BY J. MARK JORDAN
When true New Testament Christianity is contrasted with Old Testament Judaism, the most obvious difference is the spirituality of the New. Although Old Testament saints lived by faith and although the
Spirit of God anointed individuals at various times for various purposes, the Holy Ghost was not yet given. They were required to live by the law, but did not have the regenerating and empowering baptism of the Holy Spirit. Rigid adherence to ceremony, systematized religion and outward symbols kept Judaism in motion. The Christian community, however, is characterized by an internalized spiritual experience, a free flow of spontaneous worship, and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The very nature of these features of Christianity point toward a basic concept: Spirituality is essential in the life of a Christian.
The Age of the Spirit
God’s dealings with mankind drastically changed upon the establishment of the New Testament church. A brand new relationship came into existence, called the “new covenant.” “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Hebrews 8:6-8).
What was to be the impact of this new covenant? “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in
their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Hebrews 8:10). A person’s attitudes, feelings, affections, intentions-in fact everything that pertained to the heart and spirit was to be revolutionized.
The New Testament ushered in a radically new concept in living for God. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”
(II Corinthians 5:17). This change was so total that Jesus described it in terms of a new birth. He told Nicodemus, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God ” (John 3:5).
Since Christ, the entire operation of “religion” is now in the realm of the Spirit. It is an inward motivation, not an outward mandate.
New Testament believers are spiritually empowered. “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
New Testament believers are spiritually legislated. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
New Testament believers are spiritually illuminated. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5:16-18).
New Testament believers are spiritually related. “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed
together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20-22).
Therefore, the New Testament Christian is grounded upon a spiritual foundation. His religion flows out of a transformed heart in which the very Spirit of God has taken up residence. Not only does this
separate him from dead, formal ritualism, it also sets him at odds with the sensual, materialistic, carnal world of irreligious men. His spiritual outlook transcends worldly gain, wanton pleasure, and self-
serving religion. It elevates him to the higher ground of love and sacrifice.
Jesus taught that whatever was inside a man’s heart would eventually find expression. “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit…. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:17-20). If a person has truly been born again, the earmarks of his experience will be clearly seen. These earmarks are known as “the fruit of the Spirit.”
Galatians 5:22-23 lists nine identifiable aspects of spiritual fruit that the Holy Spirit will produce in the regenerated man: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. ” These are not the products of superior intelligence, strong self-will, or outward religion. They are the consequences of Christ’s Spirit indwelling the believer. The Greek text employs the genitive (possessive) case–“of the Spirit”–to show that the Spirit is the source of the truth.
Of course, these qualities can exist and be transmitted in a limited form through heredity and environment. But this is only true on a “horizontal” or human level, depending upon a fragile balance of
culture, genetics, tutelage and a host of other variables. The fruit of the Spirit, however, is a “vertical” transmission of God’s own nature, without regard to circumstances–indeed contrary to circumstances. The Spirit produces love, joy, peace, and so on even when a person is devoid of such qualities
and has no means of acquiring them.
Let us look briefly at each of these nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit. This study is deeply enriching to the life of the believer.
Love. The Greek has three words that correspond to the English word love. Eros is selfish, sensual love; phileo is mutual, friendship love; and agape is love given without thought of return, or divine love. Galatians 5:22 uses the third word, agape, to describe the fruit of the Spirit. This love is generated by the power of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us ” (Romans 5:5). This kind of love made possible the towering feat of Calvary. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for
us” (Romans 5:8), I John 4:11-21 provides an excellent study of the behavior of agape love.
Joy. This is inward elation or gladness grounded in a conscious knowledge of God. It is not short-lived like the fun of thrill-seekers, but it is a steady, deeply satisfying, imperturbable joy. It is like the joy of a long distance runner who smiles through the pain as he approaches the finish line far ahead of the second-place man. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher finisher of our faith; who for the
joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the same” (Hebrews 12:2).
Peace. The indwelling Spirit will produce the fruit of harmonious relationships with others and in a person’s own relationship with himself. Instead of seeking for conflict, turmoil, fighting, argument
and general troublemaking, the believer seeks ways to mollify anger, resolve conflicts and live in harmony with those around him. He willalso be free from worry and anxiety within himself as he enjoys the effects of Calvary in his life.
Longeuffering. This word is a literal translation from the Greek and means exactly what its components suggest. Christ produces in the believer the ability to suffer long, to have patient endurance under
injuries inflicted by others. This is a marked contrast to the carnal nature, which is prone to recoil in anger and retaliate in kind. It is like the spirit of the patriarch Joseph who maintained his character
through years of false accusation, injustice and seemingly hopeless situations.
Gentleness. This quality continually graced the person of Christ. It is a kindly disposition toward others, treating them with restraint, deference and respect. A good picture of this attribute is Jesus, the
Almighty God and Creator of the Universe, candling a child upon His knee.
Goodness. The Greek word suggests outward generosity as well as inward virtue. As the fruit of goodness blossoms forth, a believer becomes open and responsive to the needs of those around him. Goodness
is not a passive quality. It is an active goodness, an energetic principle of caring, sharing and helping to benefit the lives of others. This is why we now call the man in the parable of the Samaritan the “good Samaritan.”
Faith. Faith as the fruit of the Spirit is best understood as faithfulness, loyalty or reliability. While all believers have a measure of faith that initiated their conversion, only after the Holy Spirit fosters the growth of spiritual fruit can they testify “I have remained loyal.” “We. . .glory. . for your patience and faith [faithfulness] in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure” (II Thessalonians 1:4). This is the fruit of faith demonstrated!
Meekness. Meekness is the possession of a humble attitude. It stands at the opposite pole to pride, haughtiness and arrogance. The true Christian will not undermine his righteous influence by
distasteful boasting. He will rather make the gospel palatable to others by a gentle submissiveness and a spirit of humility. “Restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
Temperance. The Spirit of God produces self-control in the believer’s life. The Christian does not helplessly indulge in whims and cravings manufactured by his flesh. Instead he holds in his appetites,
properly channels his passions, and keeps all his drives in check. “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof ‘ (Romans 13:14).
What is the purpose of the fruit of the Spirit? First, it displays the glory of God. He is the primary source of all of these virtues. Man did not conceive and produce these qualities on his own. Even as a building glorifies the architect, a song the composer, a book the author, and a painting the artist, so the grace-filled life of the spiritual man glorifes God. Second, the fruit of the Spirit supplies the definite, real needs of the saints. When injury, sorrow, irritation or crisis calls, the beautiful qualities of the spiritual fruit flow to meet the need.
As the fruit from a natural tree must be cultivated, so must spiritual fruit receive cultivation. Hundreds of enemies swarm to the newly Spirit-filled believer to retard, mutate, or kill the fruit production. The believer must keep the flesh crucified, that is, denied, overruled and restrained, so that Christ may have full reign in his heart. “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:19-21). (See also Colossians 3:1-10.)
The Spiritual Gifts
We now look at another aspect of the spiritual man. The Scriptures list a number of “gifts” of the Spirit. Whereas spiritual fruit is an expected outgrowth of the Spirit in every believer’s life, the gifts of the spirit are special dispensations of God’s power, selectively granted throughout the church.
The primary list of these gifts is in I Corinthians 12. This chapter recognizes their existence and usage in the church. It explains that there are varieties (diversities) of gifts, differences in the offices of the persons through whom they flow (administrations), and many results (operations) of their use. It assures the Corinthians, who had a background of paganism, that the same God still distributes and
governs each gift. A different gift does not indicate a different Lord.
At least two general purposes are clear in the use of spiritual gifts. First, “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (I Corinthians 12:7). An unprofitable display or parading of gifts runs counter to God’s intentions. Unless they minister to a real need they are being abused. Second, a thorough reading of the whole chapter shows that the theme is the unity of the body. The primary purpose of I Corinthians 12 is not merely to deal with the spiritual gifts, but rather to emphasize the interrelationships and the mutual love between the various members of the church. It uses the
function of the spiritual gifts to illustrate this vital point. The gifts of the Spirit, therefore, must contribute to this unity and must never be used to divide it.
The Bible does not limit the gifts to nine in number. I Corinthians 12:28 and Romans 12 seem to indicate even more. For our purposes we will consider the nine gifts of I Corinthians 12:8-10.
Word of wisdom. This is the gift of divine guidance or a sound course of action in a given situation. Logos is the Greek word translated as “word” here, and it can mean much more than a single word. It also carries the meaning of strategy or plan. Christ used a remarkable divine strategy when the scheming Pharisees confronted Him with difficult questions (Mark 12:14-17). Acts 22:22-25 is a wonderful
illustration of the word of wisdom in the life of Paul.
Word of knowledge. This is specific information given of God to a person who does not know it by human means. Acts 27:21-44 relates how Paul was able to save the lives of the men on board the ship through knowledge given him of God that “except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.”
Faith. Through this gift, God grants a special faith for a specific need. The beating and imprisonment of Paul and Silas was one such occasion (Acts 16:22-26). Instead of having their commitment to Christ crushed, these men worshiped and sang praises to God from the belly of a rank, vermin-infested dungeon. This demonstration of faith caused God to shake the doors from the* hinges and spring the prisoners free.
Gifts of healing. This phrase is found three times in I Corinthians 12. The plural gifts may be used because of the complexity of the human body. Perhaps the method of healing in one instance may
not be generalized to all. At any rate, no one seems to possess the ability to heal at will-certainly not in every case. God seems to select the timing, subject, disease or ailment, and the member (or agent) of the body to be used for His own purposes. For example, Peter and John, as well as other disciples, had passed the lame man at Gate Beautiful on many occasions before the time for healing took place (Acts 3:1-7). But neither is there any scriptural precedent for allowing a pall of condemnation to hang over the person whose healing is apparently delayed or denied. One thing is sure: God is a healer! We have read it, witnessed it, and experienced it over and over again.
Working of miracles. This is simply the performing of an ordinarily impossible feat. When Paul shook off a venomous snake that had bitten him on the hand, God miraculously protected him from harm.
“Howbeit, they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god” (Acts 28:6). The purpose for this miracle was not showmanship, but the preservation of Paul’s life and the demonstration to the islanders of the power of God.
Prophecy. This is the forth-telling of a message from God, the miraculous proclamation of divine truths. The Greek word does not necessarily mean the prediction of future events. The hearers are to judge whether or not the prophecy is truly of God. “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge” (I Corinthians 14:29). Perhaps this is an indication that ordinarily the gift of prophecy does
not deal with future prediction, for it would be difficult to judge the validity of such at the time it is given. I Corinthians 14:3 declares the purpose of this gift: “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. ” In a general sense, all anointed preaching and testimony is prophetic.
Discerning of spirits. Discerning means to judge, distinguish or discriminate between similar subjects. I John 4:1 is actually an elucidation on this gift: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” This gift is especially needed in the church body.
Divers kinds of tongues. This is inspired speaking in a language unknown to the speaker. The Bible points out three uses of tongues:
a) Tongues as the sign of the Holy Ghost baptism (Acts 2:4);
b) Tongues for private devotion (I Corinthians 14:27);
c) Tongues in the church with interpretation (I Corinthians 14:13-27), which is the gift of tongues. The gift of tongues is to be regulated in a church service with respect to frequency and the need for interpretation so that everyone is edified (I Corinthians 14:27-28).
Interpretation of tongues. This is not translation, but interpretation. In other words, there may not be a one-to-one correspondence of words, but the message will still be intact. Neither is tongues interpreted by learned, human understanding. This is a gift just like tongues is a gift. Tongues with interpretation have the same force as prophecy (I Corinthians 14:5).
The spiritual gifts are not merely ornamentation for the church. They are practical, useful tools that God has placed in His body for its well-oiled functioning. These gifts are constantly at work somewhere in the fellowship of believers on a daily basis.
The spirituality of the New Testament Christian is fundamental to his very existence in the church. To revert to law-keeping is to take up again the chains of bondage. To revert to carnality is to embrace
death. As we cultivate the fruit of the Spirit and covet the gifts of the Spirit we continue to grow in God’s liberty and grace.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J. Mark Jordan, raised in Jackson, Michigan attended Texas Bible College. Later he received a B.S. in Human Relations from the University of Toledo. He and his wife Sandy evangelized several years
before he became Associate Pastor to First Apostolic Church, Toledo, OH. In 1978 he founded Apostolic Christian Academy. He served the Ohio District as Youth President, UPCI, from 1977 to 1983. Since 1983 he has pastored First Apostolic Church, Toledo, OH. He has written numerous articles for Pentecostal publications. He now resides with his wife Sandy and three children in suburban Toledo.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM MEASURES OF OUR FAITH AND PUBLISHED BY WORD AFLAME PRESS, 1987, PAGES 107-118. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.