From “Feast of Tabernacles,” Chapter 10- Tabernacles – The Feast of Ingathering, continued
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
“And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.” Or, literally, “New wine and oil,” beautiful symbols of the fruit of the Spirit in the saints. Said Paul, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). And the oil, as we know, is a symbol of the anointing. “The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you…” (1 Jn. 2:27).
This great ingathering is the harvest for which the husbandman has been waiting ever since the foundation of the Church. Gifts of the Spirit are really no evidence of spiritual attainment; God bestoweth His gifts freely by His grace upon whomsoever He will. But with fruit it is entirely different. Fruit must grow; and God has never intended that the Body of Christ should ever bring forth fruit except through a continual Divine growth in the Spirit of God. The Ascension gifts that we mentioned are for the purpose of adding growth to God’s Garden, that we “may grow up into Him” (Eph. 4:15). God will not come to us looking for gifts, but for fruits of the Spirit. He gave us His gifts freely by His grace, and all we had to do was to receive them and use them. What God wants now is fruit, because that is something which He can receive from you. That is something which must grow upon you by your patient and continual walk with God and your appropriation of His Spirit. Until now the Husbandman has come into His garden, pruning, cultivating, watering–without expecting anything in return. But now the harvest time is approaching, and soon He shall visit His garden for one purpose and for one purpose only: seeking for fruit, and trusting that His tender care over the vine has produced genuine fruit of the Spirit.
Let us never forget that the fruits of the Spirit, and not the gifts of the Spirit, constitute the real test of spiritual life; for the latter are given to produce the former, and it is the fruit that is the embodiment and expression of Christ-likeness within the heart and soul. That is why Paul exhorted, “Follow after love, and desire spiritual gifts…” (1 Cor. 14:1). Gifts are absolutely necessary, for they are the means to the end; but Love is the end, the consummation, the fruit for which God is waiting. Love is the Ultimate, because “God is Love,” and it is His purpose to conform the saints even unto “the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). Love is the End: but it is an End which knows no beginning or ending, for it is God himself; and when we become thoroughly united with Him we are in a realm which is eternally progressive.
O what a grand and glorious day awaits the Church in the Feast of Ingathering! The Day of the fruit of the Spirit! Because we do not have the fruit of the Spirit in any degree of fullness, we cannot appreciate its glory. Before the gifts of the Spirit were restored to the Church we had a faint conception of what they would be like, but what a revelation it is as we see them gradually unfolding before our eyes! So with the fruit of the Spirit. We know what they are: “Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22). But we shall never appreciate any measure of their real glory until the fruit of the Spirit becomes visibly manifest in the saints of God. GHW
In response to Bro. Warnock, I would like to quote Thomas Jay Oord, from a 2011 article titled, “John Wesley, Theologian of Love.”
Love reigns as John Wesley’s supreme theological and ethical category. It enjoys pride of place, he says, because love reigns supreme in the biblical witness. Admirers rightly call Wesley a theologian of love par excellence.
Wesley appeals to the supremacy of love more often and more insightfully than most theologians. He considers love God’s reigning attribute, and he understands divine power in light of love. Wesley often engages the Christian practices with issues of love front and center. He laces his moral and ethical directives with love language, because love is the heart of true religion.
The Language of Love
Despite the supremecy of love, Wesley never defines love clearly. He considers love the heart of true faith: “Religion is the love of God and our neighbour, that is, every man under heaven.” This means “love ruling the whole life, animating all our tempers and passions, directing all our thoughts, words, and actions.”
Thankfully, Wesley uses the typical love language of the Bible. In the majority of his writings and sermons, he simply used the word “love” without qualification.
But occasionally Wesley prefaces love with “perfect” or “cold,” qualifications that occur rarely in the Bible. And he sometimes uses the phrase “holy love,” a qualification not found in Scripture. Some Wesleyan scholars today speak of “holy love,” however, to counter a popular view that love as sentimental and soft. I do not advocate this linguistic practice, because I think all love is holy, in the sense that God is love’s source and inspiration.
Like most biblical writers, Wesley typically understands love as action that promotes well-being. Love is “benevolence,” he says, “tender good-will to all the souls that God has made.” Other times he says love is “goodwill.” The person who loves is one who blesses others, benefits others, enjoys mutual benefit, or overcomes evil with good. These are all acts of love, understood as promoting well-being.
Doing good is the “nature” of love, says Wesley, but love takes various forms and produces diverse fruit. For instance, we often express love by choosing humility, gentleness, patience, self-control, etc. We express love by helping the poor, being kind to strangers, encouraging those in the community of faith, forgiving one another, etc. While the essence of love is singular, expressions of love are plural.