Posted by: Chris Avery | February 10, 2010

J.R. Miller Works

I have friended Grace Gems on Facebook. As a break from my school studying I decided to read a few of the short writings. These were from J.R. Miller and I really liked the ones I read… which you can tell with me sharing several articles on facebook.

It is the student who must learn the lesson!

“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” Philippians 2:12-13

People sometimes think that salvation imparts . . .
godly virtues,
fine qualities of Christian character,
lovely traits of disposition, and
elements of spiritual beauty–
without any cost or effort to the believer himself!

Christ’s followers are transformed–old things pass away, and all things become new. Those who believe in Him–are fashioned into His image. But these blessings do not come easily. The heavenly graces are not put into our life–as one might hang up lovely pictures on the walls to adorn a home! They must be wrought into our life in a sense, by our own hands. We must work out our own salvation, although it is God who works in us, both to will and to work.

For example, patience is not put into anyone’s life–as one brings in a piece of new furniture. You cannot merely receive patience as a gift from God. Patience is a lesson to be learned–through long and watchful self-discipline. Christ is the teacher–but you are the student, and it is the student who must learn the lesson! Not even Christ will learn it for you–to spare you the effort. Nor can it be made an easy lesson for you. It costs to grow patient, and you must pay the price yourself!

The same is true of all the elements of a godly and worthy character.

We are always at school in this world. God is teaching us the things we need to learn. The lessons are not easy–sometimes they are very hard! But the hardest lessons are the best–for they bring out in us the finest qualities, if only we learn them well.

Those, therefore, who find themselves in what may seem adverse conditions, compelled to face hardship, endure opposition, and pass through struggle–should quietly accept the responsibility; and, trusting in Christ for guidance and strength, go firmly and courageously forward, conscious that they have now an opportunity to grow strong, and develop in themselves the qualities of worthy and noble character!

He who holds the pruning-knife!

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. . . . He prunes every branch that produces fruit–so that it will produce more fruit.” John 15:1-2

Our Father is the gardener; we are branches under His care. He watches over our lives. The painful afflictions which cut into our very souls, the taking from us of objects that are dear to us, as when the gardener with his sharp knife removes luxuriant branches from the vine–are our Father’s prunings! No hand but His–ever holds the knife! We are sure, then, that there is never any careless cutting, any unwise or mistaken pruning, any needless removing of rich branches or growths.

We really need to go no farther than this. A strong, abiding confidence that all the trials, sorrows and losses of our lives–are parts of our Father’s prunings–ought to silence every question, quiet every fear and give peace and restful assurance to our hearts, in all their pain. We cannot know the reason for the painful strokes–but we know that He who holds the pruning-knife is our Father! That is all we need to know.

The other thought in the Lord’s parable, is scarcely less full of comfort to a Christian. Jesus says, that it is the fruitful branches which the Father prunes: “He prunes every branch that produces fruit–so that it will produce more fruit.”

Afflictions are not, then, a mark of God’s anger or disapproval; rather, they are a mark of His favor. The branches into which He cuts, from which he trims away the luxuriant growths–are fruit-bearing already. He does not prune the fruitless branches–He cuts them off altogether as useless, as mere cumberers, absorbing life and yielding nothing of blessing or good.

Some Christians have the impression that their many troubles indicate that God does not love them–that they cannot be true Christians, or they would not be so chastened. This teaching of Christ shows how mistaken they are. The much chastening shows that the Father is pruning His fruitful branch–to make it more fruitful! All whom the Father loves–He chastens!

It is the fruitless branch that is never pruned; the fruitful branch is pruned, and pruned–not by one without skill, not by an enemy–but by the wise Father! Thus we see how we may rejoice–even in our trials and afflictions!

One who was altogether ignorant of the art and purpose of pruning, who should see a man with a sharp knife cutting off branch after branch of a luxuriant vine, would at first suppose that the pruner was ruining the vine. So at the time it seems–but by and by, it appears that the prunings have made the vine more fruitful. In the season of vintage, the grapes are more luscious, with a richer flavor in them–because of the cutting away of the superfluous branches.

In like manner, if an angel who had never witnessed anything of human suffering, and who knew nothing of its object, were to see the Father causing pain and affliction to His children, it would seem to him that these experiences could be only destructive of happiness and blessing; but if the angel were to follow those chastened lives on to the end, he would see untold blessing coming out of the chastenings! The Father was but pruning the branches–that they might bear more and better fruit!

We should never lose sight of the divine purpose in all trials–to make our lives more fruitful.

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Responses

  1. But this would make it to seem that God is doing the cutting and is the source of this trial or unhappiness. How could a holy, loving, and perfect God be causing pain and affliction? It makes God appear to be the one who is harming those he loves. What about sin in the world? Is not pain and suffering a result of the fall of Adam and Eve? And even with Job, it was not God pruning him by causing pain and affliction, but he allowed Job and all he has to be put in Satan’s hands. So Satan caused the pain and suffering; but not apart from the will of God. I believe that God can use the pain and suffering that we cause ourselves, or is a result of sin in the world for our good and growth. Food for thought! 🙂

    • I’m sorry…I’ve got more! If God is pruning in the sense that he is chastening us and bringing about fruit…then when someone has their little girl raped and murdered, we would say that God is pruning you to make you bear more fruit? Or it is okay for a father to smack his kid across the face as long as in the end he is teaching him to be a better person? I’m just thinking of analogies that this way of interpreting the text would elicit. What about if the “pruning” means cleansing..like it speaks of in John 15:3. How, when, where, and why does the Father cleanse us? When he prunes us in this sense; he is taking away our sins so that we may bear fruits of love, witness of him, and holy deeds. He is not the source and cause of pain and chastening; but rather the loving Gardner who cleanses, prunes, and purges the branches so that they bear more fruit. More food for thought…


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