The Enemy’s Tree
Does Christ’s exhortation to His disciples in John 15 to remain in Him allow for the possibility of unregenerate New Covenant members?
Doug Wilson writes:
“For many Christians, [John 15:1-6] is a ‘problem passage.’ We want Christ to use a different figure. We want Him to be the Marble Box, with us as the individual marbles. When we are saved, we are put into the Marble Box, and we had better watch it, or we might find ourselves taken out of the Marble Box, losing our salvation. Or, if we know that salvation is not a possession of ours, which we could lose, we want the Marble Box to have a great big lock on it, and to be full of elect, non-loseable marbles” (To a Thousand Generations, p. 84).
We agree that the truly elect cannot be lost. We also agree that not all of the Old Covenant people were truly elect. But can we import this “not all Israel are Israel” into the New Covenant order?
Isn’t the whole point of Spirit over Law the fact that the Law is being fulfilled in us? Where the Law was weak, the Law is now strong by the Spirit because the Spirit can take the Law beyond the letter, beyond the “blueprint” requirements and actually build a lasting house by the power of God. All Israel is now truly all Israel. The border is no longer flesh on Land but the curtains of the Holy Tent.
Sure, we see baptized Christians fall away. We see denominations fall away. But Pastor Wilson’s purpose in discussing this passage is to create a handy-dandy divide between the visible, historical church and the eschatological church so he can wheel prams into the gap.
As I’ve said before, the Old Covenant process was from Law to Repentance. Yes, many believed, but as a “church body” it was a period of childhood. The New Covenant process is from Repentance to Resurrection. There’s no need for perambulators for the upright.
Jesus’ analogies very often slice through our neat doctrinal systems, but we know that the most crucial interpretive factor is not timeless truth, nor culture, but Covenant. What would come to mind as a first century Jew when Jesus says He is the true vine? The Feast of Tabernacles. Throughout the Old Testament, I have found that the mention of “vine” coincides with the final step of the Feast/Creation/Dominion matrix. It’s almost always a dead giveaway, particularly in Isaiah. It’s the Jew/Gentile rest entered into after the “Joshua” Conquest at Atonement.
Firstly, in context, if Jesus is the true vine, who is the false vine? The system of Herodian worship presiding over the Covenant people, or “the kings of the earth” as many English translations unfortunately render it. Only Jesus could bring true peace, and He would do it by opening the Veil, His own flesh, ripped in two like the animals cut by Abraham, reunited by fire.
Secondly, what time of year is it? As mentioned, it is Booths, also known as Ingathering. The word “abide” or “remain” is fairly consistently used to refer to Booths in biblical literary structure (see the cycles in Acts, for instance). It is God’s people gathered into God’s house, and in Acts it is usually Gentile houses!
Pentecost brings wheat, but olives and grapes take longer to mature. In Israel’s “big history,” Pentecost was the time of the Davidic Kings, the “mighty men,” whose failures eventually brought the Trumpets of the prophets. The Atonement period was from Joshua the High Priest to Jeshua the High Priest, type to reality. Now Israel was ready to throw the biggest Jew-Gentile God-fest—Tabernacles—in history, and it would cost her both her High Priests, the true One and the false one, and tear her prostituted Veil in two. It would also reclothe her in something better.
While the True Tabernacle, at its completion, would be filled with Shekinah, the false Herodian Temple would be filled with seven demons, seven eyes of darkness, the same false Lampstand encountered by Adam in Eden. “So shall it be with this generation.”
So, Jesus’ warning here is tied to Old Covenant Israel. Can we apply it today? Yes, certainly. We can apply all Scriptures to ourselves with Covenantal and historical qualification.
But, tying Jesus’ words to Paul’s, grapes and olives, it seems the “branch” period was limited to the apostolic “firstfruits” church. The “wild olive” branches were Noahic believers, carried by the Dove-Spirit, a fertile, holy remnant from the Old Creation. Those branches founded the New Order, an apostolic structure which would bear the weight of all future hybrid fruit. And God loves godly hybrid marriages. Not only is the food interesting, but the children are better looking. 
This would mean that the period of ingrafting was completed in AD70. It means that Jesus’ and Paul’s references to olive tree and vine were not implying a permanent harvest, for there is no such thing. Harvests are never permanent. It means that Jewish branches did not exist after AD70, because the Jew/Gentile divide was gone. It means that the only thing that grows out of the tree now is fruit. AD70 completed the framework and the “millennium” is glorifying it, “filling it up.” 
So, for the Husbandman, the Great Tribulation was the Great Purge. And for Pastor Wilson, the pram parking space was a figment. Even if the Firstfruits Church had made room for a baptism that deliberately included the unregenerate, (and this is an extremely tenuous assertion) the post AD70 church most definitely cannot. The ingrafting refers to the establishment of a New Covenant elder-priesthood, and they are now ruling in heaven on thrones, the redeemed of the First Resurrection.
This interpretation is simply an assertion, of course, but it does take into account the principle of “first audience.” And it means that the only malignant growths the church now deals with are fruits hanging over the wall, picked in bad judgment from the Enemy’s tree (Bunyan). As the “heavenly country,” the Body of Christ is to vomit them out (Leviticus 18: 25, 28; 20:22; Revelation 3:16). 
 See Forbidden Mixtures.
 See Communion of Saints.
 See Spat Out at Jesus’ Table.