“Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the Word that
by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2, NASB)
The purpose of “Condensed Milk” is to feed your mind and soul with God’s words and thoughts. The value of including these readings in your reading diet is that these readings will often reflect what God is doing among us as a church family. They will be tailored to us. The reflections are based on the Bible, and because God’s Word is referred to as milk and we are offering simplified observations from it, we are calling these reflections “Condensed Milk.”
What the Holy Spirit Does in Us Part 1: Introduction
In the next nine or so reflections, we are going to think about the Holy Spirit. The doctrine (teaching) of the Holy Spirit can be studied under two broad categories, namely, his person and his work. Who (or what) is the Holy Spirit, and what does he do? Our focus will be on the latter theme, and particularly on what the Holy Spirit does in our lives.
The Christian experience begins and ends with the work of the Holy Spirit. Apart from his initiative and activity, there is no Christian experience. The Christian life is not simply a religious choice to follow certain convictions and values or to associate with a particular group or church. Christian experience is the invasion of God into the soul of a person. It is the life of God in a human soul. A person is not a Christian until he is indwelt by the Spirit of God, and no one begins life that way. We must be made alive through the good news of Jesus.
What does the Holy Spirit do in a person? We will look at nine things, specifically. He regenerates, baptizes, indwells, seals, convicts, gifts, influences and guides, sanctifies, and fills us. No wonder, then, that a true Christian is a transformed person.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone; the new is here.”
(2 Corinthians 5:17)!
Defying Doubt, Feeding Faith
In my Bible reading this morning, I noticed that part of a healthy Christian’s journey is a holy defiance, a determination to push back against all thoughts and moods that are contrary to faith in God. For example, in the Psalms, as David deals with the opposition and threats of others, he seems to push back his fears and feelings of gloom with confessions that God is with him and will ultimately rescue and vindicate him. As he does so, his faith seems to grow.
In the first chapter of 2 Timothy, I noticed that Paul seems to defy the temptation to feel shame and, perhaps, despair. To Timothy, he writes, “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner” (1:8). A few verses later, he alludes to his “suffering” and says, “Yet this is no cause for shame….” (1:12). Finally, he expresses gratitude that Onesiphorus was not ashamed of his “chains” but searched hard for Paul and refreshed him. One gets the impression that Paul was tempted to feel shame, but why?
We should remember that 2 Timothy is the last letter we have from Paul before his execution. He must have known death could be just around the corner. What a contrast to what might have been. In his younger years, he had been a Pharisee, a prominent, influential, wealthy (most Pharisees were, at least) and admired person. That could have been his life. But when writing to Timothy, he likely had very little by way of wealth. He had exhausted himself in very difficult ministry. And the result of his efforts? Many of the churches he founded were floundering in division and false teaching. Elsewhere he states, “I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28). He had many detractors within the Christian camp who opposed and bad-mouthed him and took pleasure in his imprisonment (Phlp. 1:15-17). Here he was, nearing the end of his life, and so much was wrong. Yet Paul says, defiantly, “this is no cause for shame because I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” (2 Tim. 1:12).
The Christian, then, is called to refuse to give way to gloom and doubt. Like David and Paul, we push those thoughts and feeling back with confessions of truth and confidence in God. And in this exercise of our faith, we will overcome these gloomy voices that bring us down.