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Friday, December 31, 2010

God gives us the Spirit


           Most who receive this article believe in the Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who comprises the one God. The Three are mentioned together in several verses in the Bible, e.g. John 15:26. We teach and talk much about the Father and the Son, but it seems the Holy Spirit is shoved back into a corner and covered-up with a blanket; and at times it seems we are embarrassed to even mention the Holy Spirit in connection with the Christian's work and salvation.

            I'm not sure why such an attitude exists. The Bible plainly teaches that when we are baptize into Christ for the remission of sins we receive a "gift," (Acts 2:38), and that gift is the Holy Spirit whom God gives to all who obey Him (Acts 5:32).  It is the Spirit that dwells in us (Romans 8:9); it is the Spirit that strengthens us in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16); it is the Spirit that makes intercession for us in our prayers (Romans 8:26); and it is the same Spirit by which we are sealed as a guarantee of our eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2Corinthians 1:22).

            I'm not going to debate "how" God gives us the Spirit, or "how" the Holy Spirit works in us the way He does; I simply accept the fact that the Bible says we have a "gift;" that gift is the Holy Spirit, and believe it.

            Some hear the term "Holy Spirit" and automatically become afraid they are going to be sucked into the wild charismatic movement. Admittedly, there are a lot of abuses surrounding the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, but that is not a legitimate excuse to ignore the truth.

            Some talk and even boast about the Holy Spirit working in them, but their lives do not produce any "fruit of the Spirit."  Others can talk about the Holy Spirit in very scholarly terms, but never enjoy or experience the "fullness of the Spirit" (cf. Ephesians 5:18), which is evidenced by their lives; and still, others, for all practical purposes, simply ignore Him. All these lay side-by-side in the "valley of dry bones" (cf. Ezekiel 37:4ff), a pitiful but realistic picture of many lifeless congregations.  However, there is that rare person who doesn't talk frequently about the Spirit, yet his life is a powerful display of the Spirit's presence and activity.

            One thing that must be understood, if the Spirit is truly living and working in your life (Philippians 2:13), Jesus Christ will be magnified -- not you! (John 16:14).

            Many churches today have no life in them because they are appealing to the fleshy appetites, comfort, and entertainment of the members. Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63).  Here we see an unbreakable cohesion between the inspired Word and the Spirit. Since the Spirit is God, it is impossible for Him to be unfaithful to His own word (2Timothy 2:13). 

            If you have the Spirit of God dwelling in you (Romans 8:9), as you mature in grace and knowledge, you will begin producing the "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-23). No fruit -- no Spirit. Take an honest look at your life, as well as the congregation with whom you worship -- Do you see "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? When you walk out the church doors and interact with believers and non-believers in the same sphere, can you tell a difference between the two? It seems to me that there should be a difference between the person who has the Spirit of God dwelling in him, and the person who does not! If people are being "led by the Spirit" (Romans 8:14), then their lives should be exemplifying love, joy, peace, kindness, etc.  There is much more to God and following in the footsteps of Jesus than just getting a bunch of good people together to hold a church service. Most will intellectually admit they received a "gift" from God at baptism, and this "gift" is the Holy Spirit -- but I'm not convinced we have internalized and processed this Truth in our hearts. (continued next week...)  Toby Miller



                                                                                                    (Some thoughts in this article were edited from "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan)

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