Aprons of Leaves

      …and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. Gen. 3:7

There is a great debate raging today over what is called “Lordship Salvation.” The debate centers around the question, “Does a person need to accept Jesus Christ as Lord when he accepts Him as Savior, or is that a subsequent decision dealing more with sanctification than salvation?”

We might begin by asking the question, “Is it possible to accept Jesus Christ as Savior only, while not coming under His Lordship as well?” The question being asked is not, “Does the person need to make Christ Lord of all areas of their practical Christian walk at the time of his conversion in order to be saved?” It is rather, “Can we separate these two aspects of Christ in our lives.” Can He be selected from a spiritual menu as Savior, while putting off the selection of Him as Lord until a later date, or perhaps not at all?

Personally, I do not think so. Do we select Him as our High Priest separately from being our Savior? Our Advocate?  Our Lord? Are they not all part and parcel of “accepting Christ?” Is not the saved individual “redeemed” —purchased with the blood of Christ? The apostle Peter is exhorting holiness when he writes, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Pet. 1:13–23) The apostle Paul writing on separation states, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6:19–20) If one is redeemed by the blood of Christ, Christ is His Master and Lord. Whether the individual is in the good of this truth is another question.

However, while these questions deal with the Lordship of Christ, I wonder if Lordship is the primary question. I believe the primary question has to do with “life.” Can there be spiritual life which is never manifested? Even a person in a coma exhibits some form of life! If we come across an individual without any breath and pulse, we do not hesitate to declare him to be dead. Can a person accept Christ as personal Savior and manifest no evidence of eternal life? Can there be life without fruit? Fruit is not a question of service and Lordship, but a question of “life” – eternal life. Fruit is outward evidence of inward life, just as the rising and falling of the chest when breathing and the beating pulse when the heart is functioning are evidences of physical life.

Adam and Eve made themselves aprons of leaves, which provided some coverage, but not in the presence of God. They may have had leaves, but leaves alone without fruit are never an expression of inward reality in the Scriptures.  In fact, Christ condemned the fig tree with only leaves, a picture of Israel with its outward forms, but no inward life. “And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only.”  (Matt. 21:19) Christ saw leaves only as “pretense” without reality.

The apostle John gives us some clear vital signs of life in his first epistle. In his Gospel he tells us  how to obtain eternal life. (John 3:16)  In his first Epistle he tells us how to know we have it. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13) The first sign of being a child of God is given in chapter 2, verse 29. “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” The logic used by John is that if you know the Father you will be able to recognize His children from their common features. Those who habitually practice righteousness are born of Him.

The second sign is in contrast to the first. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9) The result of the presence of the new nature is the absence of the practice of sin. “Therefore the person who is born of God cannot continue practicing sin, he is not able to habitually sin, because out of God he has been born.” (Wuest). John adds in the next verse, “whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God.”

The third vital sign is given in verse 14 of the same chapter. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” Lenski translates it, “We have stepped over out of death into life (we know it by this evidence) because we are loving brothers.” Brother A.M.S. Gooding writes, “We have changed masters, spheres, kingdoms; we are under new ownership; we belong to a new family and the evidence is found in this: ‘we love the brethren.’” One who does not desire to be with the children of God and love the family of God has a vital sign that shows no evidence of life. (1 John 5:2)

The sacrificial love of God shown in the believer is also a vital sign of new birth. (1 John 4:7)  “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” To continue to live for self alone and exhibit no God-like love to others is a concerning vital sign. (James 2:14–20)

Lastly John writes, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” The use of the present participle “believeth” indicates a  continuous condition, meaning He who perseveres in his belief is born of God. What God starts, He completes. (Phil. 1:6) Their continuance is the result of, and proof of their new birth.

Based on the Scriptures could we ever conceive that an individual would be the object of the recreative work of God (2 Cor. 5:17;  Eph. 2:10) and remain the same as he was before conversion? Hardly! To do so is to divide up the work of God in the soul through the Holy Spirit. If one truly has new life, and is a new creature in Christ Jesus, the evidence will manifest itself. (Not that which merits salvation, but that which flows from it. (Eph. 2:10))

      In a day when a shallow Gospel is often presented, and prayers are repeated as mantras, often under pressure, it should not surprise us to see many “professors,” but in reality fewer “possessors.” May we faithfully preach the Gospel of Christ, clearly presenting man’s lost condition and Christ as the Savior of sinners, patiently allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work in the heart. (1 Cor. 3:6) A work that will lead to repentance and faith, and eternal life which will be evidenced by its fruit. (Eph. 2:8–10; James 2:26)