January 2023 | The True Vine and The Soon Coming King

Grateful for the Indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit
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Grateful for the Indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit

Pr. Gibson Joy

There are many themes that run through the Bible, like a singular thread that one can follow to understand in a broader fashion the plans and purposes of God. There is no other theme that runs more strongly and steadily than the presence of God. Like a story, the Bible follows with God in the beginning creating and filling his creation with his presence, the loss of relationship and being cut off from his presence because of sin and the ultimate restoration of God’s dwelling with humanity as in the beginning described in the last chapter of Revelation. 

We see that this desire for God to be with His people and them with Him, that leads him to even pay the ultimate price to make a way for that to happen. 

What does the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit tell me today that I am grateful for? 

I am a Child of God

One of the most precious realities of having the presence of God in us is knowing that we are His children. We are not strangers, cut-off from Him. We are not alienated anymore because of sin. The presence of the Holy Spirit in us urges to go to God with the confidence of a child and call him “daddy” or “papa”. Like Paul says: 

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:6-7

I have a two-year-old in the house. And it warms my heart to call him dada. There was one day when we had this exchange for along time. I would say, “JJ” and he would reply “dada”. And it was wonderful to savour that moment. I wonder if God too enjoys that when his children come and call him “Abba”. Just like “dada” in our culture, “Abba” would have been the first words out of a Jewish baby. And the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, invites us to exercise that kind of confidence before God. No longer held back by the shame of bondage, or the slavery to the law that continuously reveals our inadequacy. But His Spirit in us that makes us adequate as Children of God and co-heirs with Christ. What is our inheritance in Christ? I believe there is nothing more precious that one can receive than the presence of God himself. Our inheritance is to be with Him, to walk with Him, to be his Temple where he lives by His Spirit – And this is an eternal inheritance. 

I belong to Him

Along with the joy of being a child of God is also this aspect of belongingness. Too many people nowadays walk about with an orphan mentality. Expecting to go through life on their own, developing their own ways to cope, to survive, and submitting to the ultimate meaninglessness that a life without God espouses. Too many people struggle to fit in, going about life looking for a place where they will be accepted and belong. We seek out communities, groups where we can be part of. When it comes to God, it becomes difficult for us to even comprehend belonging to him. How could a God so holy choose people like us and further say that we belong to Him? At one point God called the people of Israel his treasured possession. Through Hosea he calls them the apple of his eye. In Ezekiel, God uses the language to marriage and betrothal to describe his relationship with Israel. Even the covenantal language used by God, “I am your God. You are my people”, communicates this element of God cherishing his people as his very own. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth “, Paul said, “the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13) The seal of the Holy Spirit described by Paul is the seal of ownership. That we are no longer our own. We belong to God. The evidence of our belonging to God is not some material possession, or a third-party declaration – it is his very own presence in us that he has given to guarantee that we belong to him and have a future with Him. 

When one goes through life’s ups and downs, anxieties and stresses, fears and uncertainties, rejection, frustration, and confusion – this is an important truth to savour - that through the cross, God made a way for His Holy Spirit to be in me, showing me that I belong to Him forever. Nothing can separate me from His love. Jesus is at the right hand of God interceding for us. His Spirit is in us declaring that we are his children, we belong to Him. The Father looks on us with favour because of Jesus’ sacrifice and the presence of the Holy Spirit in us counting us as co-heirs with Christ. There is nothing hindering us from declaring boldly with joy – “I belong to Him. He is with me. I am not abandoned. I am not alone. I am His and he is mine.”

I have a future with God

Paul speaks on many occasions of the believer’s inheritance in Christ (Rom 8:17; Eph 1:14; Col 1:12). This inheritance has not only to do with their present position in Christ but also their future destiny. Our destiny has been altered because of the cross. No longer are we looking forward to a future of condemnation, separation from God, or even destruction. But through his sacrifice on the cross, he has now opened a way for us to be reconciled and look forward to a future of harmonious relationship with God, made right by God himself. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of this inheritance. The down payment that God himself gave us so that while we go through this period of evil and injustice, we will remember that this is not our ultimate destiny. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us. Through His Spirit in us, he has made us partners of his divine nature continuing the work that he has finished on the cross. That death blow to sin and evil that he dealt on the cross. As his Church, through His Spirit, we begin to change and alter destinies even in the world we live in. Whether it is helping individuals, families, societies, in our workplace – we are constantly called upon through His Spirit to unleash his life, goodness, righteousness and healing upon the world we live in. We also know that through His Spirit, that same newness of life that he has brought to us and that which he made us partners of, will be ultimately completed when he comes again and makes all things new. 

Sin no longer has a hold on me

The selfishness and unbelief that sin is rooted in, is something that tends to plague us daily. We do echo the words of Paul on many occasions, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”. But may we today echo the rest of his words as well, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:24) What was the reason for his kind of a triumphalist statement that Paul makes in the face of the seeming inescapability of a lifestyle of sin? There seems to be only one answer – the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. He explains that law helped to reveal sin but didn’t help to overcome sin. Only in the power of the Spirit can one experience this death blow to sin. 

When one believes in Christ, God puts his Spirit in them – to make them a new creation, to free them not only from the ultimate penalty of sin but also from the power of sin that made them slaves to its bidding. “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.” Romans 8:9 The realm of the flesh as Paul describes it hear was the realm in which we were living under the influence and power of our sinful nature and desires. But through the presence of His Spirit, we have been ushered into a new realm – the Spirit realm. Where it is the Spirit who influences our nature, minds, and lifestyle. Moving from indwelling sin to now having the indwelling Spirit, it now gives us the great reservoir of Spiritual power and insight to live the life that God has created us to live. Even amid our many failures, we can still count on the Holy Spirit working in us progressively, tearing away at the unrighteousness and making us righteous from the inside out. So everyday we can declare because of the presence of His Spirit, “I am free from sin. It no longer has a hold on me”.

I am destined to be like Him

What follows from a life free from sin is a life destined to be like Jesus. Too often the Christian life can seem like a drudgery if the only focus is on living a life free from sin. That is not the main goal. There is always a life beyond turning away from sin. It is a life of turning towards Jesus. This destiny is two-fold. 

Firstly, it is the ultimate destiny of experiencing a resurrection like Christ’s when we die. This is the hope that we have because of His Spirit in us. Knowing this truth, leads us to understand that physical death here is not the end. But His Spirit will work in our bodies and renew us at the end, and we will live again. Paul describes Jesus’s resurrection as the first fruit (Colossians 1:15-20). The first of many to follow. This is our destiny to be raised to life like Christ and live forever with Him. 

Secondly, this destiny has to do with the life we live in the world. It not a passive life, living huddled and in fear of sin and the world. Through the presence of His Spirit in us, we are challenged to live no longer as slaves to sin but as Children of God (Rom 8:14-16). Like Keith Green once said, “We are called to be little Jesuses in the world we live in”. The church a hub of the Kingdom of God in the world we live in. All this is brought about by the presence of His Spirit. 

This is God’s plan both individually –“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,” Romans 8:29 – and corporately - And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:22 “…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13

How is the world going to see Jesus? Through the presence of His Spirit in us making us more like him. As the Church, his Spirit is at work making us mature so that we can reflect more fully the presence and power of Christ in the world. This is our destiny. To be active in the world as His Children, destined to be like Him. 

These wonderful truths have been brought about by the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. Gratitude is one way for us to enter and experience these truths not only as exciting rational truths but also a living reality in our lives more fully. Through faithful         gratitude as we pick these truths and express our thanks and surrender to God, let us experience the power of the Spirit not only as a passive presence in our lives, but an active influence in everything we do as individuals and as the Church of God.   

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