We can't talk about the church without talking about the Holy Spirit. He is our helper. He is our beautifier. Perhaps there's no better or more familiar expression of the Holy Spirit's beautifying work within the church than a very familiar text from Paul's words in Galatians 5: “The fruit of the spirit, which is love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Now at our salvation, the Spirit could instantaneously make us holy. Sometimes I wish he had done that in action, word, and deed. However, he chooses instead to produce fruit in our lives to authenticate our union with Christ. And so bearing fruit is a sign that we are in Christ and Christ is in us.
Now, often the emphasis is wrongly placed on the size of our congregations, the number of baptisms performed in a year, the heft of our offerings, the breadth of our church programs and the like, but these are not evidence of the Spirit's presence. These are not evidence that the spirit is beautifying the church.
Bearing fruit is a sign that we are in Christ and Christ is in us.
What Paul is making clear in Galatians is that without that spirit-produced fruit, all else is in vain. And this spirit-blossoming fruit-bearing, fruit-maturing work of the spirit in every believer's life results in an abundant harvest within the church, as he makes her beautiful.
Dustin Benge is the author of The Loveliest Place: The Beauty and Glory of the Church.
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Ultimately, the local church makes visible what is invisible, and reflects in words and deeds the kingdom life that is to come.
Dustin Benge explains why the church—despite all her faults—is worth fighting for.
Today we’re pleased to share the full audio recording of Why Should We Love the Local Church? by Dustin Benge on The Crossway Podcast.