Monday, July 23, 2007

The Holy Spirit is Gracious

I believe that, at least in word, most who call themselves evangelicals consent to the fact that salvation comes by grace alone. I say that we consent to this mentally, but not always in reality. In truth, coming to terms with the absolute freedom of God's gift of salvation is part of the maturing process.

I am, however, remorseful that we have largely failed to connect the grace of God with the Spirit of God Himself. He is, after all, as gracious and kind at the Lord Jesus and God the Father. Indeed, of all the persons of the Trinity, we ought to feel the comfort and grace of the Spirit most keenly in our daily walk. He is called the "Comforter" for a reason.

Think, for a moment, on the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church. If He is mysterious to us, it is because of the position that He has chosen for Himself. He is the author of Sacred Scripture, is He not? And yet, how did He choose to write that wonderful book? He wrote it through men. He used their personalities and their thoughts and their experiences, and He guarded them from error. What a gift to the Church and to these men the Spirit gave! The Holy Spirit could have written the Bible on papyrus directly in the sight of all of Israel and then forced men to copy it. He did not need a human agent. Yet, He chose to use people. Can you see the grace in that?

And what of His ministry in the Church? Is not the Spirit of God as glorious as the Son of God? Is His ministry in the Church any less needful? Never forget that without the Spirit there would be no Christians and no Church. Yet, all of the Holy Spirit's energies are focused on bringing the glory to the Son of God. If Christ is on center stage, He is visible because the Holy Spirit is operating the spotlight. As we see the panaromic view of salvation in the Scripture, as we become enthralled with the beauty of God's salvation, we are hardly aware of the Spirit's direction in all the details until the end. He appears in the credits. All that you have seen and marveled at in God's Word, all that you have tasted and seen as good in the world, comes because the Spirit has graciously revealed it to you.

And so it is with sincere grief that I see Christians act as if the Holy Spirit is stingy with the giving of Himself. We know that salvation is free, and yet we act as if the affections of the Spirit who grants salvation must be earned. How backward is our reasoning! Shouldn't we see that salvation is free and gracious precisely because the Spirit Himself is free and gracious?

You know, I trust, that when you are born from above you are ushered into the family of God. You know that God the Father is now your heavenly Father. You know, I trust, that you have been elevated to be a co-heir with Christ Himself, and that your destiny is to sit with Him on His throne. You know as well that Christ died for you, and that the Father sent Him to do this because He loved you with an everlasting love. And you know these things because the Spirit has whispered them into your spiritual ear as a mother whispers "I love you" to her babe.

And now, dear child of God, after all of this grace upon grace, after seeing Christ crucified, willingly, for you while you were yet a sinner. After knowing and believing that God the Father loved you so much that He did not spare His only-begotten Son and gave Him on your you now believe that the third person of this gracious Trinity will withhold from you anything?

What an affront to the character of the Great Comforter to imagine Him stingy with His grace and presence! What a slap in the face to He who has freely given us all things to imagine that He now requires works of us and acts of piety in order to receive His refreshing! The Holy Spirit gives you life and breath! He spared you while you blasphemed the Beloved! He wooed you like a lover when you were far from Him! And now, now do you feel that He wants you to fast and pray and conjure faith so that He may give you something else?

The Holy Spirit is gracious. Even in our dissatisfaction with the gift of God Himself, He still bears with us.

If you are thinking that you are "missing out" on something in the Christian life because you haven't had a certain experience, then I say that you grieve the Lord with your ingratitude. (Unless, of course, you have missed salvation altogether!) The Holy Spirit is enough, and with Him I am content, for He who has the Spirit has the Son and the Father. This, in itself, gives me joy that I cannot express in words. This does not mean I must resort to meaningless mumbles to demonstrate gratitude. Yes, English, French, Greek and Hebrew are inadequate to express the great love for God that has been born in my heart. And I further submit that the tongues of angels is insufficient as well. Part of the joy is trying to express the great wonder of salvation and knowing that I am altogether incompetent to do so. Part of the joy is knowing that I will spend all of eternity trying and never feeling as if I can say, "It is enough! I have praised Him fully and completely. There are no more words of gratitude to say."

I sat down to write a exegetical treatise on why the Spirit is a gift of grace, but this post has not done that. Instead, this has been more devotional and exhortative in nature. Later, I may examine the Scriptures that demonstrate the truths I've tried to outline here.

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