Living and Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit
In almost every meeting that I have ever attended among
the Old Baptist, along with the blessing of hearing the gospel of grace
preached is followed by a wonderful layout of a feast prepared by the
hands of loving and dedicated sisters for the pleasure of those who have
attended services with them. And to me, when I consider the feast, there
is a part of me that looks ahead to those sweet things reserved for
after the meal, i.e. the desert. And for me the quintessential desert is
fruit salad. I mean I cant even imagine having a noon supper without
such a treat. Oh how I love a good fruit salad. Not so much the ones
made from cans of prepared cut fruit set in sugar syrup which cannot
even compares to those that are made with fresh cut fruit by their hand.
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
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
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