Sunday, June 26, 2011

Surrender to the Holy Spirit...

On Sunday, June 26th, I had the privilege of preaching at St. Etien Cathedral where I worship. I am one of a couple of lay preachers who take turn in sharing God's word.

Today, my message centered around God's plan for sending the Holy Spirit to His people.

The coming of the Holy Spirit may have been a surprise to the Jews, but it was according to God's perfect plan. After the original Passover in Egypt for the Exodus, it took the Israelites 50 days until they arrived at Mt. Horeb to receive the Ten Commandments through Moses. Even now, the Jews celebrate the 49-day Refinement Steps until the day of celebrating the receipt of Ten Commandments.

It was not a coincidence that the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 saints on the day of Pentecost, the 50th day from the Passover. It was God's plan to send His Spirit to dwell in His people after His Son Jesus completed the redemptive sacrifice on behalf of all humanity, once for all. The Law was succeeded by God's grace through Christ's redemption and it was followed by the coming of the Holy Spirit who indwells us, the saints.

The Holy Spirit empowers God's people to be His witness. (Acts 1:8), The Holy Spirit enlightens us as He, the Spirit of Truth, teaches us and helps us remember all the teachings of Jesus. (John 14:26) The Holy Spirits convicts us when we are in sin and comforts us through God's grace and mercy. The Holy Spirit intercedes us even when we do not know what to pray. (Romans 8:26)
The Holy Spirit is clearly a gift from God as the evidence of our salvation, the restored relationship between the Creator God and us, the sinners, but forgiven sinners. (Acts 2:38) It is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that God the Father provides for His people by His sovereign power. What a privilege!

According to 2 Corinthians 6:19,20, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. This is a progressive transition from the Old Testament temple where the God's presence was at the Holy of the Holy at the Temple. When Jesus came to earth in human flesh, He described himself to be the temple. When He surrendered His life into the hands of the Father on the cross, the curtain of the temple was torn into two pieces, thus allowing for direct access by His people to God the Father through their Chief Priest, Jesus Christ. Now God's presence is in the bodies of His people. Since our bodies were bought at a price, we ought to honor God with our own bodies.

The best way to honor God is worship. A worship offered in truth and spirit is a spiritual act of worship and it is offering our bodies as living sacrifices. (Romans 12:1) Offering our bodies as living sacrifices means crucifying ourselves to the cross. It requires us to surrender our lives to the authority and power of the Holy Spirit in every moment of our lives. It then helps us achieve practical righteousness and personal holiness, through what is called sanctification.

When we surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit to a full extent, we are under the total influence of the Holy Spirit. It is the filling of the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22,23) Through these experiences, we become more like Christ little by little.

2 Corinthians 7:1 urges us to perfect holiness by purifying ourselves from everything that contaminates our body and spirit. Would it be ever possible that we perfect holiness? Philippians 1:6 says so. He who began the good work in us will complete it until the day of our Lord's return.

Paul encouraged and prayed for the saints at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 as follows:

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

May this be my and your prayer! May we continue to seek God's favor in our unceasing effort to perfect holiness through our total surrender to the authority and power of the Holy Spirit until the day of the Lord. Amen! - Jeffrey