Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit

The ministry of the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ goes hand in hand. In John 15, Jesus says that He is the vine, and we are the branches. Thus He produces fruit in us. There's nothing that the branches can do to bear fruit - except stay connected to the vine. Abiding in Him involves listening and talking to Him. This means reading and meditating on the word, and praying to Him to illuminate it to us. We cannot please the Father. It is only the fruit that the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit produce in us that can please the Father. This is because such fruit will make us conformed to the Lord Jesus Christ (this conformation is the ultimate aim of the Christian), and it is the Lord Jesus Christ who really pleases the Father (as we can see the Father testify at his immersion and the transfiguration).

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is a single entity comprised of nine qualities (Galatians 5:22,23). Let's see these qualities one by one:

When we're in Christ, we experience love. In Jn 17:24 we can see that the persons of the Trinity were loving each other in eternity past - since divine nature is immutable, this love continues. This same love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5). Facts about God and how He relates to us are made our experience by the action of the Holy Spirit.

Man does not understand that God is a God of love except by divine revelation, through the Scriptures and the action of the Holy Spirit. Other attributes of God like His wisdom and power are more naturally known (Rom 1:20).

Loving others is a universal law. Loving one' s neighbor as oneself is the message of the OT law. However, to love others, we need to first experience God's love.

Four Greek words are used to convey the meaning of love:

   1. Eros - sexual or romantic or physical love
   2. Phileo - brotherly/friendly love
   3. Storge - parental love (rendered "natural affection" in the KJV)
   4. Agape - an unselfish, giving love that only wishes the welfare of the other person, and is not linked to the attractiveness of the other person (unlike the other three). This word appears in Gal 5:22. Agape is the most common of these words in the NT - it captures the essence, selflessly wishing the other person's welfare, even if the person is not lovable. It is needed for the flourishing of all relationships.

Reasons to love others:

   1. Everyone is created in the image of God.
   2. Christ has died for all
   3. God loves each person individually

Loving involves:-

    * Every relationship has some strains which requires forgiveness (Col 3:13).
    * Helping others at the point of their need.
    * Keeping in mind that the person's ultimate good is to be conformed to the Lord Jesus.

Extension of love:-

    * The Lord Jesus expanded the definition of neighbor
    * Being ready to lay down one's life for others is the ultimate test of love.

God is to be the supreme object of our love (Mt 26:37,38). Our love for Him should supersede love for anyone else, to be a worthy disciple. But His second best is better than the best of the world. Thus even if I love my wife less than I love God, I still love her more than the people of the world love their wives.

Joy is happiness that does not depend on circumstances. Joy is a quality; it's also a command to rejoice. Rejoicing in bad circumstances stems from knowing that God has a purpose in it, as He works all things for His good. God did not promise a smooth life, only a safe landing.

In Phillipians, the book about joy, the word sin does not occur, indicating that sin is the only hindrance to joy, prompting David's prayer in Psalm 51: "Restore unto me the joy..." If we're not rejoicing it means that we're not under the control of the Holy Spirit.

Peace is the sense of calm and assurance that we have irrespective of the circumstances. How do you react when the stock markets crash, things go awry on the work front, the people you love don't understand you, and your health becomes shaky? If you have peace, you can keep your calm in the midst of the storms of life. It is possible to seek peace in an escapist way, as Jonah did when he slept in the ship. In Mt 6, having peace is linked to serving only God, not mammon. You know you're serving mammon when (for instance) you misuse your credit card - buy things which you don't need with money that is not yours to impress people you don't like.

It is endurance: patience, that is active - not a passive resignation to unfavorable circumstances. It is the activity of the agape love in us (1 Corinthians 13:1 onwards).

Longsuffering on the part of God:

    * Announcing redemption just after the fall.
    * Delay for the flood. It was announced as coming when Methuselah dies. He ended up being the person with the longest lifespan!
    * The rainbow (Gen 9:13)
    * With the wilderness Israelites
    * With the people of Nineveh (see Jonah)
    * With the Israelites (see Kings and Chronicles)
    * In dealing with the 12 disciples
    * His deferment of the second coming (2 Pet 3:9) - the longsuffering is toward -us-, to share the gospel to others.

Areas to express longsuffering:-

    * To believers, Eph 4:2: The good report that Titus gave Paul about the Corinthians probably has more to do with his longsuffering than the Corinthians' grace.
    * In the ministry (2 Tim 4:2). Noah was patient in his ministry telling of the flood, he was the 8th person to enter the ark, 2 Pet 2:5
    * In fruit bearing - Lk 8:15
    * In persecution, 2 Th 1:4 and in tribulation, Rom 5:3
    * In running the race, - Heb 12:1
    * For the hope, Rom 8:25

Hindrances to showing longsuffering:-

    * Selfishness/Selfcenteredness
    * Insensitivity
    * Immaturity
    * Insecurity - failure to depend on the promises of God
    * Shortsightedness in understanding the purposes of God.

Gentleness is goodness that is tender and compassionate, not harsh, eg 2 Sam 22:36, Rom 12:19,20. The good Samaritan is an example of gentleness being demonstrated.

This word refers to goodness with severity/harshness, like Jesus showed to the temple vendors and the Pharisees, or medical treatment that hurts. There are times we may need to correct others, and that may hurt.

Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true.

There are various kinds of faith. Here faith refers to the trust that the believer has as he lives his Christian life.  What is this faith like?

    * "Faith is holding on to the faithfulness of God" - Hudson Taylor
    * Faith is holding on to God no matter what happens. David Livingstone lost a hand in an encounter with a wild animal in Africa. On furlough, he says "I went expecting God to be faithful and He was" - the loss of a hand was a small price for him to pay for the joy of the ministry that he had.  

The believer trusts God to be in control of His life. He trusts God to use him for His purposes.

Faith involves taking scripture for what it says. Scripture reassures us, as does church history. We get established in  faith by walking according to the scriptures. Paul demonstrated this kind of faith by being so persevering. We prove our faithfulness by taking risks on what God has said.

Faith versus sight/logic:

    * Faith is treating things that are not seen as if they have been seen - Hebrews 11:11.
    * We cannot reach God by logic, but His revelation is logical.

[To borrow from Easton's Bible Dictionary] It is a calm temperament, one that is not easily provoked, the opposite of arrogance. Special promises are made to the meek {Matthew 5:5, Isaiah 66:2} . The cultivation of this spirit is enjoined {Colossians 3:12, 1 Timothy 6:11, Zephaniah 2:3} It is exemplified in:

    * Christ {Matthew 11:29}
    * Abraham {Genesis 13:1 16:5,6}
    *  Moses {Numbers 12:3}
    *  David {2 Samuel 16:10,12}
    *  Paul {1 Corinthians 9:19}

A person without self control is compared to a city without walls, which in ancient times was considered a pathetic situation (Nehemiah) - this was because walls were initmately connected to the security of the city. Similarly, all the resources/gifts we have to lead a godly life are vulnerable to being rendered useless or taken away if we don't have self control. Self control does not come naturally - it is also not something we try to have on our own and then ask God for help - it is something that comes from God like the sap that goes from the vine to the branches when they abide in Him. Thus we have self control when we allow God to control our lives. We feed the spiritual man and starve the carnal man to progress in self control.