Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How is Fruit Produced in Our Lives?

First of all, let me say to those few people out there who read this blog, the Grace Evangelical Society Conference in Texas was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed the speakers and the fellowship and came home very encouraged to pursue the ideas I have had regarding church planting in our home area. I also thought that it is high time I got back to writing some things for the blog, and right now would like to continue at least a little bit more with the topic of fruit in the life of the believer.

I spent the last three posts (a long time ago) talking about the fact that “fruit,” defined as good works and/or godly character, is not automatic in the lives of believers. Nor should fruit be used as a tool for gaining assurance of eternal life. We can have assurance that we posses eternal life simply because of the promises the Lord Jesus has made to us, not because of anything we see or don’t see in our own imperfect lives. But now I would like to talk briefly about how fruit is produced in our lives.

Probably the most well-know passage dealing with fruit is Galatians 5:16-23, which contrasts the “works of the flesh” with the “fruit of the Spirit.” It is clear in verse 16 that the following “fruit of the Spirit” is produced in the lives of those who “walk in the Spirit,” rather than being produced automatically in all believers. So what does it mean to walk in the Spirit? I don’t pretend to have everything figured out about walking in the Spirit and how the Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives, but it seems clear to me that a parallel passage to Galatians 5:16 is Romans 8:4-5, which uses almost identical language to the Galatians passage and talks about walking “according to the Spirit” rather than “according to the flesh.” In verse 5 specifically, more information on what this means is given when it says that those who live according to the flesh “set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Sprit, the things of the Spirit.” This tells us that which sphere one lives in is determined largely by where one’s mind is set. Unbelievers are “in the flesh” (Rom 8:8) and cannot leave that sphere as long as they are unregenerate, but believers have the choice to either set their minds on the things of the flesh or on the things of the Spirit. A believer who focuses his mind on God’s word and spiritual things will find himself more and more making the choice to live in obedience to God’s word as it is applied to his life by the indwelling Holy Spirit. On the other hand, a believer who sets his mind on fleshly, or sinful and worldly things, will find his life being dominated by the flesh, that part of him which desires to sin.

God has commanded each of us to walk in the Spirit, and it is vitally important that we do so. One way we can do that is to consciously choose to fill our minds with the things of the Spirit. I believe this refers primarily to meditating on God and His word, and how it applies to our lives. We who understand that the fruit of the Spirit is not automatically produced in the lives of all “true” believers should in no way let that make us lazy or unconcerned about seeing it produced in our lives. Rather, we should be the first to make a priority of walking in the Spirit, since we know that it is only as we do that, that we will grow and experience the fruit which God wants us to experience.


  1. Hi Ken,

    Glad to see you back here.

    I agree with you on the GES Conference. It was EXCELLENT~!!! I thought one of the best ever. Dale and I appreciated your part in it so very much. You gave us a lot to think about. Thank you for all the study you put in to your messages. It was all based solidly on scripture, and that's what the conference is all about~!!! It's not what man thinks, but what God says in His Word~!!!

    This newest blog article of yours here is so important. Understanding this truth makes all the difference in the world as to how we Christians live our lives. EXCELLENT points you brought out. Thank you for it. I'll pass it on to others.

    Rejoicing in His grace,

  2. Hi Ken,

    As you I don't pretend to have a handle on walking by the Spirit, but I know I've come a long way. From the time I gave up on trying to walk by the Spirit, and really thought the Christian life didn't work. I found it impossible to control my thought life after coming out of the Marines. I didn't really realize the spiritual battle is being fought in the mind, and until I renewed my mind in the word of God that battle would be impossible to win. I work now in a tough environment being a policeman, and find myself having to take my thoughts captive quite often. By memorizing God's word I'm able to redirect my thoughts, and gain the victory in my daily battles. Philippians 4:8 is a GREAT verse for doing this: Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.


  3. I considered Zane Hodges my spiritual mentor, not only was he gifted in teaching but his teaching was very practical. He saw that the Bible relates marriage to our spiritual union with Christ, it being the most intimate relationship. And out of that intimate relationship spiritual fruit is produced. I think what some would put high on the list (Lordship Salvation thinking) as complete devotion and submission is undermined by basic truths. I liked this what Zane said in one of his messages, "Assurance of Salvation."

    Zane commenting on Johnathon Edwards statement: All those who are converted are not sure of it. And those who are sure are not sure that they always will be so. And still seeking and serving God with the utmost diligence is the way to have assurance, and the way to have it maintained.

    But let me ask you this simple question? If still seeking and serving God with the utmost diligence is the way to have assurance. Who in this audience, or who in any audience could have assurance? I have to confess to you as I stand before you this morning that this is not a description of me day after day there are some days when I feel that I have served God reasonably well. And there are other days that I know perfectly well that I have not served Him with the utmost diligence. And on which of those days aught I have found a conviction concerning my experience of eternal life. Matter of fact if there is anybody in the audience who day by day seeks and serves God with the utmost diligence I would appreciate it if you would introduce yourself to me after the chapel hour this morning. One word of caution however. If you do introduce yourself to me in that capacity be sure you are a person I don't know particularly well (audience laughter). That would eliminate a number of you out in the audience, and just about everybody on the platform (audience laughter). And really if we turn the searchlight of the word of God quite candidly upon our hearts and lives isn't it true that we can find as many evidences pointing to the fact that we are not saved as pointing to the fact that we are? Isn't it true that we can find all sorts of deficiencies that our fidelity and devotion to God are in our faith in our hope in our love in our holiness. And if there is anyone who doesn't think they can find such things in their lives their not facing themselves candidly in the light of the word of God. They are possible diluting themselves

    I highly recommend listening to this message in it's entirety here


  4. Thanks for your thoughts, Alvin, I will have to give that message by Zane a listen this weekend. Certainly if full devotion to God was a prerequisite for receiving eternal life or was an evidence of having really received it, all of us would have to conclude if we were honest, that our devotion is less than full. Even as people who know that we have eternal life and want to live lives devoted to God in response, our devotion is never full, but we can learn to have our minds set on the things of the Spirit and to grow in the area of walking with God.

    I know my thoughts in this post were fairly basic and not real profound, but I thought it would be good to not only focus on the negative of fruit not being inevitable in every believer's life, and also talk about the positive of how it does happen in our lives.

  5. Hi Ken,

    That showed the great honesty of a mans heart that is still bearing much fruit. That is a very important ingredient. Ken listen to Zanes message "Greenwood Hills Conference-1992-03 Luke 3" on that site I gave up above. It shows Zanes heart that he had decided to paint Christ on the center of the canvas of his heart. He was Christ centered but his balance was a honest heart concerning himself.

  6. Hey Alvin,

    I listened to the first of the two messages, but haven't yet had time to listen to the second. The first one was a good reminder of something I'm sure Zane said many, many times since that message was given in 1976, and that is that the only ground of assurance of salvation is the promise of God in His word.

  7. Hi Ken,

    For sure Zane was one as the Scriptures would say, "But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." I know we are all His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Zane was single minded proven by his desire to earn money as a Greek Professor so he could minister freely to the Hispanics. He had humility so God was able to give him more grace, that was proved by even though he was a moderate Calvinist at first was open to God's teaching eventually showing him that all five points were unbiblical. To me that's HUGE and breaking out of the mold~!
    Ken, I don't know you that well but from what I see you have good soil, and are willing to break out of the mold and have~! You have a full quiver and are blessed by God~! You know that it was by His mercy He saved you so are able to be greatly used by Him~! I believe that is first and foremost in fruit bearing having a truly humble heart before God:) The rest is just letting Him lead you through the various trials of life, as James said, 'My Brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect, lacking nothing." I see the patience in you just by the way you answer back, you chew on things real good. And all those years of Missionary work have prepared you just for what God has for you ahead. I pray that our faith when tested will be alive and vibrant like Abrahams and Rahabs, but I must admit I have went through trials when my faith was dead. I failed by not seeing God in my trial, but latter it was crystal clear He was there bringing me though even in my weakness. (Gen 22:1; James 1:2-4; 2:21-26; 5:7-11) I'm just happy that justification by works happens more than once, so if we mess up we can hopefully get it right the next time:)

  8. Let me not I pray, show partiality to anyone;
    Nor let me flatter any man.
    For I do not know how to flatter,
    Else my Maker would soon take me away.
    Job 32:21-22

  9. Hi Ken,

    I think you have focused on the two main ingredients to bearing fruit, and that is renewing our mind in God's word, and setting our mind on the things of the Spirit rather then the things of the flesh.

    Here is the bad news first, and then the good news.

    We are in a daily struggle between the flesh and the Spirit, so we cannot do the things we wish. (see Gal 5:17) And the fact that Christ is in us means our body is dead because of sin. (see Rom 8:10)

    To live the resurrected life in Christ we must reckon our self dead to sin and alive to God. (Rom 6:11-14) Other words the Christian life is a miracle, we need resurrection life for our body to be able to produce fruit.

    As we present ourselves to God each day as alive from the dead He is faithful to work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. (see Phil 2:12-13; Rom 12:1-2)

    Jesus said,
    Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matt 11:28,29)

    We look for Him working in our daily life, and join Him to bring light and life into our world:)
    I'm still learning, and missing the mark. Just today God gave me an oppurtunity and I missed it. I need to be able to see when life is unfolding Him there, rather then hindsight. As Jesus said to His diciples, Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for the harvest!

    That's what I need to remember that there has been labors who have went before me, and I'm entering into their labor (see John 4:34-38)