This is our tenth study regarding God the Holy Spirit, and it is known by the
theological term .... behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem. * When we
think of ...
THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE WORK OF REDEMPTION This is our tenth study regarding God the Holy Spirit, and it is known by the theological term as ‘pneumatology’. It is a subject we could never exhaust. This is simply because … since the Holy Spirit is God, He is eternal and without limits. It is, of course, a fruitful study since we are seeking to find out more about what the Bible tells us concerning God. … We are His people … and we should want to discover more about Him as we possibly can, with the help of the Word of God. The issue John Owen deals with the most is The Holy Spirit’s Work of Redemption. You would have thought he has dealt fairly comprehensibly with this subject already but, no, he searches out yet some more of the finer detail. Owen begins his chapter with a simple one-line statement, “The Holy Spirit’s great work is the work of regeneration (Jn. 3:3-6)”. He emphasises we are … BORN OF THE SPIRIT ∗ Do you know where you come from? … Of course, you do, - you know your mother and father. ∗ Have you ever met someone who was adopted as a child, or only knew one parent? You often find when that child grows up to a sufficient age they begin to search and find out about their family. ∗ When we consider the work of the Holy Spirit in our spiritual birth, don’t you want to find out more about Him? … As with an earthly father or mother, don’t you want to see where and how you have inherited something of the traits of the Holy Spirit? ∗ It is only right that you should ‘take after’ Him … and the longer you are a believer the more of Him you should demonstrate … for through His work towards you, you have become a child of God ... and therefore, the consequences of such a birth are evidenced in the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22 love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance. ∗ The reason the believer demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit is because
the believer is born of the Spirit. ∗ This new birth is a work completely all of God’s grace. … In the eternal will and plan of God He decreed that I would be born, and that I would be born again! ∗ When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus He said, Jn. 3:5 Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
2 ∗ Jesus did not mean we have to be baptised in order to be saved, - it is not teaching the error of ‘baptismal regeneration’, - otherwise, he could have had no words of comfort for the thief on the cross. ∗ Instead, Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus the work of the Holy Spirit in cleansing and purifying the sinner in order that God would possess the soul. He will only live in the pure heart, and kept holy by the Spirit … Is. 52:11 be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD. ∗ When you are born of the Spirit you are born with no spiritual disabilities, no spiritual defects of any kind … you are born again perfectly and in complete satisfaction to the standards of our Heavenly Father, Ezek. 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. ∗ Paul affirms this wonderful work when he wrote to Titus, 3:4 after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
∗ I don’t remember sitting down with my parents in some preconception session and discussing when or where I was going to be born, or even if I wanted to have someone else to be my parents … And neither did I help God in deciding that I would be born again of the Holy Spirit. ∗ It was all out of my hands … it is a work completely and perfectly accomplished by Him … and yet written in the heart of my eternal God. ∗ What a wonderful work of Redemption, - born of the Spirit. BORNE OF THE SPIRIT ∗ One of the wisest, most theologically-adept of the Rabbinical order in Jerusalem failed to understand Christ’s statement, Ye must be born again. ∗ He genuinely could not understand, Jn. 3:9 How can these things be? … 4 How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
∗ Must he do something to try and enter a mother’s womb? … but how do you do that?! It is impossible!!! ∗ Of course, it is impossible … and it is unnecessary, even if it could be done. ∗ Jesus was telling him that regeneration does not equal re-formation. ∗ Becoming a child of God is not adopting a new persona, or ‘turning over a new leaf’.
3 ∗ No, it is a change that takes place from the inside out … and so deeply inside the sinner that the sinner could never make the change himself. ∗ Owen explained it like this, “Only by regeneration can a corrupt, sinful hater of righteousness be brought to love it and to delight in doing righteousness”. ∗ Do you love God? Yes, why do you love God? … Because you have been borne along by the Holy Spirit and you are saved by Sovereign grace through God-given believing faith. ∗ When the Lord saves you, He picks you up, and He sets your feet on a new path (Ps. 40) … and when there are those times you find it difficult to keep going, He reminds you what He has done for you and what a wonderful Saviour and Lord He is. ∗ And when you do not have the strength, He speaks to you and reminds you He lifts you up and carries you, Ex. 19:4 how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.
∗ When the sheep managed to get lost, and forgot its way back to the fold … the shepherd found it, lifted it in his arms and brought it home. ∗ How many times have we felt ourselves being borne by the Holy Spirit to the place where once again we rediscovered God’s presence! ∗ It is through His work that God saves and keeps His people … and will continue until the final child of God is brought safely home. ∗ Born of the Spirit … Borne of the Spirit and … BOUND BY THE SPIRIT ∗ Paul told the elders of the church in Ephesus, Acts 20:22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem. ∗ When we think of being bound we think of imprisonment and the absence of liberty … but Paul had not been arrested yet! ∗ Jesus used the similar language of the slave master and the slave, Lk. 16:13 No servant can serve two masters … Ye cannot serve God and mammon
… It is either one or the other, but not both. You belong to either or! ∗ When you become a believer, your priority is to serve Christ. Above and beyond every other decision you must make in your life, as a believer … God comes first. What would He have me do? Where would He have me go? … He has absolute and total priority. ∗ How is that? He has priority because of the claim He has over your life … I Cor. 6:19 ye are not your own … 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
4 ∗ Paul, for example, described himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ (Philemon 1,9) … simply because he was submissive to the will of God and was content in knowing Rom. 8:28 that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
∗ Someone might say, … “there is no such thing as being ‘free’ then?” … Well, that is perfectly right, when we use the limitations of earthly language. ∗ If you are not saved you are bound, and if you are saved you are bound … aye, but it depends who you are bound to! ∗ In the Egyptian prison, Joseph was bound; they bound Samson to the pillars in Gaza; they bound Jesus and led Him to Pontius Pilate; they bound Peter in the Jerusalem jail … yes, but there are other ways in which we are bound. ∗ Sin binds … and we could look at the various ways how sin binds its victims, - for example, drug addiction, alcoholism, - but at the very basis of every occasion of the binding of sin is what Martin Luther called the ‘bondage of the will’. It is the will that is bound … and it is bound by the enemy of God, the devil. The devil is their master, - Jn. 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.
∗ … He has them powerlessly bound in shackles, and in fetters ∗ On the other hand, the believer is also bound, - bound by the Holy Spirit, … restrained within the will and purposes of God, to His glory. ∗ Paul often described himself as the ‘servant’ and the ‘slave’ of God. What a privileged honour! He was so bound by the Spirit, he was obedient to the Spirit’s every leading. He followed faithfully. He laboured obediently. ∗ He knew and enjoyed this liberty, even in the most unlikely of places! … When he was in the governor’s prison in Caesarea, God worked in the heart of the centurion to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him (Acts 24:23). ∗ When he was writing to the Church in Rome he encouraged them in the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom. 8:21).
∗ Paul was ‘in and out’ of prisons, flogged, stoned … he suffered all kinds of persecutions for Christ, and still he declared, II Cor. 3:17 Now the
Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
∗ Even in the Philippian jail they could not stop him and Silas praying and singing the praises of God at midnight (Acts 16:25); the great earthquake, the foundations of the prison shaking, the terror in the cries of their fellow-inmates and prison warders, the doors flinging wide open … nothing outside can bind the believer whose heart God has set free!
5 ∗ How many people have we visited in hospital with a terminal illness … and still they speak about the goodness of God towards them! ∗ Being bound by the Spirit is that Gal. 5:1 liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and Paul tells us, be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage … 13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty. ∗ It is the language Jesus used when He said, Mt. 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls … Jn. 6:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
∗ It seems to be two opposites, two completely contrasting concepts … and yet it is only when we are bound in the Spirit that we have freedom in Christ! ∗ Let’s see how the hymn writer’s explained it; one wrote, ∗ Holy Spirit, Love divine, Glow within this heart of mine; Kindle every high desire; Perish self in Thy pure fire. ∗ Holy Spirit, Right divine, King within my conscience reign; Be my Lord, and I shall be Firmly bound, forever free. ∗ Horatius Bonar wrote, ∗ The Shepherd sought His sheep, The Father sought His child; They followed me o’er vale and hill, O’er deserts waste and wild; They found me nigh to death, Famished and faint and lone; They bound me with the bands of love, They saved the wand’ring one. ∗ Another hymn writer uses the same language to describe his favoured standing in the Lord, ∗ I lift my heart to Thee, Saviour divine; For Thou art all to me, and I am Thine; Is there on earth a closer bond than this, That my Belovèd’s mine, and I am His? ∗ Thine am I by all ties; but chiefly Thine, That through Thy sacrifice Thou, Lord, art mine. By thine own cords of love, so sweetly wound, Around me, I to Thee am closely bound.
6 CONCLUSION ∗ Born of the Spirit … Borne of the Spirit … Bound by the Spirit ∗ What did I ever do to deserve how much I mean to Christ? What did I ever do to endear myself to Him? … How did I ever merit the grace of God? ∗ You know my answer … I never deserved anything God has done for me, and is continuing to do for me. I could never make Him love me or even turn aside to look upon me. I could never work to gain His attention. ∗ How did it all happen then? … It all simply happened because of God’s grace, - God showed grace to me. I did not deserve it but He showed me nonetheless … and that is grace! ∗ … Ira Stanphill wrote a beautiful hymn, ∗ Unworthy am I of the grace that He gave, Unworthy to hold to His hand; Amazed that a King would reach down to a slave, This love I cannot understand. ∗ How can it be? Why should God love me? … Ira Stanphill continues, Unworthy am I of the glory to come, Unworthy with angels to sing; I thrill just to know that He loved me so much, A pauper, I walk with the King ∗ With John the Baptist I would say, I am not worthy to unloose the latchet of His shoes (Lk. 3:16) … and yet He made me worthy, as Paul put it, Col. 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power.
∗ When you have the Holy Spirit within He has taken away the old nature and replaced it with the new. … What a responsibility then we have to Him to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling … and how could we do it except for the confidence the Holy Spirit enables us to live for Christ because of the knowledge He daily gives us … 13 For it
is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
∗ This is how He does it … and He continues to do it for every believer as He indwells them … for every believer is born of the Spirit, borne of the Spirit and wonderfully and gloriously bound by the Spirit to the Glory of God!