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FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT
“If these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—2 PET. 1:8
Good works and knowledge are so closely related that it is useless to think of separating them; they are produced by the same Spirit. Believing this, the TOWER seeks to present the deep things of God not to a worldly class, but to the consecrated, in whom the fruits of the Spirit are being produced, realizing that the natural man [the unconsecrated] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.—(1 Cor. 2:14.)
Wherever, therefore, and in proportion as we find the fruits of the Spirit, we expect to find the Spirit which produced those fruits. And all possessing this Spirit and using it, will be able not only to grow in grace but in knowledge also, and shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the KNOWLEDGE of our Lord.
This statement of the inspired Apostle, that a man cannot be fruitful in the graces and barren in the knowledge of the Lord, may and should astound some who boast of their graces and freely admit their ignorance of the Lord and his plans.
Many who seem to be religious have only a form of godliness, a form of faith, a form of patience, a form of charity, a form of brotherly kindness. May we not, on Peter’s authority, safely set it down that those graces are like clusters of grapes tied on to thorn bushes and not the real fruit of the vine, if we find not with them that essential favor of God—a “knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ?” May we not conclude that such, if ever purged from sin by faith in the sin sacrifice, have been blinded by the God of this world, and “cannot see afar off”—cannot grasp or appreciate the things future in the unfolding of our Father’s plan. (Verse 9 and Jno. 16:13.)
The Apostle continues, verse 10: “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” As though he said on this account you must criticise yourselves very closely to see that you are developing the real fruits of the Spirit, remembering the test I have given you, that the real fruits will have among them, prominently, an increasing knowledge of our Lord—a close, intimate acquaintance and communion with him—in which he will reveal himself to us by showing us “things to come.”
Nor can the knowledge fruit be obtained independent of the other fruits—[though a parrot-like form of knowledge might exist without the others, it should be thus recognized as only the form]—because these various fruits are results of the same spirit or sap. And if one of these fruits withers and dies, it indicates that the supply of sap is being cut off, that the spirit is being lost by that branch, and surely indicates that all the fruits are withering and dying. Let all these fruits be in you and abound; quench not the Spirit. “For if you do [bear all] these things ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Verses 10,11.)
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But, does some one suggest, that thus making knowledge one of the necessary fruits of the Spirit would exclude from the spiritual class many ministers and others? We reply, that while knowledge is essential, it does not follow that the knowledge must be perfect. It has pleased our Father to permit a veil of error to be drawn across his plan—
“Which veils and darkens His designs.”
And only as it becomes due time does he remove that veil gradually, finally completely finishing “the Mystery of God.” Hence, knowledge as a fruit of the Spirit, could never heretofore reach the same size which it now may and should attain. God expects the size of this fruit to be proportionate with its opportunities and possibilities. As an illustration—we refer you to the words of Albert Barnes, quoted in another column. These prove that what he knew of God’s character, as revealed through nature and in our Lord Jesus, had won his heart, so that, in comparison, the errors of that man-made theology were irreconcilable. As the due time for these mists to be cleared away has come, we should expect all such to advance in the shining path.
— September, 1883 —