The Holy Spirit

When the Spirit himself comes in the omnipotence of his grace, resistance vanishes. ~J.L. Dagg

God’s providence has put a consistent theme in front of me recently: the new covenant blessing of the Holy Spirit. Often (and rightly so) we talk about being “Cross-centered” and speak of the forgiveness of Calvary. Of course, we must do this! Only at the Cross are we forgiven, for we could never keep what God requires (see the Ex. 20, i.e., the Ten Commandments). Christ was punished in our place, and purchased our pardon. We do well, very well, to saturate our minds and lives in this fact.

However, what we might sometimes neglect, is the imperative commands still demanded of those living under the Cross. I have been working through this a lot recently, partially because I got married and partially because I have been thinking a lot more on the Old Testament Law. I tend toward extremes, in all aspects of my life. This fleshes out in emphasizing one reality over another, either the indicative (the Cross) or the imperative (the commands). Of course these do not contradict each other, but my small-minded ways tend to compartmentalize and functionally focus upon one or the other.

One thing that, like I said, is becoming more and more clear to me is the nature of the New Testament imperatives (“Do” or “Do not”, etc.). Or more specifically, how we are called to view them. It seems we are always called to view commandments in the New Testament in light of the accomplishments of God in Christ, including the sending of the Spirit. Often we talk of the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the ascension. But we forget about fact of Pentecost — Jesus sent his Spirit upon his people. This is a fulfillment of what Jeremiah 31 talks about — the LORD putting his Spirit within his people, so that they might obey his laws. These must be Old Covenant laws, because Christ was still hundreds of years away. Paul in 1 Corinthians 3 declares that the new covenant surpasses the old because the new covenant includes the gift of the Spirit.

We see in the New Testament that the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead now enables the people of God to obey. The power is the power of the Holy Spirit.

I am only beginning to grasp this, but I do know that we must correctly view the work of Christ, and not neglect certain aspects of the Gospel. The Son-sent-Spirit comprises a huge part of the good news of salvation — that we, as children of God, can now obey our Father’s commands.

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About Danny Slavich

I am a Christian husband, father, pastor, and poet. I lead Pembroke Road Baptist Church a multi-cultural, multi-generational church in urban South Florida.
This entry was posted in Gospel, Holy Spirit, Sanctification. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Holy Spirit

  1. Ben says:

    I would say that rather than “Old Convenant Laws” it could instead be the true good / “noumena” / Spirit of the Law that was revealed through the OT. As Jesus says, the whole law and prophets hang on “loving God and loving others”.

  2. dslavich says:

    Hmm…

    Well, in that context it is probably a reference to the Decalogue. I think that “love” of God/neighbor is defined in the Ten Commandments’ two tables. Otherwise, love is just some amorphous thing that is whatever we feel like it is. (See the impetus for my most recent poem).

  3. Ben says:

    Hm. I think that there is a sense in which love is amorphous, not because it is merely a feeling, but because it is not directly quantifiable. I feel really pretentious using this word, but that’s what I mean by noumenon: the “thing in and of itself” of which “the Decalogue” are phenomena. That is, the law is a pointer to love for God and neighbor, a description, rather than the thing itself. This is why it can be summarized as Jesus summarizes it.

  4. Dad says:

    THE HOLY SPIRIT AND ELECTION-
    Among His many attributes is the power to make salvation available to “whoever calls on the name of the Lord.”
    Acts 2:
    16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
    17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
    That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
    Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    Your young men shall see visions,
    Your old men shall dream dreams.
    18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
    I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
    And they shall prophesy.
    19 I will show wonders in heaven above
    And signs in the earth beneath:
    Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
    20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
    And the moon into blood,
    Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
    21 And it shall come to pass
    That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
    Shall be saved.’

    AND…on the subject of election/free will and that interesting discussion…As I was reading in Romans this morning I noticed a progression that seemed to sound like this. Check this out:
    Romans 8:29 “For those He foreknew He also predestined…” It could sound like His foreknowledge PRECEEDED His predestination. There is probably some Greek interpretation that shoots this down, but it certainly fits with my understanding/comfort-level which is; God lets people choose, but He knows their choice in advance…and for those who make this choice (in the power of the Holy Spirit, to stay on subject) are THEN predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…

    Just a couple of talking points for what they may be worth. We both need to remember that disagreement on this point neither denigrates the sovereignty of God NOR does it eliminate the requirement of man to exercise whatever “will” that God has given him.

    The ugliest part of the “Calvinism debate” is (in my humble opinion) how we (on both sides) tend to vilify the other viewpoint. Hey…we are on the same freakin’ team here! That reminder is to me and “my people” as well as to you and yours.

    Love you,

    Dad

  5. Lee says:

    Jeff – I think that isolating that phrase from Romans 8:29 loses sight of the whole of 29-30, which shows the complete and utter sovereignty of God in our salvation, end to end. Which, incidentally, is a done deal in God’s eyes.

  6. Dad says:

    Lee, I disagree.

    Sorry, but my XHTML literacy is very limited (okay…nonexistent). I’d like to use different fonts, but I’ll try to separate my comments from the text with caps…tacky, but functional.

    Romans 8
    29 For whom He foreknew,

    1. FOREKNEW

    He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,

    2. PREDESTINED TO BE CONFORMED TO CHRIST’S IMAGE

    that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

    3. JESUS THE FIRSTBORN AMONG MANY BRETHREN

    30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called;

    4. PREDESTINED, ALSO CALLED

    whom He called, these He also justified;

    5. CALLED, ALSO JUSTIFIED

    and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

    6. JUSTIFIED THEN GLORIFIED

    I ORIGINALLY LEFT OUT THE REMAINDER OF v.29-30 BECAUSE EVEN WITH BOTH VERSES INCLUDED, THE SEQUENCE DOESN’T CHANGE…FOREKNOWLEDGE IS STILL THE FIRST STEP. AND I DON’T THINK THAT GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY IS IN ANY WAY LESSENED BY RECOGNIZING THE INTERTWINING OF IT (SOVEREIGNTY) WITH THE HUMAN RESPONSE.

    Hey…no more need for caps…sorry to “shout”

    Certainly salvation is a done deal in God’s eyes. As the author and finisher of our faith, salvation remains His idea and its execution remains His prerogative. Regardless, we are still exhorted to believe, to have faith, to be holy as He is holy and so on. All of these require an exercise of our will. At no time are we able to do any of these things without the power of the Holy Spirit.

    I think the mystery of our roles (versus God’s role) in the process of our sanctification will always remain just that; a mystery. My biggest gripe with Calvinism is the idea that mere men feel that they are somehow able to encapsulate the workings of Almighty God into a clearly understandable formula. I rest in the Isaiah 55 revelation of God’s thoughts versus those of humankind.

    And before somebody says that’s intellectually lazy, I will answer by saying that it hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park to come up with that understanding. I’d rather understand it all, it’s just that the Word of God does not make this clear and I think it is somewhat presumptuous to draw some of these conclusions as absolute truth.

    God’s love is an absolute truth.

    The need for Christ is an absolute truth.

    That God is the source of our faith is an absolute truth.

    That grace is irresistible or atonement is limited are debatable. That is obvious by the length of the debate (as in centuries…)

    Jesus loves me.
    Sometimes that’s all I need to know.

  7. riddlej says:

    What you are really saying to me in this post is the difference between guidance from without (in the OT) and guidance from within (NT). The Old Testament believers depended on God’s voice from the Law and Prophets, but he NT believers can now depend on God’s voice from the Holy Spirit within.

    The implications of this are astounding, but I feel the biggest one is the attitude regarding works that Martin Luther stumbled upon… that we no longer rely on the Law to keep us doing what we should, but we rely on Grace, which gives us the ability in the HS to not sin.

  8. Baptised In The Holy Ghost

    Have you ever wondered why some Christians do not believe like you believe? Yes, they are good and kind, but when it comes to the things of the Spirit they seem to be on a different wavelength. They don’t understand when you say that you see visions, and speak in an unknown tongue or hear God speaking to you, and feeling Jesus ever so close in times of great need. I wonder if the reason could be that they have not received the baptism of the Holy Ghost? Yes, they have received Jesus and are true Christians, but the Holy Ghost is not real to them and the things of the Spirit seem very strange.

    Well, we read about Christians in Samaria in the Acts of the Apostles chapter 8, who accepted Jesus but did not receive the Holy Ghost in all His fullness, they were only baptised in the name of Jesus. So, when Peter and John came down from Jerusalem they prayed that they might receive the Holy Ghost, and when they laid their hands upon the believers they received. Let us pray for all Christians that they might receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, thus coming to know Jesus in all His fullness. For Jesus said, “For John truly baptised with water, but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost.”

    So you see we all need to be baptised in the Holy Ghost just as we all need to be baptised in water. If you feel that you have not received the baptism of the Holy Ghost when you were saved, (because not everyone receives the baptism automatically), then pray now and ask Jesus, for He will surely give you the Holy Ghost in all its fullness.

    Dear Saints, the Lord has laid upon my heart for you this scripture, “Ask, and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you, for everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened”. {Matthew 7 v 7 & 8}. Do make this your prayer today and you will receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

    Jesus said “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him; but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

    {St John 14 v 17}.

    Come now, ye sons of men, This message now receive,
    The Holy Ghost is given To all who will believe,
    Ye too may know His mighty power,
    And Speak with tongues this hour.

  9. Lee says:

    Hmm… Jeff, I’m not sure we’re saying different things – but I could be wrong. When I say that the sweep of 29-30 reflects God’s sovereignty in our salvation, I mean that He is the instigator at every step. Our wills are involved, but only in terms of responding to His action in our minds and hearts to draw us – and even to motivate us to live holy lives as believers.

  10. Lee says:

    Evangelist Billy – I’m sure you’ve familiar with the position that holds that tongues, healing, and other sign gifts were only around from Pentecost through the establishment of the early church, and that tongues, in particular, would need to be exercised in a certain manner (which is prescribed in detail in 1 Cor. 14) assuming they were valid today…

    But getting back to baptism in the Holy Spirit – how do you interpret this passage:

    ESV Eph 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

    It sure looks like the Holy Spirit indwells us at the moment of salvation according to Paul. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee/down payment/seal of our salvation. Can you seal something without applying the seal to that object?

  11. drewdixon says:

    I am not going to get in on the calvinist debate, but I did want to say that I was encouraged by your post! I think that the HS is the most neglected member of the Trinity. I have been teaching through 1 Peter and Peter opens his letter by praising God for bringing new birth to Christians through the resurrection of Christ. Thus it seems that new birth (which is synonymous with recieving the HS) sets the foundation for the rest of the letter. Because we have been born again we really can abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against our souls (2:11) and we really can love one another from a pure heart (1:22-23) and we really can endure anything for the sake of the gospel.

    I have been trying this week to let the reality of the Spirit living in me sink in–its a powerful reality one we don’t give anywhere near enough time too.

    Thanks for this post Danny–we MUST hang out soon!

  12. dad says:

    Hey there Lee,

    It seems we agree 100% on the following points:
    1. He is the instigator at every step.
    2. Our wills are involved, but only in terms of responding to His action in our minds and hearts to draw us – and even to motivate us to live holy lives as believers.

    Yup, yup, yup

    I really think our soteriology is quite similar.
    Phooey to labels! 😉

    Evangelist Billy,
    I believe as you do that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit did not have an ending point at establishment of the church. Those who say that the miraculous gifts ceased after the first century confuse me. There is no scriptural basis for this line of thinking and it was never part of church doctrine until it was developed as a counterpoint to the turn-of-(last)century Pentecostal movement. Until that time the (1 Cor 13:10) phrase regarding the coming of the perfect was always understood to refer to the second coming of Christ.

    With that level of agreement understood, it seems that the last few lines of your comment may be in keeping with the thinking that “speaking in tongues” is “THE sign” that the baptism of the Spirit has occurred. Our paths fork markedly here.

    I believe scripture is very clear that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an experience that is disctinct from His presence and sealing in the life of a believer. That experience, however, is not necessarily accompanied by any specific spiritual gift. The diversity of gifts is discussed at length, but the requirement of any specific gift is never even implied.

    Paul writes that not all believers speak in tongues and also reminds us that prophecy is a superior gift to tongues. If tongues were THE indication that the Holy Spirit has come upon (Greek:epi) a believer, how could anything, prophecy included, be called superior?

    If any gift is to be desired it would be the gift of prophecy, right? Then why do people get so overheated about tongues, whether “yea” or “nay”?
    Scripture exhorts us to not prohibit this practice, but nowhere is it exalted as some great necessity that indicates the presence of the Spirit’s power.

    As with the election discussion, it seems that this subject can (regardless of your position) become another issue of “majoring on the minors.”
    I believe these discussions can be profitable if they drive us to the Word to understand or clarify a position. Conversely, they can be fractious if pursued in the absence of grace.

    Christ and Him crucifed…now there’s something to agree upon!

    Blessings.

  13. Dear Brothers, I must reply. We must not seperate the Holy Ghost from Jesus or God our Father for they are one. The Trinity cannot be understood by the human mind. We accept what God has said in His Word by faith, it is the Holy Ghost who is the teacher, Jesus said that He will lead us into all truth. When you receieve Jesus Christ as Saviour you also receieve the Father and the Holy Ghost at the same time for they are one. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is a saturation of one Spirit which makes us responsive to His will. God bless, Evangelist Billy Bolitho.

  14. Lee says:

    Evangelist Billy – Thanks for your response. You’re obviously very concerned with all believers having the full Christian experience. However, where does Scripture say that we “receive the Father”? Just as we do not “receive” all aspects of the Son in terms of His full power and attributes, we don’t receive the Father even though He is part of the Trinity…

    Also, are you saying that one cannot be responsive to God’s will if one is not baptized (saturated) by the Holy Ghost?

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