In today’s study Derek points out that God wants us all to be fruitful, and He has provided all that we need through our knowledge of Him. Provision comes through knowing Jesus Christ and appropriating the promises of God’s Word.
It’s good to be with you again, sharing with you precious truths out of Scripture that have made the difference between success and failure in my life and can do the same in yours.
The title of my theme this week is an incomplete sentence, “If You Want God’s Best...” The introductory word “if” immediately confronts you with a choice, Do you want God’s best, or don’t you? The uncompleted second part of the sentence leaves room for me to share with you certain things you will need to do if you decide that you really do want God’s best. By the time I’ve completed this series of talks, I’ll have listed for you eight things that you need to do.
In my introductory talk yesterday, I pointed out that there are always two sides to our relationship with God. On the one hand, what God makes available to us; on the other hand how we respond to what God makes available. And really the theme of my talks will be how to make right response to what God makes available.
Yesterday I illustrated this principle from the parable of the sower. In each case, the seed was the same. In other words, there was no difference in the seed. The only difference was in the kind of soil into which the seed fell. And there were actually four kinds of soil: by the pathway, the rocky soil, and the soil with thorns and, finally, fourth, the good soil. Now, we are focusing on the good soil. But I pointed out that even in the good soil there were three levels of productivity: one hundred times, sixty times and thirty times. And, in commenting on His own parable in Luke 8:15, Jesus indicated the threefold response which is needed to be totally productive: first of all, to hear the Word; second, to retain it; and third, to persevere in what you’re given to do.
Now, in my talk today, I going to share two important Scriptural facts related to being productive or to bearing fruit and I believe if you can hear these two facts, they will create in you the faith that you need to be fully productive. The first fact is this: that God wants us all to be fruitful. This is a settled matter of the will of God. That’s not something that’s going to change. This is true right from God’s creation of man. It was the very purpose for which God created man. This is stated in the first book of the Bible, in the first chapter, Genesis, chapter 1, verses 27 and 28 we get an account of God’s creation of man and of the purpose for which He created him. I want to read those two verses:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’”
We notice there are five things that God wanted man to do: first, be fruitful; second, increase in number; third, fill the earth; fourth, subdue it; and fifth, rule over it. Let me repeat those five key words which represent God’s will:
1. Be fruitful
So that’s the purpose for which man was created: to be fruitful, to increase, to take dominion over his surroundings and his situation and to be a ruler. And God’s purposes never change. Their fulfillment may be delayed by man’s failure but, ultimately, God is always going to go ahead and achieve His purpose. So, in the new creation in Jesus Christ, the same purposes of God are restored once again. This is made very clear in many places in the New Testament, particularly I’d like to read a prayer of the apostle Paul for the Christians with whom he was dealing. This beautiful prayer is recorded in Colossians 1, verses 9-12, and as I read this prayer I want you to see the totally positive emphasis. Every word in this prayer is positive, there is not one negative word in the whole of this prayer. Now listen to the prayer:
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”
Just let me point out the positive words there. First of all, Paul speaks about us being “filled with the knowledge” of God’s will, not just having somewhere in us the knowledge of God’s will, but being filled with it. And this comes “through all spiritual wisdom and understanding”; not just some, but all spiritual wisdom. And then he prays this prayer that we may “live a life pleasing to the Lord in every way” not in just some ways pleasing to Him but pleasing Him in every way. And that we may bear fruit “in every good work”, that’s the hundredfold, ”...bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” “Being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might”; not some power, but all power, with the result that we may have “great endurance.” You remember perseverance or endurance was one of the key words. He wants us to have “great endurance” and patience and joy. And then, the final statement, God the Father “has qualified [us] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” God has given us the provision that is needed to enter into our inheritance in the kingdom of light.
So God’s will is settled forever in the Word of God. He wants us to be fruitful, He wants us to bear fruit and to succeed in every good work and to please Him in every way and He’s qualified us or equipped us to do this.
We’ve seen already that God wants us to be fruitful in every good work. This is the will of God. There’s no question about His will, the question is our response to His will.
The second fact that I want to emphasize in my talk today is that God has made full provision for this. We’ve seen already in the passage quoted just now that God has equipped us or qualified us to take our place in the inheritance of the saints in light. This truth is brought out in many ways in the New Testament. Here’s a very powerful statement that God has made full provision for this. It’s found in 2 Peter, chapter 1, verses 3 and 4:
“His [that is God’s] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
Notice that opening phrase: “[God’s] divine power,” His total omnipotence, His unlimited power, “...has given us everything we need.” Let me emphasize that: “has given us everything we need for life and godliness.” And this is provided in two related ways: first of all, “...through the knowledge of Him who has called us”, that’s through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. And then it says in the next verse, “...through his very great and precious promises.” So, the provision comes through knowing Jesus Christ and through appropriating the promises of God’s Word. There’s a phrase I use in this connection which I think I can never say too often. Some of you may have heard me say it before. The provision is in the promises. In the promises of God’s Word is contained all the provision we’re ever going to need. You see, you might say, “Well, if God has given us full provision, where is it?” The answer is: It’s all in the promises of God’s Word. As you appropriate those promises, you discover the provision.
And then there are two marvelous results of appropriating the promises. The first is that we participate in the divine nature, the very nature of God Himself comes into us and we begin to share in His own divine nature. And secondly, the logical negative consequence: we escape the corruption that is in the world caused by evil desires. How do you feel toward that? The possibility of becoming partaker of God’s own nature and escaping the corruption that is in this world through evil desires. Doesn’t that appeal to you? Well, God has made full provision. He has made it possible for you and me to do that. Everything we need has already been given us.
So, on your side, if you want God’s best; then, on God’s side, He wants it for you and has made full provision for you. So the key decision is: Do you want God’s best? That’s one thing God will not do for you. He will not make the decision for you, you have to make the decision for yourself. Do you want God’s best? If you make the decision, then God indicates it’s His will for you and He has made full provision for you.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing with you the first thing you need to do if you want God’s best.