The Alarming Sentence!
"A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it — but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard: For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree — and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil!" Luke 13:6-7
No place is as dangerous for an unconverted person, as the church of God. It is to be feared that many join the church before they are truly converted; and yet very, very few — are ever converted after.
Once under a profession — God expects you to live up to that profession.
If you are planted in His vineyard — God expects you to bring forth fruit.
The owner of the vineyard comes and seeks fruit; He comes again, and again; and if He find none, He passes this solemn sentence, "Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?"
Let us look at Christ's figure a little:
A fig-tree--or a professor of the religion of Christ.
A fruitless fig-tree--or a barren, useless professor.
A fig-tree with leaves of profession--but not the fruit of holiness.
Such can have no true faith in Jesus, for true faith will work, as it is a fruit-bearing root — it will show its origin, nature, and tendency.
Such have no true love to saints, as saints, for love will act — it will feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the wretched, relieve the miserable, and spread the gospel. Love is a most powerful principle; a very active grace, an ornamental virtue, an acceptable fruit of itself.
Such yield no hearty obedience to God, for He requires fruit; fruit in the family, fruit in the world, and fruit in the church. Every fruitless branch He takes away, and of every fruitless professor He says, "Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?" It takes up the room which may be occupied by a better tree; it drains the ground of its nourishment for no good purpose.
"Cut it down!" Labor is but lost upon it; means are useless to it; expectation is disappointed by it; therefore, "Cut it down! My patience and forbearance are worn out; I have come three years seeking fruit, and find none. The reputation of the vineyard is injured by it; so, Cut it down!"
It is a fearful sentence! God gives the command to some disease — He says, "Go, cut that barren professor down!" He sends death, like the woodsman with his sharpened axe — he lays down the axe at the root for a little; at length he strikes the fatal blow; and then the fruitless professor falls!
This command of God is fearful — it is full of terror — it includes utter destruction!
This command is irresistible — we cannot evade it — we cannot brave it out — the boldest spirit fails — the strongest body yields to God's "Cut it down!"
This command is final, there is all that is dreadful wrapped up in it, even a "certain, fearful looking-for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversary!"
It is to be cut down and committed to the eternal flames of Hell.
Here is wrath — fearful wrath!
Here is justice, inflexible justice!
Here is vengeance — the vengeance of an infinite God!
O fruitless professor. . .
God looks for fruit from every professor. He demands fruit of everyone who has a place in His church. He will certainly punish — if there is no fruit, and good fruit too.
Just think, where is that fig-tree now? Where will you be soon? The axe lies at your root, even now! The executioner is only awaiting the command! His eye is anxiously fixed on the Lord of the vineyard, for orders! And were it not that there is an Intercessor, the command would have been given before this. The dresser of the vineyard pleads, "Lord, let it alone this year also" — and you have hitherto been spared. But mercy will soon urge her last plea; the year of reprieve will soon expire, and then, "Cut it down!" is all that remains. Oh, how dreadful the thought — to go to Hell through the church of God! To profess that you are traveling to Heaven — when in reality you are going with the lost multitude to eternal perdition!