Tonight's blog is about the change God works in the people He makes His own. We spend some time on the Holy Spirit which is the fountain from which righteousness flows forth from men. We also start to look a little deeper into the way God works in covenants. God is unchanging as is His pattern of work from the beginning. This is a hopeful thing for us. We can count on God to be consistent and faithful. Please pray for the Holy Spirit's manifestation to be visible in our lives. We want hearts that love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Pray that this would spread to those in town who do not know Jesus today. Pray God would break through the darkness and reform people to the image of His Son and set them on mission with a burning passion for God's glory.

The Spirit of Holiness, The Spirit of Righteousness: Man’s Source of Righteousness

Christians live by promises.[1] Faith is the means God uses to save us. But faith varies in measure[2] and the dead man, which we all are before God brings life out of our spiritual death, cannot believe.[3] The Spirit is the Spirit of Life.[4] It comes by the Word of God. So one of the first works of the Holy Spirit is to bring life into those whom the Father has given Jesus.[5] Without life, there is no Christian walk. We have to be formed and established by God the Father and then given life by the breath, or Holy Spirit of God, that travels with His Spoken, Revealed Word. But what of the rest of the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work in believers. Let’s look at a short list of things the Holy Spirit does before we delve into the righteous revelation of Christ in His people’s works:[6]

1.      The Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).

2.      The Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16:13).

3.      The Spirit regenerates us (John 3:5-8; Titus 3:5).

4.      The Spirit glorifies and testifies of Christ (John 15:26; 16:14).

5.      The Spirit reveals Christ to us and in us (John 16:14-15).

6.      The Spirit leads us (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18; Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:1).

7.      The Spirit sanctifies us (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 5:16).

8.      The Spirit empowers us (Luke 4:14; 24:49; Rom. 15:19; Acts 1:8).

9.      The Spirit fills us (Eph. 5:18; Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 9:17).

10.    The Spirit teaches us to pray (Rom. 8:26-27; Jude 1:20).

11.    The Spirit bears witness in us that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16).

12.    The Spirit produces in us the fruit or evidence of His work and presence (Gal. 5:22-23).

13.    The Spirit distributes spiritual gifts and manifestations (the outshining) of His presence to and through the body (1 Cor.     12:4, 8-10; Heb. 2:4).

14.    The Spirit anoints us for ministry (Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38).

15.    The Spirit  washes and renews us (Titus 3:5).

16.    The Spirit brings unity and oneness to the body (Eph. 4:3; 2:14-18). Here the Holy Spirit plays the same role that He plays in the Godhead. The Spirit is the life that unites Father and Son. The Spirit plays the same role in the church. When the Holy Spirit is operating in a group of people, He unites them in love. Therefore, a sure evidence of the Holy Spirit working in a group is Love and Unity. Not signs and wonders (those are seasonal and can be counterfeited).

17.    The Spirit is our guarantee and deposit of the future resurrection (2 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:5).

18.    The Spirit seals us unto the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13; 4:30).

19.    The Spirit sets us free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2).

20.    The Spirit quickens our mortal bodies (Rom. 8:11).

21.    The Spirit reveals the deep things of God to us (1 Cor. 2:10).

22.    The Spirit reveals what has been given to us from God (1 Cor. 2:12).

23.    The Spirit dwells in us (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Tim. 1:14; John 14:17).

24.    The Spirit speaks to, in, and through us (1 Cor. 12:3; 1 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 2:11; Heb 3:7; Matt. 10:20; Acts 2:4; 8:29; 10:19; 11:12, 28; 13:2; 16:6,7; 21:4,11).

25.    The Spirit is the agent by which we are baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).

There are more works the Spirit does, but the point of viewing each of these works is to see the link between God The Holy Spirit in applying Christ’s righteousness to our lives. The Holy Spirit reveals our sin and need as well as regenerates us to make us new people, or born again by the Spirit. From there we see He leads, sanctifies (cleanses/purifies us), empowers us to accomplish God’s will, gives us gifts to use for Christ’s glory, and ministers to us in several ways. The Holy Spirit, Christ’s Spirit, does work in us by dwelling inside of us as well as outside of us by sealing and manifesting good works. All of this is from God because God is the source of the works. God convicts us of sin, so we repent. God teaches us the deep things of Himself, so we learn and grow in wisdom. The Holy Spirit gives us gifts and empowers us, so we have the ability and the power to accomplish good works. Even our desires are changed and linked to the Holy Spirit working in us. All of this work is accomplished for, in, and through believers, but we are not the source. God is. The question that many stumble in regard to is whether we are responsible to align with God’s covenant commandments to love others the way He loved the disciples (and us) and the answer is yes. But that is a different question than “Are we saved by our works or faith?” It is also a different question than “Don’t I ultimately bear responsibility to act of my own free will to do what Christ requires?” I’ll try to address each of these as we look at covenants a bit more in-depth.

The Way God Works in Covenants

Covenants take place between kings. This has been a historical fact. Earthly kings entered into covenants with other kings and kingdoms were established, spread, governed, by them. Men are limited in their workings of covenants. The success or failure depended on the ability of the kings to keep the covenant.  This is a problem for both parties because there are limitations in resources as well as the presence of sin. Here are a couple of examples where the covenant can run into problems. Let’s say a lesser king is surrounded by enemy forces. There is a threat to the kingdom. The enemy forces could be far greater than those of the king that is surrounded. The enemy king might offer to make a covenant with the lesser king in order to secure protection and avoid war which seems impossible to win. The greater king may be far away and unable to send resources in time. The pressure on the lesser king can be overwhelming and they either accept the new allegiance to this enemy king or remain faithful or loyal to the greater king they are in a covenant with and then be destroyed. Either way, the covenant did not preserve what was promised.

Sometimes the great king in the covenant is also unable to stand against a more powerful foe. They could arrive and fight on behalf of the lesser king and still lose. The lesser king’s kingdom is lost. The covenant did not prove sufficient to protect what was an important part of the covenant. Then there is sin. A great king may have one-sided intentions for the covenant and not provide anything promised and yet still demand allegiance and resources. He could take from the lesser king and the lesser king is unable to protect his kingdom and the kingdom is robbed beyond poverty and far worse off for being in the covenant with the great king. Then there could be evil intentions in the heart of the lesser king and the covenant grant access and relationship to the great king and the lesser king use this position to join with an enemy king and kingdom and attempt to overthrow the great king in the covenant. Rebellion could cost the great king his kingdom.

God is the Greatest King. He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings. In Genesis 1, God has a special name. The name He is called is Elohim. Listen to what the New Dictionary of theology says about God’s self-revelation through His name Elohim:

El, Eloah, Elohim (Eng. ‘God’, following ho theos in lxx.), El Elyon (‘God most high’). These names convey the thought of a transcendent being, superhumanly strong, and with inexhaustible life in himself, one on whom everything that is not himself depends.[7]

God has revealed Himself as the Creator and God over all things. There is no equal. The word is actually a plural form of the word God (El). It shows God to be the God of gods. It is a majestic use of his name that is not saying God is made up of multiple gods, though many have used it to argue for the trinity. The point is the relationship to all other things. By His name, God is revealing Himself to be supreme.

Genesis 2 uses another name quite frequently. Though there are several other names that reveal the character of God, the one most important to our discussion at this time is Yahweh, or Jehovah. This is a special covenant name. Here is a bit of background on the name Yahweh:[8]

Yahweh (‘the LORD’ in AV (KJV), RV, rsv., NIV, following ho kyrios in lxx.), Yahweh Sebaoth (‘Lord of [heavenly, angelic] hosts’). ‘Yahweh’ is God’s personal name for himself, by which his people were to invoke him as the Lord who had taken them into covenant with himself in order to do them good. When God first stated this name to Moses at the burning bush, he explained it as meaning ‘I am what I am’, or perhaps most accurately ‘I [275] will be what I will be’. This was a declaration of independent, self-determining existence (Ex. 3:14–15). Later God ‘proclaimed’—that is, expounded—‘the name of the LORD’ as follows: ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation’ (Ex. 34:6–7, rsv.). Thus in sum ‘Yahweh’ carries the thought of a marvellously kind and patient, though also awesomely stern, commitment to the covenant people as the path chosen by the self-sustaining, self-renewing being whom the theophany of the burning bush depicted.

                The NT identifies the God who is Father of Jesus Christ and of Christians through Christ as the God of the OT, the only God there is (cf. 1 Cor. 8:5–6), and it sees the Christian salvation as the fulfilment of God’s OT promises. Thus it rules out in advance all dualisms that oppose the God, or the idea of God, which the OT sets forth, to the redeemer-God seen in and described by Jesus. ‘Father’ appears as the invocation of God that Jesus, who himself prayed to God as Father, prescribed for his disciples (cf. Mt. 6:9; 1 Pet. 1:17); ‘Lord’, used as in lxx. to imply deity as well as dominion, becomes the regular term for characterizing, confessing and invoking the risen and enthroned Christ (Acts 2:36; 10:36; Rom. 10:9–13; 1 Cor. 8:6; 2 Cor. 12:8–10; Rev. 22:20; etc.); and the ‘name’ (singular) into which disciples of Jesus are to be baptized, as a sign of God’s committed salvific relationship to them and their responsive commitment to him, is the tripersonal name of three distinguishable though evidently inseparable agents, ‘the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit’ (Mt. 28:19). This is God’s ‘Christian name’, as Barth happily put it.

A quick summary of what we need to know from this name is this: The covenant LORD God, Yahweh being His name, is independent from creation and does as He pleases. His pleasure is to be who He is eternally which is holy and righteous. This is the God who is Christ and who is the God of Christ as well as the God of those who are under Christ. He is our Great Covenant King. This is the God whose name we are baptized into upon a statement of faith and the Spirit’s work of repentance. No other king compares or can stand against Him because He not only does what He pleases, but possesses all power, wisdom, authority, and ability to do so. What He determines to do will be done and this will never change. Fortunately for us, we see He is a righteous God and there is none that can come close to Him (Holy). His pleasure is to do all that is righteous (good).

So we see God is good and powerful and able to keep His unchanging word, but what about us? We are not all-powerful or without sin. We are limited in our resources and abilities. We are not self-determining in the sense that God is, for God is able to do whatever He pleases even if it goes against our will, or desire for something. The presence of sin and its power in our lives also presents problems in our desires themselves and what we want. To sin is to invoke God to reveal His just nature which will “by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” Therefore, our sin will inevitably make us enemies of God as we are unable to keep the covenant. How can we obey God by keeping His commands as given by Jesus? What happens to those who prove to be in violation of the covenant?

[1] 2 PETER 1:4; 1 PETER 1:23; JAMES 1:21 (notice the call out of remaining filthiness and wickedness which saves the soul); JAMES 1:18; MATTHEW 4:4; AMOS 8:11 (Our daily needs for life come from the Word of God)

[2] ROMANS 12:3; 1 CORINTHIANS 12:9: Both of these texts are addressing spiritual gifts of faith, not saving faith. All believers have saving faith, but some believers have a special measure of faith regarded as a spiritual gifting which is to be used for the good of all the body (1 CORINTHIANS 12:4-7).

[3] This is a pretty controversial statement in and of itself in America at this time. Some key verses to consider: The story of Lazarus and its implications in John 11. The point of John being that man is spiritually dead and Jesus holds the keys to life, both physical and spiritual, by His word. When Jesus creates life by His word where no life existed, it comes to be, or is created out of nothing (spiritual emptiness, deadness) like Genesis 1’s account. Jesus is the light and word of God that brings life out of nothing. Ephesians 2:1-10. Men are dead in sin, but God raises them to new life in Christ and that life results in works these men were created for in the plan of God. Ephesians 2:1 explains to the believers that they were all dead in trespasses and sins. This could not mean physically dead, for the believers were not all physically resurrected. The relation to a life of action (you once walked) makes it clear, in my mind, that God through Paul is explaining the mystery of being physically alive and at the same time without life by the Spirit of God before God’s work of salvation. Ephesians 4:18 further explains this death and calls the Ephesians to live by the Spirit implanted by the word of God. Colossians 2 also expounds this truth. The Colossians were called to walk in the Spirit and beware the same evil powers who tug at man to walk in them as we were formerly under bondage from in Ephesians 2. This is a spiritual issue, but those who are Jesus’ are joined to him in a single body by the Spirit of Christ which dwells in them. The Holy Spirit is the lifeblood of the believer. I believe this is also taught in Genesis 1 and 2 as the Spirit enters the darkness and formlessness of the earth to bring life by His work. In Genesis 2, the ruach, the Hebrew word for spirit or breath, is breathed into Adam and brings life. This has been the teaching from the beginning. Therefore, the implication for believers is to preach the gospel, the word of life, with the hopes the promise will be implanted and bring forth life in the spiritually dead unbeliever. As we plant, we watch, as a farmer watches, for signs of growth (the fruit of the Spirit).

[4] JOHN 6:63

[5] JOHN 6:64-66; 6:37, 44-45;

[6]Though all of these items are outlined in the Bible and available by searching a concordance, I ran across an article at the following and would like to share it with you:

[7] Excerpt from “The Names of God” in The New Dictionary of Theology accessed via Accordance.

[8] Ibid.  

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