The Life Of Christ In Us, Excels Through The Holy Spirit
By Min Kola Taiwo
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scriptures: Ephesians 2:19-22, 1 Corinthians 12:1-3, 2 Corintihians 3:2-3
Sunday 22nd February 2015
In the message we looked at last week titled ‘The Life of Christ In Us, Excels’, we agreed that as Christians, we have been called to focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. As a result of this, we are guaranteed diverting our attention from the limited self-help that we can generate, or the help from other people like ourselves, and that of the world system. In order to focus on Jesus incessantly, our minds must constantly reflect on those words from God that are Christ-centric, resulting ultimately in our perfection. Having been accepted into God’s family, God’s DNA runs through us, producing life within us. This superlative, uncreated life within us is theft-defying, death-defying and destruction-defying.
Since God has committed Himself to Christ, invariably He is also committed to us. And as God’s children led by the Spirit, He is committed to the righteous (we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus), He is committed to those who prioritise glorifying and enthroning Jesus Christ, His son. In conclusion, our duty as members of God’s family is to be led by the Holy Spirit – which we will be focusing on this week.
So as we proceed in this year to ‘Excel’, we must realise that we cannot successfully navigate through the year solely, in our own strength, by our thinking. Instead, we must depend on God, who has promised to prosper us. He has pledged to make us exceedingly fruitful; to make nations of us, and kings from within us. ‘So I declare that the Lord makes you exceedingly fruitful; nations and kings shall proceed from within you in Jesus name!’ (Amen).
Psalms 1:3 speaks about fruitfulness; ‘He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper’. Rivers of water could also be described as living waters, which Jesus referred to in John 7:37-38. I pray that the Holy Spirit nurture and nourish you, and cause you to be fruitful in Jesus name. I declare that you will bring forth fruit in season and your fruit will not wither in and whatever you do will prosper in Jesus name. Just like Joseph experienced fruitfulness after a period of struggle and misfortune, as explained in Genesis 41:52; ‘Joseph named his second son Ephraim for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.” So I declare fruitfulness upon you, especially to those who may have gone through a season of affliction in Jesus name.
Many Christians are still in that phase of not totally yielding and surrendering to the Holy Spirit – a state of the heart that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 13:22, which reads: ‘Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful’. I pray that our hearts will be totally yielded to the Holy Spirit and may we be fruitful as a result in Jesus name (Amen).
Some Christians who have repeatedly been frustrated with life and believe there is more in the Holy Spirit, I pray that God’s Spirit will reveal to you more and more of Himself, in Jesus name.
Now, let’s spend some time discussing the Holy Spirit as highlighted in our foundation scriptures. Here is Ephesians 2:19-22, which reads: ‘Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household (family) of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit’. Here are some important truths to draw out from this scripture, namely: (1) We are members of the kingdom of God – Before we became Christians, we were aliens to the kingdom and strangers to the standards required of God’s children. This changed the day we became Christians. Now wherever we go, we can identify with fellow believers of the Kingdom. (2) We are members of the family of God – The DNA of God runs through us, and as a result God has given us the power to live as His children.
(3) We are built on the teachings of the Apostles and Prophets – The apostles’ teachings were based on the doctrine of Christ, described as Lord. In 2 Corinthians 4:5-6 which reads: ‘For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Paul’s words in this scripture describe the Apostles’ perspective on the gospel – it was purely Christ-focused and centred. Paul, like John does a throwback to the beginning of time, describing the light which God shines on the darkness in Genesis, as the very light now shining on our hearts, as believers. As a result of this, we receive the knowledge of the glory of God as we behold the face of Christ. Hence our spiritual appetite must be Christ nourished in order to fully understand Him. In speaking about the Prophets, Paul argues that the comprehension of Christ hidden in the prophecies given by the Old Testament prophets was foreshadowing what was revealed and fulfilled when Christ appeared. Many of these prophecies about Christ were written by Isaiah and other contemporary prophets of his time. Paul picks up on this theme in Romans 1:1-2 when he writes: ‘Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God, which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures’. Acts 28 describes this further as Paul received guests while under house arrest, awaiting trial. Acts 28:23 reads: ‘So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening’.
(4) Christ is the chief Cornerstone: Christ must be the prime stone in our lives. God desires that we depend on Him for our sustenance. After speaking about Christ, God’s Son in Isaiah 9:6-7 Isaiah goes further to reprimand the Israelites for turning the attention away from God and turning it on themselves. Isaiah 9:8-10 reads: ‘The Lord sent a word against Jacob, and it has fallen on Israel. All the people will know—Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria—who say in pride and arrogance of heart: “The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.” Instead of turning attention away from God, we must turn it to Him. The glory must always belong and return to Him. (5) God desires a house to be built through Christ: Christ is the cornerstone, but the next set to stones that are laid are believers living and dwelling together side by side, and being built up to become a God-dwelling edifice. These stones must be fashioned and cut into shape to fit and lock into one another – a design that was quite familiar in ancient times. As Christians and building blocks of God’s house, this is what God is doing with us as we are being built up. 1 Peter 2: 4-5 reads: ‘Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ’.(6) Hence, as believers, we are the building blocks of this House of God and lastly (7) This edifice is a spiritual construction – This building is built by the work of the Holy Spirit.
In 1 Corinthians 12:1-3, our second foundation scriptures, which reads: Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.
To fully understand this scripture, here is a background to this letter. Apostle Paul, while writing to the Corinthian church acknowledged the change that had occurred in their lives. The Corinthians, who were once Gentiles, had now converted to Christianity and were being led by the Spirit. This dramatic change reflected in their boldness in declaring Jesus as Lord, in defiance to the ruling empire of Rome, led by Caesar. Conversely, when the Spirit is leading us, we are drawn towards Christ and not away from Him. Jesus spoke about this in John 15:26: ‘But I will send you the Advocate--the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me’ (NLT). In excelling this year, we need the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and show us the way in which we ought to go.
In describing the life we enjoy in Christ, we are in a new covenant with God and have access to Him, similar to the freedom and fellowship that Adam and Eve enjoyed before the fall. With the Holy Spirit within us, we now have regular access to the blessings of communing and interacting with Christ. However Satan, full of himself and always on point to cause controversies will oftentimes throw in feelings of doubt and condemnation into our hearts, especially during times of our shortcomings, comparable to the events of Genesis 3. Paul aptly describes this in Romans 7:9 by comparing the way sin atimes take advantage of us to the way Satan took advantage of Adam and Eve in Eden. Despite this, we can be certain that the Holy Spirit’s work in us to reassure us that we belong to God is an on-going continuous process – reminding us of our right standing with God as it was before the fall. 2 Corinthians 5:5 reaffirms this: ‘Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee’ Ephesians 1:13-14 talks about the seal of God, the Holy Spirit, upon us that marks us out, wherever we go – comparable to a wax-sealed document, affirmed by a royalty (See also 2 Corinthians 1:22).
So how does the Holy Spirit minister to us? 2 Corinthians 3: 2-3 reads: ‘ You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart’. Paul’s anguish and frustration preludes this chapter in which his authority and right of privilege in overseeing the Corinthian church was being questioned. It seems a letter of commendation was at the centre of the argument, which Paul quickly addresses in this passage. He says that, the real letter or epistle has already been written, not on a tablet, but on the hearts of men by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit writes the words of Christ upon our hearts, indelible and irreversible by the lies of the evil one. Hence, it is important that we are led by the Spirit of God.
Paul goes further in this chapter by saying: ‘And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God. The Holy Spirit’s work is life-giving and transforming in contrast to the writings on tablet which ultimately led to death (Verse 6). Further down in this chapter, Paul writes about the ministry of Moses referring to it as glorious, but ultimately inferior in comparison to the overwhelming glory initiated by the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul, in talking about the veil in verses 13-15 that Moses put on while coming down the mountain with the law on tablet, as a figurative emblem that covers the hearts of the readers of the law, to the point that they do not fully understand the real revelation of the law and prophets. Verses 16-18 reads: ‘Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord’. The Holy Spirit’s work of writing the word and life of Christ upon our hearts is changing us and transforming us to be like Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:1 reads: ‘Therefore, since we have this ministry (of the Holy Spirit) as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart’. With the work of the Holy Spirit within us, situations at home, at work on in the news should be insignificant and inconsequential, in comparison to the hope we have in God and the place of our right standing with Him. So, let me encourage you to give room more and more to the Holy Spirit in changing you, and strengthening your inner resolve. As often as you communicate with Him, you will begin to perceive Him and understand His dealings with you, as you quieten your Spirit to listen to Him regularly.
In concluding, the words of Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17 onwards refers to the ambassadorial responsibilities we have, as a result of our redemption. God has committed to us the work of representing the kingdom of God by the working of the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 6:1 reads: ‘We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain’. So let the work of the Holy Spirit not be in vain – Listen and respond to the work of the Spirit within you and take on that role of an ambassador which God has given to you.
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