Richard Pratt says, “God’s plan is so comprehensive that it not only includes the final destinies of things but also includes the secondary, creaturely processes that work together to accomplish these ends. For instance, God does not simply ordain light to shine on the earth each day; He also employs the sun, the moon, the stars, and countless other things to accomplish that end. God does not merely determine that someone will recover from a disease; He uses doctors and medicine to accomplish the healing. As the playwright of history, God did not simply write an ending for the book of time. He wrote every word on every page so that all events lead to the grand finale.”
Let’s pray this week and every week for all of the churches in our community. We do not want a spiritual awakening of the gospel’s fulness in Creekstone alone, but in Dahlonega Baptist, Christ’s Family, Bethlehem Baptist, Dahlonega United Methodist, Dahlonega Presbyterian, TCAD, The Fountain, St. Luke’s, and the other many churches throughout Lumpkin County and our region, such as Northlake in Murrayville, as well as Westminster and Lakewood in Gainesville and Gracepointe in north Forsyth Co., not to mention our friends at Mountain Lake and Browns Bridge. May the Spirit bring a time of deep and lasting gospel joy and refreshment to his people, for the glory of God, our joy and the good of our neighbors!
This past Sunday in a message focued on being fueled (filled) with spiritual power as gospel/grace revolutionaries, we discussed the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Here is a introduction to the subject:
Water baptism is the shadow of Spirit baptism’s reality. Water baptism symbolizes the promise of God. Spirit baptism seals the promise of God: to cleanse us from sin, unite us to Jesus and empower us with the Spirit.
Spirit baptism has two key aspects:
- Assurance (Spiritual Peace) – Rom. 5:5, “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” and Rom. 8:15-16, “15For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”
- Ability (Spiritual Power) – the indwelling Spirit endows us with various gifts to be used for mission (teaching, giving, admin., helps, mercy…) – 1 Cor. 12 and Rom. 12
Theologically, the baptism with the Spirit happens at conversion and is a one-time event. However, we are intended to experience ongoing, continuous “fillings” with the Spirit as well. That actually is what we see in the book of Acts and it is still the pattern today. The question is not so much “have I experienced the baptism with the Spirit,” but “am I filled now?”
Roger Garaudy made a stunning comment about Jesus, considering that he was a communist philosopher who eventually converted to Islam.
“I do not know much about this man, but I do know that his whole life conveys the one message: ‘anyone at any moment can start a new life.'”
That is true. When folks encountered Jesus, they were changed. Knowing him was the opportunity to start a new life. It can happen for me and for you.
What he offers is a life of grace, where we give up our attempts at self-improvement and receive his life credited to us. Perfect righteousness. A glorious gift. A new life. Starting today.
The words are famous. “You’ll never understand a man ’til you stand in his shoes and look at the world through his eyes.” So said Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.
So the question for me today is this: Whose shoes have I stood in today?
So, how do we wake up spiritually in such a way that we are fueled to be gospel revolutionaries? Galatians 3:1-2 gives us a hint, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?”
As Paul says, we receive the Spirit in fullness as we believe the gospel—as we rest in Jesus as our crucified and risen sin-bearing justifier who takes our sin upon himself and gives to us his perfect righteousness. One way to make this practical, like getting caffeinated with the glory of God’s grace, is to brew the gospel in our hearts every morning like we do our dark roast. Let it percolate. But how?
Here are a number of ways to allow the gospel to percolate in our hearts in the morning:
- Read through a chapter of the Bible – look for seeds of grace, plant ‘em, believe ’em
- Listen to an audio Bible (youversion) – listen to the Psalms, where the waves of grace wash over you time and time again
- Read a book on grace (read 1 chap every morning or evening – a book such as Abba’s Child, The Prodigal God or Transforming Grace)
- Listen to gospel-centered music at Grooveshark.com (channels like Sovereign Grace and Indelible Grace)
- Review sermon notes
- Read my blog for grace devotions & others (like Tullian Tchividjian’s blog)
Let these ideas simply be gospel kindling that the Spirit is able to light into a roaring fire of heart warming and light producing grace. Then we will be equipped to be fully-fueled gospel revolutionaries.