Thinking Spiritually


Who is the Spirit?


What should we expect of him and how do we respond to him?  It’s an important question, especially given what Jesus had to say.  And what Paul said as well.  It’s a question so important that our lives depend on getting it right.

We need to begin by getting the right answer . . . or, more to the point, the right connection. 
Jesus said as much to Nicodemus in John 3.  The Spirit, Jesus told him, brings eternal life as a new birth.  The Spirit is our bond with God and his eternal life.  Jesus is our means for gaining eternal life by his atoning death; the Spirit then brings us into that saving work.  His presence in us, Jesus said, is like a wind in a forest as he stirs us out of our former spiritual dormancy and alienation—our former death towards God—and brings about a conspicuous responsiveness of new life.
Christ’s incarnate ministry displayed his own bond with the Spirit. 
The Spirit conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb and later ordained him to ministry by descending on him.  Jesus was then “full of the Holy Spirit . . . and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” to be tempted by the devil (Luke 4:1).  After that he “returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee” (v. 14).  Next, in presenting himself to the synagogue in Nazareth, he read Isaiah 61:1,2 and applied it to himself (v. 18).  The text began, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me . . .”  Elsewhere in Isaiah (11:1,2) there is another litany of Spirit-centered promises linked to the Christ.
This sort of portrayal establishes what some have called Spirit-Christicism: the belief that Jesus in his humanity relied on the Spirit in all he did, even though he was fully divine himself.  Why this arrangement?  So that as a man he could experience real humanity—and not live as a divine-human superman.  And he then left us with his own spiritual capacity for life—the Spirit himself—so that we now live as God’s children although we are still only human.
In writing to the Corinthians Paul expanded on the truth of the Spirit-as-life-in-us. 
In writing about immoral behaviors Paul referred to Genesis 2:24—a text that inaugurated marriage (“the two shall become one”)—and applied it to Christ and the church.  How so?  By treating believers as “one” with Jesus by union with the Spirit: “But he who is joined to the Lord become one spirit with him.  . . .  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” (1 Cor 6:17,19).
The believer’s union with Christ, then, is both a product and a display of the same spiritual life Jesus experienced in his earthly ministry.  Just as the Father loved Jesus, we too are now given the intimate access in love to call the Father “Abba” at the Spirit’s urging (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6); and God also pours out his love in our hearts by the Spirit’s whispering presence (Romans 5:5).  So, too, we share the same qualities of the Spirit-life that Jesus has: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness” and more (Galatians 5:22).
What do we do with this sort of truth? 
I fear that some of us try to treat the Spirit as our personal genie as in the tale of Aladdin.  But this self-serving version of the Spirit hardly fits the picture of the one who led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted, or filled Jesus as he taught and preached, cared for the needy, trashed the Temple trading exchange, and eventually died on the cross.
At a minimum, then, a proper grasp of the Spirit’s work in us is that he wants to change our hearts to be like the Son whose heart he now discloses to us.  Let me wrap up, then, by citing Paul: “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24,25).  Amen!
Thoughts? You are invited to comment on Ron’s article at Cor Deo.
~ Ron
Dr. Ron Frost
Ron served on faculty for more than 20 years at Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary. At the seminary, from 1995-2007, he was professor of historical theology and ethics. He earned his PhD at King’s College of the University of London. His research featured Richard Sibbes (1577-1635). He now teaches internationally while serving as a pastoral care consultant to missionaries with Barnabas International. Ron authored Discover the Power of the Bible and writes on [See “Resources”].
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Drafted: Why Chris Norman Said No to the NFL


There are many crossroads in a person’s career…

…but not everyone has to make a hard decision about the National Football League. How do you make such a life-altering decision? That’s the premise of my latest short film, Drafted. It was commissioned by Desiring God and released just in time for the start of the college football season.

Chris Norman
Chris Norman
This was an incredibly fun project to produce. Sports films nearly always are, as they are classic stories of the struggle for a big goal. But some moments shooting this project felt more like a mission trip than a film set. We took our subject, Chris Norman, to downtown Detroit to film him doing street ministry. But we weren’t even out of the van before a woman named Swandolyn came up to us. She was desperate to get off the streets and to reconnect with her family. We asked her permission to film the conversation with Chris, which she freely gave. But it didn’t feel right to simply do that, pray for her, give her some dinner money, and then walk away. So some of us stayed behind to locate a shelter for the night and to connect her with other resources in Detroit.
Editing this film offered another opportunity to treat this project like a mission trip–because it provided me with a daily reminder to pray for her. Swandolyn has an usual name. Perhaps her scattered family will come across this film and look for her in downtown Detroit. I hope so. Though I don’t know how to find her, I know that her Creator does. It was no accident she came upon us, I’m sure.
We were also the recipients of the artistic generosity of rap and hip-hop artists Shai Linne andFLAME, who freely let us feature their songs in this film. FLAME’s song, “Move,” is featured in the tackling montage and his lyrics foreshadow the decision Chris will need to make: “Now when the Lord tell me move I move, anything He want me to, yeah I do.” Shai Linne’s song, “Taste and See,” is used during the victory montage of the last game in Chris’s college career, and it highlights the tension you can experience when the decision you have to make is between the good and the better: “If you’ve tasted and seen, then you know what I mean, He’s good. In His nature is love, everything that He does, He’s good. Even when it gets tough, yes the Lord is enough, He’s good.” There’s nothing wrong with choosing football as a career, but if the Lord has drafted you into something else, that’s the better choice.
Drafted was a fun and edifying project to produce. I hope you enjoy it, too.
Chris Norman - Drafted
~ Carolyn
Read the original post and/or comment at Carolyn McCulley’s blog.
Carolyn McCulley
Carolyn is the author of two books, Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World (Moody Publishers, 2008) and Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God with a Hope Deferred (Crossway, 2004). Carolyn is also a contributor to Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor (Crossway, 2005), as well as to other webzines and publications. She is a frequent conference speaker for women’s ministry events and also maintains a blog, Radical Womanhood.