posted on Nov, 30 2018 @ 05:02 PM
“But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ
does not belong to him.” Romans ch8 v9
The message of the New Testament centres upon what God achieved in Christ, through his death on the Cross and his Resurrection..
All this was happening “on account of our sins”, for the sake of doing something about them.
And the promised result is the forgiveness of sin.
Our contribution to the outcome is our faith; that is, our willingness to rest, in trust, upon what Christ has done.
In our faith (and in association with our baptism) we have received the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is one aspect of the presence of God in power, already visible in the Old Testament.
This goes back to the story of Creation, when the Spirit was “moving on the face of the waters”.
The Spirit falls upon Jephthah, and he goes out to fight the Ammonites.
The Spirit falls upon Elisha, and he begins to prophesy.
The healing work of Jesus seems to begin from the descent of the Spirit at his baptism, as he himself confirms; “If it is by the Spirit of God that
I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew ch12 v28).
In John, he promised his disciples that they would receive the Spirit themselves, and the promise comes in two ways;
“I will pray the Father and he will give you… the Spirit of truth” (ch14 vv16-17).
But also “I will send him to you” (ch16 v7).
The two thoughts are combined in “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name” (ch14 v25).
He says again at the beginning of Acts “Before many days you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit” (Acts ch1 v5), and “You shall receive power
when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (v8).
And the disciples were indeed “filled with the Holy Spirit”.
The healing power of the Spirit is certainly evident in the events of Acts.
But we see the result primarily in their ability to speak for God, as seen on the day of Pentecost itself, when Peter quoted Joel’s promise “I
will pour out my Spirit and they will prophesy” (ch2 v16).
And again, Stephen “full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people”… they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit
with which he spoke” (ch6 vv8-10).
The Spirit also directed the progress of the mission, guiding Philip to address the eunuch (ch8), “sending out” Paul and Barnabas (ch13 vv1-4),
and preventing Paul from working in the Roman province of Asia before he had carried his mission to Greece (ch16 v6).
This was part of the power which Jesus had promised.
“Do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you that speak but the Holy Spirit”
(Mark ch13 v11).
“The Spirit is the witness” to Jesus (1 John ch5 v7).
But not only because he speaks through us in addressing other people.
He is also the source of the testimony by which we know Christ in ourselves;
“He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself” (v10).
This is in accordance with what was promised in John’s gospel;
“The Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have
said to you” (John ch14 v25).
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth,; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will
speak… He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (ch16 vv13-14).
For Paul, this is [also] rooted in the fact that the Spirit brings us knowledge direct from the Father;
“What no man has seen… God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no-one comprehends the thoughts of God except the
Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians ch2 vv9-11).
This means that the teaching of the gospel is about interpreting “spiritual things to spiritual people” (at least that’s probably the best
translation of a slightly ambiguous phrase).
In other words, the understanding of God’s Wisdom is possible because, and only because, the Spirit of God is present at both ends of the
transaction; when the teacher is teaching in “words taught by the Spirit”, the truth in the words is recognised by the Spirit already received by
the people who hear them (v13).
That is why Paul aims to preach not in the words of human wisdom, “but in demonstration of the Holy Spirit and of power” (v5)
The most important effect of the Holy Spirit is that it brings us into union with Christ, as described in the opening quotation.
Paul goes on to say “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness”.
“The Spirit of God dwells in you”.
“You have the Spirit of Christ”.
“Christ is in you”.
These are three different ways of saying the same thing, namely that the Spirit binds each of us to Christ and his Father.
“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit”
In union with Christ, we are sons of God like him, as we know from the evidence of the same Spirit.
“When we cry Abba! Father!, it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God… heirs of God and fellow-heirs
with Christ” (Romans ch8 vv15-17).
“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba! Father!” (Galatians ch4 v6).
And that is why “no-one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians ch12 v3).
We find in Acts that the reception of the Holy Spirit is associated with baptism, which helps to explain the term “baptised with”.
This tallies with the explanation given to Nicodemus, that “unless one is born of water and the Spirit”, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John
The Spirit is the reality of our “new birth”, and the “water” is our public acknowledgement of the event. It is what the Anglican catechism
calls “the outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace”.
The presence of the Spirit is also a foretaste, a “pledge”, of what God has promised us for the future;
“It is God who establishes us with you in Christ… he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (1
Corinthians ch1 vv21-22).
“In [Christ] you… were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it”
(Ephesians ch1 vv12-13).
“The Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians ch4 v30).
Meanwhile, the Spirit is guiding our lives, consciously or unconsciously, as we wait for that final day, but that is a topic which may be left for a
In all these ways, the Holy Spirit represents the presence of Christ in our lives.