Saturday, June 22, 2013

Faith graft

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Galatians 3:1-14

TO CHEW ON: "This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect in the flesh:" Galatians 3:2-3

If you had the possibility of getting a university degree either by earning it with studies or having it bestowed as an honour, which would you choose? Personally, though an honorary degree would be nice, I think I'd choose the work way, just to have the satisfaction of knowing I had earned it and was worthy of that degree. It's that way with a lot of things in life.

There's something in us humans that loves being capable. It's hard for us to accept others doing something for us. However, establishing and maintaining a relationship with God ia not in the category of something we can do for ourselves.

Earlier in Galatians, Paul has explained that we can't earn our salvation. In today's reading he goes on to say it's just as impossible to be sanctified ("made perfect in the flesh") through works.

Andrew Murray in his book Abiding In Christ, addresses our dilemma:
"A superficial acquaintance with God's plan leads to the view that while justification is God's work by faith in Christ, sanctification is our work, to be performed under the influence of the gratitude we feel for the deliverance we have experienced and by the aid of the Holy Spirit. But the earnest Christian soon finds how little gratitude can supply the power. When he thinks that more prayer will bring it, he finds that, indispensable as prayer is, it is not enough. Often the believer struggles hopelessly for years, until he listens to the teaching of the Spirit as He glorifies Christ again, and reveals Christ, our sanctification to be appropriated by faith alone."

He goes on to explain this "appropriation" as a tree graft:
"If I want a tree made wholly good I take it when young, and cutting the stem clean off on the ground, I graft it just where it emerges from the soil. I watch over every bud which the old nature could possibly put forth until the flow of sap from the old roots into the new stem is so complete that the old life has, as it were, been entirely conquered and covered by the new. Here I have a tree entirely renewed -- emblem of the Christian who has learned in entire consecration to surrender everything for Christ, and in a wholehearted faith wholly to abide in Him."

Murray suggests that if the gardener talked to the tree, this is what He would say:
"Yield now yourself entirely to this new nature with which I have invested you; repress every tendency of the old nature to give buds or sprouts; let all your sap and all your life powers rise up into this graft."

And the grafted tree would say to the Gardener:
"When you graft me, O spare not a single branch; let everything of the old self, even the smallest bud, be destroyed that I may no longer live in my own, but in that other life that was cut off and brought and put upon me, that I might be wholly new and good." (Abiding In Christ - Chapter 9 - Kindle version).

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for this grafted-in life that You make available through the finished work of Jesus. Help me, by faith, to live this way. Amen.

MORE: Grafting
The picture of a plant graft could also be implied by Jesus when He talks about us abiding in Him in John 15:1-8 (in fact, that is the passage on which Murray's book is based). Grafting is an interesting process. As you read this Wikipedia explanation of plant grafting, look for ways it is like our life in Christ.

"Grafting is a method of asexual plant propagation widely used in agriculture and horticulture where the tissues of one plant are encouraged to fuse with those of another...
"In most cases, one plant is selected for its roots, and this is called the stock or rootstock. The other plant is selected for its stems, leaves, flowers, or fruits and is called the scion. The scion contains the desired genes to be duplicated in future production by the stock/scion plant.
"In stem grafting, a common grafting method, a shoot of a selected, desired plant cultivar is grafted onto the stock of another type....
"For successful grafting to take place, the vascular cambium tissues of the stock and scion plants must be placed in contact with each other. Both tissues must be kept alive until the graft has taken, usually a period of a few weeks. Successful grafting only requires that a vascular connection take place between the two tissues.
Read the whole article.


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