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? (Paul to the Galatians)The gift of the Spirit starts with Christ. This gift comes by believing the message of Christ. The gift of God's Spirit was given in ancient times to those who had a message from God and an office from God. The gift of God's Spirit is given today to those who trust in Christ. All who have received Christ have a message from God and an office from God. The Holy Spirit is God's own Spirit within us. I have often wondered whether anything besides God's Spirit was lost in mankind's rebellion against God. Wasn't his image inside us a spiritual image? And by the same Spirit we are born again, made children of God. By the Spirit we call the maker of all things Our Father.
The Spirit remakes us in God's image, in Christ's image, with his own character: wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, and knowledge; and in us creatures also fear of the LORD, and joy in his presence. We are not given fear instead of joy, nor joy instead of fear, but both gifts of knowing God. The Spirit prepares us for all the different times and purposes under heaven.
Through the Spirit we are Temples of God where God himself lives. The Spirit lives in us, and people see God's love in us. We cannot be proud; they see God's strength most plainly in our weakness. God's mercy is known most plainly to others when we ourselves see how plainly we also need mercy. We do not need to despair of the darkness around us; the world sees God's light most plainly in great darkness.
Through the Spirit we have fellowship with each other. Through the Spirit, God's love for the world finds its way into our own thoughts also.
God's gift to us begins and ends with Himself. The things we have through the Spirit are familiar to us. They are God's character. Christ had the same. And by the grace of God, we share that divine nature. As Christ was Son of God, through the Spirit we are also children of God. As Christ was God's Temple, so through the Spirit we are God's Temples. As Christ was the immovable rock on which God built his church, we become living stones in that church. As Christ is the light of the world, with his Spirit in us we become the light of the world. Through the Spirit we become heirs along with Christ -- heirs to his holiness, heirs to his wisdom, heirs to his love, inheritors of eternal life.
This, too, has implications for our evangelism. The Holy Spirit is received through the message of Christ. Those Christians who are ashamed of Christ have no light for the darkness -- and the darkness grows; no way to guide the lost -- and the number of lost grows; no truth to give the confused and seeking -- and the confusion grows. "Seeking" is often just an upbeat euphemism for "lost", not knowing where to go. And many, many people both within Christianity and without turn to themselves for their certainty and their hope. Which leads us back to the beginning:
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?
Index for systematic theology series