Post modern people sneer at believers. They rant about alleged inconsistencies in the Bible and nurse their bitterness about church hurt and disappointment with God. They cling to a twisted perception of what God should be in their unchallenged, intellectual approach to things unseen, beyond the realms of the mind. Christians rarely have the answers ready and shy away from arguments. I do too. I feel that I am by far not capable of proving God’s existence and ways with man. I leave that to the “professionals”, the very eloquent and smart apologists of our time, for whom I have the greatest respect.
Today, more than ever, I am grateful for the faith that I was fed with mother’s milk. My lullabies were songs that I remember to this day: Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, My God can do anything, Got any problems, you think are impossible and so on. I grew up with the stories of grandparents and parents who trusted God and rejoiced in miraculous outcome to insurmountable situations – in war, finances and relationships. I thank God for that.
Recently I have been challenged by friends who rejected faith. I was deeply troubled by their complacency of a life without God. I was still in the frame of mind not to argue and comforted in my conviction that arguments do not win souls, when I mentioned our discussions to my son, who is active in the field of apologetics. Of course you must argue …and win, he shot back. Of course arguments win souls. We cannot sit back and let them step into the field of theology without confronting their mindset with the truth, he went on.
We had a wonderful, thrilling discussion and I went away armed with better ideas to answer the superficial and unfounded sweeping statements of non-believers. That aside.
I again asked myself how is it possible that I cannot understand this rejection. I am so dependent on Jesus. I need Him in prayer; I need Him in provision; protection and blessing. I need to hear His voice about my situation; I need the ancient words of encouragement so perfectly applicable today – what a miracle. How could anyone reject this treasure?
During the course of our discussions, I have come to the conclusion that it is easy to reject something you never had. Christianity can be counted, church members are statistics and charity work is visible. Churches are full of members who find social acceptance and comfortable relationships in volunteering and blessed service to the church and to God. This is a good thing – I rejoice in every person doing this, including myself, not only in church but also in the wider community. This is exactly where we need every Christian working and living in the fruit of the Holy Spirit – Galatians 5:22,23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
But that is not all. We all need the power of God working through us to truly meet the challenge. We need ALL the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We need the full blessing of everything mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12. If we live and move and have our being in the full measure of the Spirit of God, it is impossible to reject the Lover of our souls and the indwelling presence of our loving Father Who carries us through everything life may throw our way. Daily communion and communication with God can never be replaced with anything else and leaves an unbearable void when it is not experienced.
This is the true Gospel. God in us – Immanuel – on invitation in our inner being, living in us, creating and working and thinking.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
And the promise to top it all:
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
Our ultimate spiritual triumph is to abide in Christ. Without that we are powerless churchgoers not up to the challenge of transformation and new thinking.
John 15: 9-12:
9“ As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Jesus is our leader; we follow in His way paved with love. How do we walk?
Method: Keep His commandments. Verse 10.
His commandments: That you love one another. Verse 12.
Result: Joy – that unspeakable, ecstatic delight not dependent on any circumstances. Verse 11.
Paul starts the twelfth chapter in 1 Corinthians with a sure test for the Spirit of God in all situations. We know where there is freedom to experience the working of the Spirit, the devil is active to abuse the freedom and sow deception. But we should not be ignorant, says Paul. We can test the Spirit by the confession that Jesus is Lord. No one can do that but by the Spirit of God. This is confirmed by John in
1 John 2:22:
Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.
and 1 John 4:2:
By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,
I love the scale and grandeur of the working of the Holy Spirit as described by Paul in the next verses. We are not limited or boxed in. The immense and unfathomable diversity in creation that blows our minds is available in the Spirit of the God who created this immeasurable universe. It is all subjected to the indwelling of His Spirit in us to aid and abet all possible state of affairs. We are never left without the solution to our problem. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit in and through us will benefit us and all those around us.
1 Corinthians 12: 4-7:
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:
Before we study the specific gifts of the Holy Spirit discussed in this chapter, we should emphasize again and again that the born-again, Spirit-filled child of God, lives through the Spirit and does every good deed by the urging of the Spirit working in his inner being.
1 Corinthians 6:19,20:
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Ezekiel 43: 4.5:
And the glory of the Lord came into the temple by way of the gate, which faces toward the east. 5 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple.
Ezekiel describes how the glory of the Lord filled up the magnificent temple in his vision. Paul commands us to glorify the Lord in our bodies and spirit for it is the temple of God. The church of Jesus Christ is the New Jerusalem and we are the temple in which God dwells. This is a grand thought. How can this most high God live and find His dwelling place – not just a fleeting visitation – in mere mortals like us?
2 Chronicles 6:18:
18 “But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!
Jesus on the cross gave up His spirit to God and at that very moment the thick, woven curtain in the Temple in Jerusalem was torn from top to bottom, to restore access to the Presence of God through the Blood of the Lamb. [Matthew 27:50-51]
Jesus glorified His father in His life on earth. John 17:4:
I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.
The glory of God is the full exhibition of His character.
Jesus touched the untouchables, the lepers whom nobody touched; He spoke to women, forbidden by the laws of the church; He invited the children who were thought a nuisance, to His embrace.*
We are to exhibit His character in our lives. This is not possible without the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:16,17:
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
Come let us pray the beautiful prayer of Solomon in his dedication of the temple. May God put His name in our hearts – Hallelujah!
2 Chronicles 6: 19
19 Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You: 20 that Your eyes may be open toward this temple day and night, toward the place where You said You would put Your name, that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place.
Pebblepals – Where is your God? He is in you!
Next week: Gifts for every place and situation.
Scripture for these examples:
Luke 5 / Mark 14 – lepers
John 4 / Luke 8 – women
Luke 18 – children