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. [1]

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.” [2]

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). [3]
[1] See Forbidden Mixtures.
[2] See Communion of Saints.
[3] See Spat Out at Jesus’ Table.

Share Button

3 Responses to “The Enemy’s Tree”

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Today, Pastor Wilson writes:

    “There really are people who really are removed from the Vine. They are described in Scripture as branches which bear no fruit. The Bible teaches that these are people who are connected to Christ (they have to be connected to Him in order to be removed from Him), who nevertheless have no saving interest in Him. If they were regenerate, they would bear fruit. They are not regenerate, but they are attached to the Vine. And in God’s providence, the fruitless branches are removed” (To a Thousand Generations, p. 85).

    Here’s my reply:

    As mentioned yesterday, if the disciples were natural branches, and they were, they grew out of the trunk under the Old Covenant, a Covenant of flesh. The branches grew from nothing, and it was not apparent if they would be fruitful or not until they reached harvest time.

    But branches that are grafted in are a different story, surely? They must already be, to some degree, mature. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t be grafting them in.

    All of which leaves twigs, er, infants, out of the picture. Babies aren’t branches. Not only can they not have Old Covenant fruit (flesh) they can’t have New Covenant fruit.

    I think I’ve pushed the analogy far enough, but it should be clear that this angle in the argument for grafting babies into the Covenant tree — whose nature was entirely changed by Jesus from flesh to Spirit, from structure to glory — is a dead end.

    Not only can babies not be “cut” in a New Covenant way (repentance), but baptism was very obviously the beginning of fruit bearing, of witness. It is the public vindication of the first stage of maturity. Let’s not mess with it any longer.

    To hone it down some more, the question Pastor Wilson is asking seems to be this:

    Since the Church can mistakenly baptize unregenerate adults, surely it is acceptable, if not expected, for us to do it deliberately to our infants.

    But we are not seed in the way Jews were, and this idea of a “New Covenant” pedigree that is bereft of Spirit is entirely carnal.

    Just imagine if we could combine FV Covenant child rearing with credobaptism? Now that would be a force to reckon with. Forming AND filling!

  • Steven Opp Says:

    Hi Mike,
    I’ve read some of your discussions both here and on Doug’s blog about the paedo/credo baptism debate. I find it interesting and am thinking I might write a paper on it for my grad studies. Do you happen to have all your ideas about baptism in a big article which summarizes your defense of credo baptism?

  • Mike Bull Says:


    Best approach is to use the ‘baptism’ tag around here and start with the oldest posts. They have the ‘matrix’ pattern applied to baptism and then take it from there.

    Kind regards,