In part 2 of this series, we finished by looking at passages from the Old Covenant and will now turn our attention to the New Covenant and the work of God’s spirit through the Messiah of Israel…Yeshua, Translated in English as Jesus.
It is in the New Covenant that we are given further insight into the actions of God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit is shown to descend upon Jesus giving him power and enablement for the ministry before him.
I again want to stop here for just one moment and remind ourselves that the actions of God’s spirit here in the New Testament are still given in descriptive ways for us to have a better understanding of the actions and work of the invisible God, whose very essence is spirit. So when we see terms of being led by the spirit or speaking against the Holy Spirit, the writers are communicating to us, the actions of our God in ways that we can understand yet ever so poorly our God. It is Jesus who through the apostle John, will provide us with the fullness of this understanding when he makes this statement about God – “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”” (John 4:23–24, ESV) Did you catch that – God is spirit!!
I spent a couple weeks in Israel and had the opportunity to talk with some Jewish Brothers who are now following Jesus, and they expressed this in a way that made more sense to them. They said that the Spirit is the manifestation of the power of God and that Jesus is the manifestation of God in the flesh. To these men, the Trinity doctrine that is very prevalent throughout all of Christianity is to them taking those anthropomorphic expressions of the one God who is Spirit and breaking Him into individual persons. This in essence is bringing God down to our human level and borders on the same views that the pagans had of their Gods and the limitations they would have as more human-like in form. Are these valid arguments or not is one of those areas that can lead to division in the body. Since the early church fathers there have been discussions, councils, and development of doctrine regarding the nature of God both for our own understanding and also to combat false prophets and ideas. The best we should do is to remain open about the study of God’s character while still being on guard to doctrines and ideas that the scripture simply does not support.
As people who are followers of Jesus, what do we take away from all of this? Well, we have a foundation in the Scriptures of God’s spirit already at work in the lives of His people, and with the resurrection of our Lord, the actions of the Spirit of God have been renewed or refreshed in the people that God is calling back to himself. What are those things that we see of the Spirit in the New Testament?
First, as in Genesis, He gives life. Jesus expressed this in the passage that we quote so often – “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”” (John 3:3–8, ESV) Being born of the Spirit is considered the new life of every believer called by God.
Then what happens after that? The spirit (whom we are told is sent forth from the father and son – another expression for our benefit) will teach us (Jn 14:26), bear witness to the life of Jesus (Jn 15:26), guide us in all truth (Jn 16:13), represent the power of God in the lives of his people (Acts 1:8, Rom 8:26, 15:13), bears witness to our spirit that we are His children (Rom 8:16, Gal 4:6), instills in us the qualities of God’s character (Gal 5:22), and as it is in Genesis, the Spirit Speaks. (Rev 2:29, 3:6, 3:22) Finally, just as with the people of God in the Old Testament, the Spirit can be grieved or quenched by the sinful actions of His own people. (1 Thess 5:19, Eph 4:30)
So, as followers of this amazing God and the example he has given us in His Son Jesus, what should we do with this amazing gift of His presence living within us. A fresh expression of Life given from the creator of all things. I think Paul wrote it best when he penned 2 Tim 1:6 – “For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:6–7, ESV) The power of God, that resurrected Jesus from the grave is the same power that lives in each one who truly follows Jesus, and that power enables us to live a life that is an expression of Love and Self-Control. We just have to choose to allow him to be in control rather than I, for I is the center of sIn. God in His grace and mercy has refreshed his presence in the lives of those who choose to accept this wonderful gift, so then how shall we live?