PLANTED BY THE FATHER OR ROOTED UP?
T. PIERCE BROWN
Jesus said, “Every plant which my heavenly father hath not planted shall be rooted up” (Mt.15:13). That this applies to denominational organizations is certain. But the context suggests that it includes every doctrine, practice, organization, tradition and attitude not authorized of God.
Paul says in Col. 3:17, “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name (by the authority) of the Lord Jesus.” So, we must conclude that anything not authorized by Jesus is condemned. But the point of this article is that Jesus is the one who said so! I have written a workbook on THE MIND OF CHRIST, designed to help us develop the mind of Christ rather than just talk about it. In almost every lesson, we see that he was not only kind, loving, gracious, tender, compassionate and understanding, but he was plain, straightforward, bold and uncompromising in his language and actions about sin and error under all circumstances.
It is a false concept that since Jesus was meek and lowly in heart (Mt. 11:29), if we have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5) we must be so soft and “mushy” that no one can tell for sure what we condemn, if anything. Too many of us have preached in a bitter, arrogant, sarcastic or hateful way, almost totally negative and derogatory. But our refusal to do that kind of preaching does not release us from the responsibility to “speak the truth in love” (Eph.4:15).
Many, present-day preachers, if they had been at Pentecost, would have sounded something like this: “Brethren, we think it is possible that some of you may have erred slightly in judgment and allowed a relatively innocent man to be put to death. If so, it seems proper to share with you my feeling that you should try to rectify that in some way.” But the Holy Spirit did not and does not want it done that way. Peter was neither ashamed nor afraid to point out that they were guilty of crucifying the Lord.
The emphasis should be on the good news of what God has graciously done for us rather than on the bad news of our hell-bound condition. But the real truth of the matter is that no person can really appreciate the good news of salvation if he is not made to realize he is lost.
It is but another symptom of a widespread disease that we hear many persons pray so often, “God, forgive of us our many mistakes and shortcomings.” They do not seem to know they have sinned! God can overlook mistakes and shortcomings, but needs to forgive sins.
When Jesus offended some listeners and they went away (John 6:66), he did not run apologetically after them, saying, “I did not really mean it that way!” He sadly let them go and said to his apostles, “Will ye also go away?” “Speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) did not then, and does not now involve “watering it down”, compromising it or failing to boldly and clearly proclaim it.
Let us freely admit that there may be some plants in God’s garden that are unknown to us. No person who properly understands New Testament Christianity would take the position that a person has to have any knowledge of what is sometimes called “our fellowship” or have their name listed in “Where the Saints Meet” in order to have been planted of God. But that in no sense implies that a person can become a Christian by hearing and obeying denominational doctrines or any perverted “gospel.” “The seed is the word of God ” (Luke8:11). And if anyone plants anything else, the plant produced thereby will be rooted up! So, wherever the gospel in its purity is heard, believed and obeyed, there is a plant of God! But if that gospel is perverted (even by an angel from heaven — Gal. 1:8) it does not produce a plant from God, and will be rooted up!
So we want to emphasize that if the “plant” about which Jesus was talking was doctrine, he was plain, unambiguous, bold and clear that false doctrine is condemned, vain and useless, for he said, “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt. 15:9). And anything produced by that false doctrine will fall in the same category and under the same condemnation.
Jesus uses the same kind of language if the “plant” refers to any practice. He scathingly rebuked the Pharisees for many things, among them, “They say and do not” (Mt. 23:2-3). There was never any “wishy-washy”, “soft-soaping”, compromising language used, but striking and forceful denunciation of sin in all of its forms. Even his kindest action toward a sinner, such as the woman caught in the act of adultery (John8:11) left her with the knowledge she had sinned, as he said, “Go and sin no more.” Different kinds of sin deserve different kinds of rebuke, but none of them are to be “smoothed over” as if they were not there!
“Let your speech be always with grace” is a command of God, but “seasoned with salt” is also included (Col. 4:6). The fact that some get so “salty” we can scarcely stand to listen is no excuse for our failure to be Christlike — plain and bold in condemnation of sin!