Friday, September 12, 2008

Fruit or Gifts - Part 2

Fruit or Gifts, which is more important? – Part 2

By Abraham Israel

As we have come to understand that the development of the fruit [God-kind of character] is more important than to just excel in the gifts that God has given to every one of us. We must also understand that the gifts of God should be active in our lives perpetually in order for us to be prosperous in every area of our lives. As the Bible says in Proverbs 18:16, “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” At the same time the Bible also says, “He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, the king will be his friend.” (Prov 22:11). In other words, your gift will take you to a place of honor where only your love for the purity of heart can keep you in that elevated place. As Jesus Himself said in Matt 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Only experiencing the character and activity of God’s goodness, His nearness and the consciousness of His perfect destiny-purpose will keep a person with a passion for the purity of heart in this impure world. A person who loves purity of heart [i.e. development of God-kind of character in his life] will be positioned by God to be a leader and positive influence to the people in authority and governance (Genesis 39:9-10; 41:37-44; Dan 1:8-9,17,19-21; 2:45-49). Apostle Paul who was one of the greatest gifted person to live in the kingdom of God said to the Corinthian churches, “1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: 2 You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led…4 There are diversities of gifts [1 Cor 12:8-11], but the same Spirit [i.e. the Holy Spirit]. 5 There are differences of ministries [Eph 4:11], but the same Lord [i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ]. 6 And there are diversities of activities [Rom 12:3-8], but it is the same God [i.e. God the Father] who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:” (1 Cor 12:1-2,4-7). Ignorance will make the gift present within us to be dormant and will make us to be unproductive in all our ways. Next Apostle Paul was reminding the believer’s how they were powerless to oppose and act against evil spirits influence in the past but now Jesus as the Master over their lives, has given each one a particular manifestation of the Spirit for the profit of all. When the Body of Christ comes together to minister to one another in unity, there will be no lack but only prosperity in the Body of Christ. It is up to us individually to strongly, earnestly and consistently desire after His spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:31). There are no gifts less person in the Body of Christ because as Paul reminds us “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one”. When the Spirit manifests all the above gifts, the Church will be the most successful, prosperous, beneficial and the most profitable to all its members. So the activity of all the gifts of the Spirit should be stirred up in each church individually in order for it to be relevant and profitable in its activity.

Without the gifts of God in our lives we cannot do much of all that we are called to do for in the kingdom of God. Without the fruit of God in our lives, God will not do much of all that he has promised to us in our lives. If God empowers a person with the gifts of the Spirit who has no desire to grow in the fruit of the Spirit, he will soulishly desire to bring glory to himself and not to God who has given him the gifts (Isaiah 42:8; John 17:22; 15:7-8). This is the main reason Apostle Paul advised the Corinthian church to Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts…” (1 Cor 14:1). Here we see Apostle Paul exhorts in the above verse, Love should be the first and foremost fruit of the Spirit which should be pursued in our lives and then we should desire to strongly excel in spiritual gifts (Galatians 5:22-23). So the first priority in every believer’s life should be to develop oneself in fruit of the Spirit and then to excel in the gifts. Both fruit and gifts are equally needed in order to bring the full plan of God for your life to fruition. The following truth is one of the most important differences between fruit and gifts. Fruit can grow only as we earnestly surrender our own will to God and strongly desire for God’s will to be fulfilled in our lives. Producing the fruit of the Spirit takes a certain period of time in every seasons of life as we work in tandem cooperation with the Spirit of God day in and day out. Fruits are developed. God-kind of character will begin to come out of our lives as we start to do good by opposing evil consciously every time a trial, temptation or tribulation comes our way (Rom 5:1-5). Gifts can be acquired when we are boiling inside us with zeal to pray, receive, learn and use it with humility and love for the profit of all (1 Cor 14:13, 31, 12, 37). Gifts are more like a onetime transaction that comes to us through laying on of the hands and various other ways according to the call of God in one’s life (1 Tim 4:14; 5:22; 2 Tim 1:6; Deut 34:9; 1 Kings 3:5-15). Gifts are imparted. Those who operate with the spiritual gifts should do in a more excellent way of love towards others or else the gifts will profit others, but it will not profit those who use it and they will have no satisfaction in operating in the gifts (1 Cor 12:31; 13:1-3). Just operating in the gifts and manifesting the Spirit without the fruit of the Spirit is very dangerous because it will surely profit others as you operate in the gifts that God has invested in you individually but on the other hand it cannot profit your own Soul and will not bring you in favor [i.e. salvation from all evil] with the Lord especially if you are personally practicing lawlessness and living in sin (1 Cor 12:7; 13:3; Matt 16:26; 7:23). Your gifts will neither give you the power to live righteously, nor will it give you the rights to enter in to the eternal life of bliss which is given as a gift based on one’s living-faith relationship with Jesus (Matt 7:21-23; James 2:26).

A person may be very gifted in variety of areas to influence others, yet if he is not exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit [i.e. God-kind of character] consistently in his life, he may not be of much use to God. A person who does not exhibit the God-kind of character in his life will not bring glory to God with the gifts that He has given to glorify Him (John 14:13; 15:7-8; 5:41; 7:18; 1 Cor 1:31). Only when you are in Him and He is in you, you can truly glory in the Lord (John 17:22-23). Those who live their life in the glory-realm of God and speak the word of God can only truly give back the glory to God because the source of their words will have their beginning from the Holy Spirit of God who will release it through their spirit-man. Any words that have their source from the soulish realm of any man will always seek his own glory (John 7:18). Always the spirit of man is God conscious, the soul is self conscious and the physical body of every man is world conscious. God desires every man to live in the glory-realm [i.e. weightiness, consciousness and nearness of God’s tangible presence] of the Spirit of God through their inner spirit man, thus making the spirit man to strongly rule over their soul and body. This is original God’s order for man to live the God-life in this planet earth.

We see in Matt 7:21-23, Jesus said, “21 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day [the great white throne day of judgment (Rev 20:11-15; 5:24-30)], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”. If we ask the question, were these men genuine men of God and if so how could they give prophesy, drive demons, and do many miraculous deeds and finally end up with the unbelievers in the white throne judgment? The answer is yes but at one time in their lives past or else they could have never been able to operate with the power of God using the name of Jesus (Mark 9:39). Only delegates sent by God and called by Him through believing in the name of Jesus can operate with such power. When God gifts a person He will not immediately take back the gifts that He has given even if that servant of God uses it wrongly with a motive other than for the sole glory of God. The scripture also agrees saying, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Rom 11:29). Instead of judging people immediately, He will either meet them at the marriage feast of the lamb or at the judgment of nations at the beginning of the millennium rule on earth during which He will reward those who have worked for Him and bore good fruit in various degrees (Rev 19:6-9; Matt 25:31-46; 13:36-43; 13:23; 10:40-42). For those who will work for Him with wrong motives and continue in lawlessness which is practicing sin, these He will meet only at the white throne judgment (Phil 1:15-16,18; 1 John 3:4, 6, 8-10). At the same time slowly and surely He will withdraw His precious anointing from that person who continues to sin without repentance perpetually, thus crucifying again for himself the Son of God and putting Him to open shame (1 Samuel 16:13-14; Judges 16:20; Psalm 51:11; Heb 6:4-8; 10:26-31). God will wait for that person to repent for a long period of time which only He will know, if those servants who are called by God still reject the voice of God continuously, there is only a very faint hope for them to be saved from eternal destruction (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Tim 2:3-4; Heb 6:4-8; 2 Peter 2:9-10, 12-17, 20-22; Matt 24:45-51).

As discussed previously, we see in
Matt 7:21-23 that those who operated powerfully in the miraculous realm were standing in the final white throne judgment and were trying to justify themselves and asking for a passage in to the kingdom of heaven [i.e. a inter-connected new heaven and a new earth under the ruler ship of God the Father (Rev 21-22; 1 Cor 15:24-28)]. These people have got deceived by rejecting the voice and the word of God (Matt 7:24-29). Because of denying the Lord and His transforming power, these have got settled in to a religious work-mode where they have started to believe that because they were doing the work of God and experience the anointing of God over their lives, God will not judge them for their wrong doing because of the grace of God over their lives and the work they had done for God in their lives (Matt 7:21-23; 1 Tim 3:1,5-7; Jude 4; Rev 20:11-15). These people must have at one time must have been good men who must have started to reject the voice and the word of God by beginning to sin habitually and practice it without repentance. As they continue to do such things without godly sorrow, their very motive for doing the ministry will be driven for the fulfillment of the flesh (2 Cor 7:10; Gal 5:19-21). This is the time in which they will harden their hearts knowingly and these wrong decisions will lead them still further in to the mire of lawlessness, out of which it is impossible for them to come out and it will surely lead them to death eternally (1 John 5:16-17; Heb 12:16-17; Matt 27:3-5). Jesus told these people in Matt 7:23 “…I never knew you…” because they did not follow His voice and instead heard and followed the voice of Satan and his demons [i.e. strangers and enemies inside the kingdom of God] by practicing lawlessness in their personal lives (John 10:3-6; 1 Thess 4:3-8).

What we are is God's gift to us (Eph 2:8; 1 Cor 15:10; Galatians 2:8-9), what we become is our gift to God (Rom 12:1; Matt 25:20,22; Rom 8:29). What we are is the gifts that God has invested in everyone of our lives, but what we become is the outcome of the fruit of the Spirit that we develop by letting God to work and live in through us day in and day out (Phil 2:13; 1:6). The reward that we will receive from God in the present and in the future will be determined based on the motivation with which we work. The Bible says that the motive of every man in doing anything for God and His kingdom cannot be know by anybody other than the spirit of man which is in the innermost being of every human (1 Cor 2:11). God judges everyman not by outward appearances [i.e. the physical appearances and activitives we do] but by the motives in the spirit of every man, and next to the spirit of man only God knows the motives of each human heart (1 Samuel 16:7; Ps 7:9,11-13). The work that we do for God will be tested by the fire of God’s word in the Judgment for salvation before we will receive the eternal glorious reward for it from God (1 Cor 3:13-15; Jer 23:29; Heb 9:26-28). God will check how much of work a believer has done by His own strength and zeal, how much of work he has done by the strength of God for His glory in obedience to His voice and reward each one according to it (2 Cor 12:7-10). At the same time those people who serve God with ulterior motives practicing lawlessness will not stand in the judgment of the righteous which will happen during the marriage supper of the lamb (Ps 1:5; Rev 19:7-9), these people will be judged only at the end of the millennium at the white throne judgment (Rev 20:11-15).

For example Judas was a man who was truly called by God to be one of the twelve apostles. Some people think that because Judas fulfilled the prophecies in the Old Testament regarding the Messiah, they think that Judas was pre-destined with fate to die as a traitor (Ps 41:9; 109:8). But the Bible nowhere gives a picture like this. Instead it says, “15 And in those days [i.e. after Christ’s ascension and before the day of Pentecost] Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, 16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; 17 for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. 19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms:‘ Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘ Let another take his office. …… 24 And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” Here we see a lot of lessons to be learned regarding the life of Judas. The first underline in the preceding verses says “…the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas…” A lot of people misinterpret this line saying this shows that Judas was predestined to hell. In fact Jesus called and chose all the apostles at the beginning of His ministry, men who in the natural soulish way without Him all these were destined to Hell (Luke 6:12-16; Rom 3:23-26). These people who think wrongly about predestination and the unavoidable fulfillment of fate of Judas must read the scripture after this line and should the read the most important word ‘became’,“…Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus….”. This shows that initially Judas was as originally called to the apostolic ministry as any other eleven apostles, but he became a traitor. As an apostle He not only flowed with all the gifts of the Spirit and drove demons, cured diseases, preaching the gospel and healed the sick as any other apostles did, but he was also a gifted financial administrator who had the control over all the offering and contribution that was given to support the apostolic ministry of Jesus and His disciples (Luke 9:1-2,6; 8:1-3; 9:1-2,6,10). Judas is in fact a wonderful example for those people who tried for an entry in to the kingdom of heaven by their great spiritual works in Matt 7:21-23 at the white throne final judgment of the whole world. These men also were initially called and gifted with mighty ministry gifts [i.e. apostles, prophets, teacher… (Eph 4:11; 1 Cor 12:27-31)]. Yet somewhere down the line in their ministry life they began to be deceived in to thinking that their ministry works done for God using His name by delegated authority will give them a sure place in the kingdom of God. Because of this deceptive pattern of thinking these men of God began to practice sin and lawlessness as their way of life and began to nurture wrong motives in their spirit man as Judas, and deteriorated with the wrong motives until their final doomsday when Satan completely entered them and controlled them fully to fulfill his evil purposes to make them doomed forever (John 13:21-30; 12:3-6; Matt 7:23; Rom 6:16). This deception happened to these people because of neglecting to do the word which they professed and heard (Matt 7:24-27; 2 Tim 3:1-5). This is the greatest deception that is still today destroying many genuine ministries.
The problem is not with the heavy anointing these great ministers flow in, but the problem is with their personal lives where many have started to practice sin and thus the overall ministry becomes doomed finally due to fruitless lives of these men. As time passes by without repentance in their personal lives, these ministers of God become as false ministers by consistently bearing bad fruit in their lives (Matt 7:15-20). So only Apostle James said, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1). Finally they end up speaking all their own opinions and lies about the word of God and end up glorifying themselves than the truth which they were called to proclaim (John 8:43-45). Many times Judas was given chance to repent in His life, but he never took the exhortative words of Jesus seriously (John 6:64,71; 12:4; 13:2,11, 21-22; Matt 26:16,21,23,46; Mark 14:18; Luke 22:6). Judas love and strong desire for money made him to join in with Satan who plotted his evil schemes through the chief priests and Pharisees to fulfill the fore-ordained scheme which God planned before the foundation of the world (Gen 3:14-15; Acts 2:23; 1 Cor 2:6-8; 1 Peter 1:20; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-4; 1 Tim 6:9-10). In other words because Judas was practicing lawlessness and had hidden motives to follow Jesus, Satan used the opportunity to fill him and use him as a pawn for his evil purposes to be fulfilled (John 13:27; Luke 22:3).
Never forget that Satan can ask to God for a person to be used for his purpose, if a particular person has been growing Satan’s seed in the recesses of their heart (Luke 22:31-32; Matt 13:24-30, 36-43). He has the legal right to harvest if he has sown his seed in any man’s heart. Any apostle would have been targeted by Satan if they would have given him the opportunity; sadly Judas was the one who filled in the blanks of Satan’s selection process correctly. Thus the prophecies of the Old Testament and New Testament whether good or bad that God allows will be fulfilled based on people who choose to believe in the truth or reject it. In this case Judas rejected the truth [i.e. Jesus Christ who is the embodiement and the person of truth sent from God (John 14:6; 6:38)], so he fulfilled bad prophecies of the Bible. Judas loved money more than the God who has created him and called him, so he started stealing money from the money box of the apostolic ministry fund of Jesus and his fellow apostles. Judas did not truly love Jesus, and thus forfeited the only hope of salvation and redemption he had in his life (John 12:6-8). What a blunder he did by continuing with such a hypocritical lifestyle of practicing sin without rethinking the end result of condemnation that would doom his life forever (Matt 27:3-10; Rom 8:1,6-7; 1 John 3:4, 6-10; Matt 26:50). No amount of restitution, self-justification, worldly sorrow and desiring later for inheriting the blessing can be valid before God, who has been sort of mocked by the lawless lifestyle for years and years. In fact God cannot be mocked, a sin practicing person is mocking his own prosperous future life which God has prepared for him (Matt 27:3-5;2 Cor 7:10; Heb 12:16-17; Gal 6:7; Prov 1:24-28). Beware! Judas by transgression lost his apostolic ministry. Instead God took the heavy apostolic anointing which was originally placed upon Judas and placed it upon Matthias who was faithfully following the Lord’s ministry and His apostles (Acts 1:21-26; Luke 16:10-13; Prov 16:33). What a privilege for the faithful Matthias to receive such powerful apostolic mantle over His life! Faithfulness in itself is one of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

The other man who had a heavy prophetic anointing in the Old Testament who lost the favor of God because of His love for money and honor of men is none other than the prophet of God Balaam. Apostle Peter Himself called Him “…Balaam…the Prophet….” (2 Peter 2:15-16). Initially he was in fact a true prophet of God who had a genuine call of God in his life. The breath taking Messianic prophecies about the future that he gave seeing through spiritually with an open eye vision and then describing the content by putting them in to words have been very accurate. Sometimes God Himself put the exact words in to Balaam’s mouth as a mouth piece of God which are till today unparalleled in its richness and accuracy (Numbers 23-24). Even though this man was from a pagan country, still he had that God-connection and a heavy prophetic anointing like no other man described in the Old Testament (Numbers 22). Yet because of his love of money, riches and honor, his motive for practicing prophetic ministry became evil before the eyes of the Lord. He lost the favor of the Lord over his life because of his love for money. As Apostle Peter said, “15 They [i.e. ministers like Balaam who have been truly called by God but] have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet. 17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” (2 Peter 2:15-17). Truly Balaam the prophet’s madness for money was so severe that he did not even realize that he was conversing with his donkey. As we have read in the above verses, ministers of God who do not bear the fruit of the Spirit, but forsake the right way [i.e. pursuing the holiness of God-kind of Character] and go astray by loving the wages of unrighteousness [i.e. love of money, power and women], for whom only the blackness of darkness is reserved for ever. So producing the fruit of faithfulness and all the fruit of the Spirit is more important than just flowing in the ministerial anointing of God and practicing of gifts that we have received together with the calling of God (Rom 11:29). The constant desire and attitude of producing fruit in one’s life will make sure that we are following the right way of the Lord and His righteousness, we are safe and secure in God as long as we continue with this attitude of gratitude which will push us to live in the Holiness of God (1 Thess 4:3-8; Titus 3:8). Praise the Lord!


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