Thought for the Week - 8th SeptemberPastor Gareth Watkins
Psalm 33: 6-7
6 The Lord merely spoke,
and the heavens were created.
He breathed the word,
and all the stars were born.
7 He assigned the sea its boundaries
and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.
Genesis 1: 2
Last week I wrote about the Holy Spirit. This week I’d like to share more about the Holy Spirit, so we have some background on who He is.
The Spirit of God was there in the very beginning, and the Spirit hovered over the waters (Genesis). Even before that, the Holy Spirit was there. In Psalms above we read “He breathed the word”. The “breath of God” is reference to the Holy Spirit of God. When we read Psalms, we see the Holy Spirit was there. He created the stars, the seas and its boundaries, because He was part of that creation. When God spoke, the Holy Spirit breathed and the word came. The whole of creation came. At the beginning of time He was there in God’s Oneness, as part of the Godhead. He was hovering over the waters at the beginning of earth’s creation.
We’re talking of the Holy Spirit as the creator. He is God Himself. When we read that we are to be led by the Holy Spirit, it’s not just to say we’re led by this unknown entity that makes us feel good in a church meeting. This Holy Spirit is creator God. He’s much bigger and much greater than we perhaps care to give acknowledgement to. He is part of God, and He was part of this creative process that God Himself spoke. This breath of God created the earth. He has a creative ability that made the stars, the earth, and the life that we live.
When we’re talking about the Holy Spirit, we need to acknowledge the detail of who He is. There are lots of scriptures in the Bible about Him. It’s important to give acknowledgement to the power and the authority of the Holy Spirit. Many churches won’t even acknowledge that He exists in some cases. In their mind, He’s just about there for the salvation side of it. But in salvation, the Holy Spirit is there too. Without the Holy Spirit, how do you have faith in your heart? How do you feel you’re a sinner? How do you connect your spirit with God? We need the Holy Spirit, and yet we don’t get taught these things. People want to put the Holy Spirit to one side because they don’t want to acknowledge Him. You can’t have Christ, God and no Holy Spirit – it just doesn’t connect. They all connect. We can see all three at the point of creation.
When it’s said that we should be led by the Spirit of God, it’s a big thing. It’s only accessible in some ways for those who’ve found this new life. We need to find this new life because there’s a barrier of sin between us and God. This barrier is only broken by Jesus Christ Himself. Then the Spirit of God starts to interpret the word of God to us, and we start to know things. I love new Christians when they come to church – they’ve found God, and they know things from God, but they’ve not necessarily read it in the Bible. So how do they know? The Holy Spirit has brought it to them and it’s alive for them. They’re led to that point where they’re saved, know they’re sinners, and they now they know Him. He speaks to them directly. The revelation of the Holy Spirit comes people directly from God Himself.
One of His roles is to transform men and women into the image of Christ. We all know the scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all scripture is given by the Holy Spirit. We can find those who want to dispute the Bible or criticize it. But it’s inspired by the Holy Spirit, so I can’t remove the parts I don’t understand or don’t agree with. The Holy Spirit imparts something to us that, of Himself, draws us closer to God. He is God. He draws us closer to God by our own spirit. He does it in a miraculous way that only God Himself could do through His own Spirit.
In Zechariah 4:6 we read “not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit”. God doesn’t want to use power on us. He doesn’t blast us when we’ve done wrong. He’s not that kind of God. He draws us through the Holy Spirit. It’s a different kind of introduction into things. That is the spiritual way of living under God.
We need to feel this Holy Spirit in a different way, where He wants to take us from where we are, and train us, and show us, and change us, and transform us as we go. God Himself is connecting with us through His Holy Spirit in such a way that we can see ourselves as we are, and we can use that Bible as a mirror where we can see what we are like. Without the Holy Spirit, we wouldn’t be able to see what we are like before God or our position in eternity.
Is it a wonder then that some people get a bit lost? We need to come to God on our knees because we can’t say we’ve done everything right. We can’t say we have confidence in ourselves. Our only confidence in the end, is in God Himself.
In John 1 we see the Holy Spirit at work on Jesus Himself. Jesus was born as a man and brought up as a man. Mary was His natural mother, but His natural father wasn’t Joseph. Jesus grows up – God is His Father – and He becomes a man. Now His point of ministry is about to start, but before He starts, He needs to be filled and baptized with the Holy Spirit. He knows this. He is Christ, about to start the ministry that God has sent Him to do:
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
30 This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’
31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”
32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.
33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
John, who knew Jesus Christ before, didn’t recognise Him. But then the day came when God showed Him that He who the Spirit descends on like a dove – and stays on Him – is the one who is the Saviour of the world. This Holy Spirit had to come upon Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit was there for Him, but here He is baptizing Him with power and authority, and a new depth that He didn’t move in until such time that He was due to start His ministry.
I think this is a very interesting part of Jesus’ life. He had to live as a little boy, a young man, and He had to do His work with his father. This is a day that a new mantle comes upon Him. This is the day that the man becomes a Saviour in a different sense. He’s now going to take on the sins of the world. He’s now going to raise the dead. He’s now going to cast out demons. He’s now going to prophecy and do things written in the books that will start a whole turnaround of the sin of mankind. This is a very different moment of time here.
You and I need that moment.
We need that moment where we come to God. We’ve done our things and know where we’ve been, but we come to God and ask Him to fill us with the Holy Spirit. That we can live that life that God has created you to be. Jesus needed it and we need it. Jesus is described here as the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world. What an incredible authority that man needed to take away the sin of the world! The only way He could fulfil that ministry and calling was to be baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s very significant.
What do the Lamb and the Dove signify? The Lamb and the Dove are Jesus and the Holy Spirit. And to me they represent meekness, purity, softness, a life laid down. Jesus never ever rejected the Holy Spirit. If it wasn’t right, Christ Himself would have had to reject Him. He never did. Yet people today reject the Holy Spirit. He came into time, in the likeness of a man, and yet it was only when the Holy Spirit was on Him that He was able to do the great works that God had intended Him to do. Because the Holy Spirit enabled Him. The Holy Spirit settled on the Lamb.
Do we think that our nature could be likened to a dove or a lamb? What could your nature be likened to? If we have the wrong type of nature, can we push the Holy Spirit away? Yes we can. If we naturally have the wrong type of nature or wrong attributes in us, we can naturally push Him away. I’ve seen it happen, and those lives have never been the same after it.
In Ephesians 4: 29-32 we read about those natural attributes that push away the Holy Spirit:
29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.
32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
If we use bitterness, anger, rage, harsh words, swear words, slander, evil behaviour, we will then have a nature that will quietly push the Holy Spirit away. We may not want to do that. That is why we need to come on our knees and ask God to forgive us, because that type of behaviour pushes the gentle Holy Spirit away. And yet, this Holy Spirit – defined as a dove – can be attracted to you. He was attracted to the Lamb of God. He didn’t not go to Jesus Christ, He went to Jesus Christ. Jesus was tenderhearted and forgiving.
This word is encouraging us to have a nature defined like a dove. To be tenderhearted, to be kind to one another, and to forgive. That nature will attract the Holy Spirit, and will change the inner working of us, so that those bitter words etc. will be gone. This new nature needs to be developed, and the old nature needs to be destroyed. The old nature is formed in sin, the new nature is formed in God. It takes time. The Holy Spirit who wants to lead us, who we should want to be led by, is gentle. It takes time.
We go through times when we get it wrong and make mistakes. But we have to go to God and ask Him to change us. Ask Him to remove that what is in you that is not like a dove. Ask Him to fill you, to empower you, to live the life He meant you to live.
We can’t command God to do anything. God is God. We are the created being, and we need to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. How do we do that? By letting the Holy Spirit lead us.
Be led by the Holy Spirit until you’re a mature son or daughter of the Living God, transformed by what you were into what you were meant to be in God.