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016  The Promised Holy Spirit

For a moment, let's think of the Bible as a novel.

The introduction of the novel sets up the story by explaining how the world we live in became such a sad place, covering a long period of history in 11 brief chapters. 

Then the novel introduces the main story line through a key ancestor, Abraham. Abraham's family dominates the rest of the story. 

It's early in the story that God lets us see how it will proceed: though the story will focus on this one family, through that family all the other families of the earth will be blessed. God promises this to Abraham. (See Gen 22:18.)

It's not until the climax of the tale that we see the fulfillment of that promise in the arrival of the Holy Spirit. No, Jesus is not the fulfillment; He is the seed mentioned in Gen 22:18, the promised agent through whom the fulfillment comes. Peter makes it clear when first telling Jesus' story to the crowd in Jerusalem at Pentecost. Jesus was "exalted to the right hand of the Father," then He received from the Father "the promise of the Holy Spirit," and then He poured it out on the Church. (See Acts 2:33.) Jesus was our champion who obtained the blessing for us all. The blessing was the Holy Spirit.

In the denouement of the novel (that is, the resolution of all the unresolved plot points) we watch people empowered by the Holy Spirit doing the works that Jesus did, and doing even greater works just as He had predicted. We hear them explaining what is yet to come in history, and explaining how God will produce for His Church everything that He has promised. It will all come about through the same power that He invested in the Church--the Holy Spirit.

(Technical note: some story construction purists might insist that the resurrection of Jesus is really the climax. They're only partly correct. The climax does begin with the resurrection, but is not complete until the Holy Spirit arrives. Yes, I'm completely geeking out. Sorry.)

It is in the Holy Spirit that everything that is ours in Christ becomes available to us. You want to be forgiven? You'll realize how God sees you in Christ when you get into the Spirit. You want to overcome sins? Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. You want direction? The Spirit knows the mind of God and reveals all things to us. You want wisdom? You want to perform miracles? You want unity in the Church? Get into the Spirit; that's where all of those things happen.

So, how does one obtain what is available? How does one even know what is available?

Answering that could take me a lifetime. But briefly, our role in the process appears to be this:

  • we receive the Holy Spirit as a gift from God, by believing;
  • we are supposed to live in Him as consistently as possible;
  • we are to set our minds on the things of the Spirit, and thus be transformed;
  • we are to maintain His unity among us in the bond of peace.

Now, the Apostles tell us dozens of things that the Holy Spirit has done and continues to do--filling believers, informing elders, empowering prophets, enabling us to overcome the impulses of our flesh, and so forth. It's the part where they tell you and me how to engage Him that's a bit sparse. But this much is clear: it begins when we invite Him, and it proceeds as we set our minds on His things.

So for the time being, let's focus on whatever ways we already know to set our minds on the things of the Spirit: frequent prayer, worship, Bible reading, singing spiritual songs as we go about our affairs, encouraging each other in the context of fellowship, and educating ourselves about the faith through books and studies. Those things are all ways that we can set our minds on the Spirit. And we trust God that as we do these things, we will be walking the Spirit.

Let's keep our minds focused on God as well as we know how, and I'll be back in a few weeks with some more particulars. God bless.

Phil Weingart

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