Welcome marathoners in and for Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 4:7) Exhausted, depleted from running the Godly, good, and being-a-blessing-to-others race? Welcome. Sit. Relax. Let’s feast.
Feast of the Heart exists to help bring about Christ-centered “reformation, revival, and constructive revolution” (Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City) so that God will be glorified and people blessed.
Reformation… we seek to abide by and serve up the true truth, pure doctrine of the Bible
Revival… we seek to model biblical Christians living in word and deed
Constructive Revolution… we seek to spread the true gospel right where God has planted us with urgency, compassion, and radical self-abandonment
The Spirit’s Role Is So Amazing… But It’s Part the Equation.
It has been said by some significant theologians, Bible commentators, that Jesus Christ’s most important gift was that of imparting to the elect, regenerate, faithful, converted, born-again Body of Christ: the Holy Spirit, the third person of The Trinity (John 14:15-31), to “sanctify saved souls” (see below) until Christ returns again. Of course, it goes without saying, Christ’s blood-shed, propitiatory work of salvation on the cross was/is vital as well. But being elect; saved; sanctified; made holy; and readied for eternity are “separate yet inter-connected” parts of God’s Plan of Redemption. And every part has been secured for God’s Secured.
Respectfully speaking, if a claim about the Holy Spirit of the above-kind doesn’t make us sit up and re-consider LOTS of things, then it’s likely we either don’t know the Spirit yet or haven’t given Him His due… BY A LONG WAY. And, in the case of the Holy Spirit, “the first step of a long way” is admitting, repenting, and re-committing that most of us don’t know the third Person of the Trinity as we should.
So let’s first remind ourselves of the holistic and astounding role of the Holy Spirit—for the born-again believer, disciple of Christ: [these can be overlapping qualities]
- Fulfills His role as Supernatural Heart-Changer and Pointer to Jesus
- Guides, counsels us
- Gives us spiritual gifts to be used—as light [imparting True Truth] and salt [to stem decay]
- Promotes fruitfulness
- Helps us understand God’s Word, Scripture
- Convicts us of our sin
- Comforts us—to use suffering by the Bible
- Gives us a desire to obey Christ—promotes holiness
- Enables us to pray
- Empowers us for perseverance
- Conforms us more and more into the likeness of Christ—for works of self-sacrificial service
- Bears us up in our weaknesses
- Supports our desire to witness, evangelize, speak the truth in love
- Compels us to be committed to a community of faith—the church
- Grows us in maturity, wisdom, love, and effectiveness
“So the One Who is Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, has given us this Spirit to supply all we need from first to last. He gives us life, fills our life, and points us to the One Who is life.” (Leo Schuster, New City Catechism)
But, Is This All We Need?
For arguments sake, let’s say that each and every above-aspect, gift, role of the Holy Spirit dwells WITHIN the born-again hearts of Saints [converted people]. Would that be sufficient for ACTUALIZING every one of them? Yes, the Holy Spirit brings about the above SUPERNATURALLY…
BUT! there’s another crucial part that’s fulfilled by how God’s Plan of Redemption incarnationally uses His people, the Saints, disciples, followers of Christ in FELLOWSHIP with one another: How about the 100’s Bible verses that pertain to how the SUPERNATURAL is in partnership with the NATURAL [The Body, the Saints, other disciples] to effect the transformational fellowship The Trinity desires of His people—to effect a dark and decaying world?!
By God’s amazing grace and design, there is a partnership in place: a) The Holy Spirit is the engine from within; and b) the Body of Christ INCARNATE in close, intimate, transparent, intentional, abiding, and trustworthy relationship and fellowship in meant to play a vital role in SANCTIFICATION or living it out.
This is why the Bible calls God’s people “co-sanctifiers of one another.”
Now, I don’t know about YOU… okay, I lied, I actually do know about all sinners saved by grace: We ALL have huge challenges [E.g., impossible] “being our own keepers and sancifiers”, right? UNLIKE “Jiminy Cricket-theology”, new creations in Christ are not foolish enough to let our conscience be our guide: a) we are dead until born again and indwelt by the Spirit from the outside coming in; and b) we are surrounded by the Saints in order to help us KNOW, GROW, and SOW more and more like Jesus everyday!
Left alone, our conscience simply serves to be conformed to our own sinful desires. Image Bearers were not created to be alone… ever: The Trinity—three persons in one God—is our origin and our model. Isolated Christians, at least in the Western Church, are more the norm than the exception these daze. How’s this workin’ for us?
We cannot do it alone: God has provided the Spirit from within AND the Saints from without.
What aspects of your story, your wounds, your precious, tucked away, compartmentalized secrets would be greatly diminished in their power to control and condemn your life—if you only opened them up to another Saint’s co-sanctifying use of God’s Word, and his or her senses, wisdom, listening, love, and truth?
So, please, go back up to the list above; read each point again; and then consider this question: “Which Believers in my life am I close enough to so that I could talk freely, while loved, uncondemned, and ongoingly ‘interrogated’ about how each of the Spirit’s helps are being made manifest in me? Or not… and why not?”
Do not forget: The world, the flesh, and the devil HATES details of this kind, right? And why do you think this is the case? Because, for the enemies of God, diminishing the effectiveness of the Saints is job #1. How’s the dark side’s aim working?
If we were sitting with a friend in Christ and he or she read the above list, and then turned to us and said, “How’s this workin’ for you?” How would we respond?
If you were a committed member of a Community / Cell / Small / Fellowship Group, how could you use a list like the above to INFORM, REMIND and then encourage the members to KNOW it, and ACTUALIZE it? [I’m quite certain you already know how challenging even another Christian’s level of transparency, accountability usually goes over, right? E.g., “Hey, don’t judge me!” Yes, it’s gotten that worldly in the church.]
If a leader of any kind at our church were to bring up an above-list of this kind… and simply left it at that… would it bother us… at all? Would it surprise us if there were no call or way to actualize it… even in the church? Perhaps the ministry called “DISCIPLESHIP” could help… if it weren’t so elusive.
Is there someone… anyone… in your life who is born again, mature, and has your full permission and encouragement to:
- Know your story… well [Do you?]
- Remind you of the supernatural nature of your faith and the centrality of Jesus Christ?
- Loving ask you to compare your behavior to Jesus’?
- Help to convict you of your sin, idol patterns?
- Request you see and measure the nature of your fruitfulness?
- Ask if you’re using your gifts to serve?
- Help you look more deeply into the nature and effectiveness of your prayer life?
In closing, is there an opening for change and re-commitment in our hearts—instigated by the Spirit and actuated by the Saints? Let’s hope so. For my part, I’ll begin again by sending this Training Table feast to the men God has placed in my life for the purpose of co-sanctification. I’ll begin again by beginning “Today…” (Psalm 95:7-8); to renew the INSIDE-OUT — OUTSIDE-IN partnership between the Spirit and the Saints!
Please join me, Marathoners for Christ running the good race.
Love to all,