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DISCIPLESHIP (15) – The Holy Spirit & Disciples of Jesus

Hovering Over the Waters

Hovering Over the Waters

Repent and be baptized…and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. – Acts 2:38

…the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. – Acts 5:32

The circumcised believers … were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. – Acts 10:45

…God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:5

…the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2

…the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature [or flesh, and so usually in the NIV] but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:4

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. Romans 8:9

…by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body…. Romans 8:14

…by him [the Spirit] we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:16

…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us…. Romans 8:26

For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body … and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 1 Corinthians 12:13

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we … are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

May the … fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14

After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Galatians 3:3

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:6

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious…. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:16-26

Through Him we both [Jew and Gentile] have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:18

As you are well aware, we could add many Scriptures to the above list from the  Gospels, Acts and Epistles.

This list does not have any of the conversation of Jesus with His disciples in the upper room and on the road to the Garden where the Jews arrested Him (see John 13 – 16). In these chapters, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to be with them after His own departure. This would keep them from being orphaned (John 14:18) in His own absence. Thus, this was to be a close, caring relationship. There the Spirit is called The Paraclete, or Comforter. Some translations have it as the Counselor or Helper. The word comes from two words that together mean, “One called to another’s side to help or assist.” This is what the Holy Spirit is for the Christian:  He comes to our side to assist us.

What does the Spirit assist the disciple of Jesus do? (Note: a fuller listing of what the Spirit helps us do can be found here.)

Look again at the passages cited above. The Spirit helps us:

Have God’s love in our hearts.

Meet the “righteous requirements of the Law.”

“Put to death the misdeeds of the body.”

Recognize God as our Father.

Find our identity as children of God.

Pray, when we do not know how to pray (which is pretty much all of the time).

Crucify the flesh.

Bear the fruit of the Spirit. (Note: this is not our fruit; it is the fruit of the Spirit in us.

How does the Spirit do these things?

Ah, there is the rub! We do not know how He does them, but we know that He does. We know it two ways.

First, we know because God promises to us in the Scripture that the Spirit will and does do these things. If we trust the Bible, we believe confidently that the Spirit does these things.

Second, we know because we can see it happening. We see it in our own lives as we come nearer to Jesus and become more like Him. We see in it the lives of others as we see them growing in grace and knowledge. It is by the Spirit that this transformation into the likeness of the Savior takes place. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:18,

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Spiritual transformation comes from the Spirit. The word translated reflect above in the NIV is rendered behold in other translations. The NIV has contemplate as a footnote. Which should it be? Behold or reflect? I like to think of it this way: a mirror reflects what it beholds. I am to be a mirror that reflects the glory of my Lord. However, I will not reflect Him unless I am beholding Him and contemplating Him, but the reflection of Jesus in me is the work of the Spirit as I behold Jesus.

The Spirit is active in holding Him up before me in Scripture, but also in the glimpses of God I see in the world around me. Of course, without knowing God through Scripture, my eyes would be dull indeed; I would not likely see God around me. But when my eyes are opened, the Spirit presents all manner of evidences of God’s activity in my life, in the lives of others, and in the world in general.

Can I prove these things are from God? Not in the way that a scientist can prove water is composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. However, to the trusting child of God these things are as plain as the nose on his face.

You may call it Providence or whatever – but we know it is from God as God, through His Spirit, works in our lives and in the world around us to accomplish His purposes. A frequent observation in the offices of Eastern European Mission (for whom I am a fund-raiser) as we contemplate the opportunities presented to us is, “It’s a God-thing.” Seeing God’s activity in the events of our lives is through the Holy Spirit in us.

One of God’s purposes is that each of us becomes a new creation, made in the likeness of His Son, Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the active agent in this transformation as He helps us to put to death the misdeeds of the body and to put on the likeness of Jesus. He helps expunge the works of the flesh from our lives and fill us with the fruit of the Spirit. He changes us from what we were. As Paul wrote in Titus 3:3-7,

At one time, we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. However, when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Notice that the Holy Spirit is involved in this from the time He begins to convict us of sin (John 16:8), as we are born again of water and Spirit, and on through life as we are transformed by that same Spirit into the express image of God’s dear Son.

Have we yet reached that exact image of Christ? No. We are still “works in progress.” However, we have the promise that “when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is” (1 John 3:2). As one song beautifully puts it, “He’s still working on me to make me what I ought to be.”

While Christians argue over just how the Spirit does these things, the Spirit grieves that we resist Him and do not open ourselves more to His presence so that He can get on with the work of the new creation in us.

As God brought order out of the chaos of the primeval creation when darkness was upon the face of the deep, the Spirit of God was moving on the face of the waters. As God brings order out of the chaos of my life in its brokenness and sinfulness, it is that same Spirit moving within me and around me to transform me into what God has created me to be.

May I never resist the Spirit so that I grieve the Spirit until I quench the Spirit in a flood of His own tears!

As Richard Rodgers used to ask,

“How can one be godly without God,

or Christian without Christ,

or spiritual without the Spirit?”

If the purpose of the disciple of Jesus is to be like his Lord and Master, how can he become so without the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit of God?

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