Fruitfulness a Manifestation of Holy Spirit
LAST year when two seeds sprouted and grew in a Washington, D. C., greenhouse it created a sensation in botanical circles. Millions of seeds sprout yearly, but these were special. They were lotus seeds from a Manchurian peat bog, and said by some to be 50,000 years old. When they germinated the importance of their age grew, and so other seeds from the same place were tested by the radiocarbon clock. This atomic clock showed they were around 1,000 years old.
For 1,000 years these seeds had lain idle, unproductive. Had they been properly planted shortly after their maturity by now the seeds descended from them would number many billions. But due to their idleness only the two original seeds existed last year. It is as Jesus said: “Most truly I say to you, Unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains just one kernel; but if it dies, it then bears much fruit.”—John 12:24, NW.
So it is with the truths of God’s Word, which truths are, in one of Jesus’ illustrations, likened to seeds spread by a sower. (Luke 8:11) God’s Word endures forever. (1 Pet. 1:25) But we cannot wait that long to sow the truths contained therein. We must not allow them to lie idle for 1,000 years, like the two lotus seeds. We are not sure of life tomorrow, much less 1,000 years hence. (Prov. 27:1) We must sow now, without delay, to produce Kingdom fruits. After sowing the seed of truth by such means as witnessing from door to door, we must return to water and cultivate by making calls back and conducting home Bible studies, and then rely upon God to give the increase. (1 Cor. 3:6) Thus we build on the foundation we laid in door-to-door sowing. Jesus did not build on another’s foundation. He is our model. Paul did not build on another’s foundation. We are told to imitate him. (Rom. 15:20; 1 Cor. 11:1; 1 Pet. 2:21) By engaging in all features of gospel-preaching we see the truth seeds we have sown sprout and grow and become rooted in the minds and hearts of others, who in turn become fruitful sowers of the seed elsewhere.
In Jesus’ illustration the persons to whom we preach are likened to different types of soil; some not receiving the seed because of being too hard, or too rocky, or too thorny, but some being receptive to the seed and becoming productive. (Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23) When we leave the seed in the form of literature at the door, we cannot be sure just what type of soil pictures the obtainer. Even an experienced farmer cannot always accurately judge the soil merely by looking at it. Sometimes he must have it analyzed. Similarly, the minister cannot judge the results of placements at the door just by the appearance of the obtainer. Even the experienced publisher is often wrong. So we must call back to check on the seed, to see whether it has taken root, to see whether further care symbolized by watering and cultivating will stimulate its growth. We do not make the mistake Jesus warned against: “Stop judging from the outward appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24, NW) So we do not make snap judgments from the appearances of things at the time of literature placement, but to rightly judge whether the obtainer is symbolized by thorny ground, or rocky ground, or hard-packed ground alongside the road, or good soil we follow through with further calls. This is in the interest of fruitfulness.
“FRUITAGE OF THE SPIRIT”
The increasing number of ministers that comes in the wake of this sowing is an evidence of the backing of Jehovah’s spirit: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts.” (Zech. 4:6, AS) But increase of numbers alone is not sufficient; many false religions can point to numerical increases in their congregations. To judge the tree we must examine the fruit: “Every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces bad fruit; a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.”—Matt. 7:17-20, NW.
The fine fruit is of the spirit, the bad is works of the flesh: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, and they are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, hatreds, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these. As to these things I am forewarning you, the same way as I did forewarn you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom. On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.”—Gal. 5:19-23, NW.
The big orthodox religious organizations of Christendom may be able to point to numerical strength, but can they show the fruitage of the spirit? The world generally is now in the throes of a moral breakdown, laboring overtime in works of the flesh. Do the big religious organizations stand out as different from this materialistic world? Instead, are they not a part of it, submerged in its fleshly works? They are never cited as being outstandingly different from mankind in general—and certainly they would be if they were producing the fruitage of the spirit that is so rare in this delinquent world.
However, Jehovah’s witnesses do stand out as different. Not only are they different because they preach from door to door, call back, conduct studies, train new ministers and show increases at a time when many religions lament waning interest and fading congregations; but they are also different because they produce the fruitage of the spirit. For example, worldlings come to our big assemblies and see there what they cannot do, what the United Nations cannot do, what no other human organization can do. They see persons of many different races, nationalities, languages and former religions all now united in peace and unity, having overcome the barriers that divide this world. Joy beams from all faces, and love and co-operation and kind consideration are manifested among the huge crowds, sometimes exceeding 100,000 persons. The visiting worldlings are amazed at the efficient organization of all the many activities, and readily admit it is absolutely unmatched by any worldly organization. Yet as they scratch their heads in puzzlement they acknowledge that we appear to be just ordinary, average people. Which, of course, is true.
When they ask for the explanation of this unity despite differences that split the world wide open, we tell them that God’s spirit is the unifying force, that what they are seeing is the result of or the manifestation of holy spirit. We are joyful when they observe these things, for it is evidence that we are producing the fruits of the spirit, setting us apart as different from those absorbed in the works of the flesh. But it puts these worldly observers in a critical position, a very responsible one, and a wrong decision could make them fit subjects for eternal destruction. How so? Because of the possibility of unforgivably sinning against the spirit.
SIN AGAINST HOLY SPIRIT
To clarify this, please get out your Bible and read Matthew 12:22-33. Jesus had just cured a demon-possessed man—a thing not possible through human power. The onlooking crowds knew this, and were ready to recognize Jesus as the son of David on the basis of the miracle. But the Pharisees rejected the miracle as a manifestation of God’s spirit and countered that it was performed by Satan’s power, thereby blaspheming and speaking injuriously against and sinning against the holy spirit. They knew that if they accepted this as God’s spirit they must accept Jesus as Messiah. They must acknowledge themselves as false teachers, abandon their way of living and become followers of Jesus. This would remove them from their lofty position with its many selfish gains. They were unwilling to give up such things and so deliberately refused to accept this evident operation of Jehovah’s miracle-working spirit.
Eventually they succeeded in putting Jesus to death, but just as he had said about the kernel of wheat having to die to become productive, his death only resulted in producing many more anointed ones who had gifts of the spirit by which they performed miraculous signs, such as the speaking in tongues, prophesying, gifts of knowledge, gifts of healing, and so forth. The performance of these miracles by the apostles and their associates was an open manifestation of the operation of God’s holy spirit, and those who would not accept it were willfully resisting the spirit, sinning and blaspheming against it and marking themselves for eternal destruction. Just as the religious clergy had once complained that the world was going after Jesus because of his miracles, they now lamented that his followers were by similar works turning the earth upside down, upsetting their religious order of things.—John 12:17-19; Acts 17:6;1 Cor. 12:1-11.
However, these miraculous manifestations of the spirit were to cease: “Love never fails. But whether there are gifts of prophesying, they will be done away with; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will be done away with. For we have partial knowledge and we prophesy partially; but when that which is complete arrives, that which is partial will be done away with. When I was a babe, I used to speak as a babe, to think as a babe, to reason as a babe; but now that I have become a man, I have done away with the traits of a babe.”—1 Cor. 13:8-11, NW.
The purpose of these miraculous gifts upon the infant church was to get it started and established, to show God’s transfer of his spirit from the Jewish Mosaic Law organization to the new Christian system of things. After it had grown out of its infancy and maturely stood on its own feet, these miraculous gifts would no longer be practiced. They would not be needed. That is why the miraculous gifts are not with the Christian organization today. Without such aids the mature church, fortified with advanced Scriptural knowledge and fulfillments of many prophecies, can preach a convincing message and make progress with those having hearing ears. It still has the holy spirit upon it, but that spirit is manifested in a different way, primarily by love and all the other associated fruits mentioned in Galatians 5:22, 23 and; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
It is this mature operation of the holy spirit that worldly observers note at our assemblies. They acknowledge we are just average people, yet see the organization is unlike any other human organization because of the fruitage of the spirit. But this manifest operation of holy spirit does not make them become a part of the unified organization they marvel at. Pharisaical selfishness prevents them from giving up their way of life, their enjoyment of works of the flesh, their part in the world and its organizations. They resist being moved in the right direction by this manifestation of holy spirit, and are skeptical that it is due to God’s spirit. Like the Pharisees, they look for other causes and assign other reasons for the joy and peace and unity that so amazes them. So in effect are they not sinning against the manifest operation of the holy spirit, and is it not possible that they are thereby condemning themselves to eternal death?
But in it all our role is to always manifest our possession of Jehovah’s spirit. It is not in our own strength that we unceasingly preach in all the earth, face up to persecution, endure mob violence, suffer imprisonment, maintain integrity to death, and yet continue to increase and overflow with the fruitage of the spirit. In private conduct and in public witnessing, as individuals and as an organization, we must always walk according to the spirit and not after the flesh. We must be “for signs and for wonders”, be “a theatrical spectacle to the world”; and it is possible only if we make manifest God’s spirit upon us.—Isa. 8:18;1 Cor. 4:9, NW.
So do not allow the seeds of truth to lie idle and unproductive for 1,000 years, like the two lotus seeds. Rather, sow and water to the end that God may give the increase and make manifest his spirit upon the theocratic organization. It will divide the people during this judgment period soon to be climactically ended by Armageddon.