Holy spirit makes us DAUGHTERS and son OF GOD
Here's the first thing: We become sons and daughters of God.
Romans, chapter 8 is one of the most magnificent chapters in the entire New Testament. It's kind of like the Himalayas of the New Testament. It's a high point. And in Romans 8, verses 1 and 2, St Paul writes this: 'Therefore , there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.'
Jesus on the cross took all our sins — past, present, future . And he takes all of our sins and he buries them 'in the very depths of the sea', as the prophet Micah puts it. And that's where they're to stay. The slate is wiped completely clean the moment we come to Christ. And then something even more amazing happens: we become in this relationship with God — all of us are created by God but not everybody is living in this relationship like a son or a daughter with a parent . And this happens not by birth but by spiritual birth . And in chapter 8, verse 14-17 — if chapter 8 is the Himalayas, this is like Mount Everest! He says this — chapter 8, verse 14: '… because those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we're God's children. And if we're children, then we're heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory .'
"Abba Father" is a word of a very close intimacy of relationship. It's a word that was distinctive to Jesus. Nowhere in the Old Testament is God referred to as Abba, but Jesus used it of his relationship with God.
We can have the same relationship. God can be your father . And then it's the deepest experience. People are looking, aren't they, for spiritual experiences and they look in all kinds of ways. Here is the deepest spiritual experience you can ever have — verse 16: 'The Spirit himself' — that's the Holy Spirit — 'testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. '
What Does the Holy Spirit Do?
DEVELOPING THE RELATIONSHIP
Holy Spirit helps us to develop the relationship . And relationships grow by communication. So the Spirit of God helps us to pray, to speak to God. In Ephesians 2, verse 18, which says that 'through him [through Jesus] we both [ Jews and Gentiles] have access to the Father by the Spirit.' — the fact that we have access to God. There's nothing, if you like, between us and God. St Paul writes later in Romans 8, he says: 'the Spirit helps us in our weakness' because we don't know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us. So he helps us in the relationship, he helps us to pray, and then also he helps us to understand God's word'. Paul prays in Ephesians that we would have 'the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we might know God better'. He prays that 'the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened' in order that we can understand.
The Holy Spirit brings the family likeness
It's obvious, isn't it, that children very often look like their parents. The amazing thing is that they so often look like both parents, even if the parents look quite different from each other. But it's not just even a genetic thing; it's partly a genetic thing, but it's also, I think, spending time together. Isn't it amazing how husbands and wives often grow to look like each other! I even saw this program about owners and their dogs! It was uncanny — these people came on and they looked exactly like their dogs! They'd spent too long with them!
But St Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, ' we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. ' So he's saying when the Spirit of God comes to live within a person, he will bring about this family likeness, becoming more like God, becoming more like Jesus.
How does this happen?
In Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22 and 23, St Paul writes: 'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control .' This is the Spirit of Jesus coming to make us more like Jesus.
So what are the characteristics the Spirit wants to bring to us? fruit of the Spirit
The first, and most i mportant, is love. When we experience God's love for us, the love of God being poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, that should flow out in love for God and love for other people.
Joy is very different from happiness. Nowhere are we guaranteed happiness as Christians. Some people have very difficult lives, many struggles that they have to cope with. But what the New Testament promises us is joy, which is far deeper. Richard Wurmbrand, who was imprisoned for many years in a former Communist country and tortured, sometimes on an almost daily basis, for his faith, he wrote this: 'Alone in my cell, cold, hungry and in rags, I danced for joy every night. Sometimes I was so filled with joy that I felt I would burst if I did not give it expression.'
Peace . Again, this is not a superficial peace but peace in the midst of trouble, anxiety, struggle. It's a peace which `passes understanding'. It's like a kind of deep ocean current. There might be a storm on the surface — wind and waves; but deep down an inner peace which comes from having peace with God. And it flows out in wanting to bring peace to others. Francis of Assisi — at least, attributed to Francis of Assisi — said: `Make me a channel, make me an instrument of your peace. Make me a peacemaker, help me to bring peace to this troubled world.' And then all the other wonderful characteristics: patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . That's the family likeness .
The Spirit wants us to be united with one another.
We're meant to be an example to a troubled and divided world. Jesus prayed for the unity of the church. And the amazing thing is that we have a unity because we are sons and daughters of God. That makes us brothers and sisters.
St Paul writes in Ephesians 4, verse 3: 'Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord , one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of us all, who is over all and through all and in all.' The Spirit of God lives in every Christian regardless of background, color, race, culture. And it's quite rare now that you get this sort of rather bigoted and arrogant attitude that 'We are the only Christians'.
GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Turn to 1 Corinthians 12:4–11, St Paul writes this. ' There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in everyone. ' 'Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good . To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom , to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers , to another prophecy , to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues , and to still another the interpretation of tongues . All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.' This is not an exhaustive list — in other lists of the Spirit we get gifts of service, encouraging, contributing to the needs of others, leade rship, showing mercy, evangelists, pastors — all kinds of gifts. But the point is that we need all of them . Paul's using the analogy of a body: the nose can't say `I'm more important than the eye'.
The church is not meant to be a kind of one-man show. Too often churches have become a sort of one-man show — the pastor does everything, or the vicar does everything, or the priest does everything. And the people are not doing anything!
How can we be filled with the Spirit?
This family into which we are born, the family of God, is meant to be a growing family. One of the verses we looked at earlier was Acts 1, verse 8, where Jesus says that when the Spirit comes 'You will receive power … and you will be my witnesses.' In other words, 'other people will find out about me through what you do and what you say.' And the church begins to grow. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit living within them. Paul writes: 'If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, that person does not belong to Christ.' Yet not every Christian is filled with the Spirit. Because Paul writes to people who are already Christians and he gives them a command: 'Be filled with the Spirit' — How? How can we be filled with the Spirit? at Revelation, chapter 22, verse 17 — right at the end of the Bible. 'The Spirit [that's the Holy Spirit] and the bride [that's the bride of Christ, which is the church] — The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let all who hear say, `Come!” Let those who are thirsty come; let all who wish take the free gift of the water of life.'