Images of a bowl full of cut pieces of cantaloupe, honeydew melon, pineapple, strawberries, grapes, apples, pears, oranges and bananas, cause my heart to almost skip a beat. This wonderful feast is not set on the table as a mere centerpiece but was given as a healthy blessing for all who attend at the table.
To me this image serves as a reminder of that wonderful gift fruit of the Spirit by the Holy Ghost. The fruit of the Spirit is a biblical term that sums up the nine visible spiritual fruits or that show themselves and are manifested as attributes that are seen in the attitude of a child of God. By this I mean that as we are called of Christ to be judges, not judges of the heart, for that is the realm of the Spirit, but to judge the fruit that grows on a spiritual tree, you see we are fruit inspectors. I really want to make this point perfectly clear because there are many of the Lords children who wrongly believe that it is there responsibility to bring people to Christ in order to get them eternally saved or born again into the family of God, despite what Jesus tells us in John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
By this passage we can clearly know that there is no possibility that any mortal man can ever be the cause of anyone being born again, not can we know the when or the how of the things that solely belongs to Spirit of God. Knowing the heart is alone the work of God.
But in Matt. 7:15-20 Jesus instructs us to Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Can there be any doubt but that we are fruit inspectors! And the fruit that we inspect grows on a spiritual tree. This is the evidence of a gracious state or being born again of the Spirit.
I have heard many of Gods people who have doubts concerning the eternal destination of the souls of men and women. The problem is that they are looking for something external as some spiritual scheme that will cause there heart to know and accept the Lord and become born again.
The problem is that they look for those things which are external according to the flesh, they look for some sort of formula or scheme like did they accept Christ as their personal Savour; where they baptized; did they live the Christian life?? All of which are only works of the flesh?
What is certain is that spiritual fruit only grows only on a spiritual tree. And if we view the fruit we can be certain of the tree, we can know that that person is a child of Gods grace and mercy, and that they are already saved and heaven is the destination.
But the fruit of the Spirit is more than a mechanical method used to know or see the evidence and assurance that we or someone else is a child of God. It is given to the Lords children as a gift in which they are not only to possess, but are to live and grow into what can only be described as the true Christian life.
Again in Matt. 7:21-23 Jesus adds says that Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.
Herein lays the subject that is on my mind. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul lays out for us the fruit of the Spirit as nine distinct attributes that are found in the born again heart of a child of God, they are: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.
We learn from scripture that these are not individual fruits from which we can pick and choose. They are not the fruits of the Spirit, but rather the fruit as in one source that is manifested and grows as nine!
They are not given by the Spirit to be a spiritual centerpiece which enables us to know and recognize a child of God. But rather, the fruit of the Spirit is one nine-fold fruit that grows on spiritual trees which characterizes all who are born again, and are especially placed there for the benefit of His true disciples who walk and grow in the Spirit.
As I indicated the fruit of the Spirit is manifested in of Gods elect by virtue of the new birth; but are especially manifested or seen as they are brought forth and are growing in the lives of all true Christians as they live according to the law of life that is in Jesus Christ which has made them free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:1). And in this series of articles I would like to take out some time to not only examine each one, but to also look at how we as His elect are to live and grow in them.
We begin by going to Genesis 2:8 where the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden. Notice please that God is the planter; that God is the Originator or Creator and He alone plants the tree and is the provider of the fruit. And notice please that after He plants the garden with its fruit in verse 15 the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
Brothers and sisters it is an undeniable fact that all fruit must first be planted, watered, cultivated and brought to its full maturity in order for it to be a benefit to us. Common sense says that we do not plant an apple seed and then expect to experience the blessing of the fruit the next day. And as it is in natural so it is with the spiritual. God plants the seed in us giving us the fruit in its maturity, and we are to live and grow in it. The fruit of the Spirit is a fact and a vital part of every single born again child of God. But the true blessing of the fruit is given to those who not only have the fruit of the Spirit but also live and grow and experience it in its fullness.
Let me be perfectly clear about this, its impossible for those who been born again as in John 1:13 not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God to lose the fruit of the Spirit. But it is possible for those to lose out on the fullness of the blessings of the fruit. And just as Adam was commanded to dress and keep the garden of God, so we are also called to dress and keep our garden and in order that we might experience the goodness of its fruit in due season.
How do we live and grow in the fruit of the Spirit? The answer is by loving the Lord our God with all of our heart ands mind, and loving our neighbor as ourselves; this is living and serving Jesus Christ and His people in true discipleship in His church kingdom, openly exercising the fruit of the Spirit as we live. As we live and labour in His vineyard we are made to be partakers of the fruit of the Spirit in our labours with our Master the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lets not lose sight of the fact that no matter what men may say there is absolutely nothing on our part that we can do in order to receive the fruit of the Spirit! The fruit of the Spirit is solely given by the sovereign grace of God the Holy Spirit. And having received it unconditionally from Him and we are created to walk in the fruit as we read in Eph. 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. The only way that we can experience the blessing of fruit of the Spirit in its fulness is to live and grow in the fruit of the Spirit.
(To be continued)
Elder Thomas McDonald