If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. John 15:6
When I was a monk, I read the mass daily. I weakened myself with prayer and fasting so much that I couldn’t have kept it up for much longer. Yet all of my efforts couldn’t help me in the smallest temptation. I could never say to God, “I have done all this. Look at it, and be merciful to me.” What did I achieve with all this striving? Nothing. I merely tormented myself, ruined my health, and wasted my time. Now I’m forced to listen to Christ’s judgments on my works. He says, “You did all this without me. That’s why it amounts to nothing. Your works don’t belong in my kingdom. They can’t help you or anyone else obtain eternal life.”
So in this passage, Christ has passed a terrifying judgment over all works – no matter how great, glorious, and beautiful they might appear. If these works are performed apart from Christ, they amount to nothing. They may appear to be great in the eyes of the world, for the world considers them excellent and precious. But in Christ’s kingdom and before God, they are truly nothing. They don’t grow out of him, nor do they remain in him. They won’t pass God’s test. As Christ says, they will be tossed into the fire as if they were rotten, withered branches – branches without any sap or strength. So let others carve from these branches and see what they can create apart from Christ. Let them try to fashion a new birth from their good works. Let them try to create a tree from its fruit. No matter what they do, all of their works will add up to a big zero.
The Bondage of the Will, Luther’s exposition on the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, laid the groundwork for Reformation thought. It shows us a humbling view of ourselves while strengthening our faith in Christ.
The Ambassador Classics series brings the greatest classic works of Christian history into a single set. It includes unabridged works by Martin Luther, John Bunyan, John Calvin, A. T. Pierson, John Owens, C. H. Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, J. C. Ryle, R. A. Torrey and many others. This series will continue to enrich and deepen your faith in Christ.