The following is from chapter 89 ("Hardshell Proof Texts XI" - See HERE) of my ongoing book "The Hardshell Baptist Cult." I publish it here so that it might be further looked at and because I am tired of the false argumentation that Hardshells make on the statement of Scripture that "faith is a fruit of the Spirit."
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Gal. 5: 22, 23)
Scriptures speak of being "born again" of the Spirit (John 3: 3-8), or of being "begotten of God." (I John 5: 18) In this "birth" or "conception" something is begotten or produced. All recognize that "life" is the chief product. Also, that a "person" is created or brought into existence. When a person is "born of God," he becomes a child of God, a "new creature," a spiritual being. But, is "life" and "existence" the only things begotten? Or, are there other things that are "begotten" when life is begotten? What saith the scriptures?
"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (I John 5: 4)
"Faith" is here identified as being that which is "begotten." Faith overcomes because it is born of God. When a person is spiritually begotten life is begotten, but so also is faith "begotten."
Some will argue that this proves that one is born again "before" faith, but this would be an error. It would be wrong because the birth experience does not comprehend merely the cause, but also the effect. If we say that one is "begotten before life" we do not mean that one can be "begotten" who does not live and exist. We cannot say that "begotten" refers to the cause separate from the effect. A person cannot be said to be born until he is actually born.
This is why I have opposed the idea of placing a strict chronology on the relationship between faith and birth. They are concurrent, or simultaneous, and so intimately connected together that one cannot experience one without the other. When a man is born again, he is born "unto" something. Effects are immediate and automatic. Those effects include life, faith, hope, knowledge, and love for God and his Son Jesus Christ.
Men are begotten to life, but there is no gap in time between being begotten and being alive. Likewise, when men are begotten to life, they are at the same time begotten to faith, and there is no gap in time between the two, for there is only one "begetting" and not two separate ones.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (I Peter 1: 3)
Peter says men are "begotten unto a living hope," which is similar to John saying men are begotten to faith. Hope implies faith. They are joined together by an unbreakable bond.
If a person does not have Christian faith and hope, then he has not been "begotten" of God.
Hope and faith also implies knowledge and understanding, and if men are begotten to hope and faith, then they are likewise begotten to saving knowledge. Those who are begotten, in scriptures, instinctly and naturally recognize their Father in Heaven, and their Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, for this too is a part of what it means to have Christian faith and hope begotten in a person.
"And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." (Gal. 4: 6)
The immediate result of the Spirit entering a soul, in this divine begetting, is the soul crying out, in recognition, of their Heavenly Father.
There verse above also says that people are "begotten" unto "love," as it is said of faith and hope. In our opening passage, love is identified as being a "fruit" of the Spirit.
"Fruit" here is from the Greek word "karpos" and may denote, besides the fruit of trees, the fruit of one's loins, of what is begotten or produced. The context will determine the precise usage. It often signifies "that which originates or comes from something, an effect, result." Thus, love for God and Jesus is begotten.
The Hardshells cite this verse and use it to uphold their view that regeneration precedes conversion, and that the former can exist without the latter. To the Hardshells, "faith" being a "fruit of the Spirit" means "faith is an after-effect of being begotten of God." Then, having proven this, they then take giant leaps in logic and argue that since fruit is what comes after the tree is first in existence, and oftentimes many years later, so also is it with one "begotten" of God. A spiritually born soul may be fruitless (without any effects of being begotten) for many years before he possesses faith, hope, love, peace, etc.
Faith, hope, love, and peace, etc., are "begotten" (produced, as immediate effects) when a person is "begotten." Thus, we have shown what we are begotten "unto." These things define the kind of "life" begotten. To affirm that any unbeliever in Jesus, that any who have not repented and converted to Christ, are "begotten of God," is a severe error, a "heresy."
John Gill wrote:
"Love. This the apostle begins with, it being the fulfilling of the law, the bond of perfectness, and without which a profession of religion is insignificant; it may be understood of love to God, of which every man's heart is destitute, being enmity against God, until regenerated by the Spirit of God; when he sheds abroad the love of God in the heart, and which is the ground and reason of any man's truly loving God: and also of love to Christ, which the natural man feels nothing of till the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of Christ, opens his eyes to see the loveliness of his person, the suitableness of his grace, righteousness, and fulness, and the necessity of looking to him for life and salvation; and likewise of love to the saints, which a carnal man is a stranger to, until he is renewed by the Holy Ghost, who in regenerating him teaches him to love the brethren; and which is the evidence of his having passed from death to life, through the mighty power of his grace. Moreover, love to the house and worship of God, to the truths and ordinances of the Gospel, all which men have naturally an aversion to, may be included in this first fruit of the Spirit..."
Imagine a person who is, supposedly, in possession of the Spirit of God, but who has no fruit of love for God! Yet, this absurd idea, is exactly what the Hardshells attempt to affirm in their interpretation of this passage. If "fruit" is that which comes later, often much later, after one is regenerated, then we are affirming that there are those who have no love for God or Christ who are yet regenerated! But, the scriptures teach that the experience of regeneration is one in which one is brought to love God.
Besides, the "fruit" of faith, hope, and love, are themselves means for obtaining eternal life, just as the "fruit" of sin is a means for obtaining eternal death.
"What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." (Rom. 6: 21, 22)
"For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." (7: 5)
Notice how the "fruit" of sin is "unto death." Notice that the "fruit" of righteousness is "unto holiness" and "everlasting life."
So, we may say that the fruit of faith, hope, and love, are "of the Spirit," but that they are also "unto everlasting life."
"For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth." (Col. 1: 5, 6)
This verse tells us that Christian "fruit" is not only "of the Spirit" but also "of the truth of the gospel." The gospel "brings forth," or "begets," the blessed fruits of the regenerated state, just as does the Spirit. Like the old confessions, regeneration is by both God's word and Spirit, not his "word alone" nor his "Spirit alone."
"These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots." (Jude 1: 12)
What is the condition of those who do not have the "fruit" of love, faith, and hope? Does not Jude say that such are "dead"? This in itself is enough to destroy the Hardshell notion that people who are without love for God, and faith in Christ, are nevertheless spiritually alive.