As many of you are aware, I began work a few days ago in pursuit of my doctorate. Over the past two weeks I have read hundreds of pages of information about the Apostle Paul and his theological viewpoints as found in his letters to the New Testament churches. These letters are called epistles. In the course of this reading I have found many new insights into the purpose for Paul’s letters as well as the situations in the churches that caused him to write. Let me share just one.
There is no New Testament salvation that does not include the overwhelming and ongoing influence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer! Literally dozens and dozens of times Paul refers to the Spirit’s role in convicting, drawing, sealing, filling, guiding, leading and instructing the children of God.
Paul consistently affirms that the Holy Spirit is God.
Paul insists that the Holy Spirit not only has a role in the beginning of a believer’s life, but indeed the presence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life IS that which signifies true salvation. Said differently, rather than a moment of religious fervor being the mark of true conversion, the revelation of Christ in the life of a believer through the work of the Holy Spirit indicates salvation.
I have great concern about the state of the modern church in America.
Question most people in our nation and they will tell you that they are a Christian and yet where is the transformation of their lives by the Spirit’s work? I’m not supporting a return to the days of joyless rhetoric void of relevance in a modern generation. I am however seeking to grow a church genuinely knowledgeable about the word of God and passionate to reflect the character and heart of Christ to a lost world.
Reflected in Genesis 3:8 and Revelation 21:3 we see a picture of the created desire of God; having fellowship a dwelling with mankind. You and I live bracketed by this previous moment in time and this future moment in time. Did God suddenly lose His desire to be in fellowship with mankind and did He leave no method by which He might touch you and me? Of course not! In John 16, Jesus said that when He left something better would come. That something was the Holy Spirit or God in Spirit form.
So therefore, living within you and I, beginning at the moment of salvation is God the Holy Spirit. I believe that He has even more for us that comes through the baptism of the Holy Spirit but that’s another discussion. When we get saved God lives within us. God hates sin. When did we pick up the idea that we could go almost anywhere and do almost anything and just take God into all that with us? Is there grace? Absolutely, but the same grace brought by the Holy Spirit that saves us begins the process of revealing the Person and Character of Christ from within us. Over time we get more and more like Jesus, or we are supposed to.
What’s acceptable for a believer? Anything that allows the person of Jesus to be revealed.
There will be more to come, but for now let’s allow the Holy Spirit to remove those things and activities from our lives that confuse our testimony of Christ so that the lost world might see Jesus more and more in you and me.