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Summary: What is "physical fruit"? "An outward evidence of the inward nature of the tree." (We know an apple tree is an apple tree because is produces apples). Likewise, if we are walking in the Spirit, we will evidence His inward presence.

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THE APPLE OF LOVE

In John 15:8, Jesus declared, "In this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, so shall you be My disciples."

We glorify the Father and prove that we are followers of Jesus, when we produce the Fruit of the Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit is much different than the Gifts of the Spirit, which we’ve been studying. The gifts of the Spirit are "supernatural enablings for spiritual service." The fruit of the Spirit is "Christ-like character produced by abiding in Christ."

What is "physical fruit"? "An outward evidence of the inward nature of the tree." (We know an apple tree is an apple tree because is produces apples).

Likewise, if we are walking in the Spirit, the evidence of His presence in our lives will be "spiritual fruit."

How many Fruit of the Spirit are there? Nine or One? Nine characteristics are mentioned, but the word, "fruit" is in the singular.

Why?

1. The works of the flesh are many, but the Fruit of the Spirit is produced with a singular purpose: to glorify God.

2. The gifts of the Spirit are many and given to each believer individually, but the Fruit of the Spirit is to be produced in every believer’s life.

3. Spiritual maturity is not a matter of living a life of love one day, joy the next day and peace on the third. But growing in all these virtues simultaneously.

4. Spiritual Fruit is a multiple fruit (like a bunch of grapes). It comes from a single source - the Spirit. But is "many-faceted." Notice also that the nine characteristics are required in three groups of three:

INWARD QUALITIES:

Love, Joy, Peace

OUTWARD QUALITIES:

Patience, Kindness, Goodness

UPWARD QUALITIES

Faithfulness, Meekness, Self-control

If we are believers, the Spirit is producing His Fruit in us! But how can we grow better Fruit? How can we increase the harvest?

I believe fruit-bearing involves a unique blend of obedience and dependence. Obedience because we are commanded to bear fruit, therefore we must seek in practical ways to put these attributes into actin on a daily basis. And Dependence, because we understand that the Spirit alone can make us like Christ; it is our continual yielding to His control which supplies the energy necessary to obey.

During our study in the weeks ahead, read and meditate on John 14, 15 & 16 and Galatians 5. There we will learn how to "abide in Christ" an how to "walk in the Spirit," which are the key to "bearing much fruit," which will glorify God, the Heavenly Gardener! Let’s get started now.

Let’s look at the "APPLE OF LOVE" - first and foremost of the spiritual qualities. I chose an apple because it is the "primary fruit." You can eat it in all seasons, it is used in many recipes - it’s an "all-around fruit." Likewise, "Love" is basic to all of the spiritual fruit. In Col. 3:14, Paul calls love, "the bond of perfection" - the one character trait that encompasses and completes all others.

I. WHAT IS LOVE?

The Hebrew word for love is "aheb," which means "affection or compassion." The Greek word for Christ-like love is "agape," which means

unconditional unselfish giving of oneself."

So, we can define love as "an act of the will whereby we choose to give of ourselves to meet the needs of others, without expecting anything in return." Eph. 5:2 "Walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us." John 15:13 "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down His life for His friends."

II. HOW IS LOVE EXPRESSED?

Love is three-directional:

First, we love GOD

Mt. 22:37, 38 "Jesus said to him, ’you shall love the Lord your God with al your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.’"

Second, we are to love UNBELIEVERS.

Mt. 22:39 "And the second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Third, we are to love BELIEVERS

John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

How do we express our love for GOD?

By giving ourselves to Him in praise, worship, obedience and service. How do we express our love for UNBELIEVERS? By seeking to meet their needs and by sharing the gospel with them. How do we express love for BELIEVERS? By practicing all the one-another commands of the NT: Honor one another, serve one another, encourage one another, teach one another, build up one another etc. (by treating others as Jesus treats us.)

So, true love is always expressed in "giving of ourselves to meet the needs of others."

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