TWO ROLES OF THE HOLLY SPIRIT IN SPIRITUAL FORMATION2
DEFINITION OF SPIRITUAL FORMATION3
THE ROLES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN SPIRITUAL FORMATION3
EVALUATION AND CONCLUSION5
TWO ROLES OF THE HOLLY SPIRIT IN SPIRITUAL FORMATION
I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you. – John 14:18 INTRODUCTION
In chapter 14 to 16 of the gospel of John, Jesus talks to his disciples about the promise of the Holy Spirit, who would come after Jesus died on the cross and was ascended. He describes some of the works and roles of the Holy Spirit, in order that his disciples will know what to expect. The words of Jesus about the Holy Spirit are just as relevant to us today. It is vital for us to understand that the Holy Spirit is God, and that He is always present with us, to help us draw closer to God. Drawing closer to God is the goal of the Christian’s life. “Christ is the very source of the church’s life, and so to be in the church is to experience Christ’s life in a unique way. By his Spirit he directs the church, gives spiritual gifts to its members and creates unity and love.” (Bewes, The Pocket Handbook of Christian Truth, Section 8). God has a unique way to relate to every believer. Spiritual formation, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is how believers maintain and increase their fire and passion for God, while becoming more like Jesus. “Sanctification is an immediate work of the Spirit of God on the souls of believers, purifying and cleansing their natures from the pollution and uncleanness of sin, renewing in them the image of God, and thereby enabling them, from a spiritual and habitual principle of grace, to yield obedience unto God, according unto the tenor and terms of the new covenant, by virtue of the life and death of Jesus Christ. Or, more briefly, it is the universal renovation of our natures by the Holy Spirit into the image of God through Jesus Christ….” (John Owen, quoted by Bickersteth, The Holy Spirit: His Person and Work, p140-141). God gives believers the privilege of building up our faith on the solid foundation of the death and resurrection of Christ, where God has planted us by his grace. Paul writes to Timothy, “I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God” (2 Timothy 1:6).
DEFINITION OF SPIRITUAL FORMATION
Spiritual formation is the taking deliberate steps towards being in a high, special place with God (involving intimacy with Him, and the strength to stay there), resulting in personal wisdom about God’s character through knowledge of the Bible, and being empowered by the Holy Spirit to remember and apply that knowledge, in order to be useful in His kingdom by serving others. THE ROLES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN SPIRITUAL FORMATION
The Holy Spirit is God himself in every aspect of his being. He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and full of glorious majesty. As a person, He enjoys characteristics and roles that are distinct from those of the Father and the Son, and yet he remains fully God. He also fulfils specific roles towards believers in Christ. Two important ones are those of Teacher, and Comforter. The Holy Spirit is a Teacher to our intellect, and a Comforter to our emotions. Human intellect and human emotions, created by God but corrupted by sin, are graciously restored by the gift of Christ at salvation and the ongoing work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit. As Dr. Neil Anderson observes, “Identifying with Christ in His death and resurrection involves more than an external change of master. It also involves a transformation within ourselves. Our very being is changed at its deepest level so that we now have new desires and new prevailing dispositions of life.” (God’s Power at Work in You, p77). The Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity who brings us to faith in Christ, through conviction and repentance. The Holy Spirit is also the one who continues God’s work in us, producing...