1834 Has Arrived!

Anxiously awaiting the book to be carefully unloaded!

 

The new author, excited that his new book has finally arrived.

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The Fruit of the Spirit: Meekness

Meekness

Rev. Smit opens chapter 9 of The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ by explaining that Holy Spirit works meekness in the hearts of all the elect upon whom he bestows the gift of salvation.  All who are saved become meek.  It is a virtue that was exhibited, as Rev. Smit explains, by Moses, John the Baptist, Paul, and many other saints (pg. 128).  Saints are meek because they are renewed in the image of Jesus Christ, who was meek.  Rev. Smit connects the humility of Christ to the meekness of saints when he defines meekness.  “As Christ was humble, and demonstrated that humility in his work of redemption, so must we be of the same mind and in that lowliness of mind esteem others better than ourselves (pg. 129).”

Rev. Smit helpfully contrasts meekness and humility with the sins of selfishness, vainglory, and pride (pg. 129-131).  Against that backdrop of sin Rev. Smit holds up a beautiful description of meekness: “Meekness is a matter of how lowly we value ourselves – before God chiefly and also in comparison with others" (pg. 131).  Rev. Smit writes that a meek person “concludes” that “he is the least of all God’s saints" (pg. 131).  That is a powerful statement!  Do you esteem all other saints better than yourself?  Not some – all?  Not only the minister, the office bearers, or those who are known for their spiritual maturity, but even those who seem to be less comely – do you see them all as better that yourself?  And because it is a tendency to elevate certain people in the congregation, such as office bearers, it is good that they too be reminded to see themselves as the least of all God’s saints.  If we are struggling to be esteem ourselves of less than others we need to look to Christ and see that as sinners the only worth and value “we have is of, in, by, and because of Christ alone" (pg. 131-132).

That attitude of meekness before God and others must come to expression.   Do you display meekness in your life?  Rev. Smit gives good direction for displaying meekness in the last part of the chapter.  I encourage you to find 15 minutes in your day (that’s all it takes!) to read this chapter and think about how to put the Christian virtue of meekness into practice.  

Other articles by Rev. Spronk on The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ:

The Fruit of the Spirit: An Introduction

The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

The Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

The Fruit of the Spirit: Longsuffering

The Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness

The Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness

The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness

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This article was written by guest blogger Rev. Clayton Spronk, pastor of Peace Protestant Reformed Church in Lansing, IL. Rev. Spronk blogs for us several times a month, taking us first through a brief study of Richard Smit's newly released book, The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. If there is a topic you'd like to Rev. Spronk to address, please contact us.

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NEW Book, NEW Author

                1834: Hendrik de Cock's Return to the True Church

A gripping account of one man’s struggle against a spiritually desolate state church, this book witnesses to the sole authority of sacred scripture and the binding authority of the Reformed creeds.

Learn how, by God’s grace, Hendrik de Cock led his congregation out of the perverse wilderness of the state Reformed Church of the Netherlands, returning to the biblical worship of God as set forth in the Reformed creeds.

Written by new author: Marvin Kamps. Available Spring 2014.

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The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness

Faithfulness is Success

One of the questions at the end of chapter 8 of The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ which discusses the fruit of the Spirit called faithfulness asks, “in what ways are we prone to become weary in well-doing?”  A common reason for discouragement is lack of success.  Why expend the effort if the desired result does not come to fruition?  

The repeated admonitions brought by elders seem only to be met with stubborn resistance.  The hard work expended by a Christian man to provide for his family and for kingdom of God doesn’t seem to get him anywhere.  The mother works to keep the home in order only to see her work undone in a short amount of time by unappreciative husband and children.  The loving rebuke of a friend that you didn’t want to bring but knew you had to is met with anger and may mean a relationship is ended.  

Success, as we define it to mean that we obtain the objective we desire, seems unattainable.  Why then should we do our duty?   Why not throw in the towel?  We are reminded by Scripture that we are called to be faithful not successful.  

In chapter 8 Rev. Smit provides a helpful explanation of faithfulness.   For your own benefit read:

Pg. 116 for a definition of faithfulness.
Pgs. 116-119 for a discussion of Christ’s faithfulness.
Pgs. 119-120 for an intriguing list of saints noted for faithfulness in the Bible.  
Pgs. 119-122 for a discussion of the faithfulness required of office-bearers and their wives, children, employees.
Pgs 123 for a warning against unfaithfulness.
Pgs. 124-125 for an explanation of the benefits of faithfulness.

 

Now what if we do not enjoy immediate benefits when we faithfully perform our duty?  Rev. Smit reminds us that the “faithfulness of the believer to Jesus Christ throughout his life in his station and calling, even unto his last fleeting breath, yields the fruit of a crown of life.”  Faithfulness, even if it does not yield the results we desire in this life, will be rewarded by God in the next life.

Don’t be discouraged.  Leave the results in the hands of God.  Faithfully perform your duties as a servant of Jesus Christ.  In the eyes of God that’s success.  

 

Other articles by Rev. Spronk on The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ:

The Fruit of the Spirit: An Introduction

The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

The Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

The Fruit of the Spirit: Longsuffering

The Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness

The Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness

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This article was written by guest blogger Rev. Clayton Spronk, pastor of Peace Protestant Reformed Church in Lansing, IL. Rev. Spronk will be blogging for us several times a month, taking us first through a brief study of Richard Smit's newly released book, The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. If there is a topic you'd like to Rev. Spronk to address, please contact us.


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The Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness

Are you good?

Is man basically good? Are you good? ‘Yes,’ is the answer of many who know nothing about Scripture, and therefore who know nothing about the true definition of goodness. In Chapter 7 of The Fruit of the Spirit Rev. Smit provides an excellent explanation of what the Bible says about goodness.

Definitions are important, and once again Rev. Smit provides a helpful definition of goodness on page 105:

We believe that the goodness of the child of God by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit is the ability to do to others morally pure acts—that is, acts that have a proper and honorable purpose with respect to our Father in heaven and with respect to the person to whom we perform some particular act of goodness, such as giving food or words of encouragement to a fellow saint.

The definition implies that human beings are not basically or naturally good. Rev. Smit takes for granted that goodness is a characteristic only of a “sanctified and godly believer.” Without the sanctifying operation of the Holy Spirit, which is preceded by the regenerating work of the Spirit, no one can be or is good. Believers are able to produce the fruit of goodness “by the miraculous grace of the Holy Spirit (pg 113).” Thus, goodness is one of the wonderful benefits of salvation God graciously gives to his people.

Rev. Smit explains how the goodness of saints is a reflection of the goodness of God (pg 105-106).  That goodness of God is also revealed in the face of Jesus Christ (pg 107-108).  As believers we should see the goodness of God and the goodness of Jesus Christ as a standard for us to follow in seeking to be good unto others.  Additionally, the motive of our goodness is the knowledge that God is good to us in the salvation he has given us as a free gift.

So, as the objects of God’s grace who are sanctified by the Spirit, we are to be good to others. (Remember Rev. Smit explained in chapter 5 that the 2nd set of 3 fruits – longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness – highlight how we are to behave outwardly to the neighbor.) What is the good goal of the Christian in his interaction with others? How is goodness displayed? Read pages 108-111. Take the instruction to heart and apply it to your life, and you will cultivate the fruit of goodness in your life.

It seems appropriate to end this post with the questions Rev. Smit asks on page 112.

  • For what would you like to be remembered?

  • Your sports trophies?

  • Your hobbies?

  • Your skills?

  • The money and possessions you have acquired and can pass on to your children?

  • Should we not desire to be remembered for the virtue of goodness that shined clearly and brightly in our lives and labors through our actions to others unto the glory of God?

  • Should we not desire to be remembered as those who did good to others, even to our enemies, with the good desire that they might fully enjoy the truth of our only comfort in life and death in Jesus Christ alone?

 

Other articles by Rev. Spronk on The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ:

The Fruit of the Spirit: An Introduction

The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

The Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

The Fruit of the Spirit: Longsuffering

The Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness

______________________________________________________________________________________

This article was written by guest blogger Rev. Clayton Spronk, pastor of Peace Protestant Reformed Church in Lansing, IL. Rev. Spronk will be blogging for us several times a month, taking us first through a brief study of Richard Smit's newly released book, The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. If there is a topic you'd like to Rev. Spronk to address, please contact us.

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The Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness

Retaliate with Gentleness

In chapter 6 of The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, Rev. Smit explains the lovely Christian characteristic of gentleness. Towards the end of the chapter Rev. Smit speaks of the connection between gentleness and the characteristics of love and peace, which precede gentleness in Gal. 5:22-23. Christian love is characterized by gentleness. And the fruit of gentleness is peace. If we desire to experience the joys of love and peace in our relationships with God and our relationships with others, then we must pray for the Spirit of Jesus Christ to produce in us the virtue of gentleness.  

Rev. Smit carefully lays out all the aspects of gentleness. It is a “virtue of God" (see pg 80-81). It is displayed by God’s grace to sinners in Jesus Christ (pg 82-83).  Jesus Christ demonstrated gentleness during his earthly ministry and provided an example for us to follow (pg 83-87).  It is the opposite of “brutality, hostility, and harshness (pg 88-89).” It is not the same as “natural gentleness" (pg 88). The source of gentleness for Christians is the “love of Christ" (pg 90). It is worked in Christians by the Spirit of Jesus Christ through the means of the word and prayer (pg 91). It is a kindness that is unconditional, constant, holy, and righteous (pg 92-94).  

Instead of commenting any further on the chapter, I decided to share a few of Rev. Smit’s keen insights with you.  Hopefully they will be enough to encourage you to pick up the book and the read the chapter.  

About the woman taken in adultery Rev. Smit writes: “The Pharisees were brutal and selfishly harsh with that woman. . . . Unwittingly, the Pharisees were a tool in the hand of the Lord to bring the woman to the right place: her merciful savior. Christ in his mercy was kind unto her" (pg 84-85). 

About Peter’s denial of Jesus Rev. Smit writes: “Jesus did not destroy Peter, nor did he yell angrily across the courtyard at Peter. Jesus looked right into the heart and soul of Peter, so that Peter remembered that Jesus foretold that Peter would deny Christ exactly as he had just done. Jesus brought Peter to repentance with that gentle but soul-piercing look of mercy" (pg 86).

About our natural reaction to the sins others commit against us Rev. Smit writes: “to those who provoke us by their sins, we are prone to retaliate in kind, but never in kindness" (pg. 93).   

About the blessing of gentleness Rev. Smit writes: “Where we exercise kindness one toward another, strife and schism stop and healing and the enjoyment of blessed peace begin.  Where there is that peace, there is the enjoyment of having our gentle savior, by his word and Spirit, dwell within and among us.”  

These were some of my favorite statements.  Read the chapter and tell me yours.

 

Other articles by Rev. Spronk on The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ:

The Fruit of the Spirit: An Introduction

The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

The Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

The Fruit of the Spirit: Longsuffering

______________________________________________________________________________________

This article was written by guest blogger Rev. Clayton Spronk, pastor of Peace Protestant Reformed Church in Lansing, IL. Rev. Spronk will be blogging for us several times a month, taking us first through a brief study of Richard Smit's newly released book, The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. If there is a topic you'd like to Rev. Spronk to address, please contact us.

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The Fruit of the Spirit: Longsuffering

The Queen of Virtues

Longsuffering begins, Rev. Smit writes in chapter five of The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, “the second main group” of the fruit of the Spirit. The first group of three virtues is inward looking, while this second group of three “seems to highlight virtues that are evident in our outward dealings and communication, especially with those of our church families and covenant homes.” Just as the importance of love is highlighted by its position at the head of the first group of virtues, so longsuffering is highlighted because it is first in the second group – before gentleness and goodness. Love is first, the king of all virtues. And longsuffering, according to Rev. Smit, “certainly must be queen.”

If you have seen another translation’s rendering of Gal. 5:22-23, then you know that the word the KJV translates as longsuffering is often translated as patience. We use these words interchangeably, Rev. Smit notes, in our “common daily conversation,” Rev. Smit writes, “Although they may seem to be almost identical terms, according to Colossians 1:11 patience and longsuffering are shown to be both closely related and yet distinct virtues.”  

Because patience is closely related to longsuffering Rev. Smit briefly defines and explains patience.  What is patience? How did saints in the Bible demonstrate patience? Does God have patience? Do you have patience? Pages 70-72 will help you answer these questions.

Because longsuffering is distinct from patience Rev. Smit gives it separate treatment. He writes, “Longsuffering is the virtue that applies to the persons whom God providentially places upon [the child of God’s] divinely determined pathway and, as a result, with whom he cannot avoid communication and dealings.” I added the emphasis to the word persons in order to indicate that longsuffering is a virtue that has to do with our relationships with other people. Patience is broader than longsuffering, as you will discover if you read Rev. Smit’s treatment of patience. Longsuffering is narrower. It is patience with people.  In longsuffering we have to do with the neighbor and our calling to love him or her as ourselves.  

Rev. Smit continues his treatment of longsuffering by explaining that God is longsuffering. Do you know what it means that God is longsuffering toward his people? Read the bottom of page 72 and the top of page 73. Amazingly, God shares his attribute of longsuffering with his saints. Saints who are longsuffering are a reflection of God!

What is the longsuffering of saints? Rev. Smit writes that it means saints “bear with the weaknesses of others.” Rev. Smit provides a helpful explanation of how this longsuffering is shown to the neighbor, of the motivation for showing this longsuffering, and how this longsuffering is not a toleration of sin. Then he provides helpful biblical examples of longsuffering in action.    

Are you using the Bible to regulate your relationships with the people God has placed in your life? Do you love your neighbor(s) as yourself? Do you respond biblically to the weaknesses and sins of others? This is a fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ that God calls his people to cultivate in their lives. I highly recommend you read this chapter for help and encouragement.

 

Other articles by Rev. Spronk on The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ:

The Fruit of the Spirit: An Introduction

The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

The Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

______________________________________________________________________________________

This article was written by guest blogger Rev. Clayton Spronk, pastor of Peace Protestant Reformed Church in Lansing, IL. Rev. Spronk will be blogging for us several times a month, taking us first through a brief study of Richard Smit's newly released book, The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. If there is a topic you'd like to Rev. Spronk to address, please contact us.

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Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

Am I Pursuing Peace?

True peace is the fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.  Rev. Smit explains what this true peace is in chapter 4 of The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Rev. Smit begins the chapter with a description of false peace, the peace the world strives for and claims it can achieve through man’s “own wisdom, goodness, and righteousness (pg. 52).”  But this manmade peace is “illusive” (pg. 51).  There is no peace in the world because it is a peace that sinful man attempts to achieve apart from peace with God.  

By exposing false peace Rev. Smit warns us against seeking peace with the world and leads us to the heart of the issue – true peace is peace first of all with God.  To understand what a blessing peace is for God’s people, we need to understand that we deserve the opposite of peace with God – God’s curse.  And we cannot make peace with God ourselves.  Why not?  Read page 53.  Rev. Smit gives a very humbling description of our depravity, which makes it impossible for us to make peace with God.  This discussion of false peace sets up Rev. Smit’s explanation of the good news that peace is a gift of God to us through Jesus Christ!

But is there peace only through Jesus Christ?  Will not the antichrist achieve world peace when his kingdom is at its pinnacle?  Will the world not be able to say then, “We have established true peace?”  Read the beginning pages of this chapter for answers.

Rev. Smit provides a beautiful explanation of what peace with God is through Jesus Christ (p. 54-59).  This is the peace of “being right with God.”  It is the peace of knowing that even though “our sins testify that by nature we were enemies of God, yet God is not at war with us.”  It is the peace of knowing that “while we were by nature so at war with God that we were guilty of the crucifixion of Christ, yet Christ so loved us that he died for us and reconciled us unto God by his atoning death.”  It is peace that assures us of the forgiveness of all sin, which affords us rest and peace even in the midst of the afflictions of life.  Since it cannot be destroyed by even sin, trials, or anything else this peace we have in Jesus Christ, peace with God, is “real, lasting, and unconquerable.”  What a wonderful fruit of the Spirit peace is!  

But there is more.  The Spirit of Jesus Christ gives us not only the gift of peace with God, but also with one another.  Rev. Smit explains this on pages 59-67.  Do you enjoy peace in your congregation?  In your marriage? In your home?  In your friendships?  Maybe the more important question is, are you being a peacemaker?  Even though we cannot always have or enjoy peace with everyone, Rev. Smit explains how, by the power of God’s grace and Spirit, we must always pursue peace.  So instead of pointing the fingers at others, let us ask, “Am I pursuing peace?”

 

Other articles by Rev. Spronk on The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ:

The Fruit of the Spirit: An Introduction

The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

______________________________________________________________________________________

This article was written by guest blogger Rev. Clayton Spronk, pastor of Peace Protestant Reformed Church in Lansing, IL. Rev. Spronk will be blogging for us several times a month. If there is a topic you'd like to Rev. Spronk to address, please contact us.

 

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Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

Love, Joy...

If you were making a list of Christian virtues, where would you put joy? Where would you expect a Calvinist to put joy? Somewhere after orthodoxy, sobriety, and humility…right? Or maybe joy doesn’t belong on the list at all. Christianity and joy just do not seem to go together. But in the inspired order of the fruit of the Spirit Rev. Smit explains, “Significantly, joy...is near the beginning of the list…right beside love.”  Joy is a gift of the Spirit and an important part of the experience of the ordinary Christian life. By the operation of the Spirit Christians have joy!

In this chapter Rev. Smit explains what spiritual joy is, contrasts it with joy in sin and joy in mere earthly pleasures, and describes how the joy of Christ can be experienced in every circumstance of life.

One distinctive aspect of Christian joy is that it is in the Lord. Rev. Smit quotes Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say rejoice in the Lord.”  Joy sought apart from the Lord is an illusion. Rev. Smit uses a helpful illustration (a fish living and thriving in water) to explain how happiness is only obtained by living in subjection to God (37).

Joy filled the hearts and lives of Adam and Eve before the fall into sin. Now God restores joy to His people through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. The gift of joy is not only the privilege of serving God, but the joy of fellowship with God in the Lord Jesus Christ. Rev. Smit writes, that we are ““In the Lord” includes the idea that we count it all joy to belong to Christ spiritually and to know that he is our friend-sovereign who will never leave us nor forsake us” (39).

This joy in Christ is spiritual, heavenly, and eternal. Therefore, Christian joy is the only joy that does not depend on the circumstances of life.  Christians experience this spiritual joy in times of prosperity but also in seasons of want (48). Rev. Smit mentions persecution, tribulations, depression, loneliness, and impending death (49). In these times no joy is found in “the wicked pursuits of covetousness, gambling, fornication, reveling, drunkenness and the like” (37).  Only the joy that is the fruit of the Spirit has the power to fill the heart with joy in those circumstances.

What knowledge brings believers joy in every circumstance of life? That is answered beautifully in the heart of the chapter on pages 42-47. Do you struggle to find joy in your life as a Christian? Does the church emphasize enough the joy of the Christian life? Are we teaching our children and young people to enjoy Christ, as opposed to merely teaching them that the Christian life consists of following a list of do’s and don’ts? May God give us the joy of Christ!

 

Other articles by Rev. Spronk on The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ:

The Fruit of the Spirit: An Introduction

The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

______________________________________________________________________________________

This article was written by guest blogger Rev. Clayton Spronk, pastor of Peace Protestant Reformed Church in Lansing, IL. Rev. Spronk will be blogging for us several times a month, taking us first through a brief study of Richard Smit's newly released book, The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. If there is a topic you'd like to Rev. Spronk to address, please contact us.

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