Thursday, March 30, 2017

evidences of the Holy Spirit


The Holy Spirit is the seal of our New Covenant relationship with Christ (Jer 31; Ezek 36-37; Eph 1:13).  The Christian life is a life in the Spirit. (Rom 8)   

How do I know when the Holy Spirit is at work in me?  How do I identify his supernatural work in distinction from my own efforts at living the Christian life?

I wrote and posted this about a year ago, and have edited slightly to re-post...


Ten Evidences of the Work of the Holy Spirit

1)  When we experience conviction of sin, not mere guilt and desire to escape punishment, but an awareness of sin against God which draws us to Christ for forgiveness and reconciliation – this is the work of the Holy Spirit.  (John 16:8-11)

2)  When Jesus Christ becomes attractive to us, and we begin to see him as glorious, powerful, and gracious (John 16:14; 1 Cor 1:23-24) – this is the work of the Spirit. 

3)  When God’s love is so understood and felt in the heart that we are moved to call out to God as our Father – this is the work of the Holy Spirit.  (Rom 5:5; Gal 4:6) 

4)  When we joyfully believe and confess that Jesus is Lord – this is the work of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 12:3; 1 John 4:2-3) 

5)  When we have felt the truthfulness of the gospel concerning Jesus Christ and inwardly experience the authority and goodness of God’s word – this is the work of the Holy Spirit. (Eph 1:13; 1 Thess 1:5; 2:13)

6)  When we have freedom, even boldness, to speak of Christ to others – this is the work of the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 1:8; 4:31).  

7)  When we are receiving insight and understanding into God’s word, so that we are sensing its truth, power, and application to us – this is the work of the Holy Spirit.   (1 Cor 2:12; Eph 1:17-18; 1 John 2:27; 4:6)

8)  When we turn away from sin and fleshly desires, and are being led and empowered to manifest God’s holy character in our lives – this is the work of the Holy Spirit.  (Rom 8:1-17; Gal 5:16-23)

9)  When we truly desire to sing God’s praises and join with believers in corporate worship – this is the work of the Holy Spirit.  (Eph 5:18-20)

10)  When our service to others brings God’s blessing to the body of Christ, and gifts that he has given us work supernaturally to build up others – this is the work of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Cor 12:4-11)

"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"  (Luke 11:13 ESV)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

first step to holiness

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,  but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.   (Romans 7:21-23 ESV)

John Stott writes, "...why does Paul describe his experience in terms not only of conflict but of defeat?  why does he say not only that he wants to do good, but that he does not and cannot do it?  The simple answer, surely, is this.  In the previous paragraph (verses 7-13) he has shown that as an unbeliever he could not keep the law.  In this paragraph (verses 14ff.) he shows that even as a Christian believer by himself he still cannot keep the law.  He can recognize the goodness of the law, he can delight in the law, and he can long to keep the law, none of which was possible to him as an unbeliever.  But the flesh, his fallen nature, which was his undoing before his conversion, leading him to sin and death, is still his undoing after his conversion--unless the power of the Holy Spirit subdues it (which is what he comes to later, in chapter 8).  Indeed, an honest and humble acknowledgement of the hopeless evil of our flesh, even after the new birth, is the first step to holiness.  To speak quite plainly, some of us are not leading holy lives for the simple reason that we have too high an opinion of ourselves.  No man ever cries aloud for deliverance who has not seen his own wretchedness.  In other words, the only way to arrive at faith in the power of the Holy Spirit is along the road of self-despair.  No device exists to settle this issue for good.  The power and subtlety of the flesh are such that we dare not relax one moment.  The only hope is unremitting vigilance and dependence." 

~ John R. W. Stott, Men Made New: an exposition of Romans 5--8 (Inter-Varsity Press, 1966), p. 74.




the christian and politics

In the early years of the publication of Christianity Today, Carl Henry, serving then as editor, delineated five tenets on Christian social and political action.  I think this is a sound and balanced approach:

1.  The Bible is critically relevant to the whole of modern life and culture -- the socio-political arena included.

2. The institutional church has no mandate, jurisdiction or competence to endorse political legislation or military tactics or economic specifics in the name of Christ.

3. The institutional church is divinely obliged to proclaim God's entire revelation, including the standards or commandments by which men and nations are to be finally judged, and by which they ought now to live and maintain social stability.

4. The political achievement of a better society is the task of all citizens, and individual Christians ought to be politically engaged to the limit of their competence and opportunity. 

5. The Bible limits the proper activity of both government and church for divinely stipulated objectives-- the former, the preservation of justice and order, and the latter, the moral-spiritual task of evangelizing the earth. 

~ Carl F. H. Henry, Confessions of a Theologian, pp 270-71.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

how far can we trust him?

"We have trusted in Jesus.  But how far can we trust him?  Just in this transitory life?  Just in this little speck that we call the earth?  If we can trust him only thus far we are of all men most miserable.  We are surrounded by stupendous forces; we are surrounded by the immensity of the unknown.  After our little span of life there is a shelving brink with the infinite beyond.  And still we are subject to fear--not only fear of destruction but a more dreadful fear of meeting with the infinite and holy God. 

"So we should be if we had but a human Christ.  But now is Christ our Savior, the one who says, 'Your sins are forgiven,' revealed as very God.  And we believe.  Such a faith is a mystery to us who possess it; it seems folly to those who have it not.  But if possessed it delivers us forever from fear.  The world to us is all unknown; it is engulfed in an ocean of infinity.  But it contains no mysteries to our Savior.  He is on the the throne.  He pervades the remotest bounds.  He inhabits infinity.  With such a Savior we are safe."
  
(J. Gresham Machen, The Person of Jesus)