Mike McKinley: Two-Way Relationship When it comes to our ongoing friendship with God the Holy Spirit, his role is to comfort us in all our troubles. But a relationship is a two-way street; that means that there is a role for us to play in the process. All that is left for us now is to think about what we need to do in order to enjoy and live out our communion. When the Bible gets specific on the topic, it actually tells us more about what not to do. So here are three things that we should avoid as we seek to enjoy communion with the Holy Spirit. Do Not Grieve the Spirit First, because he dwells in us, we should not grieve the Spirit. The reference here is to the apostle Paul’s words in the book of Ephesians: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30; cf. Isa. 63:10). As
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Sam Storms: I often find that Christians live largely in ignorance of who the Holy Spirit is and the relationship that he sustains to all who have come to faith in Jesus. There are two metaphors in the NT that portray how the Spirit relates to each of us, and I want to briefly explain them in this article. The first metaphor or image is found in the words of John the Baptist. In John 1:33 he declares that whereas he baptizes people in water, there is one coming after him who will baptize you in/with the Holy Spirit. I assume most if not all of you have been baptized since you came to faith in Jesus. The one thing you should remember is what it felt like to be immersed in water. You got wet! Your clothes were drenched. Your hair was soaked. And when you stepped out of the baptistry you dripped wherever you walked. In a similar
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Andrew Wilson: What goes up must come down. The earthly ministry of Jesus culminates in his going up: up to Jerusalem, up to Skull Hill, up onto the cross, up from death to life, up to the Mount of Olives, and finally up into heaven. But the story of the gospel, Luke explains, is only what Jesus began to do and teach (Acts 1:1). The next part of his activity on earth, which Luke focuses on in Acts, takes place through the church. And it involves a coming down. Pentecost and Babel The gift of the Spirit at Pentecost is often associated with Babel, and with good reason. People are not scattering, God comes down and works a miracle of language, people scatter throughout the world, and the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham begins. At Babel, this scattering was an act of judgment in response to disobedience, bringing incomprehension and fracture. At Pentecost, it’s an act of blessing in response to obedience,
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An essay by Kelly Kapic: DEFINITION Mortification is the theological term used to describe the call for those who are united to Christ and living in the power of the Spirit (i.e., Christians) to put to death (mortify) lingering sinful impulses that arise from within and resist temptations that surface from outside of the believer. SUMMARY Mortification is the theological term used to describe the call for those who are united to Christ and living in the power of the Spirit (i.e., Christians) to put to death (mortify) lingering sinful impulses that arise from within and resist temptations that surface from outside of the believer. As new creatures in Christ, believers are free not simply to resist sin but also to partake in actively loving God and neighbor. Properly understood, therefore, mortification will also be linked with vivification, which highlights the call to live responsively to the Spirit’s ongoing work where he grows his fruit in us even as indwelling sin is
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Erik Raymond: In Ephesians 1:13 the Bible says that “when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” What does it mean to be sealed with the Holy Spirit? A seal is an identifying mark often placed on a letter, contract, or another document. It showed that what was in the letter came from the person whose seal was on the outside. In the ancient world, cattle and even slaves were branded with a seal to show whom they belonged. This mark would deter people from stealing them because they had the seal upon them. The Bible uses this term in a few different ways, and when considered together, they help provide a full picture of what Paul is after here in Ephesians. In the Old Testament, God set a sign on his chosen ones to mark them out or set them apart as his possession and to keep them from destruction
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Sam Storms: Everyone is familiar with the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John 4. But not everyone can explain what Jesus meant when he said that the Father is seeking men and women who will worship him “in spirit and truth” (v. 23)? To say that we must worship God “in spirit” means, among other things, that it must originate from within, from the heart; it must be sincere, motivated by our love for God and gratitude for all he is and has done. Worship cannot be mechanical or formalistic. That does not necessarily rule out certain rituals or liturgy. But it does demand that all physical postures or symbolic actions must be infused with heart-felt commitment and faith and love and zeal. But the word “spirit” here may also be a reference to the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul said that Christians “worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no
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Michael Horton: Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7) “It is to your advantage that I go away.” What a strange thing to say. Right at the verge of Jordan in this new covenant conquest, how does Christ’s leaving benefit the disciples—or you and me? First of all, we need to exercise empathy here. When we read about how the disciples had not yet experienced the Holy Spirit’s illumination of their hearts so they could understand what was happening, we have to imagine how they would have heard this. In this light, it makes perfect sense that they were stunned. Here is the true and great Joshua—Jesus—standing on the verge of the Jordan, on the verge of the conquest, ready to lead the armies of God into
read more The work of the Spirit that anticipates the future
Stephen Nichols: The bombing of Britain during World War II leveled most of the area known as “Elephant & Castle” in the city of London. A row of pillars stood defiantly among the piles of rubble. These pillars belonged to the Metropolitan Tabernacle, the church that housed the larger-than-life preacher of the nineteenth century, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Those pillars well represent Spurgeon. He was solid. He stood tall in his own day, and like the pillars, his legacy still stands. Spurgeon has friends across many pews. Baptists like Spurgeon because he was a Baptist. Presbyterians like Spurgeon because he was so Reformed. Even Lutherans like Spurgeon because he was very nearly a nineteenth-century version of Martin Luther. While Spurgeon held forth at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Londoners would flock to hear him preach. In fact, people even traveled the Atlantic to hear him preach. He wrote many sermons, of course, while he was at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. And Spurgeon also wrote many books. In one of his many
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Sam Storms: If the apostle Paul himself had not warned us about quenching the Spirit, who among us would have thought it was possible (1 Thessalonians 5:19–22)? To suggest that the omnipotent Spirit of God could ever be quenched, and thus restricted in what he might do otherwise in our lives, and in the life of the local church, is to tread on thin theological ice. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5 that God has granted to Christians the ability either to restrict or release what the Spirit does in the life of the local church. The Spirit comes to us as a fire, either to be fanned into full flame and given the freedom to accomplish his will, or to be doused and extinguished by the water of human fear, control, and flawed theology. How many of us pause to consider the ways in which we inadvertently quench the Spirit’s work in our lives individually and in our churches corporately?
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Sinclair Ferguson: Luther’s story is well known; Calvin’s less so. Luther was wrestling with the concept of the righteousness of God, and had come to hate it; Calvin had an immense thirst for a secure knowledge of God, but had not found it. While not the whole truth, there is something in the notion that Luther was looking for a gracious God while Calvin was seeking for a true and assured knowledge of him. In Luther’s case, the ordinances of late medieval Catholicism could not “give the guilty conscience peace or wash away the stain.” In Calvin’s case, neither the Church nor the immense intellectual discipline he had displayed in his teens and early twenties, and certainly not all his acquisition of the skills of a post-medieval humanist scholar, could bring him to an assured knowledge of God. ROMANS 1:16 For all the differences in their backgrounds, educations, dispositions, and personalities, a good case can be made for thinking
read more How the Reformers Rediscovered the Holy Spirit and True Conversion
Adam Mabry: “I feel like the Lord is leading me to do it.” Those were my friend’s parting words to me. I told him not to follow this leading, but he’d had an experience he “really felt was from the Lord.” I tried to explain what the Bible had to say about his choice. In fact, many had. But, he had an experience, and he wasn’t budging. So off he went—into his error, out of the church, and away from Jesus. This situation it so common in churches across the spectrum that you could probably fill in details from similarly painful conversations. Add to that our culture’s commitment to an expressive individualism that exalts actualizing our desires above conforming to God’s, and we’ve set the stage for rough times when trying to convince someone that what they “feel led to do” may not be the Holy Spirit at all. No wonder some respond to this problem by simply denying God’s Spirit speaks to us today. My
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A rich and wise answer from Abraham Kuyper: Dwelling in the elect, the Spirit does not slumber, nor does He keep an eternal Sabbath, in idleness shutting Himself up in their hearts; but as divine Worker He seeks from within to fill their individual persons, pouring the stream of His divine brightness through every space. But we should not imagine that every believer is instantly filled and permeated. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit finds him filled with all manner of evil and treachery. . . . His method of procedure is not with divine power to force a man as though he were a stock or block, but by the power of love and compassion so to influence and energize the impulses of the feeble will that it feels the effect, is inclined, and finally consents to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. . . . This operation is different in each person. In one it proceeds with
read more How Does the Holy Spirit Actually Produce Change in Us?
Sam Storms: From Sam’s contribution to The New City Catechism: Rarely does a Christian struggle to think of God as Father. And to envision God as Son is not a problem for many. These personal names come easily to us because our lives and relationships are inescapably intertwined with fathers and sons here on earth. But God as Holy Spirit is often a different matter. Gordon Fee tells of one of his students who remarked, “God the Father makes perfectly good sense to me, and God the Son I can quite understand; but the Holy Spirit is a gray, oblong blur.” How different this is from what we actually read in Scripture. There we see that the Spirit is not third in rank in the Godhead but is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and Son, sharing with them all the glory and honor due unto our Triune God. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal power or an ethereal,
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John Bloom: “The kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). If we are not disillusioned with how much we have allowed our talk to pass for our walk, discontented with the sparse amount of spiritual fruit we are truly bearing, and disappointed by the impotence of our own efforts, we will never be distressed enough to really plead with God to fill us with the Holy Spirit. If we’re not disturbed by how little we can do in our own power, we’ll never be desperate enough to ask God for his. What Is the Filling of the Holy Spirit? But when we pray for this, what are we asking God for? In the words of Wayne Grudem, we are asking God for “an event subsequent to conversion in which a believer experiences a fresh infilling with the Holy Spirit that may result in a variety of consequences, including greater love for God, greater
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Sam Storms: In an earlier installment of the “10 Things You Should Know” series, we looked at Ephesians 5:18 and what it says about being filled with the Spirit. But here I want to look more closely at the issue as it is found in other portions of God’s Word. I’ve found that the best way to help people understand what it means to be “filled” with the Spirit is to compare and contrast that experience with being “baptized” in the Spirit. (1) Spirit-baptism is a metaphor that describes our reception of the Holy Spirit at the moment of our conversion to Jesus in faith and repentance. When we believe and are justified, we are, as it were, deluged and engulfed by the Spirit; we are, as it were, immersed in and saturated by the Spirit. (2) The result of being baptized in the Spirit is that (a) we are made members of the body of Christ, or incorporated into
read more 10 Things You Should Know about Being Filled with the Holy Spirit
John Piper: If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25) The Spirit came to you the first time when you believed in the blood-bought promises of God. And the Spirit keeps on coming, and keeps on working, by this same means. So Paul asks, rhetorically, “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:5). Answer: “By hearing with faith.” Therefore, the Spirit came the first time, and the Spirit keeps on being supplied, through the channel of faith. What he accomplishes in us is through faith. If you are like me, you may have strong longings from time to time for the mighty working of the Holy Spirit in your life. Perhaps you cry out to God for the outpouring of the Spirit in your life or in your family or church or
read more We Experience the Spirit Through Faith
Having Jesus, what has the believer more? He possesses a righteousness in which God views him complete and accepted, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Is not this a comfort? To stand “complete in Him”—in the midst of many and conscious imperfections, infirmities, flaws, and proneness to wander, yet for the sorrowing and trembling heart to turn and take up its rest in this truth, “that he that believes is justified from all things,” and stands accepted in the Beloved, to the praise of the glory of Divine grace, what a comfort! That God beholds him in Jesus without a spot, because He beholds His Son, in whom He is well pleased, and viewing the believing soul in Him can say, “You are all fair, my love; there is no spot in you”! The blessed Comforter conveys this truth to the troubled soul, brings it to take up its rest in it; and, as
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Ray Ortlund: In The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God (1741), Jonathan Edwards pulled out of 1 John 4 the biblical indicators that God is at work, even if the people involved are complicating it with their own imperfections and eccentricities. And we do complicate it. In this life, the work of the gospel is never pure, always mixed. The light of God does not stream in unfiltered by us. To some extent, we even block it out. We are sorry for that. But we do not need to be stuck in analysis-paralysis. The real work of God is discernible, within all the mess, in four ways: One, when our esteem of Jesus is being raised, so that we prize him more highly than all this world, God is at work. Two, when we are moving away from Satan’s interests, away from sin and worldly desires, God is at work. Three, when we are believing,
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A rich and wise answer from Abraham Kuyper: Dwelling in the elect, the Spirit does not slumber, nor does He keep an eternal Sabbath, in idleness shutting Himself up in their hearts; but as divine Worker He seeks from within to fill their individual persons, pouring the stream of His divine brightness through every space. But we should not imagine that every believer is instantly filled and permeated. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit finds him filled with all manner of evil and treachery. . . . His method of procedure is not with divine power to force a man as though he were a stock or block, but by the power of love and compassion so to influence and energize the impulses of the feeble will that it feels the effect, is inclined, and finally consents to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. . . . This operation is different in each person. In one it proceeds
read more How Does the Holy Spirit Actually Produce Change in Us?
Mark well the great advantages you have for the attainment of holiness by seeking it in a right gospel order. You will have the advantage of the love God manifested towards you, in forgiving your sins, receiving you into favor, and giving you the spirit of adoption, and the hope of His glory freely through Christ, to persuade and constrain you by sweet allurements to love God again, who has so dearly loved you, and to love others for His sake, and to give up yourselves to the obedience of all His commands out of hearty love to Him. You will also enjoy the help of the Spirit of God to incline you powerfully to obedience, and to strengthen you for the performance of it against all your corruptions and the temptations of Satan, so that you will have both wind and tide to forward your voyage in the practice of holiness. — Walter Marshall The Gospel Mystery of
read more The necessity of a right gospel order