Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

How do Christians Pray?

October 31st, 2017
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Prayer is something we do as Christians. In fact as we will see it is one of the great privileges of being a Christian.

How do Christians pray? Is there a Christian pattern of prayer that is uniquely Christian?

Lets look at one of Paul’s prayers, which we have referred to several times in the past.

Ephesians 3:14-15

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

Notice the direction of prayer. It is towards our heavenly Father. But prayer involves all of God.


3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Notice we pray to the glorious Father. But at the same time all of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are involved.

Notice how this is revealed in us.

Ephesians 3:16-17(a),20-21

16 I pray that out of his (the Father) glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

Our prayer to the Father, praising his name, is for the Father to work deeply in us through the Spirit so Christ is dwelling where our thoughts and desires are. It is a prayer of faith trusting the will towards us of our Father.

Such a prayer knows that despite our struggles we are never alone spiritually. We can be assured that this is the reality or truth of our lives.

This began when we were baptized into the single name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. From Paul’s example prayer involves Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
21 to him be glory in the church

Glory must be given to God the Father by believers, not only individually, but together in the Church. Why? There the Lord is present and displays his grace.

and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

This is to be done by “Christ Jesus”, or “in” him. This may refer either to the church, which is in Christ; or to Christ Jesus as the way all praise and glory are to be given to God.

Remember all blessings are in Christ, and come to us through him, and he is the only way of access to God the Father. Our praises and thanksgivings cannot be acceptable unto God, but through him.

How does this affect how we pray and to whom we pray?

We could say that Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is for them to experience more fully the life of God within them.

What do we mean by that?

In the eternal being of God, there is a Father -Son relationship that is expressed in the Spirit, and that Christian salvation is sharing in that Father- Son relationship through the Spirit.

This means the really central idea of being a Christian is being adopted by God, the Father, to become children of God. Children of God are led by the Spirit.

We go from a position of not being the children of God to being the children of God.

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May 7th, 2017
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Philip Yancey wrote:

I learned about incarnation when I kept a salt-water aquarium. Management of a marine aquarium, I discovered, is no easy task…

You would think, in view of all the energy used on their behalf, that my fish would at least be grateful. Not so. Every time my shadow was above the tank they dove for cover into the nearest shell. They showed me one “emotion” only: fear. Although I opened the lid and dropped in food on a regular schedule, three times a day, they responded to each visit as a sure sign of my plot to torture them. I could not convince them of my true concern.

To my fish I was like God. I was too large for them, my actions too difficult to understand. … In order to get through to them, I would have to become a fish and “speak” to them in a language they could understand.

A human being becoming a fish is nothing compared to God becoming a baby. And yet according to the Gospels that is what happened at Bethlehem. The God who created matter took shape within it, like a writer becoming a character within his own play. God wrote a story, only using real characters, on the pages of real history. The Word became flesh.

This is the amazing truth at the heart of our worship.

Who is this God we see revealed in Jesus? We will be always discovering wonderful things in the face of Jesus as we proceed in our Christian journey. It should never just stagnate and become ordinary. We don’t want to have a 6th grade knowledge of him.

And another dimension to our worship is that the scriptures inform us that God’s plan for us was before time, before the creation of matter. In this plan God intended for us to be included in his life for eternity through our union with Christ through the Spirit.

Ephesians 1:3-6

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

What we see revealed in Jesus Christ and the adoption of sonship in him was purposed before the creation of the world. And it was freely given. This brings praise of his glorious grace.

In a recent Bible Study on the scripture John4:44

(Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honour in his own country.)

We asked why?

One danger was over-familiarity with Jesus.

This man is one of us. We know his mother and his brothers. He has always been so ordinary. How can he be what he claims to be? That same mindset can be in us: We are so familiar with the Bible, and with Jesus, and with Christianity, that it can’t shock us any more. Jesus is not doing anything really mind-blowingly powerful. He’s too familiar.

We need to see worship as an antidote to this familarity. We don’t just sing some nice catchy songs. In worship, we become aware of who he is. And we stand in awe that of his great love for us. This love lies at the very heart of God’s being. It expresses itself in the desire of Father, Son and Spirit to share their life, fellowship and purposes with us!

The creation of time and matter, in fact the whole wonderful universe, is primarily an expression of God’s joyous, out-flowing love for us.

As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3:21-23

21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours,
22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours,
23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

Worship is not about us. It is not centred on any human being. It is standing in awe of the wisdom of God, revealed in what seems foolishness to the world of Christ crucified.

It is a thanksgiving for the simple fact that God, out of his free will, wants us to share everything with Christ. And in him we belong to God.

We belong to the relationship that has always existed in God.

Eugene Peterson writes:

…every part of the revelation, every aspect, every form is personal — God is relational at the core — and so whatever is said, whatever is revealed, whatever is received is also personal and relational.

Jeremy Begbie reminds us that Godly love is always “other centred”. He describes our relational, loving God and his intentions towards, and for us, in this way:

His very being is relational; he is joyful love, love that always goes out to the other. His relation to the creation is of personal commitment and faithfulness. The Son has taken flesh.

He has offered creation back to the Father in his own humanity. Through the Holy Spirit he invites us to share in the task of bringing creation to praise and adore the Father in and through him.

God’s purpose, before his creation of the universe, was that the original creation would be the first of several steps towards the final goal of new creation. It can be helpful for us to view scripture as a narrative(story).

The Bible records God working towards the fullness of the new creation God would bring about in Christ.

N.T. Wright suggests the following five acts:

Creation, Fall, Israel, Jesus (True Israel) and the breaking in of the New Creation, and the final completion of New Creation.

For Jesus – who is God – to put on our flesh, and to tabernacle with us tells us God’s faithful delight in his creation. This will climax with his eternal dwelling with us on this earth as pictured in Revelation 21-22.

Indeed, any thinking about the creation and its purpose must be centred on Christ:

for in him all things were created… through him and for him… and in him all things hold together and will be reconciled through him and all things in heaven and earth will be brought to unity and blessing in and under Christ.

Our worship must be viewed in the bigger context of the restoration of all things in Jesus. It is not just about us and our salvation. It is about the whole creation transformed into a new creation

Reflect on what the writer is endeavoring to say about the Son in the very first chapter of Hebrews.

Hebrews 1

1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
The Son superior to angels

5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,

‘You are my Son;
today I have become your Father’[a]?

Or again,

‘I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son’[b]?

6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,

‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’[c]

7 In speaking of the angels he says,

‘He makes his angels spirits,
and his servants flames of fire.’[d]

8 But about the Son he says,

‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
a sceptre of justice will be the sceptre of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.’[e]

10 He also says,

‘In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will roll them up like a robe;
like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.’[f]

13 To which of the angels did God ever say,

‘Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet’[g]?

14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

How astonishing are these claims about Jesus Christ. He is greater than everything created because he brings everything into existence and sustains its existence. We are not to make him comfortable to our culture.

As we have said before Jesus does not bring us a word about God. He is God amongst us. We can know God in the way Jesus lived and spoke amongst us. This One who is God came to us in our neediness, sin and brokenness!

True worship grows in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ.

As we read the stories of the gospels we read of Jesus doing what only God can do – things like forgiving sin, healing and making people whole, or commanding the seas and winds to do obey him.

Likewise, the gospels provide many echoes of Israel’s story that enable us to glimpse a “new exodus” in Christ: feedings in the desert, the drowning of the demonic host in the sea, Jesus – as the new Israel coming through the waters of baptism and, like Israel receiving the Spirit upon coming out of the water. We join the the early church in understanding the man Jesus to be God!

The gospel stories tell the way Jesus lived when among us. He lived in such a compassionate and welcoming manner that he attracted many who lived as outsiders – the poor, the needy, the sinner, the broken, the outcast, the stranger. God among us in the flesh was welcoming and caring.
How do we respond to the stories about Jesus? Do they move us to thankful praise as they reveal God’s love for humanity.
This One – Jesus – brings light, life, the right to become the children of God through belief rather than human family! It is open to all without the discriminations we create in our societies.

Galatians 4:4-7
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’
7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Trevor Hart commenting on these verses:

the gospel has at its heart a gift… the free giving by God upon humans of an intimate sharing in his own life and activity as ‘children’ and ‘heirs’ who know him as ‘Abba’. The God of scripture grants us an inheritance in what is properly his alone.
He ‘earths’ this by himself becoming a human Son. He discovers what it means to share humanly in the life of God (as Jesus, the Son who knows and loves his Father in the activity and fellowship of the Holy Spirit) so that we might do so too.

What an unexpected, amazing, totally undeserved and surprising expression of God’s love for us! The Word becomes flesh! All are included!

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Atonement 2 – all of God is involved in our salvation

October 3rd, 2016
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Notice the references to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and our salvation.

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To God’s holy people in Ephesus,[a] the faithful in Christ Jesus:

2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise for spiritual blessings in Christ

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he[d] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen,[e] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.
Thanksgiving and prayer

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

The Spirit and Christ are working hard in the church.

We are his work. But it must be an incredible goal God has in mind for us. Since it involves Father, Son and Holy Spirit always present in our lives for it to be completed.

Science in its discoveries about creation witness to the power of God. Yet Jesus is above all of this. The same power which took his humanity from death and seated him above everything on his Father’s right side is working in us today.
and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything.

All of this for us.

Then we will be set free, and God will be honoured and praised.

A congregation that knows these things is very confident about salvation. Not fearful. Not wondering if it is all too good to be true.

Philippians 1:3-6

3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

This gives a joy and confidence.

Today we want to look at the role of the Father, the role of the Son and the role of the Holy Spirit in this work of salvation.

Remember how we were baptized.

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

We were plunged into the very source of our salvation: God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Let us now examine how the scriptures tell us about the role of each in preparing us for life forever in God.

The Role of the Father

Michael Morrison:

Some people describe the gospel as the Father setting the rules, and getting angry at us because we have broken the rules. He says that we deserve to die, but then the Son has compassion on us and volunteers to pay the penalty for us. So the Father pours out his anger on his own Son, and then he says, “Well, justice has been done. Those sinners can come into my kingdom, because the penalty has been paid.” So we have an angry Father and a compassionate Son who is able to get his Father to change his mind.

Maybe that’s the way it works in some human families, but that’s not the way it works with God.

Jesus is just like God the Father. He is just as angry as the Father is, and just as loving as the Father is. He didn’t change the Father’s mind about anything. Rather, he reveals the Father’s mind – the Father wants us to be saved just as much as Jesus does. Let’s look at a couple of scriptures that show that.


God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God the Father loves humanity and he wants us to be saved, not to be condemned or punished.

The imagery here is of a Father sending his Son off to war. There is a sacrificial love in the Father’s heart for us.

As John wrote of this definition of supreme love:

I John 4:10

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

This act is considered to be the summit of love, because the Father gave what was most precious to him, his Son, for the salvation of mankind.

Romans 5:8

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God did not demonstrate his love for us by sending somebody else to die. It is only because Christ is God, that his death could demonstrate the love of God. They have equal love for us, equal compassion for us. Father, Son and Spirit created us for a purpose, and they are working together to bring us to completion.

So great is this act we read with confidence

Romans 8:31-32

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

There is nothing more spontaneous in the Father than his love.

The Father assumed a risk in allowing us to have freedom: the risk of subjecting himself to rejection and hostility. The free creature has the power to confront his Creator and reject his authority. He can commit sin. The Father wanted us to be free so we might behave toward him not like slaves but like sons. Freedom is the mark of a son. Love is the expression of a free person.

There is the most spontaneous love flowing between the Father and Son expressed in the Holy Spirit In the Spirit we are invited to to be a part of this. The Father’s plan is given to us so we can respond to him like the Son and to respond in the same way to one another.

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