Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fruit or Gifts – Part 1

Fruit or Gifts, which is more important? – Part 1

By Abraham Israel

Both the fruit and gifts that we receive from God are given through the chief executive agent of heaven who is the Holy Spirit of God. In other words without the Spirit of God you cannot experience either the fruit or the gifts which comes from God the Father who is the source of all good things (James 1:17). This is the reason the Bible calls these things ‘fruit of the Spirit’ and ‘manifestation [gifts] of the Spirit’ (Gal 5:22; 1 Cor 12:4-11). The other meaning of ‘fruit’ in this context is ‘the pleasant or successful result of work or actions’. There must be somebody working in us 24/7/365 to produce all the pleasant and successful actions in our soulish realm. That somebody is the person of the Holy Spirit who works all these successful actions in us. We don’t have to strive to produce these works; we just have to be attached to Jesus in Heaven through the Holy Spirit who connects us in the now-realm of time (John 15:5). Jesus directly works from heaven to produce these works in us through the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18; Mark 16:19-20; John 14:13-14). These varieties of successful actions or work by the Holy Spirit in our soul are listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as, “…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” If we are experiencing these works in our lives because of the God-connection we have through the Holy Spirit, it shows that we are living in the glorious realm of God’s Kingdom (Rom 14:17). This is the type of works or outward evidence of the inward work of God that Apostle James demanded from those who professed themselves of having faith (James 2:15-16, 21,25). He in fact said to them “….faith without works [i.e. fruit or character of God in manifestation] is dead…” (James 2:26). The works described here in the above verse is God’s character manifestation in us because of whole heartedly yielding our will to Him by His strength. It also means ‘the actions we do in obedience to His voice even though it might be dangerous or risky to our natural soulish mind, just by depending on the goodness of God’.

These fruit of the Spirit which we have seen is the very essence and character of God. In other words, as you allow God to control your soul more and more, His purity and holiness will begin to manifest through your life as His child. Just as a child in the natural world develops its character when it grows under the guidance and discipline of its father, we too as God’s children are disciplined and guided by God (John 1:12), so that all these above character of the Father God will begin to manifest in us (Heb 12:9-11). When the child grows up to be an adult it will begin to be a reflection of its father’s character (John 14:9). This fruit of God’s character that you bring forth in your life will only bring true glory to God and only this quality will make you inherit as much of God’s property of wealth both in the now and future realm (John 15:8; Rev 21:7). These fruit cannot be seen in an instant. Does a baby child grow to become a mature adult in a day? The baby grows under the comforting care of its mother and the discipline of its father for years constantly until it becomes a mature adult. In the same way these fruit will grow in us as we work together with Jesus [Jesus is metaphorically describing this relationship of believer’s life to Himself with a vine branch [i.e. believer] attached to a main stem [i.e. Jesus Himself] which is the reason for the production of fruit in the branches. Jesus also speaks and emphasizes this growth attachment of the believer’s life to Himself using the word ‘abides’. “…He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit…” (John 15:5). The Greek root word for ‘abide’ is ‘meno’ which means ‘to remain, abide a) in reference to place { to sojourn, tarry, not to depart, to continue to be present , to be held, kept, continually } b) in reference to time { to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure, of persons - to survive, live} c) in reference to state or condition {to remain as one, not to become another or different, to wait for, await one}’. This word ‘abide’ points to a continuing living relationship of the believer with Jesus like the disciples had relationship with Jesus two thousand years ago when He was present on the earth. Just as a branch grows when the sap flows in to it giving it life and vitality, the words of Jesus spoken to our hearts personally from heaven will invigorate us with the fresh life and energy of God, cleansing us from all impurities constantly (John 15:3; Heb 12:24-25)] under the comforting care of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; Acts 9:31) and the discipline of God the Father (Heb 12:9,10) on a day to day basis for years together until we really become as a mature spiritual adult or son of God. The more we will yield our life to Him willingly, the faster we will grow and become as the sons of God.

We must not forget that the devil is also waging war against our soul 24/7/365 to destroy it completely though fleshly lusts, if we give space to him by not abstaining from it (1 Peter 2:11; John 10:10). These fleshly lusts which are demonic seeds when conceived through us will produce fleshly fruit, which will be bad in its taste and characteristics. If we yield our will to the earthly, sensual and demonic suggestion’s and let it influence our soul rather than be guided by the Spirit of God who resides in our inner spirit man intentionally and in a perpetual manner, we will soon be set in the pathway of the eternal destruction of our soul (James 3:14-16; Galatians 5:19-21). This is the essence of the message that Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian believer’s who were playing with sin carelessly by exhorting them saying, “Do you not know that the unrighteous [i.e. those who willfully enjoy and practice sinning (Is 55:7)] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals [i.e. of a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness], nor sodomites [i.e. homosexuals and lesbians (Rom 1:26-27)], nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6:9-11). In the above verses, the literal Greek word for the English word ‘unrighteous’ is ‘adikos’ [pronounced ä'-dē-kos (Key)] which means ‘descriptive of one who violates or has violated justice and is unjust, unrighteous, sinful, of one who deals fraudulently with others, deceitful’. This clearly describes a person who knowingly, intentionally and deceitfully practices and continues in sin, without a least bit of repentance, regret, remorse or godly sorrow for doing it. In other words Apostle Paul was saying to these sinning believers, ‘Let not the devil deceive you to sin habitually and willfully by saying that God will look over your sin even if you continue sinning. Instead know you were washed from all sin when Jesus was baptized taking all your sin upon Himself, making you free from the guilt of sin and because of Jesus, God has declared you to be righteous.’
From the above clear exposition, we see that God has freed us from evil and sin to help us live victorious lives and not to be again entangled in sin which is a bondage which leads to death spiritually, soulishly and physically (Gal 5:1). This is the reason Paul also asked the Roman believer’s this question, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Rom 6:1-2). In other words a true believer in Christ will hate to continue in sin because he cannot sin without restraint. The soul will feel convicted because of the guilt that will come to him from his spirit man the moment he sins (1 John 3:9; John 16:7-11). Guilt is a God-given natural mechanism that will make us and nudge us to confess the wrong things we do to God immediately, thus making us feel accountable to God (Deut 19:13). God is not mocked if a person decides to walk intentionally in sin by his own wrong willful recurring choices, because he is already deceived in to thinking that God does not care even if he sins intentionally (Gal 6:7). The enemy, who supplies those evil thought seeds to that person, will surely come to harvest it after a period of his deceitful lullaby is over. He will have absolute rights over that person at that time because it is his evil seed that has come to fruition harvest. After that time that sinning person will be used as a pawn by Satan to fulfill his wicked destructive intention from which that person cannot come out like Judas was, until he finally died in his wickedness (Matt 13:24-30;13:36-43; John 12:3-8; 13:21-30; Matt 27:3-10). Those who knowingly sow their strength, money, talent and time to the flesh “…will of the flesh reap corruption…” (Galatians 6:8). The corruption reaped in that sinning person’s life will be manifested openly during the harvest season, which will bring disgrace to him, his family and to the God whom he had professed, unless and until he humbles himself before God and repents by the mercies of God. “…Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:19-21). Sin is like a deadly poisonous serpent which will bite and inject its deadly venom in to the body of those who play with it thinking that it is harmless as long as they handle it rightly and will cause them to die one day suddenly.

Christianity is not a religion to just profess with one’s mouth, it is a relationship that needs to be continued in order to inherit the kingdom of our Heavenly Father. This relationship with God the Father will grow in greater intimacy as we receive more and more of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. God has pre-planned a kingdom for his children who will rule over the earth in the future as the spiritual replicas of Himself who is ruling over the heavens and the highest heaven (Ps 115:16; Luke 12:32). So only when the rich young ruler asked Jesus, “16 …Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have [i.e. inherit (Mark 10:17)] eternal life?” (Matt 19:16). Jesus answered to him saying “….Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is God…” (Verse17). Jesus in other words told to him that we cannot be good and perfect unless we become the Heavenly Father’s children. And then Jesus pointed him to keep the commandments. When he again asked Jesus, “…Which ones?”. Jesus did not immediately point him to the vertical commandment of loving God which is the first and the greatest commandment which fulfills all commandments. Instead Jesus pointed to the horizontal commandments of loving his fellow men because Jesus wanted the young man to understand his inability to fulfill God’s commandments based on his own religious workings apart from God’s strength. Jesus wanted the rich young ruler to also understand that only with a relationship with God as His children, he will be able to inherit the kingdom of God and its power to do good things (Luke 10:25-28; 12:30-34; 11:20; Acts 10:38). Jesus pointed this rich young ruler towards horizontal commandments [i.e. vertical commandments (Man towards God) => loving God with all its related commandments, horizontal commandments (Man towards Man) => loving man with all its related commandments] because his deceptive wrong thinking was trying to do things for God rather than be in love with God as a loving Father. Actually Jesus knew that this young man’s heart was not in love with God and instead he loved his riches more than God (Matt 19:21-22; 6:19-21).
This young ruler was trying to justify himself and his thirst for God’s eternal life within him with his wrong thinking and religious pious life of doing for God. He knew in his heart that he was missing God inside him despite his strictly religious life from his childhood. He has become blinded to the truth that man can only have relationship with God as his children, because of his covetous heart attitude which blinded his view of God. When this young rich ruler somehow wanted to justify himself he said to Jesus, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect [(Matt 5:58; 6:9-13)], go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matt 19:20-22). Only perfect people can enter the kingdom of God. Those who have received Jesus Christ in to their hearts as their Lord [One Master (Matt 6:24)] and Savior of their life, and follow Jesus everyday are those who are considered as perfect by God because of a divine exchange of substitution that happened at the baptism of Jesus and got culminated at the cross. These are the people who will really love God in spite of the circumstances and the hardship they go through in their daily lives as the members of the family of God (Matt 19:23-30). Those guys who are truly living a religious life with riches have the last and least probability of getting qualified in the kingdom of God because of their utter dependence on their wealth and doings rather than in God. But with God working with them in their lives, it is possible for them to change their attitude towards God even being rich, but only if they seek after God (Matt 19:23-26; 6:31-33).

Only a true son or a daughter can inherit his father’s property in the future (Rom 8:14, 19; Gal 4:1-7). It is also the same with God. Heaven, salvation and its benefits cannot be earned because it is God’s property that can only be inherited [Note: Cannot be earned by working our way which always demands wages to those who have worked]. To inherit is to be legally born in a family or be adopted in to a family and then develop in the same characteristics of the Father of the house and become pleasing to him so that at the end because of his own benevolence he will give his property to his children as he wills. In the same way we can only inherit [Note: not earn our way as though God in indebted to us] the kingdom of God because Father God has only a family and not a religion. So only as the Bible says, We have been adopted in to the Heavenly Father’s family and He expects us to grow in His likeness so that at the end, he will reward us with his property which is the kingdom of God which will be established in the future (Rom 8:14-17,29-30; Matt 25:34). Jesus was the first person who exhibited the perfect character of the Heavenly Father on earth for us to follow after Him and be like Him in the family of God (John 14:9-11; 17:20-23; Rom 8:29; Heb 2:10-11). Jesus became like us humans physically [i.e. the image of the man of the dust] so that we can become like Him spiritually [i.e. the image of the heavenly Man] (Heb 2:17-18; Phil 2:5-11; Eph 2:5-6; 1 Cor 15:42-49). In other words Jesus put upon Himself an earth suit of dust so that we may be able to wear a heavenly suit of revived, God-connected dominion-spirit inside of us. This is the reason that the character of our Heavenly Father must be lived out by us essentially rather to just serve Him with the gifts [i.e. possessions] which He has given us. It is the Father’s character genes in us which gives us the right to enter His home in heaven as His very own child (Luke 15:11-32). To be separated [i.e. dead v32] away from our Heavenly Father symbolically represents those of us who practice sinning which God hates which is the state of the Heavenly Father’s Lost son before he was found alive, and those of us who live with the heart attitude of repentance everyday are those who are the once lost son who are found and are alive again (Luke 15:32; I John 3:9). The repentant son of God will not again go in to the sinning mode of life rejecting all the restraint of the restrainer who is the Holy Spirit of God (Ezekiel 36:27; 1 John 3:6-8; Gen 6:3; 2 Thess 2:7), leaving the Heavenly Father again who hates sin but loves the sinner (Isaiah 59:2).

The repentant sons who have returned to the Father God will start to hate sin and will start to love their Heavenly Father’s character (Prov 8:13; 14:2; 2 Cor 6:16-18). One has to start loving the head of the family and his loving character in order to continue in the adopted family which the father runs and provides. We too as the sons of our Heavenly Father need to train ourselves to love our Father’s character of righteousness and hate soulish evil, wickedness and lawlessness of Satan which He hates (Heb 1:9; 1 John 3:4,8). In this way, loving the character of our Heavenly Father and letting it out of our spirit to influence our soul is more important than using his gifts [i.e. gifts of physical, soulish and spiritual ability] and possessions that He has given. As we see that this character of our Heavenly Father is supplied by the Spirit of the Father who lives in us (James 1:17; 3:17-18; Matt 10:20). This is why the most essential thing in the life of a believer as a part of God the Father’s family is to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit for the glory of God the Father. This is the reason Jesus emphasized that He as the keeper of the vineyard of God revealed that God has come seeking through Him for fruit [Note: God distributed gifts of sustenance and nourishment for the growth of the tree though Jesus, but was seeking for fruit in return] in the nation of Israel (Luke 13:6-9). When God did not find fruit till the end of the ministry of Jesus, the nation of Israel got symbolically cursed by God through Jesus for not at all bearing fruit by rejecting Jesus as their Savior and Messiah (Mark 21:18-22, 42-43). In the same vein Jesus emphasized the need for fruit in John 15: 1-2, 5-8 saying, “1 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 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….4 As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me...5 He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” When we abide or dwell in the words of Jesus, we will bear much fruit. As the followers of Jesus, only when we bear much fruit, our Father is glorified. The branch [i.e. believer] that does not bear fruit, God the Father takes it away from the Vine and he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they [i.e. angels of God (Matt 13:40-42)] gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned (Matt 7:17-20). Every branch that bears fruit Father God will prune and cut it further. In other words the person who is obedient to God may find the going tough in His spiritual journey. But the tough goings will be working together for good in the life of a God-lover because he is called by God according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). As a true Father corrects his children in the natural world for his good so does Our Heavenly Father will allow trials in the life of His obedient children for building them up further spiritually (Heb 12:4-11). This will bring forth still much fruit in the lives of the sons of God. So we come to the conclusion that fruit bearing [i.e. God-kind of character development] in each person's life is more important than the manifestation of gifts through their ministry in the Body of Christ. Praise the Lord!


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