Pruning & Grafting: A Reason to Take Heed
By W. A. Dillard
Text: Romans 11:17, 18
“And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.”
The eleventh chapter of Romans is a most interesting revelation of the Master Gardner’s pruning and grafting. The information promotes great joy while being very forward in stern warning. It speaks not so much of spiritual salvation as it does covenant relationship with God which is predicated upon spiritual salvation and obedience to Him.
The purpose of a special people of covenant relationship with God was begun in Abraham and concludes with the New Testament Church. Under the tutorial ministry of the Holy Spirit and the completed Word, the church brings saved men to their highest level of spiritual maturity which qualifies them to rule and reign with Christ Jesus in the next age: the millennial reign of the Savior.
Ancient Israel was the object of that covenant relationship: first in promise to and through Abraham, then in tutorial law from Moses to Christ Jesus. They were the branches of the holy root whose purpose was to bring forth fruit according to the nature of the root. Their abject failure to do so led to the nation being cut off from covenant relationship even as branches severed from the tree.
A Jewish Remnant Survived
But did that mean God’s covenant with them was a failure? No, it did not. There was a remnant of Jewish believers who came into New Testament relationship to Jesus: the first church was one hundred percent Jewish. But the nation was cut off because of unbelief. They failed to recognize their Messiah when He came to them, offering to them the kingdom of heaven. Moreover, they crucified Him as an imposter. Thus were they severed from the holy Olive tree.
Covenant Privileges Granted to the Gentiles
The apostle underscores that their being cut off opened the door to that special relationship to the nations. Saved people all over the world have the grand privilege of coming into covenant relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ by baptism and fellowship in a local, visible, New Testament Church.
Such people of the nations are said to be wild branches that are grafted into the holy Olive tree to bring forth fruit of the nature of the root. How long will the natural branches remain severed? Until the time of the nations be fulfilled.
Then they will be grafted back into the holy Olive tree. Until then they will remain in unbelief and blindness spiritually. In view of history, the concern of the present population of the Lord’s churches should be one of attention to avoid lethargy, spiritual sleep, and arrogance of their standing with Christ Jesus.
Churches have been pruned from the Tree, and will continue to be as they become of like mind as ancient Israel. “For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee” (Romans 11:21).
So, what do we now know about this matter of being faithful? We know that the Lord is going to reward those who were faithful
And we know that faithfulness is more than just outward acts and more than just an inward attitude — it is BOTH COMBINED! We must be faithful to believe what Jesus taught and not change that Truth.
Yet, while believing the Truth, we must be careful to demonstrate the very principle of that Truth in our daily lives toward one another. That is what the Lord will regard as being faithful.