The Fruit of the Spirit: Temperance

Christians can learn temperance from the example of Olympic athletes. By observing the athletes Christians can learn not only what temperance is, but why it is important. Rev. Smit writes, “If temperance is vital for the success of a worldly athlete for the prize of an Olympic gold medal, should it not be regarded by us as more than vital for the prize for which we press forward by faith? That it ought to be highly valued by the believer is emphasized by Paul when he writes, ‘But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.’”

Rev. Smit uses the examples of a boxer and a marathon runner to illustrate the virtue of temperance. Perhaps he wrote the sermon that serves as the basis for this chapter during the summer months so that summer Olympic events came to his mind. Winter Olympic events also require temperance. The snowboarders, skiers, and skaters all have finely honed bodies as a result of the self-control or discipline they exercised in preparation for the games. I happened to see a clip on NBC that explained how hard snowboarder Kelly Clark worked to reach peak condition. This is necessary because Clark is considered old for her sport. Her disciplined use of time for strenuous exercise and self-controlled diet helped her win the bronze medal in the women's half-pipe.

What do we learn from these Olympic athletes? Rev. Smit writes, these “athletes do everything necessary, governing all aspects of their life, mind, and body meticulously, in order to obtain the sole objective of [winning the prize].” So temperance for Christians is “that spiritual ability to bring themselves under control for godly and faithful lives unto the Lord.” Temperance is then a broad subject–it requires governing all of one’s life. 

Rev. Smit helpfully provides specific applications of temperance to use of time, use of food, use of our bodies in single life and married life, and other areas of life.

But is Christian temperance merely self-control in these areas of life? Olympic athletes practice strict control over what they eat. Does this mean they are practicing the Christian virtue of temperance? Driven business men practice strict control over how they use time and spend money. Are they practicing the Christian virtue of temperance? 

Rev. Smit warns against the danger using the words self-government, self-control, and self-discipline in an inappropriate way. He writes, “He who is truly temperate does not wish to be governed by his self.” Christian temperance is a work of God’s grace that puts Christians “under the regulation of Christ and his word.” Thus in Gal. 5:21 the Apostle Paul is speaking of temperance as a fruit of the Spirit in which “the Spirit of Christ teaches us to be willing and ready to live in submission to him.” Here Rev. Smit teaches us, I believe, the key to temperance that is very important practically—to be temperate is to be Christ-controlled!

This means that there is application here to more than only those who overindulge. Yes, those who overindulge in food or alcohol or in other things need to learn temperance. They need to learn say no to their own desires to please themselves and submit to the Lord. But there is application also to those who are able to practice strict control over their lives.  If that strict control is not exercised in loving obedience to Christ, it is not Christian temperance, it is sin. The use of alcohol comes to mind here because the movement to outlaw alcohol is often referred to as the Temperance Movement. Those who refuse alcohol are called temperate. But if we apply Rev. Smit’s explanation of temperance to teetotalers we must conclude that those who refuse alcohol for purely carnal reasons (that have nothing to do with Jesus Christ) are not truly temperate. Their refusal of alcohol is sinful. Another example of sinful self-control is the case of an anorexic. Anorexics practice strict control over their food intake.  But they are motivate by purely selfish reasons for restricting their diets. To them comes the call to Christian temperance in which they must give up self-control and place their food intake under Christ’s control.    

Other applications could be made. But the point is that the call to Christian temperance comes to every one of us. I recommend that you take the time to read chapter 10 of The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ and examine yourself.  

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

The Fruit of the Spirit: Meekness

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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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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

______________________________________________________________________________________

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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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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Fruit of the Spirit: Love

“According to . . . Christ’s love toward you, so love one another (pg. 27).” 

The quote standing at the head of this post is a command.  However, toward the beginning of this chapter Rev. Smit explains that Galatians 5:22 is not a command to love.  Galatians 5:22 simply speaks of love as the fruit (or part of the fruit) of the Spirit.  Rev. Smit explains why this is significant:

What is the significance that Galatians 5:22 speaks of love as part of the fruit of the Spirit and as a spiritual reality in the sanctified child of God, but the verse does not exhort us unto that love?  The absence of the exhortation reminds us that the love of the redeemed and renewed child of God must express to God and the neighbor is the fruit of the Spirit.  This love is not our work; and its existence in our lives does not have its source in us, nor is its continued existence dependent upon or conditioned on us, our faith, or any of our works.  The Spirit of Christ is the miracle worker of the fruit-life in and through his people (pg. 24).

This explanation of love (this applies to the other parts of the fruit of the Spirit as well) as the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit of Christ is important.  In the first place it is important when considering Gal. 5:22-23 not to focus on the fruit to the exclusion of the Spirit.  It is after all the fruit of the Spirit.   Calling attention to the production of the fruit of love as the sovereign work of the Spirit also keeps saints humble.  Regenerated saints actively love God and the neighbor, but the source and power of that activity of love is always the Spirit of Christ.  Finally, the sovereign operation of the Spirit, Rev. Smit explains, is the reason it is possible (yea, inevitable) that saints produce this fruit.  There is no room for antinomianism.  Must, can, will saints love?  The answer to all of these questions is yes, exactly because this love is the work of the omnipotent Spirit of Christ in saints.  This is why Scripture so often commands us to love, because the Holy Spirit applies those commands to the hearts of believers so that we will love God and the neighbor.  Rev. Smit mentions other means the Holy Spirit uses to cultivate this fruit of love, read the chapter to find them.   

Rev. Smit goes on to explain what the fruit of love is.   It is love for God first then the neighbor (pgs. 25-26).  Rev. Smit uses John 13:34 to explain that the love of Jesus Christ is the “sole standard” of our love. He writes, “According to the standard of the quality, sweetness, and beauty of Christ’s love toward you, love one another (pg. 27).”   Christ’s love is self-giving, unconditional, entire, self-denying, purposeful, and holy (cf. pgs. 27-29).

This leads to the important question, how do we love other people as Christ loved us?  Rev. Smit answers that question at the end of the chapter.  He explains how to put the love of the Spirit of Jesus Christ into action in our relationships with spouses, parents, children, siblings, friends, etc.  He also includes an important explanation of how we are to love a person “who does not live in daily repentance but walks in sin (pg. 31).”  Do you know the proper way to treat an unrepentant sinner? I’ll let you read Rev. Smit’s explanation for yourself. 

Once again the end of the chapter contains thought-provoking questions.  I’ll add one more.  How does the fruit of love apply to the work of a missionary?

Again I invite your questions and/or comments.

 

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: 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, 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: An Introduction

 

Greetings!  My name is Rev. Clayton Spronk, and it is my privilege to write for this blog on behalf of the RFPA.  The plan is for me to write at least two posts a month.  The RFPA has left it up to me to select the subjects, meaning that you can expect coverage of a wide variety of topics.  Though not every post will be devoted to the promotion of RFPA publications, I do plan to put a plug in for them as much as possible.

Thus, it seems appropriate to start out with a series of posts on one of the RFPA’s newest titles, The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, by Rev. Richard J. Smit.  The book is available as a paperback and as an eBook.  My comments today are about the book’s Introduction.

In the Introduction Rev. Smit explains the “general truth of the fruit of the Spirit” (pg. 14).  Rev. Smit explains the identity of the Spirit who is the source of the fruit, what the fruit is in a general way, and how Gal. 5:23 excites in believers “an earnest desire to see that the Spirit continue his work in us” (pg. 19).  For a fuller explanation of these subjects you will have to read the chapter.

 

The Introduction indicates that this book has many strengths:

  • It is distinctively Reformed.  In this Introduction Rev. Smit speaks of salvation as the sovereign work of God without any help from man in connection with both justification and sanctification.  

  • It is pastoral.  This book is based on a series of sermons Rev. Smit preached when he was pastor of the Immanuel Protestant Reformed Church in Lacombe, Alberta, Canada.  The aim of the book is to build up the faith and life of the members of the church, young and old.  Anyone who reads this book seriously will find good spiritual nourishment.

  • It is exegetical.  Rev. Smit faithfully interprets and explains the teaching of the Bible.  He capably explains the meaning of Galatians 5:22-23 in light of its context.  One who reads this book carefully will learn the right way to study and interpret the Bible.  

  • It is thought-provoking.  Each chapter ends with “Questions for Discussion.”  That these questions are for “discussion” indicate that they were written with a view to use in group study.  Combined with the content of the Introduction these questions are well suited for group discussion.

I highly recommend the book for personal use as well as for use in Bible study society, especially a young people’s society. 

I look forward to reading and commenting on the rest of the book.  I will be glad to interact with you in the comments section under this and future posts too, so please feel free to comment!

 

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

The Fruit of the Spirit: Love

The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

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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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