This time of year Americans ponder the precious gift of freedom (in its social, political and religious aspects), which they enjoy (or take for granted) due to the foresight and personal sacrifices of our founding fathers. Through their collaborative efforts we have inherited a durable government, designed to promote and protect the liberties of its citizens and the institutions they support.
Some outstanding gifts – not such as people bequeath to us but rather those bestowed by God – are also mentioned in the New Testament. We read about them in places like John 4:10, where Jesus said to the woman from Sychar, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink’ . . . . Or again in 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NKJV), the Apostle Paul exclaims, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” In the gospel of Luke, Jesus mentions another of God’s good gifts:
If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! – Luke 11:13 (NET)
Why did Jesus consider the Holy Spirit to be one of the supreme gifts God can give to us? Consider eighteen benefits we receive from this incredible Person, the very Spirit of God Himself.
- The Holy Spirit “convicts us of (our) guilt” and the certainty of divine judgment – Acts 2:36-37; John16:7-8; Ac 17:30-31, 24:25; Heb 9:27). This is a good thing; otherwise we wouldn’t want or accept the offer of salvation through Christ.
- He sends messengers to bring us the good news about Jesus so that we can inherit eternal life and be rescued from the coming wrath – Isa 40:9-13, 52:7; Lk 4:18-19; Ac 13:2; 1 Jn 5:11-13; 1 Th 1:10
- The Spirit regenerates us to new life in union with Jesus Christ – Jn 3:6-8; Acts 2:38; Tit 3:5-6.
- He supplies us continuously with the life of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ – John 7:38-39.
- He produces all the facets of Christ’s character in us – Gal 5:22-23; Col 2:6, 3:12-14.
- He is the ‘first installment’ (or ‘pledge’ on God’s part) on a future, glorious inheritance that awaits us (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:14).
- He frees us from the control that sin once exerted over us and from spiritual death (Rom 6:18-21).
- The new heart we have toward God is a creation of the Spirit. He supplies us with the desire and ability to keep the His law – not in a legalistic manner, but in that spirit intended by our Lord – Ezek 11:19, 36:26; Rom 8:4-8, 6:17-18; Matt 5:3-8, 20. The obedience the Holy Spirit engenders is motivated by true love and devotion to Christ (1 Cor 16:22; 2 Cor 5:14, 11:2-3; 1 Pet 1:8).
- The Holy Spirit will bring about our final resurrection. Then we will “receive the goal of our faith:” what Peter calls “the salvation of our souls” (1 Pet 1:9), and what Paul depicts as the “revealing of the sons of God” (Rom 8:19, NKJV).
- He creates a peaceable bond between us and other believers. – Psalm 133:3; Eph 4:3; Col 3:15
- He distributes gifts/abilities to each of us, such that each member is indispensable to the whole functioning of the rest of Christ’s Body. The purpose of these gifts is to sustain the unity and nurture the growth of church (1 Peter 4:10-11; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; Eph 4:11-16).
- The Holy Spirit shows the world that we really are God’s children, by leading us down right paths, as we do God’s will (Psm 23:3; Jer 6:16; Matt 7:21; Romans 8:14; 1 Jn 2:17), and by changing us into the likeness of Christ (Rom 8:29; Gal 5:16-18, 22-25; Philip 1:10-11, 3:12-14).
- He assures us we are God’s children (Rom 8:15-16) by reminding us of the Gospel message we believed (1 Peter 1:17-21)
- The scriptures, as given by Holy Spirit (2 Ti 3:16), show us that Christ is the way of salvation (Jn 14:6); so we can trust what they say as the very Word(s) of God – Lk 24:27; 1 Th 4:14-15; Heb 1:2-4
- The Spirit of God gives us confidence in what the Bible says about Jesus Christ and so enables us to encourage others to rely on and rejoice in him (Eph 5:18-20; Col 3:16; Philip 3:1, 4:4; Col 2:2-6)
- The presence of the Spirit in us, as well as the ‘fruit’(Ezek 36:27; Gal 5:22-23; Philip 1:11) and fruitfulness (John 7:38-39; 15:5, 8; 2 Tim 2:21, 3:17; Titus 3:14) that He produces in our lives, constitute a reliable ‘preview’ of what kind of people we will be when Christ finally summons us to live in his presence forever (2 Cor 3:17-18; Heb 12:23; 1 Pet 1:7; 1 John 3:2-3)
- The Holy Spirit establishes and maintains our communication with God through prayer (Luke 10:21; 1 Cor 14:15). Were it not for His mediation, translation and inspiration (I’m using the last term in a restricted sense, and am not claiming that our grasp of God’s will is infallible.); we could not rightly discern God’s will. Moreover, our own desires and insights about the needs of others are imperfect and often hard to articulate. Therefore “the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses” and prays “in harmony with God’s own will” – Rom 8:26-27, NIV-NLT; Jude 20.
- The Spirit, who makes our worship authentic, gives us joy in the Lord (Jn 4:23; 1 Cor 12:3; Ph 3:3).
Were it not for the Holy Spirit, there would be no Bible; no Gospel for us to hear and read. Thus we wouldn’t have realized we were sinners or heard about Jesus. God could not have shared His life with us apart from the gift of the Spirit; so the “Christian life” (obeying God’s commands from the heart) would not be possible. Sans the Spirit we’d have no hope of bodily resurrection or the eternal joy of being with Christ. We would still be without hope and without God in the world (Eph 2:12).
I hope that you now appreciate this indispensable and Personal Gift from God more than ever.