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Grace Bible Church
The Tree of Life
A Weekly Review
Week ending 04/03/11
Responding to the Potter's wheel of progress by means of brokenness.

The Potter’s wheel of progress refers to such doctrinal principles such as that which Paul stated in:

2CO 4:15, For all things are for your sakes,

ROM 8:28, To those who love God causes all things to work together for good.

This means that whether the believer is progressing or retrogressing, the Potter’s wheel is for our own benefit. In fact, many times what appears to be retrogressing is progressing, or what appears to be demotion is in reality promotion.

For those of you who have studied the doctrine of Spiritual Metabolism with me, it is like the principle of anabolism and catabolism. Metabolism is defined as the process that takes organic and inorganic substances such as proteins and water and changes them into energy for the physical body. Metabolism refers to the chemical changes in living cells by which energy is provided for activity and action. In metabolism, new material is taken in and digested to repair the waste. Just as metabolism takes place in the physical realm it also takes place in the spiritual realm. This is how the believer becomes strengthened or filled with spiritual energy. A very interesting process takes place in metabolism. For instance, there is what is known as anabolism:

Anabolism is that part of metabolism that is converted for good; it is called the constructive part of metabolism. It takes small cells of energy and enlarges them. Then there is catabolism which comes from the Greek kata bolewhich means to throw down, and that’s the part that is broken down and destroyed - this process breaks down the cells which could be destructive. The Potter’s wheel of progress does two things...it destroys some things that are no good and it builds you up. It’s just like Bible Doctrine.

Bible doctrine doesn’t always build you up; sometimes it tears you down. That is why the pastor-teacher is given delegated authority. For example, the apostle Paul said in 2CO 10:8, For even if I should boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I shall not be put to shame, Or 2CO 13:10, For this reason I am writing these things while absent, in order that when present I may not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me, for building up and not for tearing down.

So the Potter’s wheel of progress includes both positive and negative feature. For the believer who responds to the Potter’s wheel, the result is genuine humility followed by genuine brokenness that reveals to the humble and broken believer that his outward man and his inward man are not in harmony or agreement with one another. And therefore as AMO 3:3 says, Can two walk together, except they be agreed? This verse becomes a major issue in the spiritual life. So, just like in metabolism, it is the purpose of the Potter’s wheel to strengthen the new man or nature while at the same time weakening the old man or the old nature. The believer who responds to the Potter’s wheel of progress by means of genuine brokenness realizes the inability of his unregenerate man (old man) to submit to the control of God the Holy Spirit rendering him incapable of obeying God. No matter what you think about mankind it’s what God thinks that really counts.

ROM 3:10-18, as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving, The poison of asps is under their lips Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; Their feet are swift to shed blood, Destruction and misery are in their paths, And the path of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Our Lord described the human race in ISA 1:5-6 when He said, Where will you be stricken again, as you continue in your rebellion? The whole head is sick, And the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head There is nothing sound in it, Only bruises, welts, and raw wounds, Not pressed out or bandaged, Nor softened with oil.

JER 17:9, The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

PSA 39:5b, “Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.”

ISA 64:6, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a menstrual rag;”

So, the clay that is being turned and broken will quickly discover that the greatest difficulty lies in the distractions and hindrances from the outward man as it hinders him from learning and advancing in God’s plan. Remember, the three great enemies of the believer --- the world, the flesh and the devil. They seek to hinder us from glorifying God. These enemies do not want us to apply truth to our lives. They desire to enslave us to the circumstances of life and prevent our spiritual growth. We overcome these enemies as we maintain our fellowship with God, through daily operating in His power.

In the early chapters of Genesis, these three enemies are introduced to us in reverse order: The devil (Gen 3 - the temptation and fall); the flesh (4:1-15; “sin crouching at the door”); and, the world (4:16-26; where we see the descendants of Cain making progress, but it is progress without God.

Now, the goal of the Potter's wheel is two-fold: First, to teach us in ROM 6:6, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with {Him,} that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin;

GAL 5:24, Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Then secondly, EPH 4:24, and put on the new self, which in {the likeness of} God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Putting on the new self means that when we are living in God’s power as the new man, we think as Christ thought. It means when we're tested to go independently of God, we value what Christ valued (the Father’s will). Putting on the new man means when we are tempted to fear, we handle problems as Christ handled problems, with confidence and obedience. This is because God’s servants are not able to do even the most basic requirements because they have not only learned but also experienced that verse we noted on Wednesday evening;

MAT 26:41b, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Or they have struggled with JOH 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

For many believers, due to the distractions of the outward man, their spiritual life does not seem to function properly basically because the outward man has never been dealt with. Eventually, one way or another, the believer learns that there is just one basic element that can enable man to be useful before God: Brokenness.

We must learn and come to know that the vessel of honor who can serve and honor God is the one whose inward man can be released. However, there must be some brokenness on the part of the vessel for that which is within the vessel to leak out, or better yet to flow out. However, if we have never learned how to release our inward man by breaking through the outward man, we are not able to serve God properly. Nothing can hinder us so much as the outward man motivated by the OSN. Whether our works are fruitful or not depends upon whether our outward man has been broken so that the inward man can pass through that brokenness and come forth. This is the basic problem.

The Lord wants to break our outward man in order that the inward man may have a way out. When the inward man is released, both unbelievers and believers will be blessed. This is the principle of 2CO 4:12, So death works in us, but life in you. This is the motivation of the believer who has the attitude of the apostle Paul had described for us in such passages as;

ACT 20:24, But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

JOH 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

As usual the isagogics is important to this interpretation because our Lord’s audience according to verse 20, was basically Greeks and resurrection was entirely foreign to the thinking of Greeks and Greek culture. However, at this time, the crowd has been intrigued by the fact that someone - namely Lazarus, - has been brought back from the dead. Now the Greeks are going to learn something about resurrection and they are going to understand it from the framework of their own culture and the purpose of death and brokenness. To the Greeks, they understood the principle of death and life which is what our Lord pointed to in JOH 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone;” To the Greeks, before the wheat comes up so that the Greek cities were provided for and preserved for another year, the seed must die before the roots emerge in the ground and the stalk comes up.

First of all, there must be a seed. In MAT 13:38, The people of God are the seed where the Lord takes His children and plants them in soil where they will produce the best results for Him.

Secondly, then the seed must fall into the earth and die; JOH 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone;”

Thirdly, the seed must be rooted into the ground. This speaks of the believer who in EPH 3:17b  being rooted and grounded in virtue-love,

COL 2:7, “having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith,”

Fourth, it brings forth the harvest which provides and preserves for those who are in need, JOH 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

“it remains by itself alone” is the present active indicative of meno which describes the seed after it is planted. It keeps on being alone. It’s a reference to the fact that when Jesus Christ was on the cross He was alone. When you are broken by the Potter’s wheel of progress, you  will also be alone.

GAL 6:5, For each one shall bear his own load.

PSA 23:4, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil;

So, notice after death there is the multiplication of fruit. In resurrection and ascension is where there is multiplication of bearing much fruit, but on the Cross, Christ was not only unique as the God-Man but He was alone when bearing our sins. There can be no body of Christ, no dispensation of the Church, no believers in this Age until the cross occurs and Christ is. When He was on the cross God the Father poured out the sins of the world on Jesus Christ. This qualifies Jesus Christ to be the only celebrity in Christianity. HEB 2:9-14, by being alone, He brings many sons into glory.

So Jesus explains to the Greeks the necessity for the uniqueness of His death and His resurrection, and He explains it from a very common procedure, the standard operating procedure of the Greeks for a thousand years. The point that our Lord tells us in JOH 12:24, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Life is in the grain of wheat, but there is a shell, a very hard shell on the outside. As long as that shell is not split open, the wheat cannot grow.

What is this death? It is the cracking open of the shell through the working together of temperature, humidity, etc., in the soil.

Once the shell is split open, the wheat begins to grow. So the question here is not whether there is life within, but whether the outside shell is cracked open.

The Scripture continues by saying, JOH 12:25, “He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.”

The Lord shows us here that the outer shell is our own life, (our soul life) while the life within is the eternal life which He has given to us.

Now, when it says in JOH 12:25, “He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.”

To allow the inner life to come forth, it is imperative that the outward life be lost. Should the outward remain unbroken, the inward would never be able to come forth.

Therefore, let's look at that group of people who have the Lord’s life. Among those who possess the life of the Lord can be found two distinct conditions:

  1. One includes those in whom life is confined, restricted, imprisoned and unable to come forth.
  2. The other includes those in whom the Lord has manufacture a way and life is thus released from them.

The question is not how to obtain life, but rather how to allow this life to come forth.

When we say, “We need the Lord to break us,” this is not merely a way of speaking, nor is it only a doctrine. It is a vital principle that we be broken by the Lord. It is not that the life of the Lord cannot cover the earth, but rather that His life is imprisoned by us. It is not that the Lord cannot bless the Church, but that the Lord’s life is so confined within the church, that there is no flowing forth. If the outward man remains unbroken, we can never be a blessing to His Church, and we cannot expect the Word to be blessed by God through us.

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