Grow Fruit Part 2 External Fruit
Grow Fruit Part 2: External Fruit
“Grow fruit” that is a task of a disciple of Jesus. As a follower of Jesus, you are expected to grow fruit. If you are not producing Kingdom Fruit, there is something wrong within your relationship with God.
John 15:5 (NLT) & John 15:5 (MSG)
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.” “When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.”
“No fruit” is a warning to you; abundant fruit is an assurance that you are following the example of Jesus. In part one, we explored the internal fruit, empowered by the Holy Spirit the fruit results in becoming more like Jesus. This fruit of the Spirit is the virtues of Jesus Himself: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The fruit is an inner quality that has outward manifestations as we continue to grow deep and grow up.
In part 2 we will consider external fruit, the things that we do that bless the lives of others. Whereas the fruit of the Spirit relates to who we are, the gifts of the Spirit relate to the things we do. To be a disciple of Jesus is to serve, that service is the fruit that we are exploring today.
Mark 10:45 (NLT) & John 13:17 (MSG)
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others…” “If you understand what I'm telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.”
The gifts of the Spirit empower us to serve, to encourage believers and to share the gospel with those who have not heard. What you need to take away from this message is your life as a Christian is all about serving others. If you are not interested in using the resources and abilities God has blessed you with to bless others, you are still immature in your faith.
We will first look at the Gifts of the Spirit and then we will consider our natural aptitude and abilities that we have learned that help us grow fruit.
“A gift of the Spirit is “a supernatural ability or capacity given by God to enable the Christian to minister and to serve.” (Dunning, https://dochr.org/2014/01/27/the-holy-spirit-and-his-gifts-part-i/).
Supernatural ability is a manifestation of something outside our understanding of the laws of nature. If it’s natural we expect it, we can understand it as we study it. Supernatural is unexpected and defies our attempts to account for it. “In the scriptures, you will find four passages in which lists these supernatural gifts:”
They are listed for you in your notes:
Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:4‑11; 1 Cor. 12:28; and Eph. 4:11… Other less important, but nevertheless significant passages are 1 Cor. 1:5-7; 2 Cor. 8:7; 1 Thess. 5:20; 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6-7; Heb. 2:4: 1 Peter 4:10-11.” (Dunning, https://dochr.org/2014/01/27/the-holy-spirit-and-his-gifts-part-i/
The passage from Romans lists 7 gifts: prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, and mercy.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10 passage lists and additional 8 gifts: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healings, miracles, discernment, tongues and the interpretation of tongues.
Then Paul adds another 5 gifts in verses 28-30: Apostle, Prophet, teacher, helps and administration. When Paul writes the Ephesian believers he will add Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher.
As you read the scripture you will also find gifts called Helps (1 Cor 12:28), martyrdom (1 Cor 13:3), Mercy (Rom 12:8), the office of Missionary (Eph 3:6-8) and Voluntary Poverty (1 Cor 13:3).
In other places in scripture, there are abilities and capacities that some consider being spiritual gifts: celibacy (1 Cor 7:7), hospitality (1 Peter 4:9-10), intercession (Roman 8:26-27), craftsmanship (Ex 35:30-33), interpretation of dreams (Gen 43-50), and composing spiritual music, poetry and prose.
It is not necessary to define these gifts for our message today. They are supernatural impartations to accomplish God’s will. If God has given you a gift the Holy Spirit will prompt you to use it if you are following Jesus. In the older translations of scripture, the word “abiding” paints that picture of an intimate and organic relationship, of following Jesus.
The King James may have misinterpreted 1 Corinthians 12:31 rendering the Greek as “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” Even the more modern translation the New International Version may have it wrong “But eagerly desire the greater gifts.” It leaves the impression that we are to crave these gifts. This I feel is incorrect. Besides who craves the gift of voluntary poverty? Like me, you probably don’t think of voluntary poverty one of the best gifts. I have no desire for the gift of martyrdom. I feel that Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase gives us a clearer picture of what the author intends for us to understand. Paul is talking about believers being the body of Christ and like in our human bodies there are many parts that have very different functions, so it is with God’s gifts in the Church. There seems to be a sense of competition amongst the believers to proclaim they have a more important gift than another believer. Paul’s teaching is to correct this kind of pride driven behavior
1 Corinthians 12:20-21 (MSG)
No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, "Get lost; I don't need you"? Or, Head telling Foot, "You're fired; your job has been phased out"?
The rhetorical question, of course, is answered no. Each person is necessary, they are given gifts and tasks to do by God Himself for the benefit of others.
So Peterson paraphrases verse 31 to read: “And yet some of you keep competing for so-called "important" parts. But now I want to lay out a far better way for you”
(1 Cor 12:31 (MSG).
Paul then goes on to tell us that this better way is LOVE.
1 Corinthians 13:3-7 (MSG)
“…no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, doesn't have a swelled head, doesn't force itself on others, isn't always "me first,” doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, Doesn't revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.
This is the secret to the gifts of the Spirit. There giving and use is to manifest God’s love to others. Paul tells us we are to love extravagantly (1 Corinthians 13:
13). To reiterate, the gifts of the Spirit are a supernatural impartation, you do not acquire any of them through natural means. They are given to you so that you can be a blessing to others.
Now I will take a liberty and expand our understanding of the Gifts of the Spirit to include the talents and abilities, knowledge, wisdom and experience you have gained through natural means. You redeem all your know-how for the Kingdom by using it to serve others. You haven’t gone through all you have, learned what you have to keep it to yourself, you are to use it to bless others.
1 Corinthians 12:7 (NLT) & Romans 12:6 (NIV)
“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”
So we move from specific lists in Scripture to more unique gifts, your gifts. These gifts involve your personality, your aptitudes, your abilities. The skills you have acquired, trained yourself up in. For me, one of the most prized of gifts deals with listening and discernment. So many people are hurting and really what they need is someone to listen to them and witness their suffering, and God graciously brings resolution to the one listened to. Most people need to be taught how to listen, and listening must be practiced so that the skill is honed and becomes helpful to others. Listening is a gift even if it has to be learned just as much as the supernatural gifting of a word of knowledge. There is something that you can do to help others (Romans 12:6). Gifts help you to love, to respect the other and seek to meet their need, doing so you bless them, blessing others is the fruit you are expected to grow.
To produce fruit decide to be a blessing to others.
Fear and a lack of confidence that is rooted in your egoism keep you from producing fruit. To grow up we have to starve out egoism, we have to move beyond being controlled by what we want, when we want, the way we want, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. In our faith community, the power of egoism to hijack your best intentions is broken in the second work of grace. The first work is your justification, the second work is your sanctification.
Are you ready for a little Wesleyan theology lesson? It is God’s will that every person finds themselves in a right relationship with Him. We are born estranged from God, we require something we cannot do for ourselves, that something is reconciliation. Since we are born estranged the Holy Spirit empowers each and every person with prevenient grace that awakens us to our spiritual need to be connected to God and draws us to a connecting experience. When we come to a place in our journey where we acknowledge we are estranged because of the sin in our lives and believe the gospel that Jesus died to make it possible for our sins to be forgiven and our estrangement to God reconciled, we make a commitment to become a disciple of Jesus. When we ask God to accept us as His own three things happen: God forgives us of our sins, reconciles our estrangement to Him by adopting us into His family, and indwells us through the Holy Spirit. This is what we mean by justification. In Jesus the Father finds grounds to justify us and make us spiritually alive. We are declared right with God. Justification is what we call that first work of grace. Acknowledge, Believe, Commit and Ask, God will see the sincerity of your desire and you will experience justifying grace.
Sanctification begins in the moment of Justification. Sanctification describes the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming us into the likeness of Jesus. God has declared you to be righteous, sanctifying grace is the empowerment to make you so. As you mature spiritually, as you grow up in the faith, you will come to recognize that there is a conflict inside, a sort of civil war (Galatians 5:17). You desire to do God’s will, sometimes you do, but sometimes you don’t, and when you don’t it bothers you terribly.
Romans 7:15 (MSG)
What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.
[With a proper interpretation of this text we know that Paul is describing the life of a person awakened by the Spirit and not someone who is already a believer. This passage is often used to explain the struggle a believer experiences prior to entire sanctification, I think we can only do so with very strenuous qualifications.]
It is egoism that hijacks your God intentions and you fail to accomplish what you know is God’s will. When the Holy Spirit reveals this happening in your life, it is an invitation to acknowledge this conflict between your will and God’s will. In acknowledging, you repent, you want no more of this up and down, back and forth, roller coaster Christianity, and you consecrate yourself to God’s purposes. For lack of a better term, we say the Holy Spirit sanctifies you, breaks the power of egoism to hijack your best intentions. Now when you are tempted, you find the power to choose to follow God instead of being drawn away from God will. The old way of egoism will kick and scream, but you are now the one who decides what you will do or not do. Now fear and a lack of confidence cannot persuade you to keep to yourself, to play the part of the quiet church mouse. We are admonished to be active in caring for others.
Philippians 2:3-4 (MSG) & Philippians 2:4 (NIV)
“Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” “Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.”
Is there something keeping you from producing fruit? Have you experienced God’s justifying grace believing the gospel? Do you have an intimate and organic relationship with Jesus? Has the Holy Spirit empowered you with sanctifying grace to break the power of egoism to hijack your best intentions? If you would like to discuss your answers to those questions I would enjoy dialoguing with you.
The things that you do to help others are the fruit you are expected to grow. A task of a disciple of Jesus is to produce an abundance of fruit. Kingdom fruit is harvested as you bless others with what God has empowered you to do. To be a disciple of Jesus is to serve. God supernaturally equips us to serve, and God has provided natural means for you and me to acquire skills to bless others. Making a difference for others is the fruit you are expected to produce. What is your harvest looking like?