today. Please understand, we are not talking about works salvation. Instead we are talking about working to show the results of our salvation (Philippians 2:12). We are talking about expressing the new creation in a real, practical way. And if we listen to the message of Isaiah 5:1-7, the primary way to show we know Jesus is to act justly, to be righteous and to uphold the cause of the weak and vulnerable (cf. Micah 6:8).

Brothers and sisters, be clear about this; in the same way God had done everything that could be expected on behalf of Israel and Judah, likewise he has done everything that can be expected on our behalf. All that is necessary for producing good fruit is in place. As with the ancient people of God, the way is prepared for you in God’s eternal plan. God chose you as one of his own. God hedges you about with the word and with the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. You have everything you need. You have been equipped in every way. It is expected that you produce good fruit of obedience.

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