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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Grace, Spirit, Law

They all go together.

The Celtic Revival: Afterglow (7)

Give and grant and impart to me,
Thy holy grace, and Thy Holy Spirit,
to protect me and preserve me from all my sins present and future,
and to kindle in me all righteousness,
and to establish me in that righteousness to my life’s end...

  - Litany of Jesus II, Irish, 15th century[1]

...for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

  - Philippians 2.13

After the Celtic Revival had run its course, what seemed most to be missing from the period was the presence and power of the promised Holy Spirit of God. Our anonymous writer understood that we need the Spirit of God to keep us from falling into sin and to empower us for righteousness. No Spirit, no Kingdom. No Kingdom, no power (1 Cor. 4.20).

The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to transform believers into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18). John the Baptist understood this when he insisted that, for him to realize his full humanity and purpose, Jesus had to increase in him, and he had to decrease (Jn. 3.30). Jesus had increased throughout the period of the Celtic Revival, but toward its end and beyond, men were more interested in their own objectives than His. They had become captive to spirits of competitiveness, pride of place, and spiritual lethargy.

If being transformed increasingly into the image of Jesus Christ is not the driving force in our life, then we are not lined up with the reason God has given us His Spirit. We have hoisted the sails of our little vessel into winds other than those of the Spirit, and we’re not following the course charted out for us in God’s master plan.

Only when we have unfurled our sails into the Spirit, allowing Him to blow upon, fill, and direct us, can we expect to realize fullness of life in Jesus Christ – being transformed into His image. And only then will we be able to know more of the presence, promise, and power of Christ and His Kingdom, advancing righteousness, peace, and joy within and through us.

This is entirely a work of God’s grace, the result of His Spirit working in us according to the Word of God. The anonymous writer of our Litany understood this very well.

But how does this occur? What happens to transform us, so that more of Jesus and less of, well, me is what people encounter each day?

The Spirit works within us, in our heart and mind and conscience, to create in us a desire to know and love God’s Law, and to empower us to walk in it as Jesus did (Ezek. 36.26, 27; 1 Jn. 2.1-6). Can you say that you truly desire to know and love God’s Law?

Yes, the Spirit is our Comforter, soothing us with forgiving and reassuring grace. Yes, the Spirit is our Teacher, guiding us into all truth. He is also our Gift-giver, bringing out fruit and gifts for serving others. But He – the Holy Spirit – is working to make us holy, as God our Father is holy, and as His holy and righteous and good Law is holy. For when we are holy, we engage the pleasure of God, because we are doing the works of God. And in that pleasure of the Lord, where we are bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God, we find full and abundant life.

The grace of God that saves is also the grace of God that sanctifies, and we can know that the Spirit is working by grace in our lives when we can truthfully say with the psalmist, “Oh how I love your Law!” (Ps. 119.97)

It won’t do to glibly assert, “I’m not under law; I’m under grace.” No one has begun to understand the grace of God who hasn’t discovered the Law of God as a primary source for experiencing and expressing that grace. Jesus insisted that Kingdom greatness attaches to learning and teaching the Law of God (Matt. 5.17-19). If we have no time or interest for God’s Law, not only are we quenching the Spirit – given to teach us the Law – but we are denying our Kingdom-and-glory calling from the Lord (1 Thess. 2.12).

If we have the Spirit and are being filled with Him, then we will incline toward that which is holy and righteous and good – the Law of God (Rom. 7.12). The mind of the Spirit seeks to renew in us a mind that agrees with the principles and practices of love outlined in God’s Law (Rom. 8.5-8). The place God’s Law has in your life will determine the extent of the power of the Spirit’s sanctifying work in your life (cf. Ps. 1).

Look to the Spirit and grace of God to guide you into the truth of God’s Law, to kindle in you the righteousness of Jesus, and establish you in it until your life’s end (Rom. 3.31). This is the way Jesus lived; it is the way we must live as well (1 Jn. 2.1-6).

For Reflection
1. Meditate on Psalm 1. What is your approach to meditating on God’s Law?

2. Lawlessness leads to lovelessness (Matt. 24.12). Why is this necessarily so?

Psalm 19.7-11 (St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
The Law of God is perfect, His testimony sure;
The simple man God’s wisdom learns, the soul receives its cure.
God’s Word is right, and His command is pure, and truth imparts;
He makes our eyes to understand; with joy He fills our hearts.

The fear of God is cleansing, forever shall it last.
His judgments all are true and just, by righteousness held fast.
O seek them more than gold most fine, than honey find them sweet;
Be warned by ev’ry word and line; be blessed with joy complete.

Lord, can I say that I love Your Law? Let my heart be submitted to Your Spirit so that…

To Know Jesus
Knowing Jesus is more than just having certain knowledge about Him. It means to love and live for Him, to commune and have fellowship with Him, and to adore and love Him always. Our book To Know Him can help you learn how to keep growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Order your free copy by clicking here.

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T. M. Moore, Principal
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Plummer, Litanies, p. 45.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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