The Fruit of the Spirit is a moment-by-moment miracle God works in you, if you will simply be trusting Him and entrusting yourself to Him to do it. Jesus said "One thing is necessary. Inner sanctification is not so much a process as a Person: "Christ Jesus has been made unto us In Jesus' hometown, "He could do no miracle there Be like Peter, stepping out of the boat because Jesus is calling you to Him.
Surrender fully, fix your eyes on Him, and He will be producing the fruit of the Spirit in you in a moment-by-moment miracle within your deepest emotions and desires. From this place of miraculous, Holy Spirit-produced love and holiness, your thoughts and actions will flow out fulfilling the two commands which sum up every other command: Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and Loving others as yourself. Our part is to listen to Him, come to Him, and trust Him - His part is to work the miracle within.
The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! For a flourishing Christian life, we must constantly live in dependence upon God. We do not trust in our own spiritual strength or our own moral ideas. Rather, we trust in the living God, and we abandon all notions of self-sufficiency.
The Nature of Faith
Just as we received Jesus as Lord by faith — that is, by depending solely upon His merits and strength , we are to live a life of dependence upon Him. As He does this, it is our response-ability to Him to yield to Him. Tragically, some choose to resist Him Acts This is what faith is all about — a dynamic, reciprocal, choice to depend upon God and yield to Him in love. He loved us before we ever loved Him.
He works in our hearts before we ever would turn to Him. As Charles Wesley put it,.
Spirit of grace, we bless thy name, Thy works and offices proclaim, Thy fruits, and properties, and powers; Thou dost with kind intending care The godless heart of man prepare, That God may yet again be ours. Thou didst thy fallen creature see Fallen from happiness and thee, And swiftly to our rescue come…. The reason for our alienation from God is always to be found on our side — our sin, our turning away from Him, our refusal to yield to His grace. This grace is poured out in various ways by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but a person only enters into a saving relationship with God when they yield to Him in faith.
Because God is the one who works in us first, faith is never a meritorious action. Faith is indeed good, but it is not something that finds its source in us. When was the last time you received a gift and, because you gratefully received it aware of your desperate need, began to think that you deserved some credit for possessing it?
Hopefully never! Let us take warning, and flee to the arms of the Savior of the world. But God is pursuing us and working in us! You must yield to Him — stop resisting Him — ask God to save you; depend only on the merits of Christ and abandon all hope of your own righteousness.
This is an incredibly damaging view which turns the concept of faith upon its head. Such a view, consistently held, will ultimately lead the person holding it into tremendous error and spiritual malaise. Not that he means to take away free choice from humanity… but that even this very freedom of choice has God as its author, and all things are to be referred to his generosity, in that he has even allowed us to will the good. We see that the Latin-speaking Jerome had a view of resistible, prevenient grace grace which preceedes and enables any good choice made by humans. Paul makes grace rest upon faith.
For grace to be grace, it must come through faith, rather than the works of the law:. Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all. Moreover, it is obvious that even our senses convey us but a little way out of ourselves, and introduce us to the external world only under circumstances, under conditions of time and place, and of certain media through which they act. We must be near things to touch them; we must be interrupted by no simultaneous sounds to hear them; we must have light to see them; we can neither see, hear, nor touch things past or future.
Faith, Reason, and Evidence
Now, Reason is that faculty of the mind by which this deficiency is supplied; by which knowledge of things external to us, of beings, facts, and events, is attained beyond the range of sense. It ascertains for us not natural things only, or immaterial only, or present only, or past, or future; but, even if limited in its power, it is unlimited in its range, viewed as a faculty, though, of course, in individuals it varies in range also.
It reaches to the ends of the universe, and to the throne of God beyond them; it brings us knowledge, whether clear or uncertain, still knowledge, in whatever degree of perfection, from every side; but, at the same time, with this characteristic, that it obtains it indirectly, not directly. Reason does not really perceive any thing; but it is a faculty of proceeding from things that are perceived to things which are not; the existence of which it certifies to us on the hypothesis of something else being known to exist, in other words, being assumed to be true.
Such is Reason, simply considered; and hence the fitness of a number of words which are commonly used to denote it and its acts. For instance: its act is usually considered a process, which, of course, a progress of thought from one idea to the other must be; an exercise of mind, which perception through the senses can hardly be called; or, again, an investigation, or an analysis; or it is said to compare, discriminate, judge, and decide: all which words imply, not simply assent to the reality of certain external facts, but a search into grounds, and an assent upon grounds.
It is, then, the faculty of gaining knowledge upon grounds given; and its exercise lies in asserting one thing, because of some other thing; and, when its exercise is conducted rightly, it leads to knowledge; when wrongly, to apparent knowledge, to opinion, and error. Now, if this be Reason, an act or process of Faith, simply considered, is certainly an exercise of Reason; whether a right exercise or not is a farther question; and, whether so to call it, in a sufficient account of it, is a farther question.
Some such exercise of Reason is the act of Faith, considered in its nature.
Direction: The Nature of Biblical Faith
On the other hand, Faith plainly lies exposed to the popular charge of being a faulty exercise of Reason, as being conducted on insufficient grounds; and, I suppose, so much must be allowed on all hands, either that it is illogical, or that the mind has some grounds which are not fully brought out, when the process is thus exhibited. In other words, that when the mind savingly believes, the reasoning which that belief involves, if it be logical, does not merely proceed from the actual evidence, but from other grounds besides.
I say, there is this alternative in viewing the particular process of Reason which is involved in Faith;—to say either that the process is illogical, or the subject-matter more or less special and recondite; the act of inference faulty, or the premisses undeveloped; that Faith is weak, or that it is unearthly. Scripture says that it is unearthly, and the world says that it is weak. In truth, nothing is more common among men of a reasoning turn than to consider that no one reasons well but themselves.
All men of course think that they themselves are right and others wrong, who differ from them; and so far all men must find fault with the reasonings of others, since no one proposes to act without reasons of some kind. Accordingly, so far as men are accustomed to analyze the opinions of others and to contemplate their processes of thought, they are tempted to despise them as illogical. If any one sets about examining why his neighbours are on one side in political questions, not on another; why for or against certain measures, of a social, economical, or civil nature; why they belong to this religious party, not to that; why they hold this or that doctrine; why they have certain tastes in literature; or why they hold certain views in matters of opinion; it is needless to say that, if he measures their grounds merely by the reasons which they produce, he will have no difficulty in holding them up to ridicule, or even to censure.
And so again as to the deductions made from definite facts common to all. The miracles of Christianity were in early times imputed by some to magic, others they converted; the union of its professors was ascribed to seditious and traitorous aims by some, while others it moved to say, "See how these Christians love one another. The same events are considered to prove a particular providence, and not; to attest the divinity of one religion or of another.
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The downfall of the Roman Empire was to Pagans a refutation, to Christians an evidence, of Christianity. Such is the diversity with which men reason, showing us that Faith is not the only exercise of Reason, which approves itself to some and not to others, or which is, in the common sense of the word, irrational.
Nor can it fairly be said that such varieties do arise from deficiency in the power of reasoning in the multitude; and that Faith, such as I have described it, is but proved thereby to be a specimen of such deficiency. This is what men of clear intellects are not slow to imagine. Clear, strong, steady intellects, if they are not deep, will look on these differences in deduction chiefly as failures in the reasoning faculty, and will despise them or excuse them accordingly.
Encouraging Christians to practice Receiving the ongoing miracle of God's holy Triune presence
But surely there is no greater mistake than this. For the experience of life contains abundant evidence that in practical matters, when their minds are really roused, men commonly are not bad reasoners. Men do not mistake when their interest is concerned. They have an instinctive sense in which direction their path lies towards it, and how they must act consistently with self-preservation or self-aggrandisement.
And so in the case of questions in which party spirit, or political opinion, or ethical principle, or personal feeling, is concerned, men have a surprising sagacity, often unknown to themselves, in finding their own place. However remote the connexion between the point in question and their own creed, or habits, or feelings, the principles which they profess guide them unerringly to their legitimate issues; and thus it often happens that in apparently indifferent practices or usages or sentiments, or in questions of science, or politics, or literature, we can almost prophesy beforehand, from their religious or moral views, where certain persons will stand, and often can defend them far better than they defend themselves.
The same thing is proved from the internal consistency of such religious creeds as are allowed time and space to develope freely; such as Primitive Christianity, or the Medieval system, or Calvinism—a consistency which nevertheless is wrought out in and through the rude and inaccurate minds of the multitude. All this shows, that in spite of the inaccuracy in expression, or if we will in thought, which prevails in the world, men on the whole do not reason incorrectly.
If their reason itself were in fault, they would reason each in his own way: whereas they form into schools, and that not merely from imitation and sympathy, but certainly from internal compulsion, from the constraining influence of their several principles. They may argue badly, but they reason well; that is, their professed grounds are no sufficient measures of their real ones.