Thursday, February 4, 2010

Saved by the Spirit

Having already looked the past couple weeks at the role of the Father and the Son in our salvation, we turned our attention last Sunday morning to the role of the Holy Spirit.

God the Holy Spirit was instrumental in the creation of the universe (Gen. 2:2), the inspiration of the Scriptures (2 Pet. 1:21), the virgin birth of Christ (Matt. 1:18), His public ministry (Matt. 3:16), and the resurrection (Rom. Rom. 1:4). But the Holy Spirit was also deeply involved in our salvation. In fact, without His miraculous, transforming work in our hearts, none of us could have been saved. Using Titus 3:5-6 as our main text, we studied the Spirit's work from two angles:
  1. There is a complete change. Paul's phrase in v. 5, "washing of regeneration," pictures a dramatic rebirth, a divinely wrought change in our nature that produces a spiritual "bath." Simultaneously, there was a "renewing" that took place, meaning we were completely revived and transformed. This was not a mere remodel of our nature with a few cosmetic changes. It was a complete rebuilding. As the early church father John Chrysostom said, "For as when a house is in a ruinous state no one places props under it, nor makes any addition to the old building, but pulls it down to its foundations, and rebuilds it anew; so in our case, God has not repaired us, but has made us anew." This change, which took place solely by the mercy and kindness of God, is what suddenly caused us to desire faith and repentance.
  2. There is a compelling call. The Bible also speaks of the Spirit's work in salvation as a "call" upon our hearts. Sometimes, the Bible speaks of a "general call" made freely to all who hear the preaching of the Word (Matt. 22:14). But the call we are speaking of here is a special, inward call (Rom. 1:6-7; 9:23-24). This call is not an audible voice, but a divine tugging upon our heart. It is God the Spirit drawing us and wooing us and reeling us in to Himself. This call is directly linked to our election (Rom. 8:29-30), and is just as powerful and irresistible as when the Creator rebuked the waves (Mk. 4:39) and raised the dead (John 11:43).
Questions for thought and discussion:
  • How is the Father involved in our salvation? The Son? The Holy Spirit?
  • Why do you think there is so little emphasis on the Holy Spirit today among many Christians?
  • Read 2 Corinthians 5:17. Do you see evidence of this transformation in your life?
  • Does regeneration mean we are now perfect and free from sin? cf. Rom. 6:12-18.
  • What's the difference between the "general call" and "special call" of God?
  • Write a prayer to the Holy Spirit, thanking Him for the work He has accomplished in your heart.
Sunday's sermon is now available for free audio download from our podcast site.

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