The Spirit is Good (5)
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the earth. Psalm 104.30
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Galatians 4.6
Therefore, if anyone isi n Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5.17
The work of the Spirit of God is unto salvation, sanctification, and glorification in all those who believe. When God sends forth His Spirit into a person’s heart, the Spirit tears out the heart of stone and implants a heart of flesh – a new and living heart, open and eager to embrace God and His rule (Ezek. 36.26, 27). From that point forward, those in whom the Spirit dwells and is working become increasingly new creations in Christ Jesus, as they are transformed from glory to glory into the very image of the Lord (2 Cor. 3.12-18).
The process by which this happens in people – delivering us from sin and shame to forgiveness and freedom in Christ – is an orderly process. It is a mystery how this works, especially to think of the Spirit of God, as Paul indicates, engaging our mouths with His own power to cry out to God, “Abba, Father!” We can understand the Spirit’s work, but not entirely (Eccl. 3.11).
But while this process is a mystery, it is orderly, and can be known and shared with others. The order of God’s saving events in a person’s life – what theologians refer to as the ordo salutis – reaches all the way back to before the beginning of creation (cf. Eph. 1.4), and unfolds in an orderly progress that includes election, redemption in Jesus Christ, calling, regeneration, faith and repentance, justification, adoption into God’s household, sanctification, persevering in Christ, and glorification. And at each stage of the process, and within each of its several steps, the Spirit of God is working in an orderly and understandable manner to bring forth the good fruit of the Gospel in our lives.
The Holy Spirit is the Life-giver, the Maker of every new creation. He works with the Word of God to unpack the new life of salvation in all who believe (Jn. 6.63), bringing forth in them the good works of God (Eph. 2.8-10).
Our responsibility, knowing that God the Spirit is at work within us, is to get in step with His orderly way of working, so that the goodness of God’s saving work in our lives become increasingly evident (Phil. 2.12, 13).
The Spirit works with the Word
First, therefore, we must understand that the Spirit of God works with the Word of God to bring forth the goodness of God in those who believe.
We will not increase in God’s goodness until we embrace this most fundamental aspect of the Spirit’s working. They who neglect reading and study of God’s Word, or who merely dabble in the Word, or attend to it only while it is being preached or taught will never know the full and growing presence of the Spirit, bringing forth fruit and equipping us with gifts for ministry.
Beginning with daily grounding in the Law of God and the things of Christ (Ezek. 36.26, 27; Jn. 16.14, 15), and within that framework, coursing regularly through all the counsel of God in Scripture (2 Tim. 3.15-17; Acts 20.26, 27), we must nurture the daily discipline of reading and meditating in God’s Word. The Spirit will not bypass this first and most important step. If we want to know His power and goodness working through us, we must queue up with the Word day by day, so that the Spirit can feed us the spiritual food of the Lord.
The Spirit works through prayer
Likewise, the Spirit works through prayer. We do not know how to pray as we should, so the Spirit stands ready to help us, enabling our prayers in mysterious ways, so that we may have the requests we make of our Father in Jesus’ Name (Rom. 8.26, 27). If we will not pray, or if our prayers are merely occasional or perfunctory or incomplete, or if we ask amiss in prayer because we want only what we consider to be best for us (Jms. 4.2, 3), we will not be able to tap the Spirit’s power for the goodness of God.
We must learn to pray the way God insists we should. Here we can do no better than to let the Lord’s Prayer be a guide for us as we pray, supplementing its several sections with the words God has provided us elsewhere in Scripture, especially in the psalms.
Jesus said we must pray always, and not grow weary. Jesus understood that prayer is a crucial component of the Spirit’s good work in our lives.
The Spirit works in daily obedience
Finally, the Spirit works through daily obedience (Gal. 5.16-23). He fills us, directs our steps, and teaches us what is sinful and righteous (Jn. 16.8-11). He leads us in the paths of righteousness; and He empowers us as we obey, to bear His fruit and live as witnesses for Christ.
There is clear order to the working of the Holy Spirit. He is working to unpack the good salvation of the Lord in our lives, and we can expect to know that great boon, increasingly and joyfully, to the extent that we submit to the Spirit’s orderly working in all aspects of our lives.
1. What do we mean by an “order of salvation”? Why does it matter that this is an orderly process?
2. What are the greatest hindrances to your spending more time in God’s Word and prayer? How can you overcome these?
3. What can believers do to encourage one another to keep in step with the Holy Spirit?
Next steps – Transformation: What’s one thing you could do to improve your time in God’s Word and prayer?
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.