SALVATION: SIX (EXCERPT OF THREE DEATHS AND THREE RESURRECTIONS: VOLUME ONE)
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
“Salvation: Six” is taken from Three Deaths and Three Resurrections: Volume One, copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries
Christ Walks: First Day
The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. (Luke 13:31-33)
Jesus was saying that He was going to perform His ministry for so many days and then be crucified and resurrected. However, there is prophetic revelation here. The first two days are equivalent to the first two days of the sixth chapter of Hosea, and the third day is the Day of the Lord, the Kingdom Age. The Church of Christ will be perfected during the Kingdom Age.
We can observe the same pattern in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The building in the fenced area consisted of the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The two places were ten cubits high but the Holy Place was twice as long as the Most Holy Place. It was twenty cubits in length whereas the Most Holy Place was only ten cubits in length.
The Holy Place represents “today and tomorrow,” while the Most Holy Place represents the “third day.”
This design teaches us that during the Church Age (today and tomorrow) the ministry of Christ is to be characterized by the casting out of demons and the doing of cures.
The millennial perfecting of the Church. During the thousand-year Jubilee—the glorious age of the Kingdom of God that is just over the horizon—the Body of Christ will be brought to perfect love and holiness. This will be the fulfillment of I Corinthians, Chapter 13. In the Kingdom era we shall see Isaiah, Chapters 60 and 61 as well as John, Chapter 17 brought to mature expression.
During the present Church age we must continue to rely on the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit. We still “see through a glass darkly.” In the age to come we shall know and understand as we are known and understood by the Lord. We shall be clothed with power and revelation, just as Jesus on earth was anointed during the first century. In place of bits of power and revelation that come and go we shall possess the abiding Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and might (Isaiah, Chapter 11). This is “that which is perfect.”
Jesus is “walking” during the first day and the second day, that is, during the present Church era. He is casting out devils and performing cures. During the “third day” His Body will be brought to the perfection of unity and maturity that God has determined—to the “measure of [maturity as measured by] the stature of the fulness of Christ.” The Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem, will attain its full stature, ready for its manifestation in the new earth as the Wife of the Lamb (Revelation, Chapters 21 and 22).
The first “day” of Jesus’ walking was the outpouring of the first century, as we mentioned in the section entitled, “Hosea Six: First Day.” Jesus’ own ministry, as we have stated previously, was characterized by the most extraordinary miracles. Jesus Himself was (and always is) the fullness of the Kingdom Age brought into the earth.
The Glory of God resting on the Apostles and the early Church was extensive, although it does not appear that the greater works Jesus promised (John 14:12) were in evidence. Jesus Himself dwelled in a much greater fullness of God’s Presence than was true of the Apostles. But the fullness of Christ’s glory has been promised to the Church (John 17:22).
The casting out of demons and the doing of cures were carried on by the first-century churches. Paul declared: “The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (I Corinthians 4:20). The Gospel of the Kingdom must be seen in action as well as heard.
The Kingdom of God is manifest in driving out demons and healing the sick. If these two actions are not occurring along with our preaching we are presenting only one-half of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. When Christ is “walking” demons are being cast out and the sick are being healed. The deeds come first. It is what Jesus began to do and to teach.
Today: the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is God’s will today (we believe from the Scriptures and from the current burden of the Spirit) that the Gospel of the Kingdom be presented in the fullness of Divine power to every man, woman, boy, and girl on the earth. Today is the Spirit’s hour.
Our task is to cry to God night and day until He sends us forth to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. We are not to go in presumption, in our own strength and wisdom. Rather, our business is to cry to God until He commands us to go forward. When He does, demons will be driven out and the sick will be healed. He is Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The outpouring of Kingdom power in the first century was outstanding. Jesus walked in the Apostles and in the other ministries and gifts of the early Church. He revealed His Glory. The Good News of the Kingdom of God spread to the ends of the earth. Multitudes were brought into the Kingdom and added to the Church, the Body of Christ. It was a brief revival in terms of time, but it seeded the world with the Word of God concerning Christ.
As great as was the first-century outpouring, the greater works are yet to come, as Jesus promised. He has “kept the good wine until now.” The glory of the latter house will be greater than the former.
God always is moving toward the fulfillment of His will in the earth, that is, that His Kingdom come and govern and bless the nations. The Glory of God shall cover the earth, as the Lord swore to Moses. The “water” of God’s Spirit will cover the “sea” of mankind until wickedness has been removed from the nations of the saved.
We are in the last of the last days. There will be many heroes of faith who will come forth in the end-time performing mighty works and finding favor in God’s sight. Many who are last will be first, as Jesus prophesied concerning the time of the end.
Perhaps we are in the second day, the “tomorrow,” now. Jesus is walking in Kingdom power, casting out demons and doing cures to a greater extent than was true in former periods. Let us walk in Him and He in us.
Bearing the Fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (Galatians 5:22-24)
For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:7,8)
The concept of the Christian bearing fruit unto God is familiar to believers. We can notice, in the preceding two passages, three facts that are true concerning the fruit of the Christian discipleship:
- The fruit is the “fruit of the Spirit,” not the fruit of reformed flesh.
- Bearing the fruit of the Spirit has both a negative and a positive aspect. If the believer does not bear fruit he comes under the curse of God. If he does bear fruit he receives blessing from God.
- It is not merely a good thing to bear fruit, it is essential if we are to inherit the Kingdom of God. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit is the evidence of the presence of the Kingdom of God and is the Kingdom of God. The fruit of the Spirit is the moral image of Christ created in the human personality.
The fruit of the Christian discipleship is the fruit of the Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit takes of the Substance of God, of the grace of God, of the Word of God, of the Virtue of God, and applies these aspects of Divinity to our life. Our personality is as bare soil. We have nothing to offer the Spirit except an honest, sincere heart.
No Divine good can come out of human beings, out of flesh and blood creatures. “The flesh profiteth nothing.” This is a difficult concept for us to accept, but until we accept it we continue to wear ourselves out attempting to bring about some of the scriptural commandments and promises by our own efforts.
We cannot create in ourselves the moral image of Christ by our own ability. It is a hopeless task. We cannot make gold out of wood, and we cannot create the fruit of the Spirit by human effort. What is Divine is Divine and what is human is human. Divinity cannot be created by human wisdom and strength.
The Holy Spirit employs three elements in bringing forth fruit in the Christian: (1) the Substance of the body and blood of Christ, which is the Substance of God, added to our new born-again inner man; (2) the Word of God given to our mind, which results in the transformation of our mind into the mind of Christ; and (3) the power for living and ministering that is the resurrection Life of the Spirit Himself.
The operation of these three elements is, and continues to be, possible only because of the atoning authority of the blood of Christ shed on the cross. The blood of the Lord Jesus forgives and keeps on forgiving the believer, thereby making it possible for the Spirit of God to bring him into righteous, holy, and obedient behavior. If the blood of Jesus did not keep on forgiving us and cleansing us from sin, God could not receive us into the long process of fruitbearing.
It is the anointing of the Spirit that enables fruitbearing. The flesh can do little except to use the will power it possess to do what Christ has taught us.
It is not enough that we are anointed by the Spirit for ministry. A powerful, “successful” ministry is no substitute for godly behavior. Ministries and gifts are one aspect of the Spirit’s operation in us; but the Holy Spirit also is leading us and forming us in the realm of moral re-creation.
It is possible to accept the Spirit in ministries and gifts, and then to neglect the Spirit’s work in us pertaining to moral re-creation. Some outstanding ministers have done this.
The opposite error would be to accept the Spirit’s work in us pertaining to moral re-creation, concentrating on our own moral perfection, and then to neglect the Spirit’s desire to use us to build up other people by our ministry and gifts.
Every Christian has a ministry and gifts from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives a gift to every member of the Body of Christ. The Body is built up by that which every joint supplies.
We can see that the Holy Spirit performs many works in us. Among these are the assigning of ministries and gifts and giving wisdom and power to use them; creating the fruit of righteous, holy, and obedient conduct; enabling us to put to death the deeds of our body; giving personal counseling, comfort, admonition, and guidance in our daily life; and inspiring us to keep on pressing forward in Christ.
The Holy Spirit has been charged by the Father with the responsibility for bringing forth the perfect Wife of the Lamb.
The positive and negative work of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is righteous and holy conduct, and the absence of the lusts of the flesh. We understand, therefore, that there is both a positive and negative aspect of redemption. The creation of godly behavior is the positive aspect. The destruction of unclean and rebellious behavior is the negative aspect.
There is both light and darkness in the Christian personality. The Holy Spirit separates the light from the darkness, naming each element of our being for what it is: light or darkness.
God is refining, refining, refining our nature. Each deed, word, motive, imagination, attitude, fleeting thought, is named as being light or darkness. We cannot keep up with this much analysis but the Holy Spirit can and does.
Our task is to stay filled with the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit, and to work in cooperation with the Spirit as He provides the wisdom and the enabling power. This is true of our moral re-creation, of our ministry to the Body of Christ, and of our witness to the world of Christ’s atoning death, triumphant resurrection, and soon return in His Kingdom.
The ninefold fruit of the Spirit. Let us look first at the “light,” at the positive aspect of the redemption of our moral conduct.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith [faithfulness], Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22,23)
The love of which we are speaking is Divine love. Divine love is free from self-seeking, from pride, from self-pity, from sentimentality, from indulgence, from pettiness. The love that comes from God is deep, strong, pure. The love of God can rebuke and embrace with equal power. It is eternal but never blind. Human love often is weak and filled with self-seeking. It can turn to hate in a moment’s time because it is, to a certain extent, based on love of self.
God’s love created in us is not based on love of self, it is fashioned from Divine Substance and imparted to us. It is as high above our love as Heaven is high above the earth. When God’s love is revealed in us it results in peace. It has a constructive effect on everyone around us. The Spirit’s fruit of love proceeds from the Father and it never fails. God’s love flows from Him and creates His image in the earth.
God’s love does not turn away from the cross.
Joy is another aspect of the Divine Nature. Human joy depends on comfortable circumstances and pleasant prospects. Divine joy flourishes in impossible places: on the sick bed, in the midst of persecution, in a prison cell.
Divine joy is a well deep in the heart of the saint. Trouble, confusion, distress, pain, worry, come and go in the life of the believer. They float on the surface of the sea of his life. Underneath is a joy that the world cannot give and the world cannot take away.
There is a gulf between Divine joy and fleshly pleasure. It is written that in the last days men will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. We see the fulfillment of that prophecy today as people give themselves over to orgies of riotous living until the scenes of Hell itself are appearing on the earth. The pleasures of the flesh are frantic, demonic, destructive, God-defying, and everything else that is evil.
Christ lives in the fullness of joy. Yet, His life on earth was conducted in the shadow of the cross. No other man ever has experienced such undeserved rejection and perversity as He. His joy always was with Him, sustaining Him in all circumstances, keeping Him always cheerful, always full of hope, always ready to share happiness with those around Him.
The Christian who has the abiding Presence and work of the Holy Spirit in him is not dependent on the circumstances about him to give him joy. His joy comes from Christ and it will sustain him no matter what comes to pass in the earth.
The peace created by the Spirit is familiar to God’s saints. God’s peace comes from above and overcomes all trouble. Sin brings torment, confusion, worry, frantic activity, unrest, lack of security, God’s peace is calm, untroubled, full of faith. God’s peace passes understanding because it does not depend on outward circumstances, Christ gives us His peace.
There is no peace to the wicked. When God beholds wickedness in us He chastens us as His dear children. The chastening is not pleasant but it produces righteous, holy, and obedient conduct in us. Righteous conduct brings rest and peace to our spirit, soul, and body.
Sin is on the rise today in the world as never before in the history of mankind. Sin always is accompanied by unrest. We witness that unrest throughout the earth. No matter how much turmoil there is in the world, the saint of God will enjoy peace, provided he pays close attention to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will bring about consistent, continual peace in the heart of the Christian regardless of what is taking place in his environment. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).
Longsuffering is another important aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. God is a patient Person. The Holy Spirit is patient. Christ is waiting patiently until His enemies have been made His footstool.
It is well for us that God is patient in His dealings with us or we would have been destroyed long ago. God is waiting patiently for the precious fruit of the earth, for Christ’s righteous image in us to come to maturity.
Whenever we think of Jesus an image of longsuffering comes to us. He endured all types of problems, waiting patiently for the Father to bring about justice and goodness in the earth. Much trouble and confusion come our way when we grow impatient. Can you think back in your own life to situations that would have worked out better if you had been patient until the correct solution came?
The violence, hatred, murder, and every other kind of evil work that fill the earth today stem from the lust that compels people to demand gratification now. “If we cannot have what we desire now, we will tear down everything and everybody around us.” God is not pleased with this attitude.
One of the foundations of successful Christian discipleship is the willingness to accept delayed gratification cheerfully. There are many things—often good things in the Lord—that we desire, but they do not come. They do not come. This is where longsuffering is revealed. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).
Some of the most glorious changes that occur in our personality result from God denying us something we desire greatly or keeping us doing something we think we “cannot bear for another day.” How truly God understands us! How hopefully He waits for the moment when we have been fashioned to His liking and can now receive our desire without impairing the necessary transformation that is taking place in us!
We must learn patience if we are to be saved to the extent God desires. Although God is quite capable of acting with lightning speed, He ordinarily works very slowly (from our point of view). His actions are deliberate, thoughtful, and complete. His workmanship always is perfect and we are His workmanship.
God never wastes time, money, personnel, or any other resource. Our glory comes right on the second of schedule; and if we are praying consistently for our desire we do not have to worry that God will be late. Our answer will not come in advance of schedule because that would result in an imperfect work.
The testing of our faith produces patience, and patience causes us to be “perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Patience is as important as love, joy, and peace. We will make shipwreck of our Christian experience if we cannot learn to settle into the harness of longsuffering and allow God to take all the time He requires to perform His task perfectly and completely.
Gentleness is part of the Personality of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every teacher of the Scriptures must be gentle. God is gentle with us. The wisdom that comes from above is gentle and peaceable. The Holy Spirit came down upon the Lord Jesus in the form of the gentle Dove.
When the Spirit came as tongues of fire on the early Church it was for the judging of sin. The Spirit comes to us also for the judging of sin. As soon as sin has been destroyed out of us the gentleness of the Holy Spirit becomes manifest to us.
All people desire to be dealt with in gentleness, particularly if they are being threatened with pain of any kind. The way of the evil princes of darkness is to come against people with harshness and fear. God, who possesses the power to cast His creatures into the Lake of Fire, visits us with gentle entreaty, bearing patiently with us in the hope that we will turn and choose His righteous ways.
Patience and gentleness are related in that each allows a person the opportunity to be certain in his mind about the steps he is taking. Harshness beats us with a whip if we do not jump on command. Gentleness invites us to choose the good way, and then waits quietly to see if we will perceive the wisdom and mercy of what is being offered.
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are gentle. If we would be in the image of God we must become gentle in nature. The Lord Jesus is able to act roughly, as in the case of the overturning of the tables of the money changers in the Temple. When Jesus appears He will exercise wrath and violence that will crush all opposition. There is savagery in God. We can witness that savagery in the wild animals God has created.
One of the greatest mistakes that people make concerning God is the belief that the meekness and gentleness of Christ are the only nature of God. God is as much in the raging lion as He is in the cooing dove. Fortunately for us, God prefers to work with His creatures in meekness and gentleness.
God desires that all His children put on the meekness and gentleness of the Lord Jesus Christ and treat other people meekly and gently. It is not proper for us to rage at our brothers and sisters in the Lord when they are not fulfilling our desires or meeting our standards.
God’s gentleness makes us great. Let us allow the Holy Spirit to remove all strife and harshness from our spirit so we can learn to be gentle as He is gentle.
The quality of goodness is that of good will toward all individuals. When people come to us they know that our attitude toward them will be one of endeavoring to help them in their need.
God is good. He is good to us. Jesus informed us that there is none good but God. True faith maintains that God is good and that if we will come to Him and perform His will we will be given an egg and not a snake. If we are to be in the image of God we must be of such a nature that people always will understand that we will treat them with generosity and good will. The Holy Spirit teaches us to be good. He works in us character that is good by nature.
We learn to be wise as serpents in “catching” people for God, but our craftiness is free from all malice and all desire for personal gain. Our intent is innocent and full of hope that people will receive from us increased ability to enter the Kingdom of God. Goodness is not self-seeking but attempts to provide benefits for everyone. Goodness does not avenge itself but trusts in God for mercy and judgment.
There is terrible wickedness taking place in the earth today and it is growing worse. Some of the evil is so perverse, so virulent, so loaded with the serpent’s poison, that the best-intentioned Christian barely can escape its infections. The wicked practices can be found in the household of faith as well as among the people of the world.
No matter how righteous we think we may be, how mature in Christ, if we are not exceedingly diligent and prayerful there may come a point at which we begin to fight back. But evil never can be overcome with evil. Evil can be overcome only by good. We cannot overcome the devil’s fire with fire of our own making.
In no way can a righteous individual, whether Christian or not, extract from his own personality enough goodness to counteract the evil that is in the world today. There is but one source of goodness that contains enough virtue to overcome the wickedness and perversity of the present age. The source of goodness of which we are speaking is the body and blood of Christ.
If you draw near to—or even speak about—some of the evil that is upon us today you will be contaminated. Either in the world or in the churches you will encounter it. When you do encounter it, no matter how good your intentions may be you may find yourself fighting back. It scarcely is possible to be touched by today’s virulent perversity and demonic wickedness without being pulled down by it into fretting and rage.
When we call on God to fill us with the body and blood of Christ we begin to experience the Goodness from Heaven coming down into us as a transfusion of Life. We then receive enough Divine strength to keep our gaze on the Lord and to ignore the wickedness in which we are immersed.
This is how Jesus was able to survive the perversity and malice that were His daily portion. He kept His gaze steadfastly on the Father, being filled continually with the Holy Spirit. He was able to keep on showing goodness and mercy to all.
Goodness is part of the image of Christ that is being created in us by the many aspects of the grace of God.
Faithfulness is an important part of God’s character. Can you imagine what our life would be like if God were not faithful?
Perhaps we do not spend much time considering what would be true if God had Satan’s nature. What if God were not faithful to keep His promises? What if God said one thing and then did another? Indeed, if God were like Satan if would be far, far better for us if we had never existed!
“Faithful” is a name given to the Lord Jesus.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. (Revelation 19:11)
The Lord Jesus is the faithful Witness of God.
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Revelation 1:5)
No person can make a success of the Christian discipleship if he does not faithfully follow and obey the Lord.
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (Matthew 25:21)
Ours is a day of covenant breaking, of not keeping the promises we have made. This is because people love pleasure more than God. We place the highest value on the pleasure and “rights” of people. Because of the curse that is on the world due to the sin of Adam, we cannot make our life one of continued pleasure. If we are determined to live in pleasure we must keep on breaking vows we have made.
It appears that most believers are not oriented properly to the plan of salvation. They were not told when they were baptized in water that they were entering Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. As a result they are unwilling to submit to the discipline and rigors of discipleship.
The only individual who will be made a partaker of Christ is the one who has patiently, faithfully endured to the end. He has kept faith with the Lord Jesus. He has clung to the Lord through every danger, every trial, every snare. He promised to serve Jesus and he has kept his word, by God’s help.
One could hardly overemphasize the importance of the quality of faithfulness in the Christian personality.
The faithful saint knows that God exists and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him diligently. God is taking pains to teach us faithfulness. Have you ever wondered why God works so carefully all through our life to teach us to hold faithfully to His Word, knowing we shall die and pass into the spirit realm—there to be able to know beyond doubt that God exists?
It is because faithfulness is not limited to the knowledge that God exists or that Jesus is His Son and Christ. The demons know beyond doubt that God exists and that Jesus is the Holy One of God.
Faithfulness includes the conviction and the courage that impel people to seek God in the assurance that such seeking will bring them the joy for which they were created. Our faithfulness is measured by the degree of diligence with which we seek the Presence of the Lord.
The person who is faithful to God will be faithful to man. It is impossible to be faithful to God and yet be treacherous toward man.
Many Christians spend their time and energy seeking an assortment of things and circumstances, but few believers are devoted to faithfully seeking the Lord in order to bring the will of God into the earth. Yet, such constant seeking is the expression of what the Holy Spirit means by “faithfulness.”
God brings the believer into circumstances in which his faithfulness is tried exceedingly. Is this happening to you?
Faithfulness maintains our relationship to God.
Our faithfulness is our personal testimony concerning God’s Character.
Faithfulness keeps us seeking after God with all our strength. Faithfulness is compounded from love for God, perseverance, trust, hope, and courage. Faithfulness is dynamic, continually being in motion toward God. Faithfulness grasps God and will not let Him go.
God gives us His own faithfulness because human beings are treacherous and conniving by nature. The person who has the faithfulness of God will leave everything this age has to offer and choose God over all else. The faithfulness of the believer rests in the faithfulness and will of God, and is restless until God’s will in every situation and at all times has been perceived and acted on.
Faithfulness enables the believer to stand fast in the most rigorous testings of obedience—to the point of sifting his identity as a person. Yet he cannot let go of God because God is his All in all. We humans do not possess so much as a mustard seed of faithfulness until the Holy Spirit begins to create faithfulness in us—the faithfulness that is the fruit of the Spirit.
The reason God spends our lifetime teaching us faithfulness to Himself is that faithfulness is as necessary in the spirit realm as it is on the earth. The angels who were in the heavenlies with God fell into sin because they chose not to remain faithful to God. Sin commenced in Heaven. Sin was introduced into the Garden of Eden by creatures from Heaven—creatures who at one time had lived in the Presence of God in Heaven, had heard his Word, and refused to be faithful to God.
The development of faithfulness in us is for the purpose of ensuring that never again will there be a rebellion against God. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit being developed in each true believer in the present hour will serve God and every creature now, in this world, and also in the ages of eternity yet to come.
Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) while faith is a gift of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12:9). Let us think for a moment about the fruit of faithfulness and the gift of faith.
They are different in the level of maturity they represent.
The gift of faith is a tool of ministry. It is as “manna” being given for the nourishment of Israel during the years of testing in the wilderness. The fruit of faithfulness, on the other hand, is part of the character of the believer. It is as the “old corn of the land,” the food grown in the land of promise.
Ministries and gifts are given in a moment, although the effective use of them requires considerable practice. We keep on learning how to become more skillful, more productive in the exercise of the gifts God has given us.
In presenting the Word of God, for example, we learn by practice to hold forth the food in such a manner that the “sheep” will eat. The best of spiritual food may not be accepted by God’s people if they are offended by the manner in which it is offered. Also, we learn how to fight off the enemy as he attempts to prevent our using our spiritual ministries and gifts.
However, unlike the ministries and gifts, the fruit of the Spirit is not given in a moment. The fruit of the Spirit must grow in the believer’s personality, and like most growing things it is slow in developing. Manna drops from above in a short space of time. Corn must be grown with patience.
The gift of faith is given to Christians selected by the Holy Spirit according to the design God has in mind for bringing to maturity the Body of Christ.
The fruit of faithfulness is to be borne by every Christian, and does not represent a means to the maturing of the Body of Christ but the maturity itself. The gift of faith is a means to the final result of the plan of redemption. The fruit of faithfulness is the final result itself: it is the image of Christ.
As we have stated, faithfulness is part of the fruit of the Spirit. The remaining eight aspects of the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and temperance) have to do with what we are and the manner in which we respond to the people who are around us. Faithfulness, on the other hand, as well as benefiting the people around us, is the anchor that secures us in the Person of God Himself. The faithfulness that is the fruit of the Spirit has to do with the manner in which we respond to God and His Word.
Faith, hope, and love are three massive pillars in the temple that is the saint. The greatest of the three pillars is love. God is love and without love we cannot abide in God or know God. Faithfulness also is a pillar, for it is impossible to please God unless we are a good and faithful servant. Our faithfulness is our personal testimony of the trustworthiness of God and it is proclaimed by what we do. We reveal our faith in God by our faithfulness to God.
The quality of meekness is that of humility, of teachableness, of submission to the will of God. We maintain the attitude toward God that we have no confidence in ourselves but always are looking toward Him, always are learning from Him and leaning on Him, always are ready to move with Him in any circumstance. A meek and quiet spirit is of great price in the sight of God.
The same attitude of meekness, humility, and quietness of manner is extended toward other people. We are interested in what they say and we learn from them. We are able to receive the admonitions and exhortations of the elders. In fact, we can learn from all persons—Christians and non-Christian alike.
We do not push our way into prominence, making certain our will is performed and that other people know who we are. Just because we are Christians we do not take an arrogant attitude toward non-Christian people; rather, we consider the merit of what they say and do. Our way is one of kindness and gentleness, trusting in God to remedy injustice.
There is a world of difference between meekness, on the one hand, and fear, man-pleasing, cowardice, double-mindedness, insecurity, false humility, and weakness, on the other hand. Jesus was the meekest Person who ever walked on the face of the earth. Yet He was without fear. Christ did not strive to win the favor or to gain the support of His listeners. He never was cowardly. He never acted with double-mindedness, never lost His security in God, never moped about in false humility attempting to impress people with His piety.
Christ never shrank back in weakness from the problems set before Him. Jesus was commanding in His Person. Yet He was meek and lowly of heart.
Meekness proceeds from courage rather than from fear. A coward is not strong enough to be meek. It is the fearful person who shouts, fights, and demands his way. Meekness speaks only to please the Lord, never to please the listeners. Meekness acts bravely. A coward cannot succeed as a Christian because of the necessity for going against the opinions of people and for fighting the forces of darkness.
Meekness never is double-minded but submits to God and does His will. Double-mindedness is compounded from self-seeking and fear, while meekness is neither self-seeking nor fearful. If you are a fearful person, God will give you courage if you ask Him. Meekness is not insecure but rests in the promises of God. Meekness is truly humble, being unmindful of its own humility. False humility is a deceitful image covering a bonfire of pride and self-will. Meekness glories in God alone, seeks not its own advantage, and has nothing to hide. Meekness is the fullest expression of strength and courage.
The weak, fearful person acts and speaks in confusion, sometimes boisterously, sometimes timidly. The believer who genuinely is strong in the Lord and in the power of His might can afford to take the lowest place, can afford to be unnoticed, can afford to be quiet and confident. His security and strength flow from the heavenly sanctuary.
There are legions of the most powerful of God’s warrior angels, a terrible army indeed, who instantly are ready to come to the aid of the least of God’s saints. Only the believer in Christ can be truly meek because no person on the earth other than the Christian has absolute power and authority in continual operation on his behalf.
Temperance is self-control. Someone has declared that the fruit of the Spirit is a ladder with love at the top rung and self-control at the bottom. Another viewpoint is that the fruit of the Spirit is one fruit and there are many different parts that interact until the whole fruit has developed.
We may have observed already that love is related to kindness, gentleness, and goodness, that meekness is related to faith, that peace and joy go together (how could one have joy apart from peace?). Also, self-control (temperance), while it may not sound “heavenly,” nevertheless is an important basis on which the structure depends.
Self-control is the ability to behave in moderation according to the needs at hand. The immoderate person is in bondage to some thing or some person. The believer who would press on to complete victory in Christ must employ self-control in eating, in playing, in working, in ministry, in his relationships with people, and in everything else he does.
The present evil age is one of excess, of gluttony, of the clutching to one’s self with violent passion the things of the world. Satan drives human beings to covet more and more. Yet no matter how much money or “fun” one manages to grasp, there never is enough. Covetousness of the riches and pleasures of the world is a tormenting fire that burns its slaves with the flames of Hell.
“Be content with such things as ye have,” the Scripture commands.
“Be content with your wages,” John the Baptist advised those who came to him.
We may not see the wisdom of this. We may be under the impression that a man’s life consists of the abundance of the things he possesses. In actuality the things possess the man although he may not realize it. How many people throughout history have turned away from Christ because they were pulled down to Hell by lust for the things of the world? We are to use the world but not abuse the world. God has given us richly all things to enjoy but God desires that we be in bondage to none of them.
The moment that God requires of us that we give up something or some relationship, we are to do so promptly and as cheerfully as we can. It does not matter who or what the person, thing, or circumstance may be. When God requires it we give it up. Obviously God, who has promised us green pastures and quiet waters, does not bring us into pain or anguish or confusion unless He intends to perform something marvelous in us or for us. If we cannot surrender to God what He demands, we are in horrible bondage. We are guilty of idolatry.
Self-control (temperance) keeps our relationships with all people and all things under our strict control. God and Christ desire that we yield cheerfully to their strict control over us. If we will accept their control over us, and keep strict control over our own personality, our relationships with all things, people, and circumstances will be attended by contentment and enjoyment.
We may observe in the second chapter of the Book of Hebrews that the creation is to be under the rulership of God’s sons. God and Christ are in authority over each of the sons of God. Nothing—absolutely nothing—is to come between God and Christ and the sons of God.
Before we became a Christian there were many people and things to which we paid homage. We did not realize that we were in bondage to them, but our ignorance does not alter the fact of our bondage. A substantial part of the redemption that is in Christ consists of the Lord removing from their position of power over us the people and things we idolize. Sometimes the process of removal is painful for a season. The end result of God’s dealings with His obedient saints is deliverance and peace for them.
When we have matured in the fruit of self-control we will be able to think and do the things that are God’s will for the given occasion. Whatever the will of God in Christ is, that is what we do. No deed, word, motive or imagination proceeds from us without our approval. This is what self-control is.
At present our self-control may rule to a certain extent, but no doubt there still are problem areas. As we press forward in Christ, the Lord uncovers and corrects the areas that still have control over us. It is God’s will that we be perfectly free in Him so that we always can choose what is right and be able to follow through with the performance of what is right.
In the seventh chapter of Romans, Paul expresses our frustration when we do the things of which we do not approve, when we have lost control of ourselves.
Included in the plan of redemption is the ability created in us to behave always in a manner of which we—under Christ—approve. Anything other than this indicates there still are areas in our personality in which the fruit of self-control has not come to maturity.
How wonderful to be always in control of one’s own conduct! Jesus always was in control of Himself. He never was in bondage to any person, any thing or any situation. He remained the Master. If we will permit Him to do so, He will work that mastery in us. Whether we are eating, playing, working, ministering, or whatever else we may be doing, we are to be in control over our own personality.
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. (Proverbs 16:32)
Perfect self-control is not possible apart from Christ. It is the will of God that each member of the Body of Christ come to the place of self-control in Christ.
The Divine salvation produces in us the fruit of the Spirit, which is the nature of Christ. The final result of redemption is our full abiding in the Father and the Son.
In order for the Father and the Son to abide in us the fruit of Spirit must be created in us, and in order for the fruit of the Spirit to be created in us the Father and the Son must abide in us. The more of God we have, the more fruit we bear. The more fruit we bear, the more God enters us and invests Himself in us.
The relationship between the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit. The contrast between the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit can be studied in I Corinthians, Chapter 13.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. (I Corinthians 13:8)
“Charity” is the fruit of the Spirit. It is the love of God. Charity cannot be given us as a gift of the Spirit, it is grown in us as the fruit of the Spirit.
Charity is never mentioned in the Scriptures as a gift but it is the first and most important aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. “Love,” as well as the remainder of the fruit of the Spirit, never “fails,” never comes to an end. It is our permanent possession throughout eternity.
The gifts of tongues, knowledge, prophecy, and the remainder eventually will vanish because they are the means to an end and not the end itself. They are scaffolding.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. (I Corinthians 13:9)
To each member of the Body of Christ is given a ministry and gifts of the Spirit. In order to obtain the full revelation of the Holy Spirit we must have every member of the Body of Christ, for each has a part of the manifestation of the Spirit and he or she is to contribute that part to the development of the Body.
In the case of the fruit of the Spirit, each Christian is to have in himself the complete maturing of each of the nine dimensions of the fruit of the Spirit. We are to possess some of the gifts but all of the fruit.
The ministries and gifts are given in pieces but the fruit is to be perfect and complete. There will be no member of the Body of Christ who eventually is not perfected in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. This fruit is the image of Christ—that to which we have been predestined (Romans 8:29).
The fruit of the Spirit is one whole, and that fruit is Divine love. All nine of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are the expression of the love of God that has been created in us.
It is not our love for God, as though we were able to create virtue from our own flesh and soul. It is God’s Divine love wrought in us by the operation of the Spirit of God.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. (I Corinthians 13:10)
“That which is perfect” comes. It is not something we do or a place where we go. That which is perfect is the full revelation of Christ in and to the believer. The full revelation will be in the possession of each member of the Body of Christ before God has finished His work under the new covenant (Hebrews 8:11). However, God is not setting a limit on what we can attain now if we will follow on to know the Lord.
When Jesus appears we will come to know Him to such a degree that the gifts of tongues, prophecy, healing, and so forth no longer will be necessary. “We shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2). What need will there be for prophecy when we can talk to the Lord face to face? What need will there be for the gifts of healing when the Healer Himself becomes available to every member of the Body of Christ?
The Day of the fullness is close at hand, and we will come to know Christ perfectly if we will set ourselves to follow on to the perfect Day. As soon as Christ has come to unity and maturity in His Body, the ministries and gifts will pass away. In that day, every member of the Body of Christ, from the least to the greatest, will know the Lord. The feeble will be as David. A “small one” will become a strong nation. The fullness of the Spirit will be our portion and we shall walk as Jesus walked on the earth—not in the partial revelation of gifts but in the full revelation and power of God in Christ.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (I Corinthians 13:11)
The ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit are things of childhood when compared with the fruit of the Spirit. When we are young spiritually we need each of the ministries of the Spirit. In fact, the reason for the immaturity of the Christian Church today, and for its divided condition, is that many of the saints are not operating in the realm of gifts and ministries. They are not giving their part to the Body, and they are not receiving all that they need from the Body for their growth in Christ.
However, God has determined that every member of the Body is to come to the “measure of [maturity as measured by] the stature of the fulness of Christ.” In the days in which we are living, God is restoring every one of the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit so that the Body of Christ may come to maturity and unity. As soon as the Body has come to maturity, to the fullness of the stature of Christ, the ministries and gifts no longer will be needed. Ministries and gifts are the means to the end. The end is Divine love, which is the fruit of the Spirit, the image of Christ.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (I Corinthians 13:12)
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (I John 4:16)
The reason we make so many mistakes in our ministries and gifts is that we are operating largely in the dark. We behold glimmers of light, and we give expression to that light, assisting our fellow Christians to the best of our ability. When Jesus appears we shall be able to see and understand perfectly.
There will be no more groping and muddling our way through life, speaking and acting with incomplete understanding of what is taking place. We will hold conversations with our Lord just as Moses did. There will be no more yea, yea, or thus saith the Lord. We will know the Lord Jesus, speak to Him, hear what He has to say, ask Him questions.
If we desire to understand His will for us, all we will have to do is ask Him. He will answer us plainly, not in dreams, visions, symbols or promptings from the written Word.
How does such fullness of knowledge come about? How do we partake of the “old corn of the land” instead of this light “manna” that comes today and is no good tomorrow?
The process is as follows: the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit, along with the other aspects of the plan of redemption, produce the fruit of the Spirit in us (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance). The mature development of the fruit of the Spirit is the image of Christ, the image of God to which we have been ordained (Genesis 1:26; Romans 8:29).
As soon as the image of Christ has been created in us, the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit can come and abide in us, and we in them, to a far greater extent than is true of our experience in the present hour.
The coming of the Father and the Son to abide in us (John 14:23) will result in our being in possession of the fullness of the knowledge of God, and the following then will be true of us as it was—and always will be—true of the Lord Jesus:
And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. (Isaiah 11:2-5)
The above passage is a description of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is a description also of each saint, each member of the Body of Christ, when the grace of God has brought forth its work in us.
God never will place the Head, Christ, on a body that does not respond perfectly to the Head. God never will present to the Lamb a wife who is not a counterpart, a complement, a helpmate for Him. The Body of Christ will be just as the Head, for the Body is being created on the Substance of the Head—on the body and blood of Christ Himself.
Think about the meaning of the following verses:
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be changed into the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
There will be no more need of the word of wisdom because every believer will possess the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, just as Jesus did and yet does.
There will be no more need of the gifts of knowledge, of faith, of miracles because the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, will abide on and in each member of the Body of Christ. This will be made possible because the member will have had created in him the fullness of the fruit of the Spirit, the fullness of the image of Christ.
The relationship between the gifts and the fruit of the Holy Spirit can be summarized as follows:
The gifts are part of the means by which the fruit is brought to perfection.
The gifts are given to the Christian in a moment, at the time that he is baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ or at some point after that. The fruit must be grown with patience. The gifts are the temporary means to an end—that the fullness of the image of Christ may be formed in each member of the Body of Christ.
When the Body of Christ comes to the fullness of stature, the complete revelation of the Holy Spirit will abide on each member and the incomplete ministries and gifts will pass away, having accomplished the task of bringing each of God’s elect to maturity in Christ.
(“Salvation: Six”, 4014-1)