Friday, 19 September 2014
Chapter 4: The Gift of the Spirit
What if something in your house, a piece of furniture or a knick knack, turned out to be more valuable than you thought?
That’s what happened to one woman in Philadelphia who brought a small painting from her home to the Antiques Roadshow to find out how much to insure it for. “Where did you get this?” asked the appraiser after examining the signature and some handwriting on the back. “It was a housewarming gift to us when my husband joined the faculty of Washington State University in Pullman. It was painted by one of his former art professors.”
“Well, that art professor, went on to become one of the pioneers of abstract expressionism. You should insure it for at least half a million…but that might be too conservative. One of his paintings dated ten years later just sold at auction for $21 million!”
Confident…but disappointed. The point of the last chapter in our study was to give us this confidence: if we have believed in Jesus Christ, we have already been given the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Spirit isn’t a subsequent event in the Christian life. It happens invisibly the moment when we step from death into life by faith in Christ. Even if we don’t know the exact moment that tipping point occurred in our lives, God does, and he was faithful to give us his promised Holy Spirit right then.
Does this confidence leave you feeling a little disappointed? It could feel that way to two groups of people.
The first is those of us who are looking for miracles. This view of the Spirit’s coming sounds like we’ve reduced him from his bold entrance of Acts 2 to some kind of timid uncle, slipping in the back door. How can such a powerful person come into my life without fanfare? Where are the signs and wonders? It sounds so automatic.
Then there are those of us who are looking for a quick fix. We’re struggling in our Christian life. It seems harder than we thought it would be. In fact we are floundering. We’ve tried this book and that conference. They all fizzle out after a brief spurt of help. Then somebody tells us we need to be baptized with the Spirit to have power. Now you’re telling me I don’t need him because I already have him? Bummer.
Exploring the treasure. All of us are like the woman from the Antiques Roadshow. We have treasure inside that is far more valuable than we realize. Hearing that we already have the Holy Spirit is not a cause for disappointment, it’s a call for a new appraisal of his worth.
This next chapter will reinforce the truth of the previous one, while beginning to unpack what we’ve received in this glorious Gift. As we expand our understanding of the Spirit’s work, we will begin to see that our Christian life has been supernatural from the first moment of faith onward.
This week’s meditation. Titus 3:4-7
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”