The Spirit of Truth

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13)On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave the disciples both boldness and wisdom so that they could go forth and preach the gospel as Jesus had commanded them. On the night of the Last Supper, this was what Jesus had promised them the Spirit would do. He would guide the disciples into all truth so that they could preach the gospel. Through their words and testimony, the Holy Spirit would convict sinners by showing them the truth about their sins and then leading them to repentance.

The Holy Spirit still manifests Himself in this way today. He empowers and enlightens believers to preach the gospel in word and in deed. He convicts people of sin, points them to Jesus and guides those who respond into all truth. This truth is not scientific truth or medical truth or things that can be known from observing the world. This truth is not relative truth either, that is, it is not truth relative to the situation, the needs of the moment, the person or the culture.

The truth Jesus spoke of and which the Holy Spirit reveals is spiritual truth. The first truths He reveals concern the sinfulness of the human heart as well as the offer of God’s grace and mercy in Jesus. Then the truth He imparts tells us how we to interpret what we observe in the world and how we are to use that truth in a way that glorifies God. In addition the truth imparted by the Holy Spirit is truth about God, Jesus and His word, how we are to serve Him, how we are to look at life, how we are to live and how we are love one another with the sacrificial love that Christ has for us.

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Grace for All.

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21 ESV)

Pentecost is the Feast of first fruits. It marks the beginning of God’s greatest outpouring of grace. The Holy Spirit was poured out on mankind, to the Jews first but also to the Gentiles. And that same Holy Spirit is still being poured out today. Thus the message of Pentecost is the message of grace; God’s unmerited favor, His righteousness and power given to those who do not deserve it.

Grace stands in contrast to God’s law. Law condemns. It shows us our sins, where we fall short. But by God’s grace, law shows us our need for God’s mercy, our need for Jesus and His atoning sacrifice. Law does not eliminate sin. It may curb and limit it, but it cannot make us more righteous. Law can influence outward behavior, but only the Spirit of God can change the heart. He makes us righteous. Then He makes us His instruments of grace, to extend His mercy and unconditional love to every individual on earth, based on the finished work of Christ, the labor of His love.

We have a great opportunity. Love is what all men seek, but few find. We must tell them that God is the one Whom they seek. We have the opportunity to help others live according to God’s law by leading them to the only one who can enable them or us to do so. We have the opportunity to demonstrate God’s love to those who have been victimized by a brutal and merciless world. We have the opportunity to communicate the love of God so that people will not be afraid to approach Him in repentance. We have the opportunity to be healing vessels overflowing with God’s unconditional love.

Unity in Christ

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4)

On the Day of Pentecost the disciples of Jesus first began to preach the gospel to others. They were able to preach with great boldness and exuberance only because they were filled by the Holy Spirit whom Jesus had promised to send them. And He was poured out on that day with such great fanfare and intense fervor that thousands of people were attracted to come and hear what the disciples were saying. The Holy Spirit was enabling each of those disciples to speak in languages they did not know to people who did, Jews who were in Jerusalem from other parts of the Roman Empire, all gathered for the harvest feast of First Fruits. And the first fruits gathered in the church that day were those nearly 3000 people believed in Jesus and were baptized.

Most of us realize that on Pentecost one of the great manifestations of the Holy Spirit was this miraculous speaking in tongues. This was evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit but also signified that the Lord had begun the reversal of the curse of Babel (Genesis 11), the curse of human alienation, prejudice and disharmony. At Babel humans came together to achieve glory for themselves in man made religion and works of the flesh, all apart form God. Now in the Church the Lord was bringing together people from all nations and languages. Now in Christ all can be one once again united by the Holy Spirit and a common faith, not by their own works not by their own religious efforts, but by the work of Jesus on the cross.  

New Life in Jesus!

“And he said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’  Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’” (Ezekiel 37:3-4)

The Lord brought Ezekiel to the valley of dry bones. This valley was symbolic not only of the death of the nation of Judah as a whole, but also of the spiritual death of all Israel. She had become as useless, as dead, as defiled and unclean as a skeleton. Nevertheless, the bones are restored to life by the word of God spoken by the prophet by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

The dead bones also represent the spiritual deadness of each human being, the deadness and decay brought about by sin. Each person is dead in his or her sins and yet the Lord comes and breathes new life into us by His Holy Spirit. Only the Lord God has the power to create spiritual life out of what is spiritually dead. This is accomplished by the good news of Jesus spoken through the prophets, apostles and the church by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. 

The Lord commanded Ezekiel to speak His words that accomplished the resurrection of those dead bones. And He commands us to do the same. We speak the truth of God’s word in Christ Jesus so that He may raise others into His eternal life.

The Truth.

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13)

On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave the disciples both boldness and wisdom so that they could go forth and preach the gospel as Jesus had commanded them. On the night of the Last Supper, this was what Jesus had promised them the Spirit would do. He would guide the disciples into all truth so that they could preach the gospel. Through their words and testimony, the Holy Spirit would convict sinners. he would show them the truth about their sins and lead them to repentance. 

The Holy Spirit still manifests Himself in this way today. He empowers and enlighteners believers to preach the gospel in word and in deed. He convicts people of sin, points them to Jesus and guides those who respond into all truth. This truth is not scientific truth or medical truth or things that can be known from observing the world. This truth is not relative truth either, that is, it is not truth relative to the situation, the needs of the moment, the person or the culture.

The truth Jesus spoke of and which the Holy Spirit reveals is spiritual truth. The first truths He reveals concern the sinfulness of the human heart as well as the offer of God’s grace and mercy in Jesus. Then the truth He imparts tells us how we to interpret what we observe in the world and how we are to use that truth in a way that is pleasing to God. In addition the truth imparted by the Holy Spirit is truth about God, Jesus and His word, how we are to serve Him, how we are to look at life, how we are to live and how we are love one another with the sacrificial love that Christ has for us.

Pray in accord with God’s will.

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)

John states that the believer can know with absolute certainty that his prayers have been heard. Such assurance is a natural consequence of one’s relationship with God. When the believer’s will is aligned with the will of God by the process of abiding in Christ (John 16:25-26), then the believer can indeed pray with boldness, for it is God’s own will and purpose that he seeks to accomplish. The believer who abides in Christ and in the Father knows God’s will so that when he prays, he can be sure that his requests are efficacious. Requests made boldly in the will of God are assured of a positive answer.  John mentions that God desires that the bold prayer be made in accordance to His will. This is pleasing to God for He hears prayers that He desires to answer for they bring Him glory.

The prayer that is made in God’s will is the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray (Matt. 6:10), and the prayer He Himself prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:36). This prayer shows that believers should always acknowledge the infinite wisdom of God’s will and, accordingly, subordinate our desire to it. Prayer that is offered according to God’s will is not selfish. It does not seek to coerce God to bend His will to the believer’s. In the prayer prayed according to God’s will, believers acknowledge that they have a need to submit their wills to God without reservation. They know that they must totally surrender their will to align it with His.

More thoughts on Prayer in the example of Jesus.

“But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” (John 17:13).

As we think about our prayer life, many of us realize that we fall short in many respects. On of the main problems is that that we tend to focus primarily on our own needs rather than those of others. Maybe once in a while we engage in intercessory prayer, usually only when others make specific requests or there is some sort of crisis.

Yet it is not bad to pray when in a crisis. Sometimes that is the only thing you can do. And today this may mean we are in prayer constantly for as we look around our world we might well think we are in the midst of the tribulation which Jesus warned us would come. Illness, war, natural disasters, terrorism and economic crisis daily threaten us here in America and those across the globe on a scale unprecedented in all of recorded history. These times of tribulation and calamity should drive we who are believers deeper into prayer. And this is as it should be. God uses trials and tribulations to draw people closer to Him. 

We pray for ourselves and our loved ones, but we also have an obligation to pray for other people starting with our brothers in Christ. And as we know our brethren around the world are suffering worse than we are. We live in a democracy and we still are able to worship without interference or fear even though the forces of wickedness daily make things tough for us. But our brethren around the world suffer from the same global problems that threaten us but in addition they suffer persecution in the form of oppression, injustice, and martyrdom.

Again we recall the Jesus perfect example of intercessory prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed not for His will, but for the Father’s to be accomplished in Him. He surrendered His own will by consenting to have His personal petition, to forego the pain of the cross and the weight of sin, to remain unanswered so that we might be reconciled to the Father and that all of our petitions made in His Name might be assured of an answer. Like Jesus, the believer who wants to be an effective intercessor must forego His own requests in favor of the needs of others, and for the glory of God.