Hank’s Questions about the Personal Indwelling of the Spirit, Part 1

spirit3I get emails. These are two emails from long-time reader and commenter Hank.

I answer at some length because they hit on themes I’ve been covering in other contexts, and give me an excuse to tie these themes together.

Email 1

I’ve been reading your articles for years, with special attention to the ones pertaining to the Spirit. I have a couple of questions:

1) Were the children of God in the OT who did not “have” the HS, able to produce the fruit of the HS?

Well, no. By definition, “fruit of the Spirit” is fruit produced by the Spirit. Even if it’s the same thing but produced by other, more natural means, it’s not fruit of the Spirit.

But can someone achieve “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22b-23a ESV) without the direct operation of the Spirit on their heart? Certainly. I’ve seen it.

Does that make the promise that the Spirit can bear such fruit within the Christian meaningless? Not at all. There are people who can play the piano at concert-level without having had lessons. There are people who write like Shakespeare without any schooling beyond the fourth grade. But that doesn’t mean that piano lessons and grades 5 – 12 have no value. The exceptional case does not destroy the ordinary case.

My view is that the Spirit helps the Christian live the Christian life in powerful but often subtle ways. But some Jews were saved (as shown by the “roll call of the faithful” in Heb 11, for example) long before the Spirit was outpoured at Pentecost. The track record of Israel wasn’t good. Most wound up rejecting God and being killed by the Babylonians (or, later, the Romans) as God  imposed the curses of Deu 28-29 and Lev 26. But some were faithful and saved — but it was just, as Paul says in Rom 11, a remnant. Most were not faithful without the Spirit — not during Jeremiah’s day and not during Jesus’ and the apostles’ day.

2) If a believing (unbaptized) 12 [year old] girl does not know what or how to pray as she ought, does the HS help her in her infirmity? Or, must she first sin and be baptised, in order to have such help, and for her prayers to be fully functional?

I don’t understand the assumption that one must first be damned to be saved. I mean, it sounds sensible, but I think it falls apart on close examination.

Under your theory, if a child is not damned due to innocence — a lack of accountability — then if we baptize that child a day early, we baptized someone not yet lost and so not yet eligible for salvation. This can’t be right. After all, we are far from agreed as to when the “age of accountability” is — and most consider it variable, depending on the maturity of the child. So how do we know when it’s too early to baptize a child?

The idea that the age of accountability is also the earliest age at which someone may be saved goes back to Jacob Arminius, who opposed much of Calvinism. He proposed the idea of an “age of accountability” of around 12, and he assumed that the age of accountability (when the child is charged with the sins he commits) is also the age of faith (when he can come to Jesus). But there’s no logical reason to say that someone must be accountable to become saved.

We have to start with the meaning of “saved.” 

We tend to see “saved” as meaning forgiven and nothing more. This comes from the long-time Church of Christ tradition of denying the receipt of the personal indwelling Spirit at baptism. If there’s no indwelling, then there’s no regeneration or renewal — you get a clean slate and a new relationship with God, but you are still on your own when it comes to obedience. Nothing happens at baptism that makes obedience easier. It’s entirely about forgiveness.

However, while in the NT, salvation obviously includes forgiveness of sins, it also includes the idea of being regenerated —

(Tit. 3:4-7 ESV)  4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,  5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

We are saved by the “regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” when we become a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). What does the Spirit do? Well, “regeneration” is literally “rebirth” or, when speaking of a father, “re-Fathering,” “re-begetting,” or “re-conception.” Our spiritual DNA is rewritten so that we become spiritual beings — somewhat like our Father. We obviously still have our flesh and blood, but the Spirit himself is inserted into our being so that our natures become more like the nature of God — in the same way that my sons have some of my nature in them.

(2 Pet. 1:3-4 ESV)  3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,  4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

(Eph. 3:14-19 ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith — that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God

(1 Jn. 3:9 ESV)  9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

“Renewal” means to make something new and better. It’s much more than forgiven. It refers to a change in the nature of the thing itself. It’s not just scrubbing some dirt off; it’s repairing and rebuilding so that what was once old is now renewed.

Renewal points to the whole process of ‘making new’ and does not suggest the restoration of former powers. Through the work of the Spirit the believer lives on a higher plane than before (cf. Rom. 12:2 for the same idea of spiritual renewal).

Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary (TNTC 14; IVP/Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 226.

The commentaries see an allusion to —

(Ezek. 36:25-27 ESV)  25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Clearly, the point in Ezekiel (following the promise of Deu 30:6) is that God himself will change our hearts so that we can become truly obedient, in contrast to the disobedience of the Jews that led to the Babylonian Captivity.

So a 12-year old might not need saving in the sense of needing forgiveness, but the 12-year old still needs to be re-begotten and renewed. Obedience is only going to get harder as she gets older.

So even if she’s so young that she’s not accountable for her sins, if she loves Jesus, she will want to obey his commands, and she’ll surely welcome any help that God gives through his Spirit.

So at what point does the Spirit help her prayer life?

(Rom. 8:26 ESV)  26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

This promise is given in the context of the Spirit’s personal indwelling, and so the promise of this help is only given to the regenerated. That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t hear the prayers of the unregenerated — be they accountable or not accountable — only that the assistance of the Spirit is only promised to the regenerated.

N. T. Wright has a distinctive take on the interpretation of this verse —

It is not (as some early scribes added to the text, followed by the NIV) that the Spirit intercedes “for us”; that misses the point, and makes Paul repeat himself in the following verse. What Paul is saying is that the Spirit, active within the innermost being of the Christian, is doing the very interceding the Christian longs to do, even though the only evidence that can be produced is inarticulate groanings.

N.T. Wright, “The Letter to the Romans,” in The Acts of the Apostles-The First Letter to the Corinthians (vol. 10 of NIB, Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 599.

In fact,  ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν (for us) does not appear in the better manuscripts, and so is added as a translators’ gloss. That is, Wright takes v. 26 to speak of the Christian’s duty to pray intercessory prayers for others, whereas v. 27 speaks to the Spirit’s intercession for the saints.

I really see no problem with someone too young to be accountable for her sins lacking the promised intercession of the Spirit. It’s not needed in terms of forgiveness, and God hears her prayers whether or not the Spirit intercedes. It’s just that the Spirit helps her pray as she should — but she’s not yet accountable, and so this is hardly a damning problem for her.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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32 Responses to Hank’s Questions about the Personal Indwelling of the Spirit, Part 1

  1. hank says:

    Hi Jay, thanks for responding to the questions I sent you! I’m gonna see what anybody else might to say about this, before writing too much, myself. But, I do want to clarify a few things.

    1) You wrote (under #2):

    “Under your theory, if a child is not damned due to innocence — a lack of accountability — then if we baptize that child a day early, we baptized someone not yet lost and so not yet eligible for salvation. This can’t be right.”

    Were you thinking I believed that? Please know, I do not.

    2) You wrote:

    “So a 12-year old might not need saving in the sense of needing forgiveness, but the 12-year old still needs to be re-begotten and renewed.”

    Why? Why would an uncondensed, unseparated child of God, “need” to be – “reborn and renewed”? Would said uncondemned child need to “reconciled”? Why, when there has been no separation?

    Let me put it this way:

    IMO, an uncondemned and guiltless child of God is just as pure and holy as were Adam and Eve (prior to their fall). Would you agree? Do you view in their sins less and uncondned state, that Adam and Eve stood in “need” of renewal? That they “needed” to be “reborn”? If so, why? So they could “get” the Holy Spirit?

    Or, did they (in your opinion) already “have” him? Could they produce the fruit of the spirit, in their perfect and sinless paradise?

    I’m getting off track, here. Thanks again Jay, and I look forward to anybody’s thoughts

  2. laymond says:

    “We tend to see “saved” as meaning forgiven and nothing more. This comes from the long-time Church of Christ tradition of denying the receipt of the personal indwelling Spirit at baptism. If there’s no indwelling, then there’s no regeneration or renewal — you get a clean slate and a new relationship with God, but you are still on your own when it comes to obedience. Nothing happens at baptism that makes obedience easier. It’s entirely about forgiveness.”

    Jay, are you saying it is easier to be a Christian, than a sinner. if so, maybe you should consult Paul on the subject.

  3. laymond says:

    (Rom. 8:26 ESV) 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

    God sees our heart, and even if we are unable to articulate by mouth just what exactly we need, God knows. God knows what we need even before we need it, and he answers our deepest groaning, if it be his will.

  4. laymond says:

    1) Were the children of God in the OT who did not “have” the HS, able to produce the fruit of the HS?

    The question should be; Were the children of God in the OT who did not “have” the HS, able to access the fruit of the HS?
    and the answer is a definite “YES”.

    And if a twelve yr old girl has no sins she is responsible for , would the act of baptism not be an act in vain? Unless you believe children are born damned to hell, and child baptism saved them, child baptism is an act of futility. I believe Jesus explained this in Matthew.

  5. Price Futrell says:

    I think you nailed it when you said it’s much more than just being forgiven.. paraphrase… Our arguments back and forth on baptism reflect our limitation in appreciating the “renewal” that you mention.. Perhaps because we can’t define it with rules and regs ? But the Kingdom life is under promoted IMO…

  6. Dwight says:

    I don’t believe we have the HS or can access the fruit of the HS as a child, simply because these are moot points. An innocent child can approach God, but a sinner can’t. Even children lie, but they may not understand their lie, but they will and as noted by Jay the closer we get them to Jesus before they need him, the stronger their bond for when they do and they will
    .
    Salvation means being saved, but as noted there is much more to being saved, than being saved and sometimes we are too narrow in our thinking.
    In the Passover feast they celebrated/remembered their deliverance from Egypt, but note it was deliverance by someone else for their benefit to get them closer to God.
    Salvation and surgery have a lot in common, but we don’t look at salvation like surgery. We see salvation as getting ourselves out of trouble with God’s assistance or following a plan.
    In surgery we know we are dying, so we lay down and submit ourselves to not procedure, but to the surgeon. We don’t give credit to the tools, and although important, they are all provided by the surgeon who know how to use them for out benefit. The surgeon delivers us and saves us but this surgeon does it out of love. There is nothing we can pay to get the service that will restore us and make us better and that we don’t deserve. Jesus is the great physician.
    And with the surgeons help we can submit and have further extractions of sin and death.
    We have to do things, but they are things that are not just to do, but things that are meant to help mankind and our brothers and sisters and be part of the healing process. We are to pass this healing knowledge on to others and help them in their recovery and in growing spiritual healthy.
    The HS is there to help us in our quest to God.

  7. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Hank,

    It’s not complicated. The Spirit in a Helper, according to Jesus. The Spirit helps us obey, according to Ezekiel, Paul, etc. A person who innocent (not accountable for sin) due to youth who loves God still wants to be obedient, even if not accountable for her sins. Why not therefore desire the presence of the Helper to obey better and sin less?

    My young son loves me. I will not disown him for his disobedience — absent truly extreme, nearly unthinkable circumstances. Nonetheless, because of his love for me, he wishes to be obedient. And because he wants to grow up to be like me. If I could offer him a special, personal presence of a part of myself that would help him grow up faster, truer, and more easily, would he not want that — even though he is not at great risk of being disowned?

    The legalist focuses on the penalties of sin. The Christian with wisdom focuses on the pleasure of God. God delights in our obedience, and so we obey out of love, not out of fear. The 12-year old girl is who is not accountable for her sins but who loves God will desire that the Spirit come to dwell within her, not to be forgiven, but to better obey.

    Pretty sure I didn’t say “reconciled.” I quoted from Titus, which speaks regeneration and renewal. These are gifts given by the outpoured Spirit to all Christians, and they speak especially of the presence of the Spirit and what the Spirit does in us. They are not speaking particularly about forgiveness but a change in our nature brought about by being indwelled by the very presence of God the Spirit. Obviously, the damned who receive the Spirit receive forgiveness, but regeneration and renewal are not the same thing.

    Regeneration and renewal refer to the same thing we find in Ezekiel when God promises to replace our heart of stone with a Spirit of obedience — and internal change brought about by divine action within us.

  8. Andrew says:

    I’ve often thought that people who do not have the spirit of God living in them can produce things that “appear” as though they are “love, joy, peace, patience, etc.” If, without the spirit, we have things that look like these, they will not be sustainable since they require work and effort on our part. The difference is, with the Spirit, these things are His fruit. They are not “works of the spirit” to contrast “works of the flesh”. They are HIS fruit that HE bears when we keep in step with Him. This produces REAL “love, joy, peace, etc.” and is sustainable because it doesn’t take work on my part to produce it. Following is our job, fruit production is HIS.

  9. hank says:

    Jay, you say “It’s not complicated”, but you responses and attempts to answer these questions sure seem to be complicated.

    You say that an innocent and uncondemned believer “needs to be” born again and renewed, but that she does NOT need to be reconciled? You argue that our uncondemned children CANNOT produce the fruit of the Spirit. But, let me ask you, do you have a problem with churches and parents telling their children that they CAN? Would leading unbaptized children to believe that they can obey God as “easily” as a baptized person (who “has” the Spirit), be deceiving? You say here that uncondemned and innocent believers should “want” the Spirit “so they can “obey better” and “sin less”, but, is that what you really teach?? Have you honestly taught children that they should want to be born again and renewed so that they can finally produce the “actual” fruit of the spirit and so they can “obey better” and “sin less”?? Have you seriously ever taught any believeing but unbaptized child of God, that?

    This is VERY interesting to me. I honestly never heard anyone suggest that a 12 year old, believeing and uncondemned girl, would not be able to produce the real fruit of the spirit, nor be able to obey God fully, nor to be able to “sin less”, until after she needs and receives forgiveness of sin.

    To me, and with all due respect, your position IS complicated…

  10. hank says:

    Andrew, you wrote:

    “I’ve often thought that people who do not have the spirit of God living in them can produce things that “appear” as though they are “love, joy, peace, patience, etc.”

    Jay and I are discussing the 12 year old girl who reads he Bible, believes it completely, prays to God, and loves him. The only “problem” is, she has not been baptized. Now, for argument’s sake, let’s assume she is still in an “innocent” and uncondemned state, before God.

    Andrew, do you believe, and would you tell her, that she CAN produce REAL love, joy, peace, patience, etc? If she asked whether or not her live was REAL, would you tell her “no”. And that it only “appears” real because she has not been born again?!

    Would you tell her that she won’t be able to “obey better” and “sin less”, until she needa to be (and is) born again???

    Brethren, doesn’t this sound unreasonable??

  11. hank says:

    Are parents and churches being less than honest, who teach their 7 year old kids what the fruit of the Spirit is, and that they CAN produce it?

    Has anybody here actually taught some are suggesting? Namely, that our innocent and uncondemned believing children will NOT be able to produce the (real) fruit of the Spirit until after they sin and are born again?

    And/or, that they won’t be able to “obey better” and “sin less”, until AFTER they are born again?!

    Think about that…

  12. Larry Cheek says:

    Being at an age where sins are not accountable to an individual is not saying that the individual is not a sinner. All individuals are sinners regardless of age or abilities. Christ was the only individual who was able to live in this world without sinning. This 12 year old girl is a sinner and has been for several years. She is not sinless. God will not hold her accountable for any sins until she understands that she is a sinner. Anyone who attempts to teach this or any child that they are (saved, pure, sinless) prior to the child understanding what sin is will not be speaking in the child’s best interest. God may hold this child responsible for sins sooner than we may think. This is because God will know when a child has chosen to be rebellious to instructions they have learned. Has nothing to do with age. This is between the child and God. Even as parents we can identify when our child has committed an act through ignorance or if they have defiantly disobeyed what they knew was right to do. This is a major part of the problem in learning about God, and was the complete reason for The Law. The Law was given so sin could be seen and men could be held accountable. A child that has only been taught about the love of God will not understand what sin is, God identified what sin is, man did not know. It is not natural for man to automatically understand sin. That is why natural man has to be taught what is sin. Children are very much advanced in education in the world today than in other ages, the more intelligent at an earlier age, changes a child from an individual not held accountable to one which needs to repent. It is my opinion that any child who comes to an understanding that they have sinned (which they do all of the time) becomes in need of a savior. Their understanding is the key. Not an age which God has placed a number upon. And definitely not a determination that another individual even a devout teacher of God’s Word has a right to determine.
    If a child should decide to repent and be baptized at a time in the child’s life which most adults would believe that was unnecessary the child would not be committing a sin in obeying what God has suggested. Neither would an adult commit a sin as the adult assisted the child in obedience. Later in life a child may realize that they really do not believe that they were committed at that age, and there would be no reason the child grown to an adult could not be baptized again. The individual is the one accountable to God not other Christians.
    Therefore, this communication about a 12 year old relationship with salvation is useless.

  13. Shane says:

    Brother Larry has made a big swing and a miss at the point. Are there any innocent children? If so, let’s use them in the arguments presented. Brother Hank needs to be less specific with his hypothetical little girl. Try unknown age, unknown gender, unknown shoe size but innocent. Does God hear an innocent child’s prayer or not? Does a pre-sin, pre-baptism kid have the same capacity to love as a post-sin, post-baptism kid? Aren’t these the questions? Am I mistaken?

  14. hank says:

    Shane writes:

    “Does God hear an innocent child’s prayer or not? Does a pre-sin, pre-baptism kid have the same capacity to love as a post-sin, post-baptism kid? Aren’t these the questions? Am I mistaken?

    No, you are not mistakes, those ARE the questions. Except, we’re not asking whether or not God “hears” such child’s prayers, but whether or not the HS helps such a child, when she doesn’t know what to pray as she ought? If yes, HOW? If Jay is right in teaching that the personal indwelling of the HS is absolutely necessary to have such help with prayer, then how could such a never separated child of God, have that help? Consistency would demand one deny any such help in prayer, for the innocent children of God. They simply would get help when not knowing how to pray as they ought, until AFTER they believe they are no longer innocent, and are born again. But really, who can actually believe and teach that?

    Further, in addition to having no HS help with prayer, one would also have to say (as Jay has), that said unseparated and guiltless child would never be able to produce “real” live and joy, until after she has felt guilty if sin and is reborn. Nor, could she ever “obey better”, until after the same…

  15. Andrew says:

    Hank wrote,

    Andrew, do you believe, and would you tell her, that she CAN produce REAL love, joy, peace, patience, etc? If she asked whether or not her live was REAL, would you tell her “no”. And that it only “appears” real because she has not been born again?!

    I wouldn’t tell anyone that THEY can produce real fruits of the spirit, again, it’s not OUR fruit to make. If WE could produce it all by ourselves, then why would we need the spirit? Are some people’s fruit better because they tried harder?

    What 12 year old girl questions the genuineness or her love or temperance? If she is so in love with God as you say, why is she not baptized? Could this be one of those improbably hypothetical things? I mean, I think a discussion about baptism is resolved before you start questioning the validity of your fruit.

  16. hank says:

    Andrew, you say:

    “I wouldn’t tell anyone that THEY can produce real fruits of the spirit, again, it’s not OUR fruit to make.”

    But, aren’t WE commanded to produce and live by the fruits of the Spirit? If so, is that OUR responsibility, or God’s?

    You ask:

    “What 12 year old girl questions the genuineness or her love or temperance?”

    None that I know of, but do you? I’m the one saying that her love IS real and that it is the actual fruit of the Spirit. Brother, you seem to be the one suggesting it’s not.

    Again, I’ll ask:

    “Andrew, do you believe, and would you tell (the innocent and unseparated, child of God who has not yet been rewborn), that she CAN produce REAL love, joy, peace, patience, etc? If she asked whether or not her love was REAL, would you tell her “no”. And that it only “appears” real because she has not been born again?!

    Would you tell her that she won’t be able to “obey better” and “sin less”, until she needs to be (and is) born again???

    Basically, do you believe that children can grow up believing, trusting, and praying to God? If so, can they produce the fruit of the Spirit? Can the obey God? Yes, or no?

    If they can, how do they do that?

    Could Adam and Eve (as they were created), produce the fruit of the Spirit?

  17. hank says:

    Another thing:

    Most of us here, are into going by the Bible, right? With that in mind, where are we getting this concept of “real” fruit of the Spirit, verses “appears as” (but not real) fruit of the Spirit?!

    If my 5 year old son believes in God, prays to him, and loves his mom and I, is his love REAL fruit of the Spirit? Or a “look alike”???

    Our Lord said:

    “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

    Did Jesus mean that he wanted people to become as little children, who would NOT be able to produce REAL fruit of the Spirit, until they got older?

    Do you really believe and teach that the children Jesus said men needed to become like, were those who would not be able to “obey better” (as Jay says), until AFTER they felt separated from God and were reborn?

    Could they really not love God and obey him in their innocence and unseparated state, just as much as they would be able to after they needed to repent and be baptized?

    Think about that

  18. hank says:

    How about this:

    Suppose there is a child (that Jesus said we need to be like) who is full of love and kindness, but has not yet been reborn. Is said love and kindness the fruit of the Spirit?

    Okay. .

    Suppose that later in life, that same child (by sin) separates herself from God and accordingly, repents and is baptized.

    Who believes that that same childs love and kindness BEFORE being born again, was NOT real fruit of the Spirit?

    Who will say that the day BEFORE being baptized, her love was not “real” fruit of the Spirit, but the day AFTER being baptized, her love is all of a sudden “real” and from heaven? And bona fide “FOTS”?

    That SAME child, with the SAME love for others, goes from being her own love, to the love of the HS within her?

    One day, her love is not the fruit of the Spirit, but the next day, that same love of hers, IS the fruit of the Spirit.

  19. Andrew says:

    Hank wrote,

    “But, aren’t WE commanded to produce and live by the fruits of the Spirit?”

    Where does it say that?

    Jesus said,
    “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” ” (John 15:4-5, ESV)

    Sounds to me like real fruit is produced BY the divine through the believer. I don’t see where we are commanded to produce it – I see where we are commanded to be conduits of his grace to the world thereby producing fruit that God can use to bless the world.

    “because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,” (Colossians 1:5–6, ESV)

  20. Andrew says:

    Again, IF we could produce all that fruit all by ourselves, then why would we need the Holy Spirit?

    Would we say to God, “Ya know what, I’m doing just fine without your indwelling presence – I’ve got this fruit making business down pat. My mom and dad raised me right and I’ve been making fruit since I was small.”

    Or…

    Would you rather say to God, “I can’t love right without you, I can’t be patient without you, my joy and goodness is nothing without you. I can put on a good show and try real hard, but it will never be what you need me to be. I need your spirit to equip me to do your will”

    I’m much more comfortable with the latter…

  21. hank says:

    Andrew,

    In the John 15 text that you shared, where Jesus told his disciples that they would/could produce fruit by abiding in him (and he in them), did they “have” the Holy Spirit?

    Think about it. This was BEFORE Pentecost, and Jesus told them that they could produce fruit. Was it “real” fruit?

    Jesus claimed to be in them, and they in him. And, I. That situation, fruit would be produced. Was it “real” fruit?

  22. hank says:

    Andrew,

    Do you believe that Adam and Eve were created WITH the personal indwelling of the HS?

    If not, do you believe that AS they were created, they could love and obey God fully?

    Jay seems to believe that an innocent and believeing child of God will only be able to “obey better”, AFTER said child if God feels lost and is reborn.

    Is that what you believe?

    Can a little child who believes in God, loves him, and studies the Bible, able to produce the fruit of the Spirit??? Or, will you argue that a believing and uncondemned child of God WON’T be able to “obey better” (as Jay says), until he or she feels guilty and is reborn?

  23. Andrew says:

    Again,

    Hank wrote,

    “But, aren’t WE commanded to produce and live by the fruits of the Spirit?”

    Where does it say that?

  24. hank says:

    Andrew,

    I appreciate your participation. I will definitely address whatever you ask of me. Will you also, go back and answer my questions?

    I’ll go first:

    Galatians 5:16-25.

    Is that instructions for us to do? Or, is that what we are promised that the HS will do for us?

  25. Andrew says:

    What do you think?

    Personally, I do not see a command there regarding fruit production. I see a command to keep in step with the Spirit’s direction. Fruit would be an indication of the Spirit’s participation in your life, not something you force. Apple trees make apples when they are alive and mature – I can’t force a young one to produce fruit. It will do it on it’s own when it’s good and ready. Yet, If it consistently over the course of years and years and years produces no fruit, I’ll assume it’s of no value or otherwise dead. I’ll cut it down and cast it into the fire.

    At least that’s how I see it.

  26. hank says:

    Andrew,

    Do you believe that Adam and Eve were created WITH the personal indwelling of the HS?

    If not, do you believe that AS they were created, they could love and obey God fully?

    Jay seems to believe that an innocent and believeing child of God will only be able to “obey better”, AFTER said child if God feels lost and is reborn.

    Is that what you believe?

    Can a little child who believes in God, loves him, and studies the Bible, able to produce the fruit of the Spirit??? Or, will you argue that a believing and uncondemned child of God WON’T be able to “obey better” (as Jay says), until he or she feels guilty and is reborn?

  27. Andrew says:

    For the record, you still didn’t answer my question.

    Hank wrote,

    “Do you believe that Adam and Eve were created WITH the personal indwelling of the HS?”

    (AB) I have no reason to think they did or didn’t – either way is presumptuous I think.

    He continues,

    If not, do you believe that AS they were created, they could love and obey God fully?

    (AB) Love and obey fully? Yes. But, what does that have to do with the Spirit? See above.

    Continuing…

    Jay seems to believe that an innocent and believing child of God will only be able to “obey better”, AFTER said child if God feels lost and is reborn.

    Is that what you believe?

    (AB) Jay is a smart guy and I disagree with little of his work. However isn’t this true of us all? Don’t we all “obey better” once we appreciate the gravity of our “lostness”? I agree with Jay, as you have stated it, but only because he agrees with Jesus.

    ““A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”” (Luke 7:41–47, ESV)

    And finally,

    Can a little child who believes in God, loves him, and studies the Bible, able to produce the fruit of the Spirit??? Or, will you argue that a believing and uncondemned child of God WON’T be able to “obey better” (as Jay says), until he or she feels guilty and is reborn?

    (AB) See above

  28. Larry Cheek says:

    I see many here applying the term innocent to children. Where in scripture did you learn that children were considered to be innocent? I have not found a message that portrays that concept. Look at these and explain how they declare innocent.
    Mat 18:3 ESV and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
    Verse 4 identifies that Jesus is applying the trait of (humble).

    Mat 19:14 ESV but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
    Mar 10:14 ESV But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
    Luk 18:16 ESV But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
    Again, these display (humbleness and eagerness).

    Notice, if children were innocent why would we be commanded to control their anger, discipline and instruct our children?
    Eph 6:4 ESV Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

    This verse is the only place we find (innocent and child or children) within the same context, and it is not speaking of those under the age of accountability, but to Christians.
    Php 2:15 ESV that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

    The state of being innocent and the state of being not held responsible are not related. Innocent, would portray never have disobeyed (as is noted by the life of Jesus) but not held responsible refers to acts of disobedience where judgment is not applied.

  29. David says:

    Interesting discussion. Christ said he would send the Spirit to “convict the world of sin and righteousness. I will admit to not understanding all the meaning in this, but it sounds like the Spirit may be at work to help us realize our “lostness”.

  30. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Hank,

    1. No one without the Spirit can produce “fruit of the Spirit” just as no one without a farm can produce “fruit of the farm.” But I said quite plainly that those without the Spirit can produce the same characteristics that Paul lists as fruit of the Spirit — but, of course, not from the Spirit. There are people who experience love and joy who do not have the Spirit.
    2. But the Spirit helps. Jesus calls the Spirit our Helper. It is by the Spirit that God circumcises our heart — meaning that God replaces our heart of stone with a heart of flesh (according to Ezekiel). He changes us to help us bear fruit of the Spirit, be transformed into the image of Jesus, etc.
    3. Would I teach a child the advantages of receiving the Spirit? Obviously. Yes. Of course. Why not? Why would I even consider denying one of God’s premier promises to a child old enough to understand? I really don’t see why you find this bothersome. I mean, would you rather than I teach the child that he is damned to an eternity in hell unless he obeys God well enough to earn his salvation and that God does nothing to help his children other than provide a written list of demands? I mean, even a mortal father helps his child grow and mature and obey. Only the most uncaring, unloving father ever would lay a list of demands on his child and refuse to help — other than to refer his child to the instruction manual. Loving fathers help their child be obedient. God is a loving Father. One of his means of providing help is that he provides a bit of himself, the Helper, for exactly that purpose.

    In fact, this is the DEFINITION of the “new covenant” —

    (Jer. 31:31-34 ESV) 31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

    I believe it. I believe it to be a great blessing — a blessing that many a child has no trouble understanding.

    You seem to be missing a key point made by others here: “Fruit of the Spirit” is fruit produced by the SPIRIT. That’s the grammar. It’s not “fruit of me that is religious.” It means the Spirit is source of the fruit.

    The phrase directly ascribes the power of fructification not to the believer himself but to the Spirit, and effectively hints that the qualities enumerated are not the result of strenuous observance of an external legal code, but the natural product (“harvest”) of a life controlled and guided by the Spirit. Thus the two different expressions point to a contrast between the natural acts of the self-centered life and the ethical characteristics produced by the Spirit as the believer’s life-transforming power.

    Ronald Y. K. Fung, The Epistle to the Galatians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988), 262.

    Note that “fruit” is in the singular, and so the following qualities are various aspects of the generative power of the Spirit. Most of these aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are characteristics Paul elsewhere attributes to God. For Paul the fruit of the Spirit generates godly characteristics in the believer.

    L. Ann Jervis, Galatians, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book, 2011), 149.

    κατὰ τῶν τοιούτων οὐκ ἔστιν νόμος. Paul does not simply mean that the nine virtues which make up the fruit of the Spirit are not forbidden by law; he means that when these qualities are in view we are in a sphere with which law has nothing to do. Law may prescribe certain forms of conduct and prohibit others, but love, joy, peace and the rest cannot be legally enforced. ‘A vine does not produce grapes by Act of Parliament; they are the fruit of the vine’s own life; so the conduct which conforms to the standard of the Kingdom is not produced by any demand, not even God’s, but it is the fruit of that divine nature which God gives as the result of what he has done in and by Christ’ (S. H. Hooke, ‘What is Christianity?’ in The Siege Perilous [London, 1956], 264).

    F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1982), 255.

    We teach classes on the Fruit of the Spirit as though these are things we are to study and master all by ourselves — ignoring the “of the Spirit.” But the commentaries are quite clear that the grammar is that the Spirit bears this fruit in us. It’s not fruit of our industry and study. It’s fruit of what God is doing in us.

    On the the other hand, we are not strangers to the process, but it’s much more about our submitting to God’s work in us than our doing the work ourselves. And there’s a huge difference. The scriptures are just as plain that we can grieve, resist, and even quench the Spirit. We can invite the Spirit into our hearts and then rebel and fight against the Spirit’s work. Hence, Paul urges us to be led by the Spirit. The verb “be led” is passive. Just as God led Israel in the wilderness, the Spirit will lead us — and yet we can choose not to follow. We can refuse to enter the Promised Land. But if we fail, it will be due to our resistance, not our inability. We have a Father who gives us all the help that we need — and more. Grace abounds.

  31. hank says:

    “1. No one without the Spirit can produce “fruit of the Spirit” just as no one without a farm can produce “fruit of the farm.” – Jay

    That’s fine. But still, your adding the notion of “himself, personally inside of person, but only AFTER said person feels separated from God and gets baptized.” Accordingly, you must deny that any of our small children can either have the HS, nor produce his fruit. Neither can any mentally challenged people who love God and have never believed to be lost. Just like innocent children, they also cannot have the Spirit or produce his fruit.

    You never answered tho, whether or not you actually teach that in your churches? And, do you have any problem others teaching children that they CAN produce the FOTS, even though you insist that they cannot?

    “2. But the Spirit helps. Jesus calls the Spirit our Helper. It is by the Spirit that God circumcises our heart — meaning that God replaces our heart of stone with a heart of flesh (according to Ezekiel). He changes us to help us bear fruit of the Spirit, be transformed into the image of Jesus, etc.” – Jay

    Yeah. But again, you assume and insist that the Spirit can NOT change a person until (and unless), the HS first personally relocates himself inside of the person. You ignore that Moses also changed the people in Deuteronomy to circumcise their hearts. Surely, he was changing them to do something that couldn’t even be done by them, of for thousands of years. The HS has convicted and changed countless people, he just doesn’t have to personally go subside of them, to work. Just think of the convicted Jews on Pentecost, were they being convicted BY the HS? Was it not the HS that had “cut them to the heart”? And see, he didn’t have to be personally in them to do that. Those people were cut and convicted, BEFORE they repented and were baptized. Not, after.

    ‘3) Would I teach a child the advantages of receiving the Spirit? Obviously. Yes. Of course. Why not? Why would I even consider denying one of God’s premier promises to a child old enough to understand? I really don’t see why you find this bothersome.” – Jay

    My problem is NOT with you teaching a child “the advantages of receiving the Spirit”. Rather, my problem is with you teaching a child that he/she does not/can not even receive the Spirit, until they get older and feel the need to be baptized. And I find it bothersome that you teach that a child (or mentally challenged adult) can not produce any fruit of the Spirit. That the HS is unable to help such innocent persons. I’m sure most, who really think about this, would agree

    “You seem to be missing a key point made by others here: “Fruit of the Spirit” is fruit produced by the SPIRIT. That’s the grammar. It’s not “fruit of me that is religious.” It means the Spirit is source of the fruit.” – Jay

    Actually, I believe that a child can produce FOTS, and when said child does, it IS and by the Spirit. I believe that the Spirit can help ALL of God’s children. Even the small ones who are yet innocent. You are the one denying any help and care, for them. As you do for the un-immersed mentally challenged among us.

    “We teach classes on the Fruit of the Spirit as though these are things we are to study and master all by ourselves — ignoring the “of the Spirit.” But the commentaries are quite clear that the grammar is that the Spirit bears this fruit in us. It’s not fruit of our industry and study. It’s fruit of what God is doing in us.” – Jay

    Who are the “we” that teach we are to study and master “all by ourselves – ignoring the ‘of the Spirit’ ”
    I don’t teach “all by ourselves” and/or ignore the “of the Spirit”.

    “The scriptures are just as plain that we can grieve, resist, and even quench the Spirit.” – Jay

    Exactly! And the scriptures also teach that people who have never been reborn can do the SAME EXACT thing. Remember the hard hearted Jews in Acts 7? Unlike the soft hearted Jews in Acts 2 who were convicted BY THE SPIRIT, the Jews in Acts 7 resisted the Spirit. In neither case, do any of us believe that the HS was personally inside of, either group.

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