What We See of His Work in Our Lives

The Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, who ascended into heaven and was exalted at the right hand of God received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit. “He has poured out this which you see and hear,” the apostle Peter said on the day of Pentecost. The signs accompanying the outpouring of the Holy Spirit were very appropriate for the nature and appearance of the Holy Spirit. In His discussions with Nicodemus (Jn. 3) the Lord Jesus had explained already that the Spirit is like the wind: “You hear the sound of it, but you do not know from where it comes and where it goes.” Typical for our experience with the Holy Spirit, therefore, is the working of the Holy Spirit. Just like you see the wind by the swaying trees and breaking branches, so the Holy Spirit Himself is in-visible but He can be seen in His workings. Besides the comparison with the wind, the Scriptures also use images such as the dew on the fields or the rain causing fruits to blossom. All these images, however, serve to express the workings of the Holy Spirit. We see these workings in the church, in the conversion of people, and in the communion among its members. The Holy Spirit works in them and with them most powerfully! Indeed, that’s what strikes us particularly when we look at those events on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem (Acts 2). Most remarkably, however, was the fact that all those people who were staying in Jerusalem, visitors from many different nations and tongues: they hear the apostles declaring the wonders of God, but each in their own tongue! That’s then a summary of the work of the Holy Spirit! Today that work is still the same! Alt-hough we don’t need the wind and tongues of fire to draw our attention, the Holy Spirit is at work still as you hear me speak in plain, everyday English! He moves me to speak to you about the great deeds of God the Father and God the Son, in the English language, so that you can verify whether I speak according to the will and work of the Holy Spirit, or not. Why that’s still so important today? Because, as Paul writes to the Corinthians, “I would rather speak five intelligible words (with my mind, that is!) to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” No, he doesn’t say this because he wasn’t able to speak in other tongues (languages). He sure could, but as mouth piece of the Holy Spirit he wanted to speak a language that was understandable. That’s how the Holy Spirit wants me to speak to you over the airwaves too! Why does the Holy Spirit want His servants to speak to you this way, and come to you, also over the airwaves, in a way that is so very plain and common and understand-able? Well, as we saw last week, because the Holy Spirit wants to dwell in you, to com-fort you, and to counsel you. He wants to work faith in you and direct you in a new life that you live for God again. Indeed, when you so come to faith and you believe, in God the Triune God, and in Jesus Christ the Saviour, you have communion with God through His Holy Spirit. Then you’re never alone! Wherever you are or go, the Holy Spirit is always with you. He works in you with great power, and He does this work very personally: He is the third Person of God and He works in you as person too, who knows you! He knows what you need; He knows your strength and weaknesses; He knows what gifts He gave you in order that you develop those gifts so that you can employ them and use them for the glory of God and the wellbeing of your neighbour! In short, the Holy Spirit is very much interested in you, engaged in your life, and involved in your work, your development. Now such a special and personal attention from God’s Word and Holy Spirit, which the Lord Jesus shows to you personally, in the church especially (as we saw last week!), shows! When you so let the Spirit lead you by His Word, Paul writes in Gal. 5, you’ll be encouraged by a new life in your marriage or outside of marriage. In your relationships with others too you’ll see a change. Instead of disagreement and conflicts there will be harmony and peace. In your enjoyment of the gifts of the Lord such as alcohol or food you’ll see moderation and self-control instead of drunkenness. It will encourage you to review your priorities, using your income for the support of others rather than squandering it in selfishness. You see, and the Holy Spirit will encourage you to do so freely, because you’re encouraged every time anew by His Word of grace. It’s almost as if the Holy Spirit is walking right beside you, Paul says in verse 26, walking in step with you in every aspect of your life so as to make your life secure in the truth. Then we learn from the work of the Spirit that the victory is in the love of God in Christ! God is the source of this love; He gave His Son! Christ gave Himself in love, to be crucified; sharing in Him we crucify our old nature (i.e. the works of the flesh, our sinful inclinations, character traits, etc.). Love as the fruit of the Spirit is the most excellent way, as Paul shows in 1 Cor. 12:31, followed by chapter 13, which describes and characterizes this love as showing in our joy of faith that radiates from us, our peace with God in all circumstances, our patience with the neighbour whom we know as a sinner yet fellow-believer. Yes, all the other characteristics in the fruit of the Spirit Paul holds up in Gal. 5:22-23, are all aspects of love in our relationship with the neighbour. That shows in the life of a true believer. This Christian life is not just a matter of moods, and attitude, an inclination, but it is much more a matter of deeds! These deeds show in every way in which we live in relationship to God and the neighbour! God’s love shows in His long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (slow to anger, Ex. 34:6). God’s love shows in Christ, in the meekness, His gentleness, etc. Now we see the work of the Holy Spirit as He renews us in this image of God, in Christ! Hence by the power of the Holy Spirit our love is no longer self-seeking, but seeks the neighbour, for it’s not I who live but Christ who lives in me (with His Spirit!). Christ gave Himself and so does the believer give himself in love, in marriage serving the spouse, in business seeking the customer. It shows in our joy in Christ, our only comfort; it shows in a life in peace with the neighbour, for as much as it depends on you; patient in adversity, patient with the neighbour’s weakness; and kind also, instead of envious, or jealous, or angry; it shows in your goodness instead of evil, sins, and wrongs, and in your faithfulness, i.e. sincerity, your integrity; and in your gentleness, and by self control. Thus the fruit of the Spirit replaces the works of the flesh. Yes, thanks to the vic-tory of Christ over sin and the flesh, we may share in the victory of the Spirit over the flesh, sin, and death!! This is the new life to which we may rise with Christ, in which the fruit of the Spirit works a communion with Christ, with God, and with the neighbour, by faith!

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