Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Things Christians Overlook: The Ministry of the Spirit in the Believer's Life is Powerful

This series attempts to touch very briefly on a few things that many Christians overlook in their daily lives. All of these things are points that I have overlooked in my own life. This is not intended to be a nasty series, a virtual poke in the eyes, but is meant to pass along a few things others have taught me that I have found helpful.

Today we look very quickly at the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus and the believer. We sometimes think that Jesus accomplished the various miracles of His ministry in His own strength. But this is not what the Bible teaches. The ministry of Christ was Spirit-powered.

John 1:32-33 Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'

This text shows us that Jesus received the Spirit at the beginning of His earthly ministry. In fact, it was the Spirit's descent that marked the beginning of Christ's work as Lord and Savior. From this point forward, Christ accomplished all that He did through the power of the Spirit. Note that I'm not saying that it was not possible for Christ to do all His work in His own power; rather, He chose to lay His power down in order that the power of the Spirit would be manifest in Him. This is a key distinction, and a subtle one, and the subtlety makes all the difference.

Why is this significant beyond mere theological quibbling? As my father-in-law, Dr. Bruce Ware, explained in introducing me and others to this foundational idea, it shows us that in possessing the same Spirit that Christ did, we have access to the same power that Christ did. This is a dynamic truth, a life-changing truth. Do you see it? You do not live your life through a kind of vague divinity that occasionally trickles down from on high. No, you live your life as a Christian through access to the same Spirit who enabled Christ to raise men from the dead, heal the sick, walk on the waters. You do not have access to a trickle--you have access to a flood of spiritual power that will enable you to walk in godliness and truth all your days, and to be a channel of blessing to all who surround you in your daily life. As you carry the gospel to the lost, as you carry out your daily responsibilities, as you fight for holiness each hour of the day, you can call upon the Father to move in a powerful way in your life through the Holy Spirit. This is a prayer that God will answer. He will take joy in your recognition of the power of the Holy Spirit, and just as He did for Christ, He will move in your life in marvelous ways to bring His will and plan to pass in your life. Clearly, this is a truth we need to recognize. Have you realized that you don't have to live in your own strength as a Christian? Are you calling on God to work in you through the Spirit? Or are you out there fighting your own battles, waging your own wars, struggling to grow in godliness and live a gospel-centered life?

If so, read the gospel of John, observe how John highlights the Spirit's work in Christ's life, and claim this same Spirit dynamism in your own life. This is one matter we cannot afford to overlook.

Further reading: Bruce Ware, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Crossway, 2005.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am enjoying your blog--where do you find the time? I am curious. What are your thoughts on the presence of the Spirit with Jesus prior to his descending upon Jesus. Was Jesus without the Spirit prior to this? Also, do you think there is a qualitative or quantitative difference in the way that we have the Spirit or the communion enjoyed and that which Christ himself lived in?


8:33 AM  
Blogger Dad said...

So, is that it - just call on God to work in you through the Holy Spirit? Is there more to it than this to access the Spirit?

Just curious.


9:48 AM  
Blogger SS&SG said...

While the insight that you give here is excellent. We can be confident that the Spirit works in us with the same power that he did in Christ. A simple insight, but a helpful one.

11:43 AM  

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