Marks of An Authentic Work of the Holy Spirit

75887From the fourth chapter of First John, Jonathan Edwards established five things as essential in a genuine work of God’s Holy Spirit.

First, a true work of the Spirit raises the “esteem of Jesus that was born of the Virgin, and was crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem; and seems more to confirm and establish believer’s minds in the truth of what the Gospel declares to us of his being the Son of God, and the Savior of men.

Secondly, it operates against the interests of Satan’s kingdom, against sin and men’s worldly lusts.

Third, men are established in a greater regard for the Holy Scriptures “in their truth and divinity.”

Fourth, the Spirit operates as a Spirit of truth — a Spirit who shows people the uniqueness and holiness of God and that they must die and that very soon, and “that they must give account of themselves to God; one who convinces them that they are helpless in themselves and confirms them in other things that are agreeable to sound doctrine,” that is a Spirit of truth.

Fifth, the Spirit who generates love to God and man is the Spirit of God (Jonathan Edwards, The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God in the Great Awakening, ed. C.C. Goen (New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ., 1972), p.249).

To ensure that our work for Christ has His distinctive imprint and blessing, we ought to ask the following questions after every sermon, Bible study, evangelistic appointment, worship service, board meeting, and counseling appointment:

(1)     Did I exalt the Savior? Were people led to elevate their view of Christ?

(2)     Was sin exposed for what it is, an offense to the character of a holy God?

(3)     Were people led to have a greater regard for the Scriptures so much so that they actually became doers of the Word?

(4)     Was the Spirit of truth evident in promoting God’s holiness so that sinners realize their need of and accountability to Him?

(5)     Was love for God and man generated in the hearts of God’s people?

 

 

When the Spirit of God Descends Upon Your Heart

The lovely words of the Irish hymn-writer, George Croly
serve as a simple reminder of why we desperately need the Holy Spirit
poured out upon us:

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart,
wean it from earth, through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,
and make me love Thee as I ought to love.

  • According to Romans 8, when the Spirit descends upon our hearts,
    He rivets our attention upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His work
    for us on the cross.
  • When the Spirit descends upon our hearts, He produces in us the
    family trait of holiness by granting us the desire, determination and
    discipline to reject and kill sin.
  • When the Spirit descends upon our hearts, He assures us of our sonship
    and of our permanent gift of eternal life.

Martin Luther explains:
The Law scolds us, sin screams at us,
death thunders at us, the devil roars at us.
In the midst of the clamor,
the Spirit of Christ cries in our hearts: ‘Abba, Father.’
This little cry of the Spirit transcends
the hullabaloo of the law, sin, death, and the devil
and finds a hearing with God.

  • Luther’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

No wonder we call the Holy Spirit the “Lord and Giver of Life!”

How to Profit from Preaching

billy graham preachingThe church of Jesus Christ throughout history has given concerted energy and time to the preaching of God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2). What can you do personally to make sure that you profit from hearing God’s Word preached?

  • Before worship, we can prepare in advance by praying for a receptive heart and teachable spirit.
  • During worship, we can examine what we hear by the Scriptures and receive its truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind.
  • After worship, we can meditate upon the Word in our hearts and bring forth the fruit of it in our lives.

All of the above is impossible apart from the illumination of God’s Holy Spirit. No preacher is dynamic, eloquent, and gifted enough to bring about life transformation in his hearers. For this reason, we humbly pray for God’s Spirit to illumine the reading and preaching of His Word so that lives are transformed.

Why not make the following your prayer of illumination as you prepare to hear God’s Word preached this coming Sunday?

Prayer: Father, amid all the changing words of our generation,
speak to us now Your eternal Word that doesn’t change
and help us to respond as we ought…
with faith, understanding and obedience. For Jesus’ sake, AMEN.

Thankful for the Trinity

Recently we celebrated Trinity Sunday. The music, prayers, and Scripture readings in this worship service focus explicitly on the beauty, power, and work of the triune God.

The amazing work of the Trinity is magnified in your own salvation. The Father purposed your salvation before the worlds were made. The Son secured your salvation by His cross and resurrection. The Spirit applies salvation to your life by opening your heart to believe.

The Trinity also helps us to answer a most basic question: What is a Christian? I would expand J.I. Packer’s definition to this question just a bit by saying: The question can be answered in many ways, but possibly the richest answer is that a Christian is one who has God for his Father, Jesus for his Savior and Lord, and the Holy Spirit for his helper and constant companion.

Therefore, Brian Kay concludes in Trinitarian Spirituality that “God is never more glorious than in His triune conspiracy to enthrone Christ in someone’s heart — and what an immense favor He shows to the one He lovingly overtakes.” We see Him doing this in the lives of many in the Scriptures: the Apostle Paul, Nicodemus, and the woman at the well just to name a few.  He can do it in your live as well!

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Trinity
Praise be to You, O God the Father:
You created all things by your power and wisdom
and so loved the world that you gave your Son to be our Savior.

Praise be to You, O God the Son:
You became human like us in all things, except sin,
died for our offenses, and rose again for our justification.

Praise be to You, O God the Holy Spirit:
You lead us into all truth and spread the love of God in our hearts.
All praise and glory be to you, O God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.
Worship Sourcebook, p. 716

Thankful for the Holy Spirit

On Pentecost, we celebrate an important event in redemptive history:
The time when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to His followers who would live within them and empower them for service.

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Almighty Father, we praise You for sending Your Holy Spirit
upon Your disciples at Pentecost in the upper room.
We ask You now to send Him to fill us with all of His fullness.

We thank you for:
• The power of Your Holy Spirit and ask You to strengthen us to serve You worthily.
• The wisdom of Your Holy Spirit and ask You to fill us with a greater knowledge of Your will.
• The peace of Your Holy Spirit and ask that He might cause us to flourish in every dimension of our lives and strengthen our confidence in Your love.
• The healing of Your Holy Spirit and ask You to bring reconciliation and wholeness where there is division, discord, sickness, and sorrow.
• The gifts of Your Holy Spirit and ask You to equip us for the tasks that You have assigned us.
• The fruit of Your Holy Spirit and ask You to ensure that the love of Jesus governs all of our relationships.

Breathe upon us now and renew our joy of eternal life.
Blow out the dust of sin in our lives
and, in Your mercy, fill us anew with Yourself.
Make us one in heart and mind to serve you for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

– Adapted from The Worship Sourcebook, p. 706

Come Holy Spirit – A Prayer

O Holy Spirit, as sacred oil, anoint us and
Set us apart to the priesthood of all believers.
As the only truly purifying water, cleanse us from the power of sin
And set us apart to live godly lives,
Working in us to will and to do the Lord’s good pleasure.
As the light, reveal to us our lost estate,
As well as the Lord Jesus to us and in us,
And guide us in the way of righteousness.
As fire, both purge us from dross, and set our hearts ablaze for You.
As heavenly dew, remove our barrenness and fertilize our lives.
As the dove, with wings of peaceful love,
Brood over Christ’s church and over our souls.
As the comforter, dispel the cares and doubts which mar our peace
And bear witness to our sonship by working in us
A filial spirit by which we cry Abba, Father.
As the wind, bring the breath of life to us; blowing us into your safe harbor.

For we pray in the name of our beloved Savior on whom You continue to shine the spotlight! AMEN.
— Adapted from Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

When Life Overwhelms – A Simple Prayer for Pentecost Sunday

Western depiction of the Pentecost, painted by Jean Restout, 1732

This coming Sunday we celebrate an important event in redemptive history… the time when Jesus sent the “other helper” who would live within us and empower us for service.

  • Almighty Father we come to you in the blessed name of our Savior Jesus Christ. You have been sending your Spirit for a long time. You sent your Spirit upon Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan River. You sent your Spirit upon the disciples in the upper room. We ask you now to fill us with your Spirit,
  • We thank you for the power of your Holy Spirit and ask that we may be strengthened to serve you in a manner worthy of you. We acknowledge to you our weakness and weariness.
  • We thank you for the wisdom of your Holy Spirit. May He fill us with a greater knowledge of Your will with insight and wisdom.
  • We thank you for the peace of your Holy Spirit and ask that He might cause us to flourish in every dimension of our lives. Especially keep us confident of your love wherever you call us.
  • We thank you for the healing of your Holy Spirit and ask you to bring reconciliation and wholeness where there is division, discord, sickness, and sorrow.
  • We thank you for the gifts of your Holy Spirit and we ask you to equip us for the tasks that you have assigned us.
  • We thank you for the fruit of your Holy Spirit and ask you to ensure that the love of Jesus governs all of our relationships.
  • We thank you for the Holy Spirit given on Pentecost. We ask you to breathe upon your church the joy of eternal life. Blow out the dust of sin in our lives and, in your mercy, fill us anew with Yourself. Make us one in heart and mind to serve you for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

– A prayer adapted from The Worship Sourcebook, p. 706.