The Gift

By: Thomas E. Brewton

Through Jesus Christ we have received the inestimable gift of the Holy Spirit as our counselor and comforter.

Pastor Steve Treash’s sermon this past Sunday at Black Rock-Long Ridge Congregational Church (North Stamford, Connecticut) was on God’s gift to us of the Holy Spirit.

Unlike the major imperial religions that appeared in the world before Jesus Christ, Christianity gives believers a personal relationship with God. In earlier religions the ruler was the only connection between his subjects and the gods. From Hammurabi to the Pharaohs, law was promulgated by the ruler in the name of the gods, and social order was handed down from on high through the ruler.

Christianity turned this upside down, making it possible for every individual to gain remission of his sins directly by accepting Jesus Christ as his savior and repenting. To aid repentance and sanctification, God manifested Himself individually to believers as the Holy Spirit.

To describe the gift, Pastor Treash’s main text was Acts 1:1-5.

“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Speaking to His disciples, Jesus said (John 14:15-20):

“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you foreverÑ the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

It should be obvious why we need the gift of the Holy spirit.

We cannot hope to live sinless and blameless lives as Jesus did, but with the Spirit of Christ in us through the Holy Spirit, we can live fulfilled lives of freedom and power.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:5-11,

“Those 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. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

“You, 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. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And 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.”

How do we receive and open God’s gift?

In Acts 2:36-39, Peter said to the Jews in Jerusalem:

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

“Peter 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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far offÑfor all whom the Lord our God will call.”

As the Apostle Paul never tired of noting, we cannot earn God’s grace through our actions, because we are all subject to original sin. We receive God’s grace only through our faith.

And that faith is not a one-time thing. We must continually seek God’s guidance in prayerful communion with the Holy Spirit. Our consciences must become open to the Holy Spirit if we are to know the right thing to do. God can’t come into our lives and sanctify us if we are worshipping other idols: money, business success, power, and possessions.

If we truly repent and seek what is best for ourselves and for service to others, God will give us guidance through the Holy Spirit.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

The aim is to live our lives filled with God’s gift of the Holy Spirit.

“Be very careful, then, how you liveÑnot as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:15-18)

Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776

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About The Author Thomas E. Brewton:
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

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