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12 The Holy Spirit, God Working in Us


For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

(Phil.2:13)


In the preceding message we discussed the importance the Bible attaches to the fundamental nature of God as the creator, as He is the one that calls into existence the things that do not exist. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth and put the man He created onto the earth. Now the whole universe is the expression of God's creation. The history of humanity is, therefore, the expression of God's workings within them across time. Of all God's acts in history, the most decisive one is His working within Jesus Christ. 'Christ Crucified' is God's ultimate act of redemption of mankind, thus reconciling with men after their betrayal and separation from Him.gGod in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding men's faults against Himh(2Cor.5:19).

In Christ, not only did God reconcile with us, the betrayers, and forgave our sins, but He also gave us His Spirit to take us in as His children. We are given the spirit of sonship. When we cry, gAbba, Father!g it is this spirit who makes us His sons(Rom.8:15-16). His Spirit is the spirit of reality(Jn.14:16~17), and receiving His spirit is the concrete act through which our status as God's children becomes reality. John often uses the word 'aletheia' in his gospel, for examples Jn.1:17, 4:23-24, 6:32, 14:5, 14:17 and many other verses. This Greek word 'aletheia' is usually translated in English as 'truth', but I think an apter translation for this word would be 'reality'. In Jn.4:23-24 this word is used in combination with the word 'spirit'. The spirit in the New Testament is called the spirit of 'aletheia' (Jn.14:17, 15:26). It is called 'the spirit of reality' as it is the spirit who gives us the reality of the fellowship with risen Christ and the reality of being children to our Father in Christ.

Now, the Holy Spirit who is the instrument of our filiation to God, is God Himself working within us. Paul states clearly,gGod is working in you.hIt is God Himself who is working in those who believe Christ or who are in Christ. God is working in those who are in Christ, and we call God's working within us the 'Holy Spirit'. God is the creator who makes us exist. Without this work of creation we do not exist. God is the source, the foundation of our existence. God the creator is also God the Redeemer, He who reconciled with us in Christ crucified. God invited us into His fellowship in Christ, and He gave His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to those who came to Him in Christ. The gift of the Holy Spirit by God through Christ is what the New Testament refers to as 'Christ's baptism with the Holy Spirit'. (See Messaeg no. 3)

Paul calls God 'ho energon', the one who works, acts, or operates(1Cor.12:6, Gal.3:5). What is God doing, then, in those who have committed themselves to Christ? Paul says to the congregations of believers, "God is at working in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.hGod is doing His work within His people so as to instil the desire to accomplish the very things He wants us to do. Both our longing for salvation and our striving to achieve the goals set before us are God's work within us. This is the reason why we should work out our salvation with fear and reverence, for it is God who is at work in us both to will and to work (2:12-13). Verse 13 shows the reason for verse 12. It would be a great sin if we neglected God's work within us, for it would mean neglecting God Himself. It would also mean showing scorn and contempt for God's absolute grace, the very grace through which God works within us.

The Gospel of Christ declares that Christ baptizes those who believe with the Holy Spirit. It means that God gives His Spirit unconditionally to those who commit themselves to Christ. By doing so, God becomes 'ho energon' (the working one) in those who believe in Christ. In short, God begins to dwell in them. This miracle happens through Christ, or when we are in Christ, as described in the gospels,gChrist will baptize with the Holy Spirit.h It is God's work in Christ (Message No.3).

What has God done and what is God doing in us as 'ho energon', the operator? This question is the same as the question,gwhat has the Holy Spirit done and what is the Holy Spirit doing in us,hbecause the Holy Spirit is the name of God's working in man. Paul described this in details in his letters, especially in his epistle to Romans, something that I would summarize with three dimensions of human existence: faith, love and hope. By baptizing us with the Holy Spirit in Christ and beginning His work in us as 'ho energon', God has made it possible for us to live in faith, love and hope. First, He made it possible for us to live in faith. By His Spirit God has given us the reality of being children of God, crying "Abba, Father"(Rom.8:15-16).
Second, God loved us the betrayers, forgave our sin of betraying and poured His love into us (Rom.5:5). Thus God made it possible for us to forgive and love each other because we live in the sphere of God's unconditional love. Third, by the Holy Spirit given in us as the first fruits we can live already in this mortal body the eternal life, the life towards the resurrection of the dead (Rom.8:11). Hope is a power for the reality of life that allows us to overcome the reality of death(See Message No.8).

Thus God is working in us, while we struggle with the weakness inherent to human nature. Paul often refers to this weakness as 'flesh'. In order that God's Holy Spirit might accomplish its work within us, we need to walk by the Spirit. Paul says, "Walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would."(Gal.5:16-17) This is the basic principle of those who live in Christ. Human nature, without the work and help of the Spirit of God, can not lead man to his goals. Humanism is not a self-generating value, it arises from God's workings within men.