Word of the Month

Purification process

February 2003

If a vine is to bear exquisite fruit it must be pruned in the spring: dead wood and wild shoots are removed by the vintner, along with any superfluous shoots, in order that the vine's energy may be focussed upon the branches promising the best grapes. Even during the time of year when the plant grows the vintner frees the grapevine of excessive foliage in order to promote the ripening of the grapes.

Jesus Christ said of Himself: "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." (John 15:1.2).This parable implies that a divinely willed purification process must take place upon followers of Christ. How does this come into being?

The first marvellous purification of our entire inner person is achieved through the water of rebirth and the renewing power of the Holy Spirit: the sacraments of baptism with water and the Spirit. This is a purification process that cannot be rivalled in effect or beauty. In addition, in every divine service, grace from the sacrifice and earning of Jesus Christ is extended to us. This effects a purification which makes it possible for us to bring more fruit. The Son of God said to His disciples: "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you." (John 15:3). The word of God promotes the purification process in us too. Let us accord it the high priority it deserves, and let us not belittle it to the level of an object of discussion! It has a perfect effect, and it purifies us.

Tests and trials permitted by God may also have a purifying effect on the soul. Although such circumstances are not pleasant - in fact, many times they are distressing - they do, in the end, serve to purify us. Remember the words of the prophet: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11).

Fervent and heartfelt prayers also contribute to our purification. And the imminent expectation and hope in the return of Christ is also a decisive stimulus for purification. If this should not give us grounds to purify ourselves, what else could?

The fruit of the vine is the grape, from which one makes wine. Wine symbolizes joy. The fruit that comes into being after purification ought to be joy. If we consider our childhood in God, and the power connected with being a child of God, does this not make us joyful? And from joy grows strength to continue along our path of faith. Let us rejoice in God's plan of redemption, and hold still when the Lord carries out his purification process upon us, because it produces fruit that will make us worthy to be accepted in grace at the return of Christ.

(From a service by the Chief Apostle)