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Leading people into a maturing new life in Jesus Christ

Love, the Spirit, and the Gifts

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“The presence of Jesus through the Spirit is of utmost importance…”

 

In Acts 1:4-5, Luke reports how Jesus tells his disciples: “wait for the promise of the Father” which is, “‘you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’”

If we study the history of the church for the last two-thousand years we see two extremes regarding this wonderful gift, this presence of God filling our hearts and lives.

At one extreme is an almost complete ignorance, by which I mean an ignoring, of the presence, power, and gifts of the Spirit in the life of the individual Christian and the corporate body of the church.

At the other extreme we have the Holy Spirit, or even the importance of one or two gifts of the Spirit, stressed to the exclusion of other vital dimensions of the life of the church. At times it has been to the very exclusion of Jesus himself. Yet Jesus says of the Spirit: “he will bear witness about me” and “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 15:26; 16:14 italics added).

The presence of Jesus through the Spirit is of utmost importance for the church today, even as it was for the first disciples. In fact, it was the filling of Jesus with the Spirit that allowed him, as a human being, to bring the kingdom of God to earth through all the powerful works he did in authority of the Father.

Jesus lived his life through the presence and power of the Spirit the same way you and I can live as his apprentices. How was it that the crucified Jesus could cry out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)? How could Jesus bless those who cursed him? How was it that Jesus “faced all of the same temptations we do,” but “did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NLT)? How was it that everything Jesus did he did in love?

Jesus’ life manifested the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

It was not with his own power as a human being or with his divine power, which he had “emptied himself” of (Philippians 2:7), but only by the Spirit of his Father that Jesus lived. And so Jesus, prophesying of a day when his disciples would be questioned and persecuted, says, “what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your
Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19-20).

Yes, the Holy Spirit is vital. Unless we are filled we have no life in us and no power to bring the kingdom. Yet even in the early church the Corinthian believers misused the gifts of the Spirit. So Paul writes what we refer to as 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14 to address their misunderstandings and misuse of the Spirit and his gifts. He begins, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed” (1 Cor 12:1).

And what did he say the major purpose of the Spirit and his gifts are? “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (12:7). The gifts are given to the body of Christ “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (12:25).

And then there is that wonderful chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul describes the love of God for us and says that love is more important than the exercise of any spiritual gift. And by putting chapter 13 between chapters 12 and 14, he shows that every spiritual gift is to be manifested in love, what he calls “a still more excellent way” (12:31).

Then Paul follows in 1 Corinthians 14 with a discussion of the gifts of tongues and prophecy. And his primary emphasis on both gifts is that they are for one major purpose: “the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (14:3), and a tongue that is interpreted is “so that the church may be built up” (14:5). He exhorts them, “strive to excel in building up the church” (14:12), “let all things be done for building up” (14:26) “so that all may learn and all be encouraged” (14:31).

So as we move forward in inviting and seeking the presence and filling of the Holy Spirit as the body of Christ at Edmonds Adventist Church, let’s remember — when Jesus commanded us to move forward  “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20) — that we have much to learn ourselves, that we do not want to be “uninformed” like the Corinthians, and that “if I … have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3).

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Contributed by Pastor Larry Zuchowski


One Comment

  1. Love is the true manifestation of Gods spirit within us, then truly it was said, “If I….have not love, I gain nothing.

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