Lecture 14: The Holy Spirit and Sanctification
Course: Systematic Theology II
Lecture: The Holy Spirit and Sanctification
I. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
II. The Person of the Spirit
III. The Work of the Holy Spirit
A. The work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
B. The Holy Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Jesus
1. The Spirit involved in the incarnation
2. The ministry of Jesus by the Spirit
3. Jesus and the Future of Coming of the Spirit
C. The Holy Spirit in the Church Today
1. Pentecost – the age to come arrives
2. Empowerment for witness in the world
When the Holy Spirit comes he will glorify Jesus. We know that John 16. The two main ways this happens, we will empower people to bear witness and enable people to believe.
a. Bringing people to Christ.
The first one is a quantitative goal that is He empowers Christian people to bear witness to Christ and He enables unsaved people to come to faith in Christ. So quantitatively He works to bring people in to the church but once they are in the church He is not with them. This is one of the problems with churches with over emphasis on evangelism. But if the main purpose of people gathering for church every Sunday is hearing the gospel as it were just a bear minimum, the gospel truth in proclamation, most of those people gathering have already believed and have taken in what is being proclaimed. So the second purpose of the Spirit is frustrated.
b. Make saved people like Christ
The second purpose of the Spirit is empower believers to become like Christ. So empowering the witness to Christ and becoming like Christ are the two things. Evangelism and this qualitative growth in their lives. Don't forget this model when you are out there in the church. It is so easy to get caught up these programs and activities and schedules and all of that go on that you can forget that this is what the whole thing is about. Everything we do ought to assist both, the bearing witness to Jesus and being conformed to the likeness of Jesus. That is what the church is about, those two things. There are two ways in which the being conformed to the likeness of Jesus takes place.
3. Empowerment for service in the church
Corporate gifting of the body of Christ, when we use our gifts for the common good, for the edification of the body. So God intends for Christian growth to take place not as Christians are islands unto themselves, just me and God. As important as devotions are, as important as your own prayer life, it is also important for the growth to become like Christ for believers to gather together and stimulate one another to love and good deeds and to use gifts in the body. So it has this corporate element.
4. An individual work to help us grow to become more like Christ
Regeneration happens as the Spirit works in a person to bring them new life. You and I were born into this world in a way in which we have nothing to do with it. You had nothing to do with your original generation, with your coming into existence. In a very similar way you and I have nothing to do with regeneration. The analogy that the Bible uses of this in a number of places is the analogy of opening blind eyes, helping people see who are blind and cannot see. For example in 2 Corinthians 4:4
2 Corinthians 4:4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. They can’t see Christ as He is. 2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. “Light shall shine out of darkness” refers of creation So He is one who opens our eyes to see the truth.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:1
Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
We are told in Romans 8:6-8
Romans 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, Romans 8:7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, Romans 8:8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Here we understand that the life of the unsaved person that Satan, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers and that they cannot the light of the Gospel
2 Corinthians 4:4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. So here we are dead in our trespasses and sins, we are hateful of God and His ways and we can’t see the truth to respond to it. That is our condition. So what obviously has to happen is that God and the Spirit does this, does a work in our life in order to bring us to a
place where we see the truth.
The Holy Spirit as Jesus said in John 16:8-11
John 16:8 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; John 16:9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; John 16:10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; John 16:11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. So when He comes He is the one who provides the conviction in
the life of a person; that I am a sinner in light of a righteous standard and deserving of judgment. Do you see how the three go together? He convicts the world of sin in light of righteousness and therefore we are guilty of judgment. The Spirit is the one who does this and the Spirit is the one who brings us to new life. For example John 3 where Jesus says of the Spirit that He blows wherever He wishes and the person must be born of the water and the Spirit.
John 3:4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:7 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ John 3:8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
A beautiful analogy of this is in Ezekiel 36
Ezekiel 36:26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
This is a beautiful image of a heart that is now alive toward God. So He opens our eyes to see the truth, He gives a heart to respond to God and then the Spirit indwells believers.
b. The Spirit indwells believers
In Romans 8:9 Paul warns believers that if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him.
Romans 8:9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Once you believe in Christ you have the Spirit.
Galatians 3:26 and Galatians 4:6
Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 4:6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Because you are sons; how did you become a son? By faith in Christ Jesus. So faith, sonship, Spirit. The Spirit is brought into us. The Spirit indwells us. As we know from our look at Old Testament teaching this is a radically new thing, this indwelling of the Spirit. The Spirit who is with you, will be in you Jesus says in John 14. From Pentecost on is this new age in which the Spirit indwells every believer and provides all that is need for his growth in Christ likeness.
c. The Spirit fills the individual
The Spirit filling is another key concept of the Spirit’s work in us.
Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, The analogy is helpful. Don’t be drunk with wine, don’t be controlled by wine but be so given to the Spirit that you life is controlled by the Spirit. I take it that the statement in Ephesians 5 is parallel Galatians 5 where Paul instructs the people to walk in the Spirit and don’t carry out the desires of the flesh, if you walk in the Spirit you will not do this. I think those are parallel concepts. They are just different ways of saying essentially the same thing. To walk in the Spirit is take every step in a way that the Spirit would lead Galatians 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. To be filled with Spirit, don’t be drunk with wine, is obviously to be controlled by the Spirit. In both of those case there are indications that the Spirit really does act in lives as governor, as director. Do want a Spiritual director? You have got one. That is not to say that there are not other kinds of spiritual directors that are helpful, but ultimately it is the Spirit within you that as you yield to Him. Ephesians 5:18 has a parallel way of stating the same truth in the book of Colossians. Ephesians 5:18 and Colossians 3:16.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. The reason we know that they are parallel is because in both cases the same set of outcomes or consequences flow from those two things.
Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. You have the very same effects from what appear to be two different causes but on analysis you realize how close the Spirit and word are. The word of Christ dwelling in your heart, the Spirit dwelling within you, walking in the Spirit, those are very close concepts. It just stands to reason. Who inspired the Bible? You could say God, all Scripture is God breathed, but 2 Peter 1 makes clearer.
2 Peter 1:21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. How often we read in New Testament quotes of the Old Testament “by the Holy Spirit David said” or “by the Holy Spirit Isaiah said”. We realize that the New Testament writers understood the Old Testament (writers) to have been moved by the Spirit. All you have to do is ask this question. Do you think the Spirit who inspired the Bible did so for a reason? I think so. Just to show off this doctrine of concurrence. What a really cool illustration of concurrence. You can have God working in a way where He gets just what He wants and men do just what they want and it is the same thing. That is all true, but is that the point of this? No, the point of it is obviously this is a tool that the Spirit wants to use to accomplish His work. So we ought to be a people who are much more Bible saturated than we are. To walk in the Spirit is then to walk in a way that the Spirit would approve. The Spirit would say this is in sync with what I want to accomplish. What is that? It is going to involve all kinds of things we would say no to and things that we would say yes to. It is going to involve saying a lot of yes to Bible, to filling our mind, meditating upon Scripture. Meditation, I hope you are catching a vision for that, at least in some small measure in this course. Meditation is unlike anything else in the Christian life, it is power to provide for you insight, passion, clarity, conviction about truth. Because as you do meditation, what is involved so much in this? It is Spirit working in your heart and mind and word coming together to effect how you think. Spirit filled living has a lot to do with Bible filled minds and hearts. You really can’t have Spirit filled living and vacuous or shallow understandings of the Scripture. There has got to be a Spirit wrought intensity in wanting to know and live out Scripture.
Student Question: Are the Spirit indwelling and the Spirit filling distinct but not separate?
Answer: The Spirit filling is an imperative whereas the Spirit indwelling happens. Why is Spirit filling an imperative? Because God uses imperatives to get us on track and keep us moving on track. Could God have set it up so that it just happens? Ezekiel 36 as we have talked about before, I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, you will be careful to observe my…. Could God have done things in such a way that you get the
Spirit and zap you are made new. Ye He could have, in one sense He is going to. When we see Him we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.
There will come a point at which God just finishes the restorative process, brings it to completion, in an instant. What a marvelous moment that will be, my wife be grateful that the work has finally been done and we will be for one another. So could He have done it, yes. But He chose not to do it that way. New Testament fulfillment is progressive not punctiliar, incremental not instantaneous. So this notion of God doing it in this progressive way involves instruction on what we need to be doing. Dr Schreiner and Ardel B. Caneday’s book on perseverance (The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance) also makes a very strong case that the warnings in Scripture function for that as well. It is not only the positive admonitions but the warnings of what will happen if you don’t are there for the purpose of saying this is the track, this is the path, this is how we should live.
That accounts for that fact that we continue to be infected with sin so have misshapen understandings and that is part of why we have four views books. It is not all of it, but it is part of it.
d. The Spirit produces fruit
This another conception that Paul says some very important things about in Galatians 5. He not only says to walk in the Spirit which I take as being comparable to being filled with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
He also in Galatians 5 that the Spirit works in our lives in such a way that He bears through us His fruit.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
I think that it significant that it is not “fruits” of the Spirit, plural. The word is singular; it is “fruit” of the Spirit. The reason I think that is significant is because this is not a program of behavior modification and we are just going to tackle one thing at a time and try to get this behavior lined up right and then we will take on this one. No, when you walk in the Spirit the Spirit will conform your life to His character. And that character is multifaceted. So the fruit of the
Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. These kinds of character qualities begin to be produced increasingly in a person’s heart who has yielded to the Spirit, who is walking in the Spirit.
Catch this point. There is this model of sanctification that says the real way that we are to live the Christian life is to really acknowledge that we can’t do anything, let go let God, God then through His Spirit, the Spirit of Christ will actually live His life through you. So what are you to do? You are step out the way and let Him live His life. This Keswick model is really a replacement understanding of spirituality. Christ replaces me. What good am I? Nothing. There is some truth to this. Can I do what I am called to do on my own? No. The some truth of it is, that Christ must come and live His life in me but here is where the problem in Keswick is. It understands that really who we are is unaffected by the presence of Christ coming in and living His life in us. Because we are just always the same and really there is not change that happens to us. Everyday in every way we just get out the way and let Christ live His life. It doesn’t work for one thing. A lot of people have been very intent on trying to live this including myself because I was taught this as a teenager and tried really my hardest in prayer and seeking God to live it out. It just can’t be lived because you can’t get out of the way, your mind is still there, your desires are still there, your plans are still there, you can’t escape them, it is just impossible. But more important than that is that Keswick view misses the beauty and the glory of what Galatians 5 (Doctor Ware misspoke when he said Ephesians 5) is saying. That is the fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of Spirit lived out in you. So that you are transformed. The model of sanctification is not a replacement model, Christ lives His life instead of me, it is transformational mode. Christ lives His life as His character is reproduced in me. His love joy peace, patience kindness, goodness, etc is reproduced in me so that I become
more loving, more peaceful, more joyful. I do, why? Because I have attained something. No, because God has done this work to transform who we are to be more like Christ. Isn’t that wonderful?
I’ll give you one illustration of this in my own life that I am very grateful to the Lord for. Shortly after we were married my wife and I will celebrate our 25 anniversary this December. Shortly after we married I experience a kind of response to a frustrating situation that I had never experience before in my life, partly owing to the frustrations and the aggravations of marriage in the first year of our marriage. Two people being thrown together who do things very
very differently. For the first time in my life I was responding to things with anger. I never took it out on Jodi, but I would blow up. It seemed as though there was a pattern beginning in my life of blowing up almost at the drop of a hat at things that would irritate me and my response would be this anger. It would not only be in our marriage relationship, although it was there and Jodi can tell you that there we times when she was afraid because I would get
so angry at something, but it wasn’t only there, it was also say at the grocery store waiting in line if the cashier did something wrong or something that bothered me, I would get angry and I would say something. Jodi would tell me afterwards, at least from time to time she would say she was really embarrassed and what I did was uncalled for. I realized this stuff that was within me. Here is the problem with anger it is reactionary, so you can’t really program yourself to change because there is no time to work on it, when something hits you, bang it just happens, you can’t sit there and think, OK now we got to careful. No it just happens. So the only thing I knew to do was pray. I said, Lord God I need your work in my life to quell this anger and give me peace, joy and just to not to let things upset me the way they did. Over time the Lord did a marvelous work in my life. For example with my wife, I said to our girls the other day, they asked me do the things that mom does still bother you? I said, I’ll be honest with you, they do but here is the difference, back then I would let those things become a source of irritation and they would build and I would explode in anger at them. Now I view those things number one as trivial in comparison with all the wonderful qualities and contributions that Jodi makes to my life, they just don’t matter. But number two I have even come to embrace her ways of doing things that are different from mine because they are her. It’s her. So quit trying to make her someone she isn’t and accept her. This is the work of the Spirit, because I know how those things affected me and so God is so very very gracious.
This is sanctification. It is walking in the Spirit, being filled with the word of God, being filled with Spirit. The Spirit then working in our lives so that we actually change bit by bit by bit over time.
Student Question: Unable to hear
Answer: All I know is because of that particular problem being the reactionary kind that it is, all I know is that things would happen. Another horrible place that this would happen would be driving, someone would cut me off on the road or do something, road rage is real. I had lots of it when I was younger and had this problem. I would just do something really dumb and then confess it to the Lord and say Lord you’ve got to work in me to change this. When this
happens, when somebody does this out in the road way I just respond this way, I can’t make myself different, but you can. So I made it a matter of prayer, I know Jodi did and I know the Lord was very very gracious so that probably five years later there was hardly any incident any longer of this happening.
Student Question: Unable to understand
Answer: Yes prayer, ongoing biblical meditation, that really does change character in ways that affect the whole, it affects everything. This one of the wonderful things about the work that God does in us is that it really can affect a lot of things at one time because it changes who we are fundamentally as people who want to honor God and aren’t self-seeking selfish idiots as we are by nature.
e. The Spirit comes to set us free
This is a concept that isn’t always linked to the Spirit but I think it is a very important one. In Galatians 5 at the beginning;
Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
The freedom to which we have been called is a freedom that experiences what God has made us to know, be and do. It is a freedom that enables us to know, be and do. It is not freedom as defined by our culture which is basically doing anything you feel like doing anytime you feel like doing it. Or, I heard another definition of freedom, it doing anything you want to do as long as you don’t get caught. We have different views of freedom in our culture but they
all amount to basically the same thing and that is a sort of naked kind of individualistic hedonistic pursuit. But biblical freedom is anything but that. Biblical freedom is freedom to know, to be, and to do what God made us to know be and do. Freedom to experience what we were created to experience.
It is sort of like when you take a knife in to get it sharpened you are freeing it. I tried to cut a grapefruit the other morning with a knife that I grabbed out the drawer that appeared to be sharp but that grapefruit was just mush when I was done with trying to cut this thing. That knife needs freedom. Freedom for a knife is sharpening the thing so it can be and do what it is made to be and do. Freedom for a knife is not just doing any old thing. Using a knife as a screwdriver is not freedom for a knife. This knife might think I want to used in all these other kind of ways, I kind of like the idea of being a screw driver. But this knife will find that trying to be a screwdriver will in fact restrict what it is, harm it, and maybe ruin it. Things function according to design, that is true for everything. We function according to design. So our freedom is found when we function according to how we really have been designed.
I had a friend in college, this will date me, I am going to turn fifty this year so I’m not trying to hide anything anyway. Some in here may be old enough to remember that day when you drove into a gas station, it was called a service station and someone would run to your window and say, “fill it up?” And you would say yes with whatever, regular. And they would say, “Check the oil?” Yes please. “Wash the window?” So they would do all this stuff to your car, it is hard to imagine. I had a friend who was in college with me, we were both freshman, first year and he got a job at a service station and he knew absolutely nothing about cars. This guy drove in and hopped out of the car and he said. “fill it up with regular and it needs a quart of oil.” And he goes running into the restroom. My friend could handle the fill it up with regular part, he put gas in the tank and then opened the hood and he didn’t know what he was
looking at. He had never looked under a hood and didn’t know what. So he went and grabbed a quart of oil and stuck that metal thing in it, this was back when it was the quart cans. He just looked for something that looked like oil, He opened up the radiator cap and this guy comes out the restroom and heads for his car and he sees this quart of oil sitting there pouring into his radiator. He goes ballistic. So they have to take the car in and drain the radiator. My friend lost his job just like that. The lesson is just so clear, that if you want a car to run well you have treat it and maintain it according to its design and anything is freest when it used and maintained according to its design. If you violate it in the name of freedom and it will ruin it.
So what has the Spirit come to do? He has come to free us. What does that mean? He has come to enliven our hearts toward God, to call us to embrace the ways and the will of God, He has come to us to transform us to the character of Christ. In all of these ways He is seeking to bring about out true liberation. This is Fourth of July for a Christian is the Spirit is here. We are set free from the bondage of sin.
Notice one irony of this. This is chapter six of Romans, an irony of the freedom God has for us. Have you noticed what it is called in Romans 6 from time to time slavery? Look at Romans 6:16-18 Romans 6:16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? Romans 6:17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, Romans 6:18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
He says it again later
Romans 6:19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
Here is the great irony of the Christian life and that is that true liberation is slavery but it is making sure that you slaves to the right master. What master is this? The master of righteousness that produces sanctification. This why the Ten Commandments are not the ten suggestions. This why the commands of God are insistent. This is why the path that leads to right is narrow. Because God knows that there is one way to live, not take your pick. There are
lots of different religions out there, lots of different paths. No, there is one way to live that will bring life, joy, peace, blessing, one way. And because God loves us so much and He knows that there is one way to experience life, He demands follow me and you will find life. Nowhere else, He demands our allegiance, our obedience because that is where life is found.
Not only because He is God and only He should be followed, worshipped, adored but also because He is loving, He wants our best. So the path of duty and the path of delight are one and the same paths. Isn’t that glorious? The path of duty and the path of delight are one and the same path.
The freedom that God has for us through the Spirit is a freedom to enter into life as God meant it to be. To experience the joy, the blessing, the fulfillment of what He intends His people to know. And apart from the Spirit in us, to move us there, it would not happen.
Romans 8:3-4 is so clear that we fulfill the law not among those who walk according to the flesh but those who walk according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, Romans 8:4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but
according to the Spirit.
The Spirit is the one who enables this law keeping that freeing and liberating to who we are.
Student Question: Unable to hear
Answer: I do a see a conceptual link between John 15 abide in me as the branch abides in the vine and you will bear much fruit.
John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
That abiding principle is very much like the walking in the Spirit in Galatians 5 that bears the fruit of the Spirit. It is a very similar concept to what Jesus says in John 15. I take it that Jesus in John 15 is warning, for that matter Paul is; I warned you before I warned you again that those who practice those sins will not inherit the kingdom of God, that is of the deeds of the flesh that mentions in Galatians 5. I take it Jesus is warning that those who do not abide in Christ and hence don’t bear fruit will be cut off and discarded as a good vinedresser would do, get rid of the dead wood, the dead branches that are there. So, can there be a genuine Christian who does not abide and bear fruit? I don’t see how that can be given what Jesus is saying.
John 15:6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
It is a very similar thing to His parable of the four soils (Matt 13:1-23). Three of the four do not bear fruit. What distinguishes he one is that it bears fruit, some thirty fold, some sixty, and some a hundredfold. Granted there is going to be variation in the fruitfulness that is evident but the commonality of all of those who are alive in Christ is that they bear fruit. I think that is the same point in Galatians 5. If the fruit of your life is in reality sensuality, greed, all of those things that he lists off, the deeds of the flesh, if that is the fruit of your life, he has very stern words. I warned you before and I warn you again now that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom.
Galatians 5:21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Can there be a true Christian marked by that kind of fruit, the deeds of the flesh kind of expression of life? Clearly, no because Paul is indicating the Spirit within will produce these kinds of things instead.
D. The Holy Spirit and the blessed hope
The Holy Spirit in the New Testament is not only a present power, a present agent of transformation. He is that. This is a marvelous thing. Pentecost marking the day when the long awaited promise of the Spirit coming to cause us to be holy, to live lives that honoring to God. But the coming of the Spirit is not only a present power for transformation; He is also an eschatological promise, a promise of a reality yet to come. God gives us the Spirit both to do a work in us now and as His guarantee, His promise, His pledge that the work that He intends to do to make us holy people.
Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love So the Spirit is given not only as a present power of transformation but a promise of the completion of what God will do. So the Spirit is connected to our blessed hope. He is connected to the completion of God’s work in our lives in bringing everything to fulfillment. There are three terms in particular in Greek that get translated pretty consistently in English that indicate this.
1. Aparche (ἀπαρχὴ aparchē): the first fruits
The Spirit comes as the first frits of those who believe in Christ and what He will bring to them.
The concept of first fruits is used in the Old Testament as well as the New. It is used in Deut 26:1-11; I Corinthians 15:20,23. In both Testaments it refers to essentially the same thing and that is the first pickings of the harvest. The idea is that the first pickings are promissory, or the first pickings are anticipatory. The first pickings indicate the harvest of plenty has begun but the harvest of plenty isn’t finished yet. We have just got in on the first part of it. The harvest of plenty has begun but the harvest of plenty has not been completed. So to have the first fruits is at one and the same time a tremendous joy to have that but at the very same time it presents us with a longing to have the rest.
Here is my favorite analogy of it. I can remember my family growing up. I don’t think we ever went over to another home for Thanksgiving, we always people in our house, as far as I can remember. At Thanksgiving we had a rule and that is that you could have breakfast up until about ten o’clock and then after that you can’t eat anything until Thanksgiving dinner at about five. So you were just really hungry for Thanksgiving dinner. You can imagine smelling everything cooking all of this time. I can remember walking in to the kitchen when my mother was basting the turkey and begging her for just a tiny little
nibble. Eventually I could wear her down and she give it to me. She would cut a tiny little piece and she would say that is it, that is all you get until dinner. I knew that she meant it and couldn’t get any more but at least I got something. So I would eat that tiny little bit and never said to mom after that, that’s great I’ve had dinner and I can outside and play and I’ll see you this evening. Instead I said that was so good I can’t wait to sit down at the table for the banquet. This is the first fruits of the Spirit. I don’t even know the reality of which I speak as I am trying to convey this to you, none of us can. If we only knew what God had for us after this life is over of which the best of this life is a nibble in the kitchen of the banquet that He has for us. If we could sense that more fully: (1) we wouldn’t crave so much satisfaction from other things. We would know our greatest, over whelming satisfaction is coming, just wait until you have dinner. It would help you to avoid that. (2) It would also help you to accept difficult service, sacrificial service, maybe martyrdom, maybe going to places that have absolutely nothing to commend them to what you would like to have in your life. Seventy years of life is really short, it is just nothing, it is a wisp, it is a vapor, dew on the grass and then the first fruits are over and the banquet is served and it never ends. It is eternal. So if we could catch this, comprehend how much God has prepared for those who love Him we would give up our hold on things here and we would give our whole
heart in abandon to the Lord. The nibble in the kitchen is pretty good but the best we have in this life is just that.
Romans 8:23 is beautiful passage to see this expressed.
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
There is the concept I was trying to get across. It is like Paul talking about in 2 Corinthians 4:17
2 Corinthians 4:17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
Read 2 Corinthians 11:25
2 Corinthians 11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.
All of these things that he describes, momentary light afflictions. How can you interpret it that way in comparison of other things. In this life you would never arrive at that. But it is in comparison of the life to come.
Romans 8:19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. Romans 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope Romans 8:21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together
Not only does creation grown because of sin, because of the fall, because of futility.
Romans 8:23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
Why is it we ourselves groan? Do you see the logic in verse 23? Why do groan?
Tasting the nibble in the kitchen does not fill your belly, it doesn’t give you what you crave, it only gives you enough that you know that’s where it is, that’s where what I long for is found. But the vast majority of what God has for us awaits our ultimate redemption. It is not in this life, it is in the life to come.
Ephesians 2:4 First fruits is not in this passage. Paul absolutely skips over this life, it is as though it doesn’t even count when he talks about the blessing of God that He has for us
Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Ephesians 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), Ephesians 2:6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
“so that” is that statement of why God has redeemed us. In the ages to come, this life doesn’t even count in the equation.
How sad you will be on that day of judgment and how sad I will be on that day of judgment for every item brought before the judge in which we relished something in this world and by that relishing of this world we did not seek to let go and accomplish something of eternal value. We will be so sorry for so many missed opportunities, so much that we cling on to here. What can free us from this? One thing that can is to realize that you have no clue how much God has for you in the ages to come. So let go, follow the Lord’s leading wherever it is, experience all that He has.
Romans 8:23 has this notion of first fruits.
2. Arrabōn (ἀρραβὼν): pledge or guarantee
Not only is He the first fruits of what is coming, but He is the guarantee of God giving us all that He has promised. This is the term Arrabōn. It is used three times in the New Testament. It is used in 2 Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:5 and Ephesians 1:14.
2 Corinthians 1:22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. (NASB95)
2 Corinthians 5:5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. (NASB95)
Ephesians 1:14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (NASB95)
This term Arrabōn indicates a surety or a guarantee, a firm promise that what God has stated He will do. He will fulfill, He will deliver on His promise.
In Greek outside of the New Testament, this word is used commonly for a kind of earnest that is paid, a down payment that is paid. It is used as a token that given in an engagement between two people, an engagement ring is an Arrabōn. The point of it is, here is something that I am giving you that indicated my purpose and promise and guarantee of what is coming afterwards.
Think of it the Spirit. How do you receive the Spirit? Because you are sons God has poured forth His Spirit of His Son into our hearts. The Spirit is God’s engagement ring to you and to me that we will be His, united to Him. It is His promise or guarantee that will not fail.
It is actually a very strong support for eternal security
Ephesians 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 1:14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (NASB95)
He is given as pledge of our inheritance. Of course we were predestined to have this inheritance (Ephesians 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,).
Just think of that the inheritance. It is one these things that we don’t think about as we ought. All of the riches of Christ, which is everything is ours. Utterly unbelievable.
3. Sphragizo (σφραγίζω): seal or ownership
There are three passages where this word is found
2 Corinthians 1:22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our
hearts as a pledge.
Ephesians 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 1:14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
The idea that you should associate with the seal concept is ownership. You put a seal on the back of an envelope with your initials in it, this is my letter given to you. Or I grew up in cattle country in the Pacific Northwest, I don’t know if you knew that there was cattle country there, but there is quite a bit of it, in eastern Washington and Oregon where I grew up. You drive around and you see all of these herds of cattle and they all have got their brand on the hind end. That brand indicates ownership by some cattle rancher so if some cows or steers get out you know who is who, you know who they belong to because of the brand. There is a sense in which the Spirit is like that, the Spirit is the brand, the Spirit is the seal that indicates God saying you are mine, I own you.
Ephesians 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Think of the logic here. Don’t grieve your owner. Don’t you know whose you are? Have the heard that statement the most important thing about who you are, is whose you are. You are His, don’t grieve the Holy Spirit by which God has sealed you as His own for the day of redemption. Don’t make a mockery of what He has done, by grieving the Spirit who is the very emblem of His ownership of you.
The Spirit comes in all of these ways. The First Fruits indicating the reality of His coming is wonderful but it has just begun.
Pledge, God will bring to us everything He has promised, He will not fail. How many promised has God not kept? Zero, He bats a thousand, and He has been bating a long time and it is still a thousand and it will always will be. He keeps every promise. He will give to you all He has promised and the Spirit
adds the seal. You are His, He has got His brand on you. You are His forever.
These indicators of the Spirit link us with not only the present reality here and now which is wonderful, glorious, transforming but indicating also the Spirit
linking us with the reality yet to come that God has for us.
Student Question relating to the purpose of the seal being given.
Answer. The seal is given for the believer to know his or her ownership and identity. Did you receive the Spirit when you believed (Acts 19)? We didn’t
know about that. Then you don’t belong to Him. But the Spirit indicates that you are His and nothing can change that.
Student Question: unintelligible
Answer: We will still be finite. There will be no sin in heaven, but temptation in itself is not sinful. Of course, we don’t know if Adam and Ever tempted in the
Garden before the serpent came, we don’t know if that was the case. They didn’t fall before then, they didn’t yield to it. We don’t know if Lucifer was only
tempted one time. So I don’t think temptation is ruled out but what is ruled out is any sinful response to temptation in heaven.