Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Spirit Given to the Obedient

If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments: and I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth.' --John 14:15,16

'The Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.'Acts 5:32.

Here is a paradox. How can we be obedient apart from the Spirit of God? How can we receive the Spirit of God without being obedient? One seems to follow the other. Obedience followed by the Spirit. Jesus approaches John the Baptist and requests baptism. John feels this is not right, Jesus should be baptizing him. The Sons reply is telling, "Permit it now in order to fulfill all righteousness". After he comes out of the water, the Holy Spirit comes on him and a voice is heard from heaven, "This is the son of my love, listen to him". Jesus was obedient to the Father and the Father gave him the Spirit.

The Spirit also precedes obedience. After Jesus is baptized he is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil. When Jesus returns from his ordeal he does so in the power of the Spirit. After Jesus submitted himself to death on the cross, God raised him up. He went to the cross because the Holy Spirit lead him there. Paul said "If we are led by the Spirit we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh". There is no doubt that the Spirit leads us to obedience and following obedience comes the Spirit.

This is like walking. Left foot, right foot, left foot right foot. Which comes first the right or left foot? Does it matter? You need both to get anywhere. When we obey what we know we are given more and lead into even more obedience. The Spirit causes us to understand the Gospel. We respond in faith (obedience) and he gives us life. This life leads us to other steps of faith (obedience) such as baptism, prayer and fellowship. These acts of obedience lead to greater blessing.

The Indwelling Spirit

I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may be with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: ye know Him, for He abideth with you, and shall be in you ' John 14:16, 17.

Here we have the promise of Jesus to ask the Father for another Comforter. It's interesting that he says "another Comforter". Jesus was a comforter but now he was going to send another one. One who would be with us forever. Christianity and the Spirit are inseparable. Forever, Jesus said, this Comforter would be with us.

He is identified as the Spirit of truth. Truth has a Spirit and this Spirit has been sent to us. The world cannot receive this Spirit because it can't see Him or know him. We should not expect the world to understand us if we are abiding with the Spirit.

The Spirit was with the disciples but something was about to change. He was not only going to be with them, he was going to be in them. Jesus could minister the Spirit to them from the outside in but a time was coming when he would minister the Spirit from the inside out. He shall be in us. He will indwell, make his habitation within us. How glorious is this gospel. The Spirit himself, living in us. Why would we think we need anything of any man when we are indwelt by the Spirit of truth?

The Spirit of the Glorified Jesus

He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him were to receive for the Spirit was not yet; because Jesus was not yet glorified,' --John 7: 37, 38

The result of Jesus being glorified is the Spirit being given. He said after he went away he would ask the Father and he would give the Holy Spirit. Jesus called this the promise of the Father. This promise of the Father is none other than Christ himself sent to live in our hearts by faith. How else could Jesus live in all of us? Paul said it was Christ who lived in him. Jesus is flesh and bone at the right hand of the Father. How could he dwell in millions of people scattered around the world at the same time? The answer is simple; Through the Spirit.

Just as air surrounds us and is everywhere so the Spirit knows no boundaries. He can transcend space and time. Christ is said to fill all things. How wonderful that the Lord who went to the cross and arose from the grave lives in us. We don't have to wait for his return to get to know him. We can know him now by His Spirit who lives in us. This is what Paul referred to as the spirit of His Son crying out Abba Father in our hearts. He bears witness that we are children of God.

Out of our belly, that is our inmost being, would flow rivers of living water. Not only are we promised the possession of the Spirit, we are promised that he will flow from us a living water.
We have been given in our hears a fountain of living water and this fountain is the Spirit of the glorified Jesus.

The Spirit and the Word

'It is the Spirit that quickeneth ; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I have spoken unto you are Spirit and are life. Lord, to whom shall we go? I Thou hast the words of eternal life.'--John 6: 63, 68.

'The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.'-2 Cor. 3: 6.

The Spirit and the Word are one. You cannot truly have one without the other. It would be like trying to separate water from ice or air from the wind. One contains or is a form of the other. In the scriptures the Spirit is referred to as breath or wind. When God speaks he releases His breath. Thus all scripture is God-Breathed.

The words that Jesus gave us are Spirit and life. Life and the Spirit are one. The letter does not give life. Study of the scriptures is a noble and good pursuit, however the letter only kills if they are not received in the same way they were given. If we read the scriptures, filled with the Spirit who inspired them, we will receive life. If we read the scriptures with our own reason and human intellect, we receive death. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

If we treat the Bible like a rule book we must follow we will die. It is discouraging to see how many Bible studies are merely human attempts to be good. They usually consist of reading the Scriptures, listing the commands to obey, working out how I will obey them and committing to do so. This kind of practice will only produce failure and death. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Many in the church today practice "versology". That is they handle the scriptures as if God handed them down in chapter and verse. So I take a verse here and take a verse there, knit them together, do a little mixing of metaphors, stir in a Greek word and voila, I have doctrine. The scriptures tell a grand story of sin and redemption, of love and romance, of pain and victory. They are not simply disjointed collection of verses. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

We must have the Spirit to have life. He is the very life and breath of God. Without His working we are only empty shells of clay. It is in these week vessels that God has chosen to deposit His glory and power. Life does not come by living by the letter. Life comes if we live by the Spirit.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Worship In the Spirit

'The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth; for such doth the Father seek to be His worshippers. God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.'--John 4: 23, 24.

The context of this verse involves Jesus in conversation with a woman about where God is to be worshiped. She felt that a mountain in Samaria was a holy place and the Jews believed that Jerusalem was the proper place for worship. Jesus took the discussion to a higher level by declaring that the Worship of God was not bound to a location. In fact the location Jesus spoke of was one called "in Spirit and in truth".

In Spirit as opposed to in flesh or physical. The worship of God does not consist of outward shows of piety. Today we equate the worship of God with special religious services held in special buildings on special days. "God is a Spirit" Jesus declares. Therefore He is not limited to a house or location. He is everywhere present and nowhere absent.

In truth as opposed to falseness. The falseness here is the mere outward show of worship. What Jesus calls us to is not to worship symbolically but rather in reality. Much of what we call worship today is only symbolic worship. Let us no pretend to worship but rather worship in reality. Worship in truth.

Those who worship the Father must worship Him in Spirit and in truth. This is not optional. If we think that worship consists of engaging in a ritual then we are very much mistaken. The only way to worship the Father is in Spirit and in Truth.

The Spirit ushers us into true worship. For it is by Him that we have access to the Father through faith in Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Baptism of the Spirit

Jhn 1:33
And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizer with the Holy Ghost.

Jesus humbled himself and submitted himself to the baptism of John. In so doing he identified himself with sinners. The father showed his favour to the Son by giving him the Spirit. The Son now shows favour to his brothers by giving to them the Spirit. The baptism of the Spirit is the culmination of the work of Christ in us.

John predicted the coming of one who would fulfill two roles, the Lamb of God and the baptizer in the Holy Spirit. As the Lamb, Christ was sacrificed to take away sin and to justify the unjust. As the baptizer in the Spirit, Christ provides his very presence and life to the believer. One naturally follows the other. His blood makes clean a place for his Spirit to dwell in. As his disciples our message is that the Lamb of God has come and paid the price for sin and the Son of God now sit's at God's right hand and pours out his Spirit.

Monday, April 2, 2007

The two-fold Work of the Spirit

Eze 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

The Spirit's work in us begins with putting a new spirit in us. He is the one who gives life to our spirit. He causes our hearts to be renewed according the power of the Resurrection. This is what it means to be born of the Spirit. This renewal of the spirit is both a one time and an on-going process. It is one time in that when we receive Jesus, He imparts His life to us and raises us from spiritual death. It is on-going in that day by day we rely upon the Holy Spirit to continually infuse His life in us. We live in perpetual Resurrection.

The other part of His work is to take up residence in us. He both builds the house and lives in the house. How glorious is this reality. To have the creator of the universe living in your heart. What wisdom and insight is available to us if we but ask. What power and boldness to demonstrate Christ to the world if we only would tap into this Divine resource. The very Spirit that was upon Jesus when he went about healing and doing such mighty works, lives in us. We do not need to go to some mountain or distant place to commune with the most High. He is as near as our breath.

Oh, Holy Spirit. Living Lord.
You bring the very breath of heaven to my life.
To you I owe my birth into the kingdom.
I give thanks to my God for giving His Spirit without measure to all who ask.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

How Little we Know

How little we know the Holy Spirit. We know much about Him, but how little we know of walking daily in His power and presence. We understand His deity, we can catalog His works and we can site the many promises of His coming, yet for all of our study and striving, the reality of fellowship with the Holy Spirit remains for many illusive. For many God is in His heaven and we just plod along as best we can on earth. Yet the promise of the Master remains. "I will never leave you or forsake you". "I will give you another Comforter and He will remain with you forever".
My intention in this study is not to simply gather more facts about the Holy Spirit, but to deepen my communion with Him. Jesus has promised to provide this comforter and Paul spoke of the "fellowship of the Spirit". What adventure awaits those who explore the depths of fellowship with the Spirit? What would He say to us? What mysteries would He reveal? What sin expose? With humble trust in the graciousness of Christ, let us seek to walk in daily, intimate communion with the Spirit of the Living God. Lead on dear Jesus. Lead on.