The Good News, in conjunction with the Correspondence Course Department, presents brief monthly excursions into the study of the Bible, delving into topics relevant to the development and increased understanding of future members of the God Family. Bible study is one means by which Christians are renewed daily (II Cor. 4:16), so let's refresh ourselves with more of the precious truths of God's Word!
Instructions: The format of these ministudies is similar to that of the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course. Look up and read in your Bible the scripture references given in answer to the questions. Comments following the questions elaborate on the scriptures just read. That's all there is to it! (These studies are based on the King James Version of the Bible, unless otherwise stated.)
11. What is the fourth fruit of the Holy Spirit? Gal. 5:22.
Longsuffering is an old English word for patience. It is also forbearance and clemency - which is the ability to have mercy. One who is short-tempered and easily upset with the faults and inadequacies of others is inviting real trouble for himself, as human relationships will inevitably suffer. He may also find himself suffering from a variety of emotionally induced illnesses!
Patience is that steadiness of mind by which you wait for the result to be achieved. One who is patient does not become frustrated because problems don't always lend themselves to immediate solutions. The godly long-suffering (or patience) Paul is referring to can come only through the Holy Spirit.
12. Is gentleness also an important fruit or result of having the Holy Spirit? Gal. 5:22.
Gentleness means first of all usefulness, then willingness, graciousness, affability — one who obliges. A gentleman and a lady know how to attend to other people's needs, they have taken the time to learn the social graces, they are courteous.
But gentleness is much more. Notice Paul's statement to the Thessalonians, "But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children" (I Thess. 2:7). The apostle used this analogy to describe how he and others of God's ministers dealt with the members of God's Church. A nurse must be firm and loving, kind and sure, able and compassionate — all at once! It takes a qualified as well as a willing person to be a good nurse.
The gentle person is willing to take extra steps to look out for the needs of others. He or she is willing to dirty the hands to do whatever is necessary.
13. Is goodness also a remarkable attribute of the Holy Spirit? Gal. 5:22.
Goodness describes a person possessing godlike qualities of virtue, uprightness and true character. This fruit of the Holy Spirit could probably be described as a summary fruit — summing up the character of a person who is exhibiting the other fruits listed by Paul, and as a result is daily becoming more godlike.
14. Is faith one of the vital fruits of the Spirit of God? Gal. 5:22. Is this the very faith of Jesus Christ? Gal. 2:20; Phil. 3:9.
Mountains of words have been written and spoken about faith. For many, faith is nothing more than an elusive spiritual essence. But in reality, the faith Paul is talking about is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8) imparted through the Holy Spirit from Jesus Christ.
15. How was the faith of Christ manifested by the great men of God? Read all of Hebrews, chapter 11.
The patriarchs and prophets of God possessed God's Holy Spirit, which was administered by Christ (I Pet. 1:10-11). These men (and women) thus exercised the faith of Christ in performing righteous deeds. "By faith Moses... refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter... forsook Egypt... kept the passover... passed through the Red Sea... [and others] through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought [worked] righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions" (excerpts from Heb. 11).
Faith to these men and women was not just a mere word. Faith was active and alive! They had a charge — a responsibility before God to keep. Each one had a particular Work to do — and he or she did it!
After pondering these remarkable examples of faith, one can better understand why Herbert W. Armstrong says so much about the Work of God that must be done today. He has been given a special commission by God that he has been - and now is — faithful to carry out. And it is being done by the very faith of Christ!
The original Greek word for faith is pistis — which means firm conviction, assurance, fidelity. Fidelity is another way of describing one who is careful to preserve that which has been committed to his trust. Years of experience have shown that those who are increasing in the fruit of God's Spirit are the ones who remain faithful to God's charge — who have their whole hearts in the very Work of God — those who, in whatever way they are able, have an active part in helping to fulfill Christ's commission to His Church.
16. Will meekness also be one of the traits of a Spirit-led individual? Gal. 5:23. Who set an outstanding example in this regard? Num. 12:3.
Many falsely assume that meekness is always synonymous with weakness. Moses became so dedicated to God and filled with the Holy Spirit, he was considered to be the meekest man on earth. No longer did he seek to exalt himself, but became lowly and humble in attitude.
When God was about to disinherit and destroy the children of Israel because of their many rebellions, Moses — in spite of many false personal accusations against him — entreated God to save them (Num. 14), and in meekness he instructed those who "oppose[d] themselves" (a required trait of a servant of God — see II Tim. 2:24-25). A meek person is not revengeful.
17. What is the last, and one of the least understood fruits of the Holy Spirit mentioned by Paul? Gal. 5:23.
The world has often misunderstood the meaning of the word temperance. Temperance does not mean abstinence! Temperance means self-control, continence, self-government, moderation — particularly in reference to sensual appetites. The proverbs of Solomon are replete with exhortations about temperance — a vital attribute of God's Spirit.
18. When one receives the Holy Spirit, will these precious fruits suddenly appear overnight — almost all at once? II Pet. 3:18; Matt. 5:48. (Recall from previous studies that the sense of Matthew 5:48 is "Become perfect" — a gradual process.)
Fruit does not appear overnight on a tree. It takes time, water, the nutrients of the soil and sunlight to grow. Likewise, it takes time to grow spiritually and manifest the "fruit of the Spirit"!
Spirit must be used and renewed One is spiritually minded to the degree that he has and uses God's Spirit in his life. You must draw on and use the Holy Spirit every day to produce the "fruit of the Spirit." Notice:
19. Even though the members of the Church of God in Corinth were begotten by the Holy Spirit from the Father (I Cor. 3:16), were many of them not showing the fruit of God's Spirit? Verses 1-3.
There was strife and arguing, debating, contentions and divisions among the Corinthian brethren. These are some of the "works of the flesh" mentioned in Gal. 5:19-21! Notice why they were manifesting these unspiritual characteristics.
20. Must the Holy Spirit clearly be put to use? II Tim. 1:6-7.
Even though the members of God's Church at Corinth had the Spirit as a begettal, they seemed to have lost sight of the fact that God's Spirit must also be used and drawn upon to produce its fruit. They were producing fleshly works — " doing what comes naturally" — simply because they were not "stirring up" the Spirit of Christ and drawing on it to produce the results of the mind of Christ! (Phil. 2:5; 1:11.)
Another probable and perhaps obvious reason some in that church were acting carnal was because they also lacked a supply of the Spirit of Christ in the first place. Notice:
21. Does one receive all at once enough of the Spirit of Christ to last as long as he or she lives, or must the supply be replenished every day? Phil. 1:19; II Cor. 4:16. Also notice Jesus' profound analogy in John 7:37-39.
The Spirit of Christ is active — dynamic! It is a moving force that can't be bottled up within you. Jesus compared it to "living water" that comes into you, and then flows out from you. It circulates like electricity in a complete circuit — from God, into you, and then out from you manifesting the "fruit of the Spirit," and then back to God.
Since the Spirit must flow into and out from us, then obviously it must be continually supplied. Therefore, the supply of the Holy Spirit must be renewed in us daily through contact with God in believing prayer (Luke 11:13).
To put it in the vernacular, our spiritual battery must be continually charged up. We must daily plug into the power source. That source of the Holy Spirit is GOD! Once plugged in, and as we use the Holy Spirit, we can indeed bear the "fruit of the Spirit."