Provocative Fruit

Scripture reveals that God plans to save a future generation of Israelites in Christ by provoking the Jews to jealousy through abundant blessings to the Gentiles in Christ. This is quite a project.

We will not aim to make Jews jealous if we don’t think that Jews are still part of God’s plan. We will not be motivated to provoke them, or confident that God will give us the required blessings for it, if we think that His promises to Israel have been redefined. This is a Dispensational aim and a Dispensational assurance.

We also will not aim to make Jews jealous if we think that our lives are throw-away, that everything we do will “burn,” that we should hide out in the basement reading our Bibles, lamenting the 6 o’clock news and latest attack by the Islamic State. We will not provoke the elect by our whimpering waiting for the rapture helicopter out of hell on earth. Provocative jealousy is a Kuyperian end requiring Kuyperian energy.

It ought to be our aim to make an entire nation—and our neighbors, too—jealous with what God has give us. What is it we want them to see?

Many a Christian has gone to heaven like a lottery ball, maybe bouncing off the other balls before being raptured up into the tube alone. They ought instead to be like cue balls, heading for other balls on purpose. Did there need to be Gentile cue balls? No. Is that how God runs the table? Yes.

Christians are saved by faith alone, so a Christian could theoretically believe and it not be obvious. But James said that works grow out of living faith (James 2:18-26). Paul aimed at the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26). God has prepared beforehand good works for those with faith to walk in (Ephesians 2:8-10). Faith has fruit in sanctification; faith has Spirit-produced fruit. Faith follows God with feet and fingers. Faith fights.

Church, where is our fruit? Where is our fight? The author of Hebrews talked about those “who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight” (Hebrews 11:33–34). Because Jesus is Lord we marry and raise kids and bake cupcakes and attend City Council meetings and tweet against abortion and hire employees and drink wine at parties. These are merely a sample of the fruitful blessings God gives to those who believe.

This is not a new “prosperity gospel.” By faith we also suffer in joy and endure with perseverance by God’s blessing. Again in Hebrews, others through faith “were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:35–38). Our confident losing by faith may be even more provocative to the Jews. “It has been granted to (us) that for the sake of Christ (we) should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29). When we are not frightened, it is a sign of winning (Philippians 1:28).

A Kuyperian Dispensationalist is a Christian who acknowledges Jesus as Lord in everything he does on earth in order to make the Jews jealous of God’s blessing so that all Israel would believe and be saved. We live by faith, more than conquerers even when we’re killed, bringing life from our sacrificial, daily deaths. Informed by our Bible reading and study, we look for the the Word to yield its fruit in season, making us without a withering leaf, prospering us unlike the wind-driven chaff. Our meditation on His Word should produce provocative fruit.

This cannot be done individually, but it must be done by persons of faith. One celebrity getting saved isn’t meant to do what the church in Christ does: produce much fruit. Because Jesus is Lord and we seek to honor Him in our culture maybe we will rebuild America in His name, or maybe we will thrive in Post-America in His name. This project isn’t tied to America’s future, but it is a project for the public square as well.

The next stage in God’s plan will not happen by magic. He has planned for us to be the means of provoking jealousy. He has given us riches of many kinds, and we’re to magnify them to make the Jews jealous.

This is a reason for everything! It is a unified explanation of humanity and history, and it is a motivation for our intentional and quotidian and joyful contribution. The foundation of our fruit-seeking is that God created us as His image-bearers. We can also see that fruit-bearing according to God’s blessing is good for humanity to flourish. But provocative fruit is the promised future. Our labor in the Lord is not in vain. Whether we plant or water, He gives growth, He gives new hearts, He enables us to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:10).

For too long we’ve been hanging out in our Baptistic bunkers and basements as bumps-on-a-log. We are good at talking about the cultural battle, not sure what we’d do if we won. We run in one direction: away. We’re complaining, combative, complacent Christians. Who wants more of that?

Can or would we accomplish this provocation haphazardly? God does use the foolish to do His work. But how much more so if we believe His Word and obey Him and honor Christ as Lord in our spheres? Parenting, economics, education, science, art? We should not retreat, we should run toward. Our purpose is to, by faith, prudently and persistently provoke jealousy among elect Israel by how we seek and steward God’s blessings. This is the big perspective and driving passion of a Kuyperian Dispensationalist.

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