by Seattle ALC
May 21st is Ascension Day on the Church Calendar in this year 2020. We would normally gather at the Church for a Worship Service. As it stands in our State of Washington this year, we are not able to freely gather in worship due to the Directive of our Governor forbidding gathering of groups of any size. Reviewing the four phase guidelines that our Government proposes to safely open our State to normal activities, I am reminded just how complicated living under law can be. Being responsible is something we can choose to do. There can be a sense of safety and freedom in abiding by the directives of the law givers, yet there is also an experience of restriction, of being bound.
We can be thankful that God did not intend that peace and freedom would come to us under the Law, or our ability to completely fulfill it. When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He left an abiding Guide and Comforter, the indwelling Holy Spirit. We can be thankful that He didn’t feel the need to remain on earth to enforce obedience. What an example of trust, to leave this earth after giving out a commission to His disciples to carry out His work, and commending them to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Trust and freedom go hand in hand. We can never truly be free if we don’t have trust in our relationships. Jesus established that by showing His trust in the Father and Holy Spirit. He further establishes it with us, by leaving a faithful Guide that can not be seen, other than by love’s resultant acts. He asked those first disciples to wait, and they did, because He had established faith and trust in their hearts, through His complete work. Our God desires that we would live in peace and in freedom. His Promise is that He would be a God unto us, and that we would be a people into Him.
“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;” Isaiah 32:17,18
It is a marvelous gift that our God has given us in what we receive through His Son! In John 8: 36, Jesus said: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” Jesus brought a freedom that is not governed in this world. It is a freedom that can not be taken from us. It comes with a peace that does go beyond this world and it’s understanding. It comes from God through His Son and is preserved by the Holy Spirit. It is His Promise!
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
I appreciated the following article by our late Pastor A.C. Holmgren and I pray that you do also.
THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER
The Holy Spirit is known by many different names. In one of His post-resurrection meetings with His disciples, Jesus called it “the promise of the Father.” On earlier occasions, He had referred to it as the Comforter and as the Spirit of Truth .
This Spirit affects our lives for good more significantly than any other power. It is the source of true comfort, of lasting inspiration, of perfect guidance , and of unlimited strength. We receive this Spirit when we have heard and believed the gospel message of salvation. (Eph. 1:13) The continuing presence of this Spirit in our lives is more important than anything else that we can possess. The Bible is not silent on this matter. Romans 8: 9-17 state plainly : “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his … but if the Spirit of Him that raised up Christ from the dead dwell in you, he shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his spirit that dwells in you. Therefore, brethren , we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if we live after the flesh, we shall die; but if we, through the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body, we shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit, they are the sons of God . For you have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear, but the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God . And if children, then heir s, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with hi m, that we may be also glorified together.” I Cor. 3: 16 asks the question: “Know ye not that you are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
The Spirit proceeds from the Father and is of the same essence as the Son. As I John 5: 7 reveals, “the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost bear record in heaven , and these three are one.” Realizing then that the Spirit is a part of the Triune Godhead, we often stand in awe of the personal manner in which God deals with sinners. It is His Spirit that calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies, and preserves us in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. As sinners saved by grace, we are individual possessors of this divine essence which we call the Holy Spirit. When we contemplate God’s intervention in our lives, His personally expressed concern for our salvation, and His promise to remain with us always, we are often more than overwhelmed by the continuing knowledge of how He cares for us.
The Word of God teaches us to be careful in our response to the Spirit–not to quench it (I Thes.5: 19) and not to grieve the Holy Spirit whereby we are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Eph. 4: 20) The Lord himself emphasized the importance of the obedience and the care we give to the indwelling Spirit. He said: “Wherefore, I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him, but whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.” (Matt. 12: 31-32)
It was important to Jesus that His children would share a common sign by which the world could recognize us. This sign could not be a form of righteousness only external in nature as something to be worn on the sleeve. Jesus wanted a truly genuine sign which had divine and not human origin. He chose Love, “the bond of perfectness” (Col. 14) Jesus said: “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” (John 13: 34-35) The love of which He spoke was not natural or human love. Neither was it a love that would be evidenced in word only, but also in deed and in truth. (I John 3: 18)
If we seek to meet this requirement by looking into our own sinful hearts, we will be disappointed. The love that Jesus spoke of does not originate in us. Its origin is in heaven, and it is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 5: 5) If we quench the Spirit, we quench the flow of this love and hinder the evidence by which Jesus said His children were to be known here in this world .
“Holy Spirit, Faithful Guide, ever near the Christian’s side”
From the archives of the late Pastor A. C. Holmgren- May 1994 Church Bulletin