Branches: Fruitfulness This illustration of the church as branches of a fruit bearing tree reflects the Lord's last words to the disciples about abiding in the vine (John chs 14-16) and the work of the Holy Spirit. Each of these illustrations show us some new aspect of the work of the Spirit in the church. Some verses in John are often used to endorse the belief that "once chosen" - "always chosen" John 15:16 16 You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: It is quite clear that Jesus chose his disciples but one of the chosen, Judas, certainly was not "always chosen". This verse endorses the purpose of his choosing, as we read in the first few verses of the Epistle.. "to be holy and without blame" When we think of fruit we can think of bringing others to the Lord. The word "fruit" in Romans ch 7 is referring to having children. Also it refers to the fruit of the Spirit as outlined in Galatians ch 5. It might be advisable at this point to remind ourselves of some verses at the beginning of Isaiah ch 5 Isa 5:1-4 Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
Surely, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that sometimes we are inclined to attribute to some people the fruit of the spirit when the truth is that they are that "type" of person naturally. Such personality traits could be as "wild grapes" to the owner of the vineyard. In studying Romans, we see that the work of the Holy Spirit is to fashion us into Christlikeness and therefore it becomes necessary for Him to reveal the parts of out nature which are unchristlike. So we have to have our Romans 7 experience. And it is abundantly possible to feel a bigger sinner after a few years as a Christian than you did before you became a child of God. That is because even our righteousnesses such as our natural love, kindness and goodness are considered wild grapes on the vine to God. The devil is not averse to promoting self-righteousness. Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; As children of "the prince of pride", we also are proud by nature. We are apt to think of ourselves in a good light, and are reluctant to even think that our "goodness" and "good efforts" could be counted as filthy rags in God's sight. It behoves us to take stock, and recognise that only the "super-natural" life of the Spirit can produce the true and genuine fruit of the Spirit as in Galatians ch 5 Not wishing to be too judgmental, but at the same time confessing that I have recognised certain wild grapes in my own life, a number of Christians who would regard the sins of the flesh as anathema for a Christian, and at times reject those who have so indulged totally, seem little concerned about spiritual sins such as pride, jealousy, envy, unforgiveness and vindictiveness. Remember there are sins of the spirit as well as the flesh; 2 Cor 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Let's look at a few parts of the fruit of the Spirit; Love: Is our "love" a natural fruit or a super natural? It is easy (and natural) to love those who love us and attend our little church but those who leave or speak of other churches in preference, can be sorely excommunicated, in thought if not in deed. Even Pastors would have to confess to have had such temptations of thought in the past. I certainly have. I have therefore in my life time nurtured back to fellowship a number of people who have left a church because they were offended in some way. Almost without exception no-one from their former church fellowship, ever visited them or even enquired as to why they left. Sometimes if someone does call and seems to be concern, it is adulterated with the enjoyment of a good gossip. This should not be so. If the Holy Spirit, which is the pure spirit of God, who is love, is working in and out of us, then He must produce pure love- Love that is not selfish, not rewarded, not with hidden agendas - just the love that God has shown to us. (John 21- agape or phileo)
Joy: Is our Joy a natural joy, or a super natural? The fruit of the spirit in terms of Joy is often a counterfeit also. Especially the joy we see displayed each Sunday. People go to church for all sorts of reasons. Children go for what they can get, young people go to find a mate, older people go for a good natter, many of the lonely are glad to get out of the house, some go for the music, others go to play music. Much of the happy singing is purely a human social phenomena. Many a priest, vicar or pastor goes because they are the centre of attention, it is their seat of power Here’s an old poem (slightly modernised) of these longstanding sins Some go to church just for the walk. Some go there to laugh and talk Some to view new coat and bonnet Some to price the trimmings on it Some go there to please the squire Some his daughter to admire Some go there to find a lover Some new gossip to discover Some for a ticket to a garden party Some to meet others, hale and hearty Some for a party with custard & jelly Some because there’s nowt on telly Some go just to say they’ve been Some go there just to be seen Some go there to doze and nod But very few to worship God. So much of the joy and laughter experienced among church members can at times be no more than the joy and laughter of the world with tea and cakes thrown in. So this is surely not what the bible calls the Joy of the Holy Ghost. To find yourself rejoicing and praising God in miserable adverse circumstances when deep down you really want to scream and shout at God, is the true fruit of the Spirit. When one can truly say that the joy of the Lord is one’s strength then one can know something of the joy of the Lord.
Peace. Is our peace a natural peace, or a supernatural? The world seeks peace by accumulating money in the bank or paying for insurance policies to cover eventualities of life. Sadly Christians confess to such peace as a fruit of the Spirit but as soon as the Lord allows Satan to take away some of these props, their attitude changes. When all around us spells disaster, like the disciples in the boat during the storm, then the true peace of God is to be found in the Master who was in total peace- asleep Now I am not making these examples to castigate or accuse the Lord’s people, far from it. I am only trying to point out that there are wild grapes on the vine. Spiritual maturity is to recognise in our own lives what is the true love, joy, and peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.
The Body -Unity The Bride- Purity The Building: Purpose The Branches: Fruitfulness