connecting theology and life in gospel-centred ways to the glory of God and our joy in Him
Understanding what the scriptures say about the Holy Spirit
[Thursday is here. Everyone is getting pretty tired, but we’ve got another big day of learning. Thanks for joining me on this live blog – and if you’re coming in the evenings please check out the bookstall and let me help you find some great books for your growth in 2019 :)]
Morning Talk | Galatians 5:16-26 | Our Obligation to the Spirit | Tony Rowbotham
Because we are now in the Spirit we have an obligation – not to the flesh (for if you live according to the flesh you will die), but to the Spirit (for if you live according to the Spirit you will live). We have an obligation to the Spirit because we are now in his realm – and it is an obligation of grace.
When you walk into an Asian home you take your shoes off – you seek to honour the home of someone else. It is rude if you were to walk into someone’s home, sit on the lounge and put your shoes on the coffee table – take control of the remote, and raid the fridge. That would not be conduct which would honour the house of the owner. We have an obligation to honour the work of the Spirit that Christ has placed within us.
7 Marks of Spirited Living
1. Put Jesus first
John 15:26 – The Spirit is the Spirit who testifies to Jesus – through the words of the Apostles who testify to the death and resurrection of Jesus.
John 16:13 – the Spirit will guide the Apostles into understanding about him.
When you seek to bring about the glory of Christ that is when the mark of the Holy Spirit is within you. When you see in Jesus the death of a man who gave his life for sin, and when you see in his resurrection the power to raise people from the dead, and by simply putting faith in him you are set right with your Father in Heaven – that is the work of the Spirit.
In Ephesians 1 there are four blessings – they all come from Jesus – and every blessing takes us to Jesus.
So the first mark of Spiritual Living is to put Jesus first. Not to be on about the Spirit. If you’re a spiritual person you will be on about Jesus – his person and achievements.
2. You will be a person of the Word
You cannot elevate the Spirit without elevating the Word of God. All scripture is God-breathed, God-spirited. The task he gives the servant of God, to Timothy, is to preach the Word. That is your task, that is how the gospel comes to the world, and that is the task of the spiritual person.
Ephesians 6:17 – one of the parts of the armour of God is to take the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. The cutting edge of God’s work in the world is through the word of God.
When you attempt to do a handyman job with the wrong tool it is bad – it takes way too long, and you can stuff it up way too easily. The tool that the Spirit gives to do His work in the world is the Word of God.
Go to a church that teaches the word. Go to bible study regularly. The most important thing you need to hear in the week is the Word of God.
What makes out the fourth soil in the parable in the sower? The fourth soil is the person who hears and accepts the Word of God. That is how you grow as a Christian, and how you ensure you’re the fourth soil.
To be a Christian without the Bible is to be Luke Skywalker without a lightsaber. [Noooooooooo! That’s not possible!! – Steven]
1 John 5:14 – you can ask God for anything according to His will. What do children of God ask for? They ask for the things that the Spirit wants. They want to please their saviour, to live for him. So they can ask for anything – and what they want to ask for is what the Father wants – for what it means to live in the realm of the Spirit.
If we take this to heart it will revolutionise our prayers – we will pray as Paul prays, we will pray to know Christ better. Our prayers tend to be centred around stuff in our lives – and while it’s not bad to pray about the things of life, our prayers should be reformed and saturated by what is revealed in the Word of God. Spirit people’s prayers are different – for we will want what the Spirit wants.
4. Stay in step with the Spirit
When you’re in a three-legged race your obligation is to keep your legs in step together, otherwise it ends in a mess. Our obligation is to keep in step/walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-25 – how do we walk in the Spirit? First, we don’t gratify our flesh – we do not do whatever we want. There is a big conflict that happens inside a spiritual Christian – and the battle is not evidence that you are losing the war between sin and Spirit, the battle is evidence that you are indeed a child of God. If you sinned and did not care that is evidence that you are not a child of God.
Sometimes we think that to be spiritual is to have your life together. That is not true. To be spiritual is to battle – from new birth to new creation.
The acts of the flesh (6:19-21) – if we are in step with the spirit we will step away from these things. The fruit of the Spirit (6:22-23) – how much do we appreciate and celebrate the work of the Spirit within us? We are more patient because of the work of he Spirit within us. You are not just nice people, you are Spirited people – people who are keeping in step with the Spirit. This conference, this fellowship, is a work of God. God is to be praised – not you! This fruit ought to lead to the praise of God and not you! Sometimes we assume it’s the person – but it is truly the work of God.
Arrange your life around your obligations to the Spirit – what He values. Learn to value peace, love, joy, and self-control – more than productivity, freedom, or other things that the world says are more important.
What sort of person do you want to spend the rest of your life with? Make it someone who is going to help you arrange your life around our obligations to the Spirit. It requires discipline to say ‘No’ to a relationship with a non-believer. That takes discipline and courage. If you want to arrange your life around your obligations to the Spirit find a believer who does the same.
5. You are a child of God (Romans 8)
The greatest achievement of the Holy Spirit is that you have been made children of God.
You deserve judgement, and yet we receive sonship. We are brought right into the family – not just to observe the dinner table as an onlooker, but as a guest seated at the table.
We need constant encouragement to remember that we are children of God because we have yet to receive everything that children receive – our inheritance, to take off this body of sin and receive our redeemed bodies – so the Spirit is there to remind us that we haven’t received everything as sons and daughters… but we will one day!
Hebrews 5:7-8 – another form of suffering in our lives is the suffering of living a godly life. Think of Jesus in the wilderness – he suffered for his godliness. As you continue to say no to yourself and yes to God.
6. Know this verse (Ephesians 1:13)
You were included in Christ when you heard (and received) the gospel – when you believed you were sealed with the Holy Spirit. You believed the gospel of your salvation – when you believe that Jesus died and rose in your place, and He gave you His righteousness you received the Spirit in his fullness.
There is no second blessing to come.
No second blessing that you might do ministry better. When you believed that is when you received the Holy Spirit.
There is so much out there which is wrong on this – so much unhelpful or false teaching about second blessings of the Spirit.
When you have the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is yet to complete his work in you. Some people speak of having the Holy Spirit meaning you have everything – but that’s not the teaching of scripture. The NT uses words like seal, deposit, first fruits to describe his ongoing work.
Matthew 28:18-20 – God’s Spirit is with us as we take the gospel to the world. If you’re a Spirit person you will be on about mission and will love mission.
Reflect upon these seven marks – which do we want to rejoice in and work on?
[You’ve heard of 9Marks of a Healthy Church? Here are 7 Marks of a Spirited person. Lots to chew on here!]
Evening Talk | John 17 | Jesus’ Prayer For Us | Paul Grimmond
1. Listening in on Jesus’ Prayer
These are the final words of Jesus as he leads up to the cross. This passage, these last words before he walks out to face his accusers, we find Jesus at prayer. Jesus finishes all his instructions by praying.
Imagine that – Jesus finishes by praying. God incarnate, the all powerful Son, heir of the universe, in authority over all creation under the Father stops and prays. Jesus knows he is dependent on his Father and needs His help.
This reliance on the Father is throughout this section – 14:28, 30-31; 15:10
Jesus is not only our lord and ruler but also our model of submission. He knows as he comes to the end of his life what it is to cry out to his Father for his needs and sustenance. Jesus was deeply aware of his need to depend on his Father – which puts our self-sufficiency to shame.
17:1 – Jesus’ lifting his eyes to pray. We have in this chapter the beautiful and immeasurably wonderful final words of Jesus in prayer.
Why is Jesus’ prayer recorded? Jesus said and did lots of other things that are not recorded (cf 20:30-31) – so John chose particular things that we need to know about Jesus in order to love and trust him.
2. Three prayers – all for us
i. Jesus prays for himself (17:1-5)
The very first words of Jesus’ prayer echo the words we started with on our first evening – the hour has come. John 12:23 – the hour is something that will lead to the glory of Jesus. 12:27 – the hour is also a time of deep sorrow.
13:31-33 – Jesus is about to go the place that none of us can go. None of us can go to the cross to die for the sins of the world. Jesus’ hour of glory and sorrow is the hour of the cross. And so Jesus’ prayer in 17 is a prayer for God to give him the strength to go to the cross to fulfil his Father’s plan (17:5).
As John speaks this to all of us – he speaks in a way that is incredible to hear.
John 19 – see how John speaks of Jesus as the King – this chapter is dripping with irony – because everything that proclaims Jesus as King is done in mockery. And yet the remarkable thing what they do in mockery God the Father is doing in reality. What they proclaim is actually the truth – here is the King of the world being crowned in glory as he dies for you and me.
We don’t belong in the Father’s presence, not in our sinful state would we dare enter the presence of the living God. Jesus goes to the cross to take ALL of our sin so that we can walk into the presence of God so that God would say to us, ‘Welcome!’
Here is glory. The moment that redefines glory.
Paul’s confession: growing up desperately wanting to be famous. Paul played in a band, loved playing in front of a crowd – and dreamed of playing in front of a massive crowd. But he’s not the only one who has dreamed that. We all have dreamed that because we live in a world that elevates high achievement. The high marks, the musical certificate, the grand final win – and even FB which teaches us to chase ‘likes’. We live our lives for the approval of other people and we call that ‘glory’.
Jesus moment of glory is to suffer, to be spat upon, to be killed in service of his Father. This teaches us what true glory is. Glory is to honour the Father to give up ourselves for the wants and needs of the people around you. Some of the most glorious things you do will never be liked by everybody. True glory is the pleasure of the Father.
So true glory needs to be redefined in our lives. Please your heavenly Father and glorify the Son by the life you lead.
In praying this for himself Jesus is also praying for our benefit – that we might know and live for true glory.
ii. Jesus prays for his disciples (17:6-19)
Why is it important that Jesus prays about how the disciples have received him and believed him. Jesus, as he goes to the cross to be glorified, is also glorified in his disciples as the ministry of the Spirit uses the ministry of the disciples to deliver the good news of Jesus’ death to the nations.
v12 – a remarkable statement – why this phrase in this passage? A reminder that even Judas and his work in the betrayal of the Son was not an accident, mistake, or God not in control. God was in charge of the whole of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The Bible is never shy about declaring the sovereignty of God. The most evil act that ever happened in the world was under God’s sovereign control. Acts 2:23 – Jesus delivered up according to the foreknowledge and plan of God. God gave his Son to the cross so that we could be forgiven.
This truth must form the bedrock of our life when we face suffering and the chaos of an out of control world. God in those circumstances will give us his Spirit to sustain us to get through. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that God is hands-off, gives us freedom and really wants us to love him – that’s now how the Bible expresses it. God is in control of every circumstance of your life.
So Jesus’ prayer for us – that even as the world hates us, that they not be taken out of the world but they be kept from the evil one.
Jesus also prays that we would take his gospel to the world. And while there has been debate about who should speak and share the gospel with the world the truth is that in the heart of all of us must be the heart of the Father for the world that we would love the world to tell them the gospel they so need to hear.
iii. Jesus prays for us (17:20-26)
And finally at the end, in verse 20, he turns to pray directly to us.
So what does Jesus, as he goes to his death, pray for you and me? What does he ask for us?
Jesus prays the same thing twice within four verses:
v21 – unity. v23 – unity = so that the world will know that Jesus has been sent into the world.
He prays for our unity so that our world will know who He is.
The same thing is said in 13:34-35 – if God’s people love one another the world will know they are disciples.
Two big principles to living this out:
First – what Jesus is calling us to is a unity of heart, mind, and purpose about the truth about Him. Our job is to workout how to be in gracious, forgiving, Jesus-centred relationship with all the people who God has placed around you. The people you like and the people who drive you nuts.
So are there brothers and sisters to whom you are currently out of fellowship? Are there people you hold a grudge against? Is there someone you’re holding bitterness against? You’re running away from because you’re angry with them?
If Jesus has died to unite us to the Father it is not enough for us to say, ‘I don’t like them and don’t want to see them again – and all will be ok.’
Speaking and seeking reconciliation won’t always work – but we are told to seek the risk of it because we belong together for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Maybe we need to acknowledge the wrong we have done, maybe we need to point out the wrong done to us – and there will be 1000 excuses to avoid sending that message to catch up – yet be encouraged to work towards being united. This requires an incredible amount of grace.
Have you ever noticed that when you get into an argument with somebody you both say, ‘You started it.’? What is it that we are hoping when we say that? We’re hoping that they will acknowledge they started the wrong and that justifies every wrong that happened after that. But their sin does not justify your sin – their wronging you does not justify gossiping or slandering them.
As you open up and own what you’ve done wrong doesn’t negate what they have done wrong – but we are to take the first step towards reconciliation.
Second – because unity is so precious to Jesus and so precious to Jesus’ people – it is a truth we should expect to be deeply exploited by Satan. Unity does not mean we agree everything is right and hold hands and sing songs together. The Apostle John who heard this teaching wrote in 1 John 2:18-19 about false teachers. We don’t know what happened in 1 John but there appears to have been a group gone out from John’s church and not because of some disagreement but because they are abandoning the gospel. Then in 1 John 2:21-24 John goes on to call them back to the truth – so it looks like these “brothers and sisters” were going out and teaching lies.
We don’t have fellowship for the sake of fellowship.
So we need deep discernment with people who say they are brothers and sisters around our city, nation and globe. We need to overlook folly, sin, and lack of wisdom – but we need to so know the truth and hold onto it that when people reject the deep truths about Christ we need to say to them we no longer belong to you and you no longer belong to Christ.
This is very hard work. As sinful humans we tend to choose the wrong option – we hold onto truth when we need to forgive, or we forgive and let go of truth. But we need to do the hard work on this to get it right.
3. What about the work of the Spirit?
While the first passage on the first night and this final passage don’t tend to speak of the Spirit – His work is deeply woven in all of these passages.
What is the purpose of a spotlight in a dark concert hall? It’s job is not to draw attention to itself – but to draw attention to the singer. That’s the Spirit’s job – to focus attention on Jesus. So if we’re not talking about him and talking about Jesus the Spirit is delighted! Because that’s what it wants!
Ephesians 4:1-3 – we are to eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit – but the Spirit doesn’t sulk because it doesn’t get a mention in John 17 because Jesus is only speaking about unity and not about him. He is delighted because Jesus is speaking what the Spirit desires – unity around the Son.
We speak about the work of the Spirit all the time in our churches – because when we focus on Jesus we are doing what the Spirit delights.
Do not let people accuse you that you are not a “Spirit Christian” or not a “Spiritual Person” because you do not speak of the Spirit that much. We are the people of the Spirit because we understand what the Spirit is doing – and when we speak of the work of the Father and Son we are doing the work of the Spirit.
[The Spirit delights when we do not speak of him but speak of Jesus for that is what the Spirit desires. What a wonderful teaching! May we be ‘Spirit’ people because we so love the Father and Son and speak of their work in this world.]
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