One of the most amazing statements found in the New Testament was spoken by the Apostle Peter. It was made during the “Q & A” portion of his sermon on the first day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. In this message Peter emphatically declared the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, who had been accredited by God to them by miracles, wonders and signs. When they heard this, the people were pierced to the heart, stung to the very core of their being. They realized their complicity and asked Peter and the other apostles what they should do.
Peter’s inspired reply is astounding. His most amazing statement is recorded in Acts 2:38-39, he states: “38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Through the Good News proclaimed by Peter on this day, these people learn that their sin-debt can and will be cancelled if they are willing to trust God enough to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading through the apostle. If they would but repent and be baptized they would receive: (1) the forgiveness of their sins; and (2) the gift of the Holy Spirit. While the emphasis often gets placed on the first portion of Peter’s reply, I’d like for us to think about the second of the two promises made to those whose faith prompts them to repent and be baptized, the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.
It’s a simple thing, but the fact that these two gifts are of equal importance is underscored by the original language. Here the copulative, coordinating conjunction “καί” is used to connect these two promises. Thus, we should recognize the promises to be of equal significance. In fact, it seems that the emphasis is on the idea that these two things go hand-in-hand with one another. Both are of equal significance.
In view of the baptism language of Romans 6:1-7, it seems that the person who is symbolically united with Christ in death through baptism is raised from this “watery grave” to walk in newness of life. This new way of living is a life which is enabled by and lived in step with the Holy Spirit. Thus, an understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives is essential for those who would live into our calling as followers of Jesus Christ.
In general terms the Scriptures reveal that…
(a) The Holy Spirit is given to all who obey Christ— Acts 5:32, “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
(b) The Holy Spirit dwells within the bodily temple of those who follow Christ—
1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.”
2 Corinthians 1:21-22, “21Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
The preceding passage points us to several specific details with respect to the fact that the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts. The Holy Spirit is given…
…as a seal of ownership… (see also: Ephesians 1:13)
…to certify authentication or genuineness… (see also: Romans 8:9)
…as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come… (see also: Ephesians 1:14) With respect to this idea, it should be noted that the Greeks also used the term (ἀρραβών) to speak of an engagement ring.
(c) The Holy Spirit gives testimony that we are God’s children— Romans 8:15-17, “15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
The knowledge that the Holy Spirit dwells within the hearts of those who decide to follow Jesus is encouraging in and of itself. For it is in through the Holy Spirit dwelling within us that God emphatically declares by actions that cannot be misconstrued this one is my own. She has been bought with the price of my beloved Son’s blood. She has been saved by grace through faith. She has been rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of my beloved Son. She is in possession of my promise of eternal life, which is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit who resides in her heart.
The knowledge that the Holy Spirit dwells within our hearts greatly influences how we live from day-to-day. Some of the ways this knowledge impacts our lives are:
(1) The indwelling of God’s Spirit causes us to realize the depth and constancy of God’s love, Romans 5:1-5…
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
(2) The indwelling of God’s Spirit compels us to live pure lives…
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
Galatians 5:16-26, “16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.”
19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
(3) The Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, helps us in our weakness when we pray, Romans 8:26-27…
26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
(4) The Holy Spirit, who resides in our hearts, produces fruit of righteousness in our lives…
Romans 8:5-9, “5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. 9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
Galatians 5:22-23, “22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
(5) The indwelling Holy Spirit gives us hope we will be raised from the dead, Romans 8:9-14…
9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. 12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
(6) The Holy Spirit strengthens us inwardly so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith, Ephesians 3:16-17a…
16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…
Thanks be to God, who loves us with a matchless love and assures us of the veracity of His promises through a matchless gift—His very own Spirit dwelling in our hearts. Praise be to our great and glorious God throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
© Bill Williams
July 11, 2006