By Jeri Young
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self control.” Galations 5:22
So, this has been a wonderful study of the fruits of the gift of love from the Spirit of God. Today we are looking at faithfulness. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are different from the fruit but the gifts are a whole different study - actually a multitude of studies. You can read about the gifts of the Holy Spirit in 1 Cor, chapters 12-14. Why do I even bring this up? Well....because in doing this study, something jumped out at me and it kind of changed everything in my study that I had taken days to write which meant yesterday, I was rewriting everything.
I have read this verse....I can’t even tell you how many times...and I never noticed the grammar structure in this sentence. I won’t spend too much time on it but I think, for some of you, it may change the way you read and understand the verse also. In our Women’s Bible Study, we are incredibly blessed with a wide spectrum of women.... age-wise, from young to old and lots in between and from new believers to incredibly mature believers of whom I have been blessed to learn so much. So if you have your bibles with you, let’s turn to the verse and look at it.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self control.” Galations 5:22
I did a Women’s Bible study maybe three years ago on how important the smallest words are in scripture. This is another wonderful example. In a certain way, it kind of changes the whole verse or at least really adds to it. Notice that the word “fruit” is singular, not plural. Then notice that verb is “is” and not “are.” Also Paul doesn’t end the verse with “ and self control,” like it’s the end of the list.
So.......If we were to write it today, it would probably read like this: “But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, and from that LOVE comes joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self control, etc.” The main focus of this verse is the Holy Spirit’s gift of LOVE and the fruit that comes from this amazing love. This LOVE is not earthly love. This LOVE is a spiritual, unconditional and supernatural love. This is the kind of LOVE that can only be received through the Holy Spirit of God. I could try to explain it but it will be easier to understand when I share this true story with you.
It’s a very brief story of Corrie Ten Boom, a devout Christian, who with her family, hid and saved many Jews and gentiles from the Nazi’s. Most of you have heard of her. The movie about her is called, “The Hiding Place,” and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch survivor of the Holocaust. Her sister, Betsie, died in the concentration camp just two weeks before Corrie Ten Boom was released. After the war, Corrie Ten Boom went on to become an amazing speaker teaching the love of Christ even during the harshest of times. One day, right after she had finished speaking to a smaller group about the love and forgiveness of Christ, she noticed a man moving forward towards her against the crowd which was leaving. Her heart stopped as she recognized him as one of the Nazi guards from the camp where her sister had died. The guard did not recognize her as one of the prisoners. There were so many but she remembered him in vivid detail what he had done. He complimented her on her talk about the forgiveness of God and told her he had recently given his life to Christ and reached out his hand to shake hers. At first Corrie could not take the hand. She said her mind raced quickly over everything she had been through and watching her sister die. But then the Holy Spirit spoke to her heart. She wrote, “I who had sins to be forgiven every day, could I not forgive.” She said, “God’s words to forgive were loud and clear and she knew she must forgive the man. She also said, “I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience,” explaining that, “since the end of the war, I had had a home in Holland for helping the victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids.”
She said, “It was as simple and as horrible as that. And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion–I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘Jesus, help me!’ I prayed silently. I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You,(Jesus) supply the feeling. And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.” “I forgive you, brother! I cried. With all my heart!”
That was the Holy Spirit who gave her the supernatural LOVE of Christ that she needed, the FAITH to do what she knew Christ wanted her to do and the STRENGTH to do it. That FAITH and the STRENGTH came from the HOLY SPIRIT filling her with the LOVE OF GOD and bringing the words of scripture to life in her heart.
So we have looked at joy, peace, kindness, patience, goodness and gentleness. Now we look at the fruit of faith. Some of our translations show the word faithfulness but the true translation of the word is actually “FAITH.”
Since LOVE and the fruits of love come from the Holy Spirit, and God is changing us into His image, then our first examples of what that fruit should look like should be easily visible when we look to God. First we will look at the translation FAITHFULNESS....God’s faithfulness. We can have a “fullness of faith because God is faithful.” From the beginning of time to the end of time, God has been and will always be faithful. There are over 300 prophesies which are God’s promises in the Old Testament regarding the coming of the Christ, the Messiah, the Redeemer of the human race after the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Jesus, God in human form, fulfilled every one of them. God’s faithfulness is declared in his relationships throughout the Old Testament: to Abraham and Sarah, to Moses, to David, to Solomon, to Daniel, to Elijah and all of the prophets, Joshua, Gideon, Ester, to King Hezikiah....the list goes on and on. There is not one place in scripture where God has gone back on His word.
And the crowning faithfulness, that while we were yet still sinners, the Son of God came down from Heaven and took our place on the cross. We did nothing on our part. He did it all.
In our own lives, looking back, we see how faithful God has been. Even though we may have suffered consequences of our own actions or bad decisions, we still see God’s hand of faithfulness. So God IS the perfect example of faithfulness. He is always true to His Word. God is faithful and because of God’s faithfulness, we can have fulness of FAITH.
OK.....so question.....what is the simplest and most straightforward definition of faith? The simplest and most straightforward definition of the word “faith” is TRUST . It’s also the simplest and most straightforward definition of the the word “believe.” If you do a word search in scripture of the words faith or believe, in almost every instance, you can substitute the word “trust” in its place. In Matthew 8, when the ship was being battered on the sea and the apostles were afraid so they woke Jesus who had been sleeping and Jesus said, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith (trust).” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea,and it became perfectly calm. Again in Matthew 16, Jesus said, “You men of little faith (trust), why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?” When we are born again, the indwelling Holy Spirit gives us that faith to trust.
This study and our summer study has helped me immensely to better understand the role of the Holy Spirit. I’ve always known that when I finally and truly committed my life to Christ that at that very moment, I became a new person. Christ, as He promised, came to live in me. The old person was dead. I loved Jesus more than anything because of His love for me. It was the first time I had ever felt unconditional love. I felt His love and I knew I was saved. I loved God the Father for sending His Son to save me and redeem me BUT being new in my faith, even though I accepted the teaching of the Trinity that our God is one God in three persons, I really didn’t understand the third person, the Holy Spirit. Coming to know the Holy Spirit is not an overnight journey. It’s a journey that lasts a lifetime.
When we think of Christ, we often immediately picture a person even though we really don’t know what He actually looked like. So thinking of Christ, the person, coming to live inside of us, may still be hard grasp. We might be in the same quandary as Nicodemus was when Jesus told him in John 3 that he had to be born again of water and Spirit. Nicodemus did not know that Christ would soon die and be raised to life again. So what Jesus was telling him was hard to understand. Nicodemus asked, “can a man enter his mother’s womb again?” But Jesus was talking about being spiritually reborn. We, unlike Nicodemus, know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross for our sins and was then raised to life again. We can look back at the documentation of Pentecost and understand that it is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ Jesus, the third Person of the Trinity of God that comes to live inside of us when we believe. We are “born again of the Spirit” as the Spirit takes up residence inside of us. Paul says earlier in this letter to the Galations: “ I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives IN me.” —Galatians 2:20 Jesus’ physical body cannot live in us.... but His Holy Spirit lives in us...when we truly believe.
In 2 Corinthians 13:5, the apostle Paul asks the Corinthian believers a question: “ Or do you not realize about yourselves that Jesus Christ is IN you?” In saying, “Jesus Christ is IN you,” Paul wasn’t speaking poetically or metaphorically. He truly meant that the Spirit of Jesus Christ is literally and practically dwelling within the believers.
No one truly understands the Trinity of God...it is simply beyond our human understanding but we do know that God is one God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Paul says in 2 Cor 13:14 “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
All faith, saving faith, enduring faith, redeeming faith, living faith, courageous faith.....all faith always comes from the Holy Spirit.
Let me ask you a rhetorical question. Who are we? Are we simply what we look like on the outside? ....or are we a combination of mind, soul and spirit - everything that cannot be visually seen. Through FAITH (given to us by the Holy Spirit), the Spirit of Christ Jesus, God lives inside of us even though we can’t see Him. We too, like the Corinthians, need to realize this fact about ourselves. Christ is not merely outside of us, a Helper in our time of need, butHIS HOLY SPIRIT dwells IN us, living IN us and is with us all the time.....not some of the time....but ALL of the time.
.....to believe is to have “FAITH.” Can we physically see faith? No.....but we TRUST and we have FAITH that what Jesus promised is true. In Hebrews 11:1, we read, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Where do we read the promises of God through the ages....the promises that Jesus spoke of so often when He walked among us? The entirety of scripture, both Old and New Testament is the sole work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, as Jesus promised through His love for us, is our Helper and our Communicator. Of our own, we still cannot comprehend scripture to the point of believing.
Look at the apostles and compare their faith (even after living with Jesus for three years)...compare their faith before Pentecost and after Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to live inside of them. Before Pentecost, that were timid and afraid even though they had seen and touched the risen Christ! After Pentecost and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, they became bold and fearless in their teaching of the Gospel. We can read through the entire Bible (and many have) and still not believe. Only if we are given faith by the Holy Spirit, can we believe and truly experience the love of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit may be prodding us to believe and putting other believers in our lives to share the Gospel with us but until we ask Jesus, by FAITH, to come into our heart, the Holy Spirit cannot come in and we cannot truly believe. The love that comes from our faith in Jesus (if we let it) will fill us with all the fruits of His love: joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, is our faithful communicator....constantly prodding our hearts to know Jesus more and more. He is the living water that Jesus spoke about so often.
Why, then, even though we are believers, do we sometimes struggle with our faith? It’s not because the Holy Spirit isn’t doing His job. We struggle because we fail to surrender. The Holy Spirit can speak to us clearly and all day long but we still have free will because we live in these earthly bodies. We may argue and say: “I have faith but...... I trust You, Lord, but...... I believe you, Lord, but........ Why don’t we have the fruit of peace? Jesus promised us in John 16:33: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
So, if I believe in Jesus, that He is God, that He took on human form and died for me and rose again......why don’t I have the fruit of peace promised???? It’s hard for us to be of good cheer when we are in the midst of chaos. Let’s take a second and look at the word “peace.” The Greek word for peace is “eirene” (pronounced i-rain-ae.) It actually means “to be joined.” When you are truly 100% joined, there is peace. If you are not 100% joined, there is a lack of peace. The Helper, the Holy Spirit is there to help us find that peace....to be joined with Christ.
Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” To find and keep that peace, we must be in close communication with the Holy Spirit throughout the day. The Holy Spirit is constantly prodding us and trying to help us to be joined to Jesus. Though Jesus lives IN us, we are often not joined. Jesus is pure love. He is LOVE, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self control. He wants us to have ALL OF IT. The fruits, ALL of the fruits of the LOVE OF JESUS are ALWAYS there.....ALL the time just for the asking....but We have not because we ask not. We ask not because we refuse to surrender our will.
So how can we help ourselves to surrender so that our faith is stronger? Our hearts want to surrender but our will fights against us. It’s a battle....it truly is a battle and one that we will fight until the Lord comes or we go home to be with Him. We pray to the Helper....the One that we too often ignore....the One that is always there just waiting for us to ask Him for help.We are told to put on our armor every morning as soon as we get up. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives that armor.
Hopefully we read scripture every day. Believers often say, “God doesn’t talk to me,” or, “I never hear God talking to me.” OK.....but if you can’t hear Him, you can read your Bible and what the Spirit of God says in the written word.
Sometimes when we’re in close communion with God, we can feel the Holy Spirit laying something on our heart....it can almost be like a pressing weight like calling a friend right now or reaching out in one way or another. Other times, we may actually audibly hear the Holy Spirit talk to us. Communication goes both ways and as we get better at praying throughout the day, we will also get better at hearing what the Holy Spirit wants us to hear. We long to hear the Spirit talk to us but how often do we look at our Bible sitting on the table and think, I’ll read a few verses after I finish x, y or z? THAT GLANCE.....when you looked over at your Bible? That was the Holy Spirit prodding you. How often do we ignore Him? Yet we want more faith or stronger faith.
How often do we think about the ENTIRE Bible being the work of the Holy Spirit...the actual words of God? The Holy Spirit is God.
Here’s an interesting story I read while reading a chapter in R. A. Torrey’s book, “The Holy Spirit, Who He Is and What He Does.”
One Sunday night as I was going out of the inquiry meeting (we would call it a question and answer meeting) in the Moody church, a young man was waiting for me in the vestibule. He said to me, Mr. Torrey, I don’t believe anything. Can you tell me how to believe?”
Torrey said, “Don’t you believe anything at all? Don’t you believe there is a God?“ “Yes,“ the young man said, “I believe there is a God but I am in doubt about everything else.“
“All right,” Torrey said, “if you believe there is a God, you are to surrender your will to God, then begin reading in the first chapter of John. First, read a few verses at a time. Don’t read too many, and pay close attention to what you read. And each time before you read, pray this prayer, “Oh, God, show me the truth in these verses I am about to read; and what You show me to be true, I promise to stand upon that truth.” Read each day until you get through the gospel. Will you do it?“
“Yes,“ he replied, “I will.“ “
“One more thing,” Torrey said, “when you get through the gospel, come and report back to me.“
About two weeks later, Torrey went out of the prayer meeting one night and met him again in the vestibule. The young man said, “I have come to report.“
Torrey said, “What is your report?“ The young man smiled and said, “Don’t you know?“
Torrey said, “Yes,“ I think I do.“
“Well,“ the young man said, my doubts are all gone. I do believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and I do believe in the Bible as the Word of God.“
The young man finally surrendered and opened himself up to the Holy Spirit. I have no doubt that when he prayed that prayer asking the Holy Spirit to show him the truth, that the young man’s heart was very sincere and God was faithful. God talked clearly to that young man through the Holy Spirit.....and through the love of God, through His Holy Spirit, that young man came to believe - have faith in - that the entire Bible was indeed the true Word of God.
So FAITH, or TRUST, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and it is the fruit of God’s love for us through the Holy Spirit. Now God’s love lives inside of us. Our entire lives as believers are being conformed to the image of Christ Jesus. Because that love lives inside of us, God wants us to be fruitful as well. Paul tells us that the greatest of all the gifts is love and without love none of the other gifts can be manifested. Paul also said that one day, all of the gifts would end...all but LOVE. So being conformed to Christ, the first fruit that people should see in us as believers is that we love differently than others......that our love is an unconditional love because the love of Christ is unconditional. They should feel that they can trust our love for them.
Vernon McGee says, “You are never asked to live the Christian life; you are asked to let Him live it through you.” The reason is of ourselves, we can’t do it. Our old nature can’t and our new nature has no power without the Holy Spirit. We must live in the Holy Spirit. We may have the strongest desire to share our faith with a friend or loved one but if we are not living in the Spirit and in the love of Christ, it’s going to be really difficult if not impossible for that friend or loved one to see God through you. They first must see God’s love in you before they will be open to your telling them how wonderful the love of God is. Then the Holy Spirit can use you to bear fruit.
Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Without the vine, the branches can do nothing. The Holy Spirit is the life giving water that flows from the vine to the branches. How healthy the branches of a plant are depends on how much water is allowed to flow to the branches from the vine. Are you clamping off the branch by refusing to surrender? Tell the Lord that you want your life to bear fruit and that if there is an area of your life that needs to be cleaned out that you are willing for Him to do it. Ask Him to show it to you, then surrender and obey. That is the supernatural gift of love from the Holy Spirit. Otherwise none of us would do it.
So love is the gift that produces joy, peace, kindness, patience, goodness, gentleness, faith and self-control. When we are filled with the love of God and abide in that love daily, we will bear fruit. Our faith, trust and belief will be strengthened daily and our faithfulness to others will increase simply because in reality, GOD is WHO we are REALLY being faithful to.
May we all abide daily in the love of God and bear much fruit. AMEN!