Dear Praying Friends,
I am now teaching an Adult Education class at Christ E. P. Church in Houston entitled Christ-likeness—Fruit of the Holy Spirit. Here is the description: God the Spirit lives inside all Jesus’ followers and helps us die to sins and live for righteousness. Over time, the Spirit makes the virtues (fruit) of Christ grow in our lives, but we are not passive. Like a gardener fights against weeds to enjoy the healthy fruit, we must battle the weeds (vices) of our flesh (sinful nature) that oppose the Spirit’s sanctifying work. The fruit of the Spirit is not the way we are saved from sin. We are saved only by Jesus’ living, dying, rising, praying, helping, and returning for us. The fruit of the Spirit is the Christ-like way saved people behave, more and more.
Please pray that God the Spirit would work lasting changes in us and help us grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, not just get more information.
Here is a question someone asked: Since 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love,” why does Paul say Christian love is the greatest?
Here’s part of my answer, drawing on J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion (1878, Chapter 7):
1. Love is greatest because it resembles God (the Father, Son, and Spirit) who is love.1 Faith is believing on, relying on, trusting in God; it’s a commitment of our mind, our heart, our whole life to following Christ.2 Hope is anticipating God’s future fulfillment of His promises, plans, and purposes, expecting that He will be faithful to do what He said He would do.3 God has no need of faith or hope.
2. Love is greatest because it is the most useful to other people. Faith and hope benefit us individually more than they benefit others. Love fulfills the Greatest Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” And “Love your neighbor as yourself.”4
Ryle reminds us that love is the spring of good works and kindnesses. It is the root of missions, schools, hospitals, and acts of mercy.5 Love motivates workers for Christ and keeps US serving. Love smooths quarrels, stops strife, and makes us giving and forgiving. Love makes Christianity attractive and recommends it to the world. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”6 A person may have real faith which is invisible. But a person’s love for God and other people cannot be hidden.
3. Love is greatest because it endures the longest. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see…..We know that when Jesus appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”7 Faith and hope are not needed in Heaven. Now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see Christ face to face. Now we know God in part; then we shall know Him fully, even as we are fully known by God.8 But Christ-like love will live on through the endless ages of eternity. Heaven will be the home of love and Heaven’s inhabitants (Jesus’ followers) will imitate and practice God’s love perfectly. See “Heaven: A World of Love” by Jonathan Edwards.9
Thank you again for the privilege of serving with you and for all the love you have shown me over the years! Sections from this class also get used at Jester III Prison and in pastoral counseling.
Your very grateful brother in Christ, Bob
From the blog
Blogs posted since our December 2018 update
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
- Getting God’s Guidance (Part 1)
- Getting God’s Guidance (Part 2)
- Getting God’s Guidance (Part 3)
- Getting God’s Guidance (Part 4)
- Getting God’s Guidance (Part 5)
- Getting God’s Guidance (Part 6)
- I Love to Tell The Story (Part 1)
- I Love to Tell The Story (Part 2)
- Whiter Than Snow
- Looking Back, Up, and Forward to Christ
- Jesus’ Incarnation: Another Parable
Notes: 1 1 John 4:8,16. 2 Hab 2:4; Eph 2:8-10. 3 Rom 8:18-25; 1 Peter 1:3-9. 4 Mark 12:29-31. 5 Matt 25:31-46. 6 John 13:35. 7 Heb 11:1; 1 John 3:2. 8 1 Cor 13:12. 9 Original publication date 1834; Banner of Truth reprint 2008.