The Fruit of The Spirit

This is an excerpt from The Fruit of the Spirit, Part 1 by Brian Borgman:

The Fruit (of the Spirit), has its root in God’s Character.  That leads me to believe, that ultimately, what God is doing in redemption is He is restoring and then fulfilling the original commission that He gave to Adam, that commission that Adam failed to accomplish. 

So, if, in the age to come, the abundance of the Spirit is manifest by conforming us more and more to the image of God, why is that part of the future age?  Well, it’s because when God created Adam and Eve and put them in the garden, God actually gave them this mandate which was to be fruitful, to multiply and fill the earth.  So, as image bearers, Adam and Eve were supposed to image God in the creation.  When we think of the image of God we think of something that is almost exclusively intrinsic, or internal to us; what I am as a human being. That is part of it, but there is a sense in which the image of God is a functional reality so that God actually created Adam and Eve and all of their posterity to image Him throughout the whole earth so that the whole earth would be filled with His Glory. Adam and Eve, of course, didn’t do that. They fell into sin. They marred the image of God.  Therefore they didn’t image God in the creation. They imaged sin, self, and Satan far more than they imaged God.

So, what is happening?  God actually promises that He is going to take this fallen humanity that was supposed to image Him and He is going to restore them so that they end up doing what they were originally supposed to do.

There is one glorious piece that is now so clearly expressed in the New Testament and that is, that the second Adam is Jesus Christ.  He came into this world and imaged God perfectly because He is the image of the invisible God.  Jesus could say, “When you have seen me, you have seen the Father,” (John 14:9). So, those whom He Foreknew, He predestined, and those He predestined, he predestined to do what?  To be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

God is taking this rag-tag collection of fallen human beings who follow sin and self and who are filled with filth and their own idols and He is saying, “I’m taking a people for myself.” That original purpose for which He created us will not be thwarted. It will not be thwarted because He will accomplish His purpose.  He is going to accomplish His purpose because He sent His Son to redeem us and then sent His Spirit to conform us to the image in which we were originally created so that we can do what we were supposed to do.

What is happening is that God is doing the ultimate Adamic urban renewal project!

So, right now, in this “all-ready, not yet” tension, what’s happening is that we are being increasingly, progressively, conformed to the image of Christ by the Holy Spirit.  When the consummation of all things happens, what will occur will be our perfect conformity to the image of Christ.  The whole cosmos will be reconciled to the Father, and the whole New Heavens and New Earth will be filled with image bearers that glorify and reflect the glory of the Creator. 

For Paul to talk about the fruit of the Spirit is no small thing.  The Fruit of the Spirit has cosmic implications because God is renewing His character, Christ’s image, in us.

Half a Christ

This past weekend I attended a local church and ended up in a Sunday School class that was new to me, but had been recommended as one I might find interesting because, I was told, the teacher was extremely knowledgeable and knew his doctrine and theology.  To say that I was disappointed is an understatement.  I was mortified at the doctrine he was teaching.  While I agree that we live under the covenant of grace and not the covenant of law, I had to disagree that all we have to do is “let go and let God” in our Christian walk.  While justification is a one time pronouncement upon the truly regenerate heart, sanctification is an on going process whereby we learn to strive for holiness by the help and leading of the Holy Spirit.  This particular teacher did not agree with that assessment and basically taught the class that all one needed to do was “ask Jesus into their heart” and they were good to go.  Basically, without saying it, he was teaching and encouraging a 3rd class of people, the carnal Christian.  Yet, he said that there were only two classes, the lost and the saved.  The following quote by Walter Marshall makes it clear that there is a work of sanctification that we are involved with.  Read on and let me know what you think.

“What a strange salvation it is, if people who are saved do not care about holiness! In this case, people want to be saved, but they want to stay dead in sin, alien from the life of God, without the image of God, deformed by the image of satan, and in slavery to satan and to their own filthy lusts. They seem to prefer to stay totally unfit to enjoy God in glory. Christ never purchased such a salvation as this by His own blood. Those who think they have received a salvation such as this abuse the grace of God in Christ, and turn it into license for sin. They want to be saved by Christ, but apart from Christ, so to speak. They want to be saved, but they also want to remain in a fleshly state, with a fleshly lifestyle. This is simply not how salvation works! The only people Christ frees from condemnation are those who are ‘in Christ’ who do not walk according to the flesh but according the Spirit’ (Rom. 8:1-4). If this were not the case, people would divide Christ. They would take one part of his salvation, and leave out the rest. However, ‘Christ is not divided’ (1 Corinthians 1:13). You cannot have half a Christ!”

Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (1692)