What, exactly, is "the promise of the Spirit"? And how can we receive it in faith? Scripture tells us that Abraham was blessed "in every way," and that we Christians might come into that blessing. The Holy Spirit is called to help us understand and receive our inheritance. Today Derek explains there are five specific ways in which the Holy Spirit helps us.
It’s good to be with you again at the beginning of a new week, sharing with you out of truths that have made the difference between success and failure in my life, and can do the same in yours.
First, let me say “Thank you” to those of you who have been writing to me. Before I finish this talk we’ll be giving you a mailing address to which you may write. Feel free to share with us your personal needs, your problems, your prayer requests.
In my talks last week I pictured the two opposing kingdoms: God’s kingdom of light and Satan’s kingdom of darkness. It is God’s purpose to deliver us from the kingdom of darkness and to give us an inheritance in the kingdom of light.
Deliverance has been made possible through Christ’s redemption. On the cross Jesus took upon Himself the curses due to our disobedience that, in turn, He might make available to us the blessings due to His obedience. These blessings cover three areas: spiritual, physical and material.
This week I will be explaining the practical principles that are the key to claiming all the blessings that Christ has made available to us, and thus entering into our full inheritance.
We’ll turn again to the key Scripture that speaks about redemption and deliverance from the curse of the Law; that is, the curse of disobedience to God. This is Galatians 3:13-14:
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one who hangs on a tree’ in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (NAS)
Last week I explained the basic principle that the Scripture reveals through the Holy Spirit, that when Jesus hung on the cross He was visibly, demonstrably presented as bearing a curse because in the Old Covenant in the book of Deuteronomy it was written, “Cursed is every one who hangs on a tree.” But that Jesus bore the curse not for Himself, but for us. He was our substitute! Kinsmanredeemer! The one who took our nature that He might take our place!
And so the curses due to our disobedience came upon Jesus, the positive purpose being that in return, through our faith in Him, the blessings due to His obedience might be made available to us. You have to understand the exchange. Jesus took the curse that we might have the blessing. Jesus took the evil due to us, that we might receive the good due to Him. That’s the key to understanding the cross and the cross is the key to understanding the whole message of the gospel.
Now, in Galatians 3:14, I’ll read the words again, Paul is somewhat more specific than I’ve been up to this point in describing the blessing. He says, “in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles.” Elsewhere in the epistle to the Galatians, he explains that through our faith in Jesus, the seed of Abraham, we can be reckoned as the descendants of Abraham. And so although we are not descendants of Abraham, those of us who are Gentiles and nonJews, we are not the descendants of Abraham by natural descent. Through our faith in Jesus, the promised seed of Abraham, we enter into the inheritance of Abraham, and we become heir to the blessings that God promised to Abraham and to his descendants. So that God makes available to us, through faith in Christ, the blessing of Abraham. Of course, He makes it available both to Jews and Gentiles. Because Jesus, through His death on the cross, has made possible redemption from the curse of the broken law for the Jewish people and also included us, who are Gentiles, in the inheritance of Abraham.
Now we need to know what exactly is covered by the blessing of Abraham, which is now made available to us, and this is clearly stated in Scripture. In Genesis 24:1 we read this:
“Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in every way.” (NAS)
One of the other versions says “in everything.” So the blessing of Abraham is a very beautiful blessing. It’s “in every way”! It’s “in everything”! It covers every area of our lives. Nothing is omitted from that blessing of Abraham. I said last week that the blessings and the curses both cover three main areas: spiritual, physical and material that’s “in everything.”
However, going back to Galatians 3:14, we discover that Paul speaks about one specific blessing which he singles out from all the others. He says, “so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” The word “Spirit” there has a capital “s,” it’s a title of the Holy Spirit. So, out of all the blessings and all the promises made available to us through our faith in Jesus, there’s one blessing and one promise that is singled out from all the others, it’s the promise of the Spirit. Elsewhere in the New Testament Jesus speaks about this and He calls it “the promise of the Father.” It’s the specific, special promise of God the Father to those of us who become His children through faith in Jesus Christ.
The reason why the promise of the Spirit is singled out is that it’s the key to all the other blessings. Without receiving the Holy Spirit, we’re not able, we are not qualified to enter into our inheritance. The Holy Spirit is the one who administers the inheritance and makes it available to us.
We’ll turn now to John 14:15-18, where Jesus is speaking to His disciples just before He is about to leave them and be taken from them in physical presence, and He says, “As I’m going, I’m going to send somebody else who’ll take My place and stay with you.” In effect He says, “I’ve only been with you a brief three and onehalf years, but the other One who’s coming to take My place will never leave you. He’ll be with you forever.” This other one whom Jesus said He would send is the Holy Spirit. And Jesus gives Him here one special title, the Helper (or in the King James Version, the Comforter). This is what Jesus says:
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; [I’m going, but another one is coming in My place and He’s going to stay.] that is the Spirit of truth [that’s one of the titles of the Holy Spirit], whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (NAS)
You see there the picture. Without the Holy Spirit, the disciples would have been left as orphans, little children without anybody to help them or advise them or to stand by them or to show them how they could gain their inheritance that Jesus had bequeathed to them through His death on the cross. But when the Holy Spirit comes, He no longer leaves us in the position of helpless orphans but He comes to our help, He comes as our Helper, and He shows us how we can claim and enter into our inheritance bequeathed to us through the death of Jesus.
Now I am going to speak about some of the specific ways in which the Holy Spirit helps us. In John 14:26, Jesus says to His disciples:
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (NAS)
There are two great ministries of the Holy Spirit to us, the disciples of Jesus. He teaches us all that we need to know of Scripture and divine revelation, and He brings to our remembrance the things that Jesus has taught that we might otherwise forget. That’s why I believe in the absolute accuracy of the New Testament record because I do not believe that it depends on human thought or human memory. But I believe that those who wrote the New Testament, that the Holy Spirit taught them and He brought to their remembrance the things that they needed to remember.
Then in John 16:13-14 Jesus goes on again. He says:
“But when He, the Spirit of truth [and notice that He emphasizes that the Holy Spirit is a person, not just an influence. He calls Him ‘He,’ not ‘it.’ But when He, the Spirit of truth] comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you.” (NAS)
In those verses Jesus indicates three more ministries of the Holy Spirit that He will fulfill in our lives when He comes as our Helper. He will guide us into all the truth and into the entire knowledge of all that God has for us in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is our guide. He’s like the one who leads us into a land through which we otherwise could not find our way, the land of God’s promises! The land of our inheritance!
And then again, Jesus says, “He will disclose to you what is to come.” He will take away the veil that covers the future and reveal to us those things in the future that we need to know. I believe we’re living, as the Bible indicates, in perilous times when tremendous dangers are going to sweep across the face of this earth and we’re going to be confronted with challenges and oppositions that are beyond anything the previous generations have seen on the face of the earth. And I believe our safety is going to depend on the Holy Spirit revealing to us what we need to know about the future, so that we can avoid Satan’s danger and pitfalls and snares and come safely through the experiences that lie ahead of us. I don’t believe that’s a luxury, I believe it’s a necessity that the Holy Spirit will be able to reveal to us the things that are to come.
And Jesus says, thirdly, in that passage in John 16, “He shall glorify Me.” Remember, the Holy Spirit never comes to glorify Himself or to talk about Himself, but He glorifies Jesus and He reveals what He Himself has heard in heaven, He speaks to us on earth.
And then He says, “He shall take of Mine [Jesus is speaking], and shall disclose it to you.” In other words, the Holy Spirit takes all that is rightfully belonging to Jesus, which is our inheritance, and discloses it to us. So through the Holy Spirit, we come to know our inheritance in Christ.
We may sum this up in one key word that’s used elsewhere in the New Testament in 1 John 2:1. The same word that’s translated “Helper” in John 14 is translated “Advocate” and it’s applied to Jesus. The point I wish to make is that the Holy Spirit comes as our advocate. Now that’s a legal word. It’s the same as attorney. So the Holy Spirit is heaven’s best lawyer, sent to us so that we shall not be orphans, but able to interpret to us our inheritance in Christ and to show us the conditions that we have to fulfill to enter into that inheritance. He’s our Advocate, our Attorney. That’s what He comes to do for us.
All right. My time is up for today but I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll be explaining more fully the part the Holy Spirit plays in helping us to claim our inheritance.