“The Fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” – R.Smit

Fruit_of_the_Spirit-RSmit-2012The title above is that of a fine little book we are using for our Sunday night discussion groups this year. Penned by Rev.Richard Smit (currently serving as a Protestant Reformed missionary in the Philippines) and published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association (2012), the book was originally a series of applicatory sermons (after Lord’s Supper) he preached in a former congregation he served (Immanuel, Lacombe, AB). It is a wonderful little commentary on the passage in Galatians 5:22-23, where the fruit of the Spirit is presented to us.

After an introductory chapter taking a look at the “big picture” of the fruit of the Spirit, Rev.Smit in the subsequent chapters explains each of the fruits in order. The end of each chapter includes several discussion questions, so the book is well-suited for our purposes in Sunday night discussion groups. I encourage you to obtain the book and read it for personal profit or for group benefit (reading club, discussion group, etc.). You will find all the information you need at the RFPA website.

I give you a brief quote from it today, so that you may see its solid Reformed and Biblical content:

The Spirit is pleased to work his fruit within and through us by dwelling in us. The Spirit comes irresistibly and breaks down the wall of enmity and pride of our dead hearts. He never waits for us to make the first move. He comes irresistibly into our hearts, and once there he remains in the new life of our regenerated hearts to work in us all things according to God’s good pleasure. It is God’s good pleasure that he causes us to produce spiritual, visible, holy fruit.

What is this good fruit, generally speaking? This good fruit canbe described as the good works ‘which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them’ (Eph.2:10). These are the works that we perform out of the true faith of that living union to Christ, according to God’s commandments and ordinances and unto the glory of his name alone. This fruit becomes evident in our confession and walk of life. This fruit is spiritually sweet and delightful not only to our Father in heaven, but also to our fellow saints. As a result of its spiritual pleasantness, our earnest desire is that Christ will work in us mightily by his Spirit this delightful fruit of his Spirit (pp.15-16).

“Fear of Men” and “Fear of Self” – October “Tabletalk”

Fear of Men by Nicholas Batzig | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TTOct2013Yesterday before our worship services I went deeper into the October issue of Tabletalk, finding all sorts of pleasing and profitable reading (to the soul). I read the next two articles on the theme of “The Seven Deadly Fears” – “Fear of Men” by Rev.Nicholas Batzig (linked above) and “Fear of Self” by Rev.Kris Lundgaard. Both are closely related and powerful, convicting articles.

I give you excerpts from both today and encourage you to read the full articles (they are brief) at the links provided.

First, from “Fear of Men”:

The fear of man is not simply the fear of the harm that men may do to us. Surely the fear of harm partly drives our desire to be approved by men. However, most properly, the fear of man is, as Bunyan put it, “the fear of losing man’s favor, love, goodwill, help, and friendship.” Simply put, it is “an idol of approval.” We seek to avoid persecution because of “idols of approval,” “comfort,” or “pleasure.” These idols lead us to compromise in order to gain approval—to give in to wickedness in order to gain acceptance and peace. It puts us in a vicious cycle of idolatry. Miserable though it is, the fear of man is the soul’s default setting.

Is the fear of man something that ensnares only a few? The Apostle Paul says that by nature, men outside of Christ have “no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom. 3:18). However, even the godliest saint still has remnants of this fear of man in his or her soul. At times, even believers choose to warm themselves at the fire of acceptance, like Peter did in the courtyard outside of the place where his Lord suffered. Fearing man mutes our witness to Christ and keeps us from living for His glory. It keeps us from saying and doing what is pleasing to Him because we would rather please men.

Rev. Nicholas T. Batzig is organizing pastor of New Covenant Prebyterian Church in Richmond Hill, Ga., a church plant of the Presbyterian Church in America. He is a contributor to Reformation21 and The Reformed Forum.

And second, from “Fear of Self”:

We must preach the gospel to ourselves. This demands that we keep our noses in the Bible, listening for God’s voice, founding our confidence on Him and His promises rather than on ourselves. What we will find in the Word is that though “our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20). That’s right—He searches our hearts more piercingly than our own conscience can, and He knows that we are actually worse than we ever imagined.

But in spite of this, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). When Paul reflects on this inRomans 8:31–39, he realizes the unthinkable: God is on our side—even against our hearts. Paul basks in the refreshing light of this news until there is no one left to accuse him. In fact, the thought that God would turn against us after giving His Son for us, or that the Son would abandon us when He’s the very one who died for us and who lives to pray for us—well, the thought beggars the imagination.

Like Paul, Rossetti at last turns from herself to find

Yet One there is can curb myself, Can roll the strangling load from me Break off the yoke and set me free.

And so must we.

Rev. Kris Lundgaard is a missionary with Mission to the World, an agency of the Presbyterian Church in America, currently serving in Slovakia. He is author of the book The Enemy Within.