Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Gifts and Fruit of the Holy Spirit

Written by Rev. L.W. Bilkes
Reformed churches commemorate Pentecost as an annual Òfeast day,Ó meaning that they recognize the tremendous importance of what happened on the day the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church. It is fitting and very meaningful that Reformed churches generally have adopted this day for making public confession of faith. It is on Pentecost that those who have been instructed by the church give their ÒamenÓ to God to publicly testify that the Holy Spirit has been operative in their lives and given them the desire to serve the Lord. In this Òguest editorialÓ Dr. L.W. Bilkes, pastor of the Free Reformed of Abbotsford, explains what it means that the gift of the Holy Spirit has been given to the church and points out how He blesses each member with gifts for service. C.P.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Pentecost manifests the glory of Christ in His church and through the church to the world. Acts 2 shows Christ as the Author of Pentecost. God raised Òthis JesusÓ to life. Peter explains that Christ, exalted at the right hand of God, has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured him out (Acts 2:32, 33). Christ has obtained the life-giving Spirit. His suffering and death form the foundation for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Through His Spirit, Christ is at work in His church, which is His body. He does this by means of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, whereby he produces the fruit of the Spirit. This editorial is about the connection between gifts and the fruit.

Romans 12
The passages in Scripture that speak about the gifts of the Spirit--the so-called charismata--picture these gifts as given to the body of Christ. This is evident in Romans 12:4-8, where Paul writes about the one body with many members and different functions. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us. The apostle mentions here seven gifts. They are 1) the gifts of prophesying (= speaking under divine inspiration); 2) serving (= diakonia); 3) teaching (directed to the understanding); 4) encouraging (= exhorting, comforting; directed to the heart, conscience, and will); 5) contributing to the needs of others (= personal giving, not the giving from the diaconate fund of the church); 6) ruling; and 7) showing mercy.

It is evident that all these gifts are for the purpose of the body functioning as a whole. The apostle emphasizes the diversity of the gifts, which is related to Òthe diversity of functions existing in the church of Christ.Ó ÒEach member of the body is to work toward the well-being of the wholeÉÓ

1 Corinthians 12 to 14
1 Corinthians 12 to 14 gives us a similar list of gifts. Paul speaks here extensively about the utterances of the Holy Spirit. He also makes reference to the diversity in charismata, although the emphasis is placed on the unity of the source, namely Òthe same SpiritÓ (12:1-4), but Òthe same GodÓ who gives grace through Christ and the Spirit (vs.4-6). In verse 11 the apostle emphasizes the Ògift character of the SpiritÕs endowments, and the divine decision of grace as against human preferences or strivings.Ó The ÒSpirit is at work where the public manifestation serves the common advantage of others, and not merely self-affirmation, self-fulfilment, or individual statusÓ (vs.7). To one person, God bestows through the Spirit, articulate utterance relating to Òwisdom,Ó to another, in accordance with the same Spirit, speech relating to ÒknowledgeÓ (vs.8) To a different person faith by the same Spirit; to another, gifts for various kinds of healing by the one Spirit (vs.9). To another, active and effective deeds of power; to another, prophecy; to another, discernment of what is of the Spirit; to another, species of tongues; and to another, intelligible articulation of what is spoken in tongues (10). ÒAll these things one and the same Spirit activates É.Ó and all gifts are intended for the proper functioning of the whole body of Christ. (vs.11,12)

To Be Exercised Within Bounds
At the same time it is to be noted that 1 Corinthians 12 to 14 counsel Christians to use these charismata properly. They should not seek to manifest these special powers to impress people, but to do what best edifies the church.

In the Old Testament the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which sometimes were powerfully present in certain persons, were meant to guide, govern, and also correct the people of God. It is not different in the New Testament, where God gives these gifts to the body of Christ. Strong emphasis is placed on the fact that every member of the body of Christ has his or her own place and function. The Spirit apportions as he wills to each person individually (12:11). No one is without a gift. Everyone has a gift, as God is pleased to give it. Who, then, can boast?

The second element that stands out is that Paul attempts to rein in the gifts. We often forget that 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 are given in the context of 1 Corinthians 13. All the gifts are fruitless without love, which is Òan even greater wayÓ (12:31). Love is the greatest of all gifts. Stated this way, the apostle is de-emphasizing the spectacular in order that that which is of primary significance may come to the fore. The gifts are limited to the community that benefits from it and the gifts are determined by love, which surpasses everything else.

A third element that indicates a restraint on the part of the apostle is found in chapter 14, where the apostle places strong emphasis on order in the church. This element was present earlier. The Òconviction that God the Holy Spirit creatively transforms chaos into order runs throughout the scripturesÉ.Ó Everyone in church, without exception, has received a gift, in order to serve the good of others and build the community. But not everyone is an apostle, a prophet or a teacher.

In other words, God has given a gift to everyone in church, but the special offices in church are not given to everyone in general. Every office has its charisma, but not every charisma is a special office. We see how Paul attempts to order things in a charismatic church. The special offices are there in order that everything will be done fittingly and in an ordered manner (14:40).

Ephesians 4
Ephesians 4 is a passage that has played a significant role in Reformed Protestantism. Christ has given gifts for and in the church. The first purpose for which Christ gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to the church is to equip the saints for work in His service (vs.12). The second purpose for which Christ gave the special offices to the church is to build up the body of Christ. The purpose, then, for which Christ gave the special offices is that the whole body of Christ may become increasingly more healthy and mature. The focus of the special offices is that the saints take their designated place in the body of Christ. Through the ministry of the special offices the body grows in Christ but also toward Christ. The special offices function in order that all members will use their God-given gifts. That is the growth by which the body of Christ is built in love. Ephesians 4 is a summary of what is set forth in the other epistles.

Special Gifts or Charismata
The charismatic movement has placed unrestricted boundaries on the charismata of the Spirit, particularly the gift of speaking in tongues. Glossolalia, as it is called, is a phenomenon with considerable and impressive powers. When considered in the light of Scripture, it is noteworthy that Paul does not wish to promote this gift, but rather reins it in. ÒPaul does not approve of uttering unintelligible noises in public worship, whether or not someone purports subsequently to ÔdecodeÕ them.Ó In view of the fact that Òthe ÔtongueÕ would normally be addressed to God (14:2,15,16), the notion of interpreting glossolalia as a ÔmessageÕ of prophecy addressed to the congregation (14:3), Ôprophecies É to other peopleÕÓ is improper Òexegesis of this epistle.Ó

1 Corinthians 12:9 is the only passage where the apostle refers to the gifts of healing. Gordon Fee comments that for Jesus, Paul, and the early church, healing of a physical nature was a Òregular expectation,Ó at least Òin part,Ó based on ÒOT promises that in a Messianic age God would ÔhealÕ his people.Ó According to Thiselton, emphasis should not be placed only on physical healing, but on all ÒÔtrue wholeness, health and healingÕÓ as coming from God. ÒÔDivine healingÕÓ should not always be regarded ÒÔas being always miraculous.ÕÓ

The great work of the Spirit consists in this, that a person testifies that ÒJesus is Lord.Ó No one is able to declare this except through the agency of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.12: 3). That is the important thing. This will manifest it itself in the great fruit of the Spirit, that of love.

The charismata (special gifts) of the Spirit have a secondary function. They do not stand on their own or exist for themselves, but they are in the service of the work of the Holy Spirit. They are part of the instruments that the Spirit desires to use to cause the fruit to ripen. Paul writes about that in Galatians 5:22,23: ÒThe fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-controlÉ.Ó

Notice the contrast in the context. There is a fierce and unremitting conflict between the Spirit and the flesh (Gal 5:17ff). Paul lists fifteen works of the flesh. They are the signs of living under the law, which causes the works of the flesh to exert itself when they are not used by the Spirit. Under the law, the flesh indulges itself.

Living by the Spirit Produces Visible by Fruits
When the Spirit of Christ comes into our life, we are no longer under the law. Then the new life of the fruit of the Spirit manifests itself. Paul mentions nine Christian virtues. These cannot be blended or separated. Always and everywhere they manifest themselves as the fruit of the Spirit.

That points to the mark of simplicity of the Christian life. It is not a complicated matter, for its unifying focus is living a life in the fear of GodÕs name. Where the Spirit of Christ is at work, the divided heart is united. Such a life bears the marks of truth and simplicity. The fruit of the Spirit manifests itself in unity and simplicity. This stands in contrast to the divisiveness of the flesh. Christian virtues may be described in many ways, as Paul does. But essentially they can be reduced to the one glorious reality of renewal, which is called the fruit of the Spirit.

Unity - Not Division
The fruit of the Spirit in its essential simplicity is opposed to the works of the flesh. The fruit of the Spirit is the new life, the life of love, which fulfils the whole law; it is the life of happiness, which causes one to joyfully give thanks to God. Life in the fruit of the Spirit also implies the peace of God, which transcends all understanding. It is a life of compassion and generosity, which has its source in GodÕs patience. It is a life of kindness and goodness, which flows from communion with Him, who alone is good, because He alone is God. It is to live by faith and exercise faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. What is it other than to be led by our great Guide, the Holy Spirit?

This is not fruit grown on native soil. It is not the product of our own work. Rather, it is the fruit of the Spirit, who takes it out of Christ and apportions it to us. It is the singular work of the Spirit, which manifests itself in the singular fruit of the Spirit.

Let us keep in mind that there are distinction between the giftsÐthe many and diverse gifts of the Spirit--and the one fruit of the Spirit, which unites our fragmented life and brings forth fruits that have their source in Christ.

Gifts and Fruit
The SpiritÕs fruit abides. One day all gifts of the Spirit will disappear, after they have fulfilled their service in accordance with GodÕs counsel, and when the body of Christ has come to full growth and Òthe measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph.4: 16). Then all GodÕs works will have been consummated. Then all charismata will disappear. In the end, the one fruit of the Spirit, which has renewed all aspects and facets of life, will be completely fulfilled. The work of the Spirit will have been totally completed and the fruit will be carried in to the glory of God. The love, which here on earth has already manifested itself above all charismata as the Ògreatest,Ó will flourish in the glory of God as the only fruit to remain forever.

Charismata of the Spirit? Indeed, but then only on account of the fruit of the Spirit. How we truly need the Holy Spirit! O come, Creator Holy Spirit! Let Thy fruit be seen, known, and sought!

1. John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, 2 volumes in 1(N.I.G.N.T.) (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1968), Vol. 2, 118.
2. James M. Boice, Romans: The New Humanity, Vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995), 1582.
3. Anthonoy C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (N.I.G.T.C.) (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), 929.
4. Anthonoy C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (N.I.G.T.C.) (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), 936.
5. "Faith" here "cannot refer to saving faith." It is '"a special endowment of faith for a special service (cf. 13:2b)'" Anthonoy C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (N.I.G.T.C.) (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), 944-945.
6. Translation by Anthonoy C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (N.I.G.T.C.) (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), 936.
7. "Christ retains an emphatic position as a nominative at the end of a long sentence; next in emphasis is the unity of the one body; only in third place comes the variety or plurality of the...members..." Anthonoy C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (N.I.G.T.C.) (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), 996.
8. Anthonoy C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (N.I.G.T.C.) (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), 1154.
9. Anthonoy C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (N.I.G.T.C.) (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), 1118.
10. Gordon Fee, God's Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul (Carlisle: Pater Noster and Peabody: Hendrikson, 1994), 168.
11. Anthonoy C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (N.I.G.T.C.) (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), 951.
12. The word for "works" is in the plural. The word for "fruit" is in the singular. Whereas "the works of the flesh" are many, "the fruit of the Spirit" is one. Whereas "there is no integration or unified purposefulness in a life of fleshly indulgence, there is harmony and unified purpose in a life lived in the Spirit," Anthony A. Hoekema, Holy Spirit Baptism, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), 72.

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