Do you know for certain you are a child of God, that you are marked by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? This was the question our pastor left for us to ponder after his sermon today.
Today is Pentecost Sunday, which is a remembrance of the first time the Holy Spirit was sent to the believers. When Jesus ascended into heaven He instructed the apostles to remain in Jerusalem to wait for the gift that God promised – the Advocate, the spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit. Acts 2 tells us that the Holy Spirit arrived with wind and fire and filled each of them with His power. There were Jews from every nation in Jerusalem at that time, and when the apostles were filled with the Spirit they began to share the gospel in every language – all those visitors heard the gospel in their own language – languages that the apostles didn’t know! What an amazing sight that must have been!!
The Bible teaches that when we repent and believe in Jesus, we are marked in Christ “with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.” (Eph 1:13-14) The Holy Spirit comes to reside in us and through His work we become what God plans for us to be. See, on our own we can’t make ourselves pure enough to be in the presence of God, but through Christ and the will of the Holy Spirit, our sinful nature can be changed.
The Apostle Peter wrote that we should “crave pure spiritual milk”, meaning that we want to know God more than we want anything else. (1 Pet 2:3) Essentially, he was saying that reading our Bibles and talking with God should be so very important to us that we deliberately set aside time to spend with Him every day, regardless of other things going on in our lives.
How many of us can truthfully say that we crave God’s word and our time with Him? Do we read the scripture and study it enough that we understand what God is telling us? Is being a Christian the most important thing we are? Does the truth of scripture excite us?
I remember when I first prayed and asked for forgiveness from God for the sins against Him I had committed. The peace that filled my soul that day is indescribable. Over the next several months I couldn’t get enough of the Bible, I read books to learn what the scripture meant, participated in bible studies, shared what I learned with others and asked if I was understanding it correctly. Every free moment I had was spent studying the word of God.
This evening I was reading a book called True Discipleship by John Koessler. He wrote that “we do not become spiritually mature simply because we acquire doctrinal and biblical knowledge. Truth is a necessary catalyst for spiritual growth, but true growth only occurs when truth is applied.”
In his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul told them that they were still drinking spiritual milk and were spiritually immature since there was jealousy and quarreling within the church. They weren’t behaving according to the things Jesus taught, but were acting like “mere men.” They believed that knowledge was important, but they weren’t looking at their lives in comparison to what they learned and making changes. They weren’t growing in their faith.
As I contemplated this chapter of the book, today’s sermon and the pastor’s question came back into my mind. I realized that yes, I do believe that I am a child of God, marked by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit….but I asked myself, “am I fully applying the knowledge I’ve gained? Am I growing, or am I spiritually immature?”
“Our obligation in the process of spiritual growth is to be responsive to the power of God that is itself the ultimate cause of growth.” (Koessler, pg. 80) That power of God that causes our growth is the Holy Spirit within us, guiding us, and teaching us how to apply God’s word to our lives.
It isn’t enough just to know the scripture. We must apply it to our lives. Jesus said, “not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 7:21)
I’m still growing, learning, and changing. There are still truths I need to fully apply to my life, but I am allowing the Holy Spirit to work in me. I don’t want to be the one who is told “I never knew you.”
Do you know Jesus? Are you a child of God? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to work change in your life?
Heavenly Father, please help us to be responsive to the Holy Spirit. Let us be like Job who through all the trials he faced never lost faith and was able to say, “I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.