(271)Thesis:The "fruit" of the Spirit begins with "Love".
Introduction:In our study last week I attempted to show why Paul switched from "works", when describing the impact of the flesh, to "fruit", when describing the impact of God's Spirit in our lives. It is most fundamental to the flesh to get credit for working hard, and the hard work is invariably all about trying to get a greater degree of pleasure out of the body while trying to keep conflict with others, who form the inner circle of relationships, to a minimum. In contrast to that, it is most fundamental to the Spirit to produce a greater degree of joy in others regardless of the cost.
This evening we are going to begin to look into the actual impact that the Spirit of God makes in the lives of those who are committed to "Promise" as the foundation of "Life".
A. Paul's term is "agape".
B. Paul's choice of "agape" reveals many things about God's view of His creation and how it is to function.
1. There is nothing more important that having a way to decide what is important.
2. "Agape" is the primary Greek word for addressing this necessity.
3. "Agape" has the fundamental character of the "selective assignment of value to matters that arise in view of the issue of goals".
a. It is the absolute "root" of "the issue of goals": it is only by "agape" that any "goal" is established and there can only be onefinal "goal" with all others being sub-goals to the accomplishment of the ultimate one.
1) This is the reason for the debate about "the chief end of man" in theological circles.
2) Settling the "chief end of man" is the only way to have a clear objective for the whole of creation and Life.
a) The only sure way to settle this is to look at both what the Bible says about man's goals and what the Bible reveals about the future.
b) The biblical picture is of man being a chosen instrument for the accomplishment of the decision by God to expand the experience of His Life by "persons".
i. As far as we know, there is no answer to the question of why God chose to create persons [there is no "neediness" in God to drive a decision to fill some emptiness; nor is there any "attainment" by God to gain something He does not already possess].
ii. This means that we have to begin where His self-revelation begins (with the fact of His creation of non-deity persons) and go from there to what He says He intends to do with/for/to them.
iii. This should not be "off-putting" for created persons who are, by definition, not only not omniscient, but also not capable of being omniscient (at some point, created persons have to accept "mystery" and their "position" in light of it -- creatures, by definition, exist to serve the Creator; willingly or otherwise).
b. It is also, however, used in reference to both the "ultimate end" issue and the "intermediate ends" issues.
c. It is "selective" in that there is always a choice involved in every action ever taken; the universe is enormously complex to the degree that nothing ever "stands alone".
d. It is an "assignment of value" in that no choice is ever made without first determining that a given action will be productive to an anticipated "end".
e. It is a "goals oriented mindset" in that no action is ever taken for its own sake; actions are not "ends", but, rather, means to ends.
f. It is a dominating fixation upon the "ends/goals" once the ultimate "end" has been established.
4. In respect to God, "agape" is fixated upon the production of "joy" in "other" persons.
5. In respect to the necessity for the Spirit of God to be directly involved in the issues of "agape", it should be obvious that the complexity of the creation is beyond both the experiences and minds of all men.
a. Experiences tend to press persons into "wisdom" issues.
b. The human mind is absolutely given over to "logic" as the only viable approach to thought.
c. The fall of man, as well as the incipient nature of learning, make every man incapable of deciding what is valuable in any given situation without special divine revelation.