Monday, September 10, 2007

Fruit inspecting

I have been thinking a lot about Gal 5:22-26

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another

Normally the teaching I got from here was that the Holy Spirit produces these qualities in us. The focus was then on the Holy Spirit and in my background, that means looking for Him within your own self, such that if He was truly there in your heart, you would experience and should be experiencing these qualities in your own character.

I think that is just half of the story now.

I have a different view now on this. To me the fruit of the Holy Spirit should never be separated from the Gospel and I hate to say this, Pentecostals/Evangelicals separate the Holy Spirit's person from the Gospel itself. Really this fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of faith in the Gospel. Notice these qualities, and here I add by implication the Gospel's effect on us, ie these qualities are the result of being forgiven. Love (for God and man, because we see God's love already for us), joy (in being forgiven), peace (with God, for there is no more issue between us and Him), patience (in trials/temptations), kindness (to others because God has been kind to us), goodness (because we now long to please God), faithfulness (because we savour that forgiveness), gentleness (because God treats us in gentleness too), self-control (because God exercised restraint in his wrath towards us).

There is no law against these, because the Law is not producing these, but the Gospel itself is.

Think about it, they come out from us, but they are not produced by us in a self generated manner. If you look at the Spirit within hoping by looking in, these may be produced in us, you are looking at the wrong place. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is fruit of the Gospel, again, it is extra nos. The Cross produces these things and the Holy Spirit is with Christ and His Cross... always. Dwelling on the Gospel takes care of these fruits, by itself. They are not self induced qualities from within, rather they are sourced external to us. The source, the Gospel (the Holy Spirit) comes outside and produces them within, and what is within produces what is outside seen and observed by people around us. The accent is not to look within, but to look where Christ is -- in His Cross!

Another way of understanding this of course is to take the
"Spirit" as pertaining to the new man, created in Christ Jesus since the new man longs and trust in Christ, but that is for another worthy discussion, for now...

Peace be with youse.


Steve Newell said...

In order to understand how we have this "fruit of the Spirit", we must remember what Christ said about baring fruit:

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Just as a branch on an apple tree may be bare fruit and the branch cannot bare fruit if the branch is cut off the tree, we cannot bare any spiritual fruit apart for Christ.

L P Cruz said...


The abiding in the vine concept is subjected to obscure interpretations where I came from. The disciple is directed inside, a consequence of not having high view of Sacraments (Baptism/Supper).

Normally the qualities are turned into Law, ie increase your Love, increase your Joy etc, in other words you adopt for yourself the attitude of love, joy, peace etc.

How free are we when we know these are not produced by us by as we abide in the love of God - the forgiveness found in Christ, the fruit will happen.


Augustinian Successor said...

AMEN, Bro. Lito!

Funny you should say this, because I've had bad experience with some so-called Reformed/Evangelical types notably either Baptists or Baptistic-types who have this Puritanical mind-set which produces a legalistic attitude - self-righteousness, latent hypocrisy, fierce pride, etc. like the ... Pharisees.

And here I am not even trying to convert them to my faith and tradition, but showing support. Yes, funny you should be reflecting on this because this was precisely I shared with a sister two nights ago that these kind of folks were self-appointed fruit inspectors who can read into people's hearts whom they barely know! That's right ... it was only recently I took time off the Lutheran church I was attending to attend this Reformed Baptist church as I have heard of the pastor before but never attended his church. What I found out was I now know why out of the 9 pastors which were together with him, all the 9 left him and went their separate ways. This pastor is authoritarian, hypocritical, proud, arrogant at times, manipulative ... and last Sunday morning he told me that because I am not teachable because I'm convinced on the basis of the Word of God in infant baptism etc. he found my presence unedifying. I naturally protested but left at it that and won't be returning to the church anymore. So much for being pastoral ... I'm not even a member!

And all the time within a span of less than a month, the Lutheran congregation kept short messaging me telling me how they miss me and all that ... contrasting spirit and attitude between Lutheran, Anglican versus Baptist and Baptistic Presbies.

L P Cruz said...

Dear Bro. Jason,

I am a bit shocked at the way you were treated by that RB pastor. He should be edifying you rather than you edifying him, he is pastor and much has been given to him.

I mean no offense to my RB readers here but honestly Calvin and Luther would excommunicate RBs, if not re-catechize them ;-)

Is it any wonder why some thinking RBs are re-examining now their practice of Baptism/Supper? I am encouraged that some are questioning their beliefs.

The Lutheran confession maintains the practice of infant baptism, primarily because a.) it is valid, b.) it is an epitome of demonstrating the grace of God in the Gospel, that it is God deciding to adopt us rather than us adopting him.

I admit that every synod has a problem, but the most important for me is what is going on in my local church. It is more important that I am getting my Law/Gospel diet at my pastor's pulpit.

I do hope you are making good progress with the BoC and the mutual conversation with the saints.

BTW, for your info, we in LCA have congregations dying for pastors. We are aching, I hope you get the hint ;-)

Walking with you on the Wittenberg trail,

Bro. Lito

J. K. Jones said...

How does this square with Philippians 2:12-13? “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Honest question here.

Augustinian Successor, on behalf of other Baptists like me, I apologize for the treatment you received from the Reformed Baptist minister you interacted with. The actions you describe were deplorable and miss-representative of Christ. I pray you find Christ in all His glory in whatever congregation you join.

J. K.

L P Cruz said...

Bro. JK,

Thank you for the question. I take that passage this way.. The faith that trust in the finished work of Christ remarkably wants to work to please the one who died for him.

In my small pastoral practice today as I conduct a Bible Study sponsored by my church and after discussing with them that God has done all for them, they react with eagerness to work, but this time, no longer working to be accepted by God but now working because they see the love of God for them, willingly.

That is what it implies s, I take the emphasis on the 2nd half of the verse, because it is God working, we are being instructed to follow through, bring out what God is working it.

In Lutheran language, faith "fears, love and trusts God".

I hope this helps,


J. K. Jones said...


“The faith that trust in the finished work of Christ remarkably wants to work to please the one who died for him.”

I think that is what Calvin meant when he wrote the first quote in your other tread. I’ll find it in context and read it again.

John Gerstner was helpful to me, although he overstated his point in his explanation:

Formula of Antinomianism: FAITH – WORKS = JUSTIFICATION (This is what I mean by ‘easy-believism.’ Walk forward at the invitation, mouth a prayer you don’t mean, and never doubt your salvation ever again despite the fact that there is no change whatsoever in your attitude toward sin.)

Formula of Rome: FAITH + WORKS = JUSTIFICATION (Works are infused righteousness in the believer that are meritorious. These works, a result of God’s grace, earn salvation in a sense. God saves by faith, but he does not save those who are not inherently righteous.)

Formula of Reformers and WCF: FAITH = JUSTIFICATION + WORKS (The faith that saves results in a heart set free from the guilt of sin; not guilt feelings, real guilt before God. Guilt is what gives sin the power to rule our lives. When that guilt is removed, our hearts are motivated by gratitude and love to do good works. Good works do not play a part in earning justification, only Christ’s work does. Faith alone saves, but not a faith that is alone.)

The danger is that we will look within to see the presence of works to know we are justified. Gerstner was prone to this. He followed Jonathan Edwards and the English Puritans. If Edwards was right, none of us would be Christians.

As I grow in Christ, my awareness of what God’s law requires grows as well. I think less and less of my performance. The Puritans would leave me without hope.

From your original post: “The accent is not to look within, but to look where Christ is -- in His Cross!”

Well said!

“… we are being instructed to follow through, bring out what God is working it.”

I am so glad you are not a quietist.

J. K.

Augustinian Successor said...

Amen to you about the Puritans, Pietism and Quietism, Bro. JK! ;-)

L P Cruz said...

Bro JK,
On Edwards...
For this reason, I am weary of Dr. Piper and I will be posting some thoughts about Desiring God. He is a fan of Edwards. If you look a long time ago, I posted something on his most famous sermon - Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God... Note, God is angry. But God today says "peace be with you, my Son has released you, he took your blame". That sermon has more Law and quite nil Gospel, so I wonder why that sermon was so famous...

I consider Calvin as a Church Father, the same way I treat Luther. I do believe Calvin should not be disregarded. However, in terms of pastoral experience and personality Luther seems to have more wisdom borne from the experience in struggle for faith.

This is the observation I have about Calvinists becoming Lutherans... They reason - well, if I am going to dip on Lutheran theology when I need it but operate Calvinisticaly when convenient, I might as well become Lutheran anyway, since I run there when I have questions and its theology is the one that answers them anyway.

I believe these Calvinists who become Lutherans have a point and their point is fair enough.

I was a Charismatic/Baptistic/Calvinist and puritanistic, but puritanism is essentially theology of Glory. But I believe I understand the struggle and appreciate the apprehension.

BTW, Bro JK, I know you noticed I often refer to baptism in reference to Calvin.

Once justification has been thoroughly appreciated, the Lutheran view of baptism and supper fall like dominoes, they eventually make sense. When they speak about Baptism/Supper and you are being bewildered by their expositions, go back to where they are standing, i.e. on justification, start from there plant one leg on that base plate and walk, then they will start to make sense and harmoniously in play with sola fide.

God bless you bro,


Kelly Klages said...

Hey Lito-- I'm *way* late in replying to this post, but it reminded me of a pretty good article written by Rich Mullins-- a guy who inadvertently and unintentionally, I'm sure, pointed me toward Lutheranism.

L P Cruz said...

Hi Kelly,

No wonder I liked his music. I used to have a radio show back when there was a Christian radio station vying for a license in my city and I used to play some of Rich's music.

I like this part...
Love is a virtue and not a feeling. It is fed and fired by God - not by the favorable response of the beloved. Even when it doesn't seem to make a dime's worth of difference to the ones on whom it lavished, it is still the most prized of all virtues because it is at the heart of the very character of God.

Thank you for the link, I am exploring it.

Blessings to you and the pastor,