Into the New Year we have sprung. Funny how it feels a lot like the last year. Political division. Work to be done. Schedules that keep us inundated. And of course the only real place of refreshment and peace, the gospel of grace.
This week two articles worth your time and thought. Both on similar perspectives. One on prayer and what one church, and maybe all of us, mean when we seek God. The second on a new move afoot to move from mere theological continuationism (believing the Holy Spirit works miraculously still today) to the actual experience of it in our churches
From Sam Storms, a reflection on his church’s days of fasting and prayer. At Reservoir we used a couple of quotes from Sam in our weekly prayer meeting as we desire the same things. One key quote:
By saying we seek “God himself” I mean greater manifestations of his presence, a tangible sense of his nearness, deeper and sweeter fellowship and communion with him, a heightened capacity to hear his voice, a movement on our hearts to feel and enjoy his affection for us, and an expanded power in us to enjoy and adore him with greater fervency. In seeking “God himself” we long to know him better, to understand his will and ways with greater clarity, to go deeper and deeper into the character of God, to be set on fire with a more passionate commitment to him and adoration of him. In seeking “God himself” we long for a satisfaction in our souls that is so rich and powerful that it drowns out the alluring and seductive appeal of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Sam Storms
Read the whole piece here.
Next is a quick note from Andrew Wilson about a comment from Tim Challies about the move afoot for Charismatic experience in our churches. Typically Calvinistic churches that believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit continue today have been reserved at best in the expression of these gifts or even the pursuit of them. But the wind is blowing. Times are changing and more and more leaders are moving from holding a theology to experiencing it.
This is something we have expressed at Reservoir, the desire to be Word and Spirit people not merely holding a doctrinal belief but living in light of it. Come Holy Spirit come.
“The truth of the matter is this. The distinctive, constant, basic ministry of the Holy Spirit under the new covenant is so to mediate Christ’s presence to believers – that is, to give them such knowledge of his presence with them as their Savior, Lord, and God – that three things keep happening…
First, personal fellowship with Jesus… Second, personal transformation of character into Jesus’ likeness… Third, the Spirit-given certainty of being loved, redeemed, and adopted through Christ into the Father’s family.”
– J.I. Packer in Keep In Step With The Spirit
“Signed, sealed, delivered, I am yours!”
“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, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV)
Christian, do you hear this? Upon belief in the gospel, at your belief in Jesus, you have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Maybe we don’t often think of “sealing” in the context of faith but we should. The Spirit seals you, closes the case, keeps you, maintains you. You, in Christ, are guaranteed to acquire your inheritance in heaven.
Read that again. And again. Wow.
The Spirit keeps me and does so by reminding me of the truth of the gospel and the finished work, effective and complete work of Christ for me. Do you get the weight of this? You are his. Nothing can change that. You, in Christ, are sealed by the Holy Spirit for the praise of Christ’s glory. Dig into this. We transformed. Be encouraged. Be holy. It is a sure thing. Live like it!
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7 ESV)
By no work of your own, and by His mercy, God has saved you through Christ. When you believe in Him you are giving evidence that the Holy Spirit has regenerated, washed and made new, your heart. This same Spirit that changed you in that moment empowers you today. In fact, this Spirit has been “poured out on us richly through Jesus.” This is no mere sprinkling of magic spiritual flavor. This is a full on drenching of God Himself, filling you, continuing to change you, and empowering you to love and good deeds.
Most days we wake up feeling less than empowered. Some of us have a hard time even getting out of bed because of what we will surely have to face in our day. But when we understand fully the power that has been deposited in us, we could be dancing from the moment our eyes open! The world can bring its trouble and work can bring the hard situations that it guarantees, but we have a greater hope and support than any scheme of the enemy. Yes, things will be hard. We won’t always be happy. But we can have joy as the Spirit empowers and works in us. We can face giants because Jesus has slain them all.
As if this empowerment and gift of grace was not enough, we are heirs according to the hope of eternal life. In Christ, we are expectant. Expectant that He will work in our lives now and expectant that we will dwell with Him for eternity. And this promise is as secure as Jesus is in God. It is a done deal.
We face our days Spirit-empowered and secure in our eternal status. That is refreshing. Live that out today.