After that thou shalt cut it down


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The Barren Fig Tree - A Study of Luke 13: 6 - 9

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After that thou shalt cut it down

  1. 1. After that Thou Shalt Cut it Down A Study of Luke 13: 6 - 9
  2. 2. Parable - Fig Tree     He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. Luke.13.6 - 9
  3. 3. Sound Fruit & Found None  "A certain man," He continued, "had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none: cut it down ; why cumbereth it the ground?" (Luke 13: 6 & 7) COL.214.001
  4. 4. Not MisUnderstand  Christ's hearers could not misunderstand the application of His words . David had sung of Israel as the vine brought out of Egypt. Isaiah had written, "The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His pleasant plant." Isa. 5:7. The generation to whom the Saviour had come were represented by the fig tree in the Lord's vineyard -- within the circle of His special care and blessing . COL.214.002
  5. 5. God’s Purpose  God's purpose toward His people , and the glorious possibilities before them, had been set forth in the beautiful words, "That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified," Isa. 61:3. The dying Jacob, under the Spirit of inspiration, had said of his best-loved son, "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall." And he said, "The God of thy Father" "shall help thee," the Almighty "shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under." Gen. 49:22, 25. So God had planted Israel as a goodly vine by the wells of life . He had made His vineyard "in a very fruitful hill." He had "fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine." Isa. 5:1, 2. COL.214.003
  6. 6. Wild Grapes  "And He looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes ." Isa. 5:2. The people of Christ's day made a greater show of piety than did the Jews of earlier ages, but they were even more destitute of the sweet graces of the Spirit of God. The precious fruits of character that made the life of Joseph so fragrant and beautiful, were not manifest in the Jewish nation. COL.215.001
  7. 7. Instead of Salvation  God in His Son had been seeking fruit, and had found none . Israel was a cumberer of the ground. Its very existence was a curse ; for it filled the place in the vineyard that a fruitful tree might fill. It robbed the world of the blessings that God designed to give . The Israelites had misrepresented God among the nations. They were not merely useless, but a decided hindrance . To a great degree their religion was misleading , and wrought ruin instead of salvation . COL.215.002
  8. 8. If It Bear Fruit, Well  In the parable the dresser of the vineyard does not question the sentence that the tree , if it remained fruitless , should be cut down; but he knows and shares the owner's interest in that barren tree. Nothing could give him greater joy than to see its growth and fruitfulness. He responds to the desire of the owner, saying, "Let it alone this year also , till I shall dig about it and dung it; and if it bear fruit, well ." COL.215.003
  9. 9. Greater Care  The gardener does not refuse to minister to so unpromising a plant . He stands ready to give it still greater care . He will make its surroundings most favorable , and will lavish upon it every attention . COL.215.004
  10. 10. Every Means  The owner and the dresser of the vineyard are one in their interest in the fig tree. So the Father and the Son were one in their love for the chosen people . Christ was saying to His hearers that increased opportunities would be given them. Every means that the love of God could devise would be put in operation that they might become trees of righteousness, bringing forth fruit for the blessing of the world. COL.216.001
  11. 11. Mercifully Forewarning  Jesus did not in the parable tell the result of the gardener's work . At that point His story was cut short . Its conclusion rested with the generation that heard His words . To them the solemn warning was given . "If not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.“(v.9) Upon them it depended whether the irrevocable words should be spoken . The day of wrath was near . In the calamities that had already befallen Israel, the owner of the vineyard was mercifully forewarning them of the destruction of the unfruitful tree. COL.216.002
  12. 12. Not Seen in Your Life  The warning sounds down along the line to us in this generation. Are you , O careless heart, a fruitless tree in the Lord's vineyard? Shall the words of doom erelong be spoken of you ? How long have you received His gifts ? How long has He watched and waited for a return of love ? Planted in His vineyard, under the watchful care of the gardener, what privileges are yours ! How often has the tender gospel message thrilled your heart ! You have taken the name of Christ , you are outwardly a member of the church which is His body, and yet you are conscious of no living connection with the great heart of love . The tide of His life does not flow through you . The sweet graces of His character , "the fruits of the Spirit," are not seen in your life . COL.216.003
  13. 13. Barren Tree Receives  The barren tree receives the rain and the sunshine and the gardener's care . It draws nourishment from the soil . But its unproductive boughs only darken the ground , so that fruitbearing plants cannot flourish in its shadow . So God's gifts, lavished on you , convey no blessing to the world . You are robbing others of privileges that, but for you, might be theirs . COL.217.001
  14. 14. Pitying Saviour  You realize , though it may be but dimly, that you are a cumberer of the ground . Yet in His great mercy God has not cut you down . He does not look coldly upon you . He does not turn away with indifference, or leave you to destruction. Looking upon you He cries , as He cried so many centuries ago concerning Israel , "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? . . . I will not execute the fierceness of Mine anger. I will not return to destroy Ephraim; for I am God , and not man." Hosea 11:8, 9. The pitying Saviour is saying concerning you, Spare it this year also, till I shall dig about it and dress it . COL.217.002
  15. 15. Unwearied Love Did Christ  With what unwearied love did Christ minister to Israel during the period of added probation . Upon the cross He prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Luke 23:24. After His ascension the gospel was preached first at Jerusalem. There the Holy Spirit was poured out. There the first gospel church revealed the power of the risen Saviour. There Stephen--"his face as it had been the face of an angel" (Acts 6:15)--bore his testimony and laid down his life. All that heaven itself could give was bestowed . "What could have been done more to My vineyard ," Christ said, "that I have not done in it ?" Isa. 5:4. So His care and labor for you are not lessened , but increased . Still He says, "I the Lord do keep it ; I will water it every moment ; lest any hurt it , I will keep it night and day ." Isa. 27:3. COL.218.001
  16. 16. Cut It Down   "If it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that"-The heart that does not respond to divine agencies becomes hardened until it is no longer susceptible to the influence of the Holy Spirit . Then it is that the word is spoken, "Cut it down ; why cumbereth it the ground?"COL.218.002 & 003
  17. 17. Today He Invites YOU  Today He invites you : "O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God. . . . I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely . . . . I will be as the dew unto Israel; he shall grow as the lily , and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. . . . They that dwell under his shadow shall return ; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine . . . . From Me is thy fruit found ." Hosea 14:1-8. COL.218.004
  18. 18. Consider the parable of the fig tree:  "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." Luke 13:6-9. 7T.200.002 & 003
  19. 19. Lesson For All  "Then after that." In these words there is a lesson for all who are connected with the work of God. A period of probation was granted to the tree that bore no fruit . And in like manner God bears long with His people . But of those who have had great advantages , and who are standing in positions of high and sacred trust , and yet bear no fruit, He says: "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?" 7T.200.004
  20. 20. Conniving at Wrong  Let those connected with the Lord's special instrumentalities remember that He will call for fruit from His vineyard. Proportionate to the blessings bestowed will be the returns required . Heavenly angels have visited and ministered in every place where God's institutions are established. Unfaithfulness in these institutions is a greater sin than it would be elsewhere, for it has a greater influence than it would elsewhere have. Unfaithfulness, injustice, dishonesty , conniving at wrong , obstruct the light which God designs shall shine forth from His instrumentalities . 7T.200.005
  21. 21. World is Watching  The world is watching, ready to criticize with keenness and severity your words, your deportment, and your business transactions. Everyone who acts a part in connection with the work of God is watched , and is weighed by the scales of human discernment. Impressions, favorable or unfavorable to Bible religion, are constantly made on the minds of all with whom you have to do . 7T.201.001
  22. 22. Advanced Truth  The world watches to see what fruit is borne by professed Christians. It has a right to look for self-denial and selfsacrifice from those who claim to believe advanced truth . 7T.201.002
  23. 23. Sermon--Parable of the Fig-Tree.  "A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it; and if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." Luke 13:6-9. HS.180.002
  24. 24. Their Last Trial  The Jewish nation was represented as the fig-tree which God had planted in his vineyard . This people he had taken unto himself as his own. They had been greatly favored with temporal and spiritual blessings, and he looked to them to bring forth the fruits of righteousness. Year after year he had come to them hoping to find fruit, but had found none. He had been long forbearing. Justice had urged, "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?" But mercy pleaded for still another trial. The Dresser of the vineyard will put forth yet one more effort to save the fruitless tree . The Son of God will come in person to plead with the chosen people. He will take upon himself humanity , and set before them the example of his own life . If this fails to bring them to repentance , it is their last trial . "After that thou shalt cut it down." In the terrible destruction which came upon the Jewish nation we read the fate of the unfruitful tree . HS.180.003
  25. 25. Symbol of the Fig Tree  Under the symbol of the fig-tree, Christ represents , not the Jews only, but all who have neglected to improve the gifts of Heaven. He has bestowed upon us greater blessings than were granted to his ancient people, and he claims of us fruit corresponding to the gifts bestowed . What is this fruit? It is a pure and holy character ; godliness , self-denial for others' good , meekness and lowliness of heart . Jesus claims penitence , faith , and obedience . He came to leave for men a perfect model of character . He was obedient to all the requirements of his Father . If we follow him , we shall in our life carry out the precepts of God's holy law . HS.180.004
  26. 26. Through Christ  Dear brethren, He who has given you talents , has by these sacred trusts made you capable of bearing precious fruit to his glory . Through Christ , God has opened heaven before you , and all needful grace is brought within your reach . The Saviour died that by his grace you might become partakers of the divine nature . He expects you to bear fruit . With what interest has he watched and waited for some returns for his great sacrifice . HS.180.005
  27. 27. Solemn Lesson  Consider, I pray you , the solemn lesson of this parable . The dresser of the vineyard pleads for a respite for the doomed fig-tree ; but if it still bear no fruit, he himself declares , "After that thou shalt cut it down." May not this be the position of some now before me ? May they not be even now receiving the last trial ? The divine illumination, the example of perfect goodness, are granted us . From time to time, new opportunities, new lessons, are given . And what will be the result ? If we are careless and neglectful , we know not how soon the word may be spoken of us , "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?" HS.180.006
  28. 28. Heir of Heaven  How many years have we been in the Lord's garden ? and what profit have we brought to the Master ? How are we meeting the inspecting eye of God ? Are we increasing in reverence , love , humility , confidence in God ? Do we cherish gratitude for all his mercies ? Are we seeking to bless those around us ? Do we manifest the spirit of Jesus in our families ? Are we teaching his word to our children , and making known to them the wonderful works of God ? The Christian must represent Jesus by both being good and doing good . Then there will be a fragrance about the life , a loveliness of character , which will reveal the fact that he is a child of God , an heir of heaven . HS.181.001
  29. 29.  Promise is Very Precious Brethren, be no longer slothful servants. Every soul must battle against inclination . Christ came not to save men in their sins, but from their sins . He has made it possible for us to possess a holy character ; do not, then, be content with defects and deformities. But while we are to seek earnestly for perfection of character, we must remember that sanctification is not the work of a moment, but of a lifetime . Said Paul, "I die daily." Day by day the work of overcoming must go forward. Every day we are to resist temptation, and gain the victory over selfishness in all its forms. Day by day we should cherish love and humility, and cultivate in ourselves all those excellencies of character which will please God and fit us for the blessed society of heaven. To all who are seeking to accomplish this work, the promise is very precious , "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.“ (Rev.3.5) HS.181.002
  30. 30. Love Souls as He Has Loved Us  Every Christian will have a missionary spirit. To bear fruit is to work as Christ worked, to love souls as he has loved us . The very first impulse of the renewed heart is to bring others also to the Saviour : and just as soon as a person is converted to the truth , he feels an earnest desire that those in darkness should see the precious light shining from God's word . HS.181.003
  31. 31. Christ Spoke a Parable  Christ spoke a parable to convey to the people a truth which would ever be remembered. He said: "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none; cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it; and if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." For three years Christ had carefully sought for fruit among the Jewish people. Rich opportunities and privileges had been granted them . ST.1895-11-21.001
  32. 32. He Constantly Refreshed Humanity  For three years and a half Christ had tabernacled among men . "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt [tabernacled] among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.“ (John.1.14) He was as the shadow of a great rock in a desert land, where no water is. He constantly refreshed humanity by opening to men the cool streams of the brook flowing from Lebanon . He was ever seeking to refresh his vineyard. He sought to leave his imprint upon the hearts and characters of his followers. He identified his interest with that of fallen humanity . Their weakness was his weakness . Their necessity was his necessity . As a humble suppliant who sought divine strength from the hand of his Father , he took the attitude of petitioner, that he himself might be invigorated and refreshed by converse with God . ST.1895-11-21.001
  33. 33. Communion With God  Christ took upon himself human nature , but daily he linked it with the divine nature . He devoted whole nights to prayer , leaving an example for all humanity ; for as he relied upon God , the Source of all strength , so are we to be invigorated and refreshed , to be strengthened for duty and braced for trial , through communion with God . ST.1895-11-21.002
  34. 34. Christ Labored  Christ labored for his vineyard. The Prince of heaven, he was yet the intercessor for man , and he had power with God , and prevailed for himself and for his people . Morning by morning he communicated with his Father in heaven , receiving from him daily a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit . The Lord awakened him from his slumbers in the early hours of the new day , that his soul and his lips might be anointed with grace which he should impart to others . His words were given him fresh from the heavenly courts , words that he might speak in season to those that were weary and oppressed . Of Christ we read , "The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know to speak a word in season to him that is weary; he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned." (Isa.50.4) ST.1895-11-21.003
  35. 35. Human Agent  The Son of God , having humanity upon him, lived in our world as a human agent . He passed over the ground which man must travel. He supplicated for suffering humanity till his humanity was charged with a heavenly current that should connect humanity with divinity . He uttered supplications for a people over whom the prince of darkness was striving for mastery. He healed the sick , relieved the suffering and oppressed , consoled the bereaved , and restored the backslider , seeking and saving that which was lost . Christ worked for his vineyard , speaking words in season . ST.1895-11-21.004
  36. 36. Ominous Sentence  But what an ominous sentence is this --"And if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down"! Our Saviour was calling the Jewish nation to repentance . To them he said , "Except ye repent , ye shall all likewise perish ." (Luke.13.3 & 5) In the parable of the vineyard Christ represented to them the manner in which God had dealt with them . He showed them the blessings that God had given them ; for the vineyard was a symbol of the Jewish nation. ST.1895-11-21.004
  37. 37. What Mean These Words  Well might the Jewish nation inquire, "What mean these words , And after that thou shalt cut it down." They might have been answered, "O inhabitants of Jerusalem, this is your day of opportunity and privilege, your day of merciful visitation." It was still time for them to know the things which belonged unto their peace. Jesus was in the midst of them , the only one who had power to save them ; but their unbelief, their resistance, was bringing to them its sure results of hardness of heart and impenitence, and was filling them with stubbornness and rebellion. ST.1895-11-21.005
  38. 38. Irrevocable Words  Jesus was diffusing light , scattering his blessings upon every hand , showering mercies upon the unthankful and the evil . His mercies were unacknowledged , and Jesus , the Light , the Way , and the Truth , was rejected . Still a brief space was theirs before the irrevocable words should be spoken . Shall the season of trial close , and after that the mandate from heaven be pronounced . "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?" They had fulfilled the word , "They would none of My counsel; they despised all My reproof .“ (Pro.1.30) They had none to blame but themselves if they perished in their sins . Jesus had said to them , "Ye will not come unto me , that ye might have life ." (John.5.40) ST.1895-11-21.005
  39. 39. Wrought Ruin Instead of Salvation  The Lord had often punished the enemies of the Jewish nation, and had saved his people when their foes purposed to destroy them . As a mighty warrior he had raised his hand to press back the powers of darkness, working in behalf of his people in order that the Jews and that other nations might have an opportunity to see the character of God as represented in Christ Jesus . He gave them an opportunity to repent and to believe on the only-begotten Son of God . And "as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John.1.12) He bore long with the Jewish nation, even when they were given up to idolatry. He saw them not as fruitbearing trees , but as cumberers of the ground. These were not merely useless , but decided hindrances . Their religion was misleading , and wrought ruin instead of salvation . ST.1895-11-21.006
  40. 40. Great Teacher  But the great Teacher had undertaken the task of correcting the evil that existed in the world. He sought to break the spell which paralyzed every spiritual energy . With what authority he spoke , with what winning grace he gave his invitations , his assurances, and promises! His commands and denunciations were alike clothed in language that was elevating and uplifting . His utterances were the expression of paternal tenderness and love . In no instance did he lower the standard of the law of God . He came to show the world its value , its elevated character . He was the Desire of nations , the world's only hope , and was obedient to all the commandments of God , thus showing forth the divine character ST.1895-11-21.007 .
  41. 41. He Came to Test  He came to test the Jewish nation, to try them after the plan of God . If they persisted in continuing in transgression , they would miserably perish . This will be the fate of all who turn a deaf ear to the words of invitation and warning sent of God . Those who refuse to listen in this their day of test and trial , will have to meet the results of their own perversity . They may grasp eagerly for the treasures of the earth , seek its honors and pleasures , but what a scene will the judgment present when the books are opened , and every man is rewarded according as his works have been ! ST.1895-11-21.007
  42. 42. Soul’s Value  The soul's value is estimated by the cross of Calvary . The Lord appreciates the souls for whom he died, and wants them to be the subjects of his kingdom; but the god of this world blinds the perceptive powers of men so that they do not see their peril. To them Christ is saying , "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!" (Luke.19.42) He is still pleading that they may understand the day of their visitation , saying, as did the gardener concerning the unfruitful tree, "Let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it, and if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." (Luke.13.8 & 9) ST.1895-11-21.008