Minister’s Letter May 2017

Dear friends,

On Sunday mornings since the start of the year, we have been reflecting on the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth; his origins, his teaching (the Messiah-king teaching about the kingdom), his miracles and the events that took place around Jesus’ death and resurrection. In the coming weeks, we will turn our attention to the person and work of the Holy Spirit. He is the third person of the Holy Trinity, sent at Pentecost by God the Father and the ascended Christ, to work among those who had come to faith. In John’s gospel Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as the other Comforter (14:16)

The Holy Spirit is the least understood person of the Trinity, partly because we find him hard to visualise. Our mental pictures of God the Father and God the Son are no doubt flawed, but how do we create a picture of the Spirit as a person within the Trinity? It is probably best that we consider the work that the Holy Spirit does supporting and empowering the life of the Church.

When I use the word ’empower’, what I mean is that God gives spiritual gifts to believers. These gifts are given to the Christian for the purpose of building up the Church. The Apostle Paul identifies the gifts of the Spirit in some of his letters and include the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, teaching, discernment, speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, administration, serving, encouraging and showing mercy (see Romans 12:6-8, Corinthians 12:4-11 and 12:28). These gifts enable the disciple of Christ to contribute positively to the life of the Church, thus allowing Christ’s body to bear faithful witness to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus’ parable of the talents reminds us that the gifts that are given to us to be used and not to be squandered.

The Holy Spirit also develops Christ’s character in the life of the believer. Without the Spirit living within us, we are prone to giving into temptation and become worldly in our behaviour and attitudes, but the presence of the Spirit in our hearts  begins the work of transforming us into the likeness of Christ, so that as we develop in our Christian life. We behave and think more like Jesus. In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul calls our new character the fruit of the Spirit. He writes “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (5:22-23).

The Spirit also guides the Christian. There are many times in our lives when the way ahead is not clear to us and so, prompted by the Holy Spirit, we turn to God to seek his guidance and will for our lives. The Spirit will nudge us to pray or speak to us from God’s word. In John’s gospel Jesus says “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (16:13).

Lastly, it the Holy Spirit that strengthens bonds of fellowship within the Church. The Spirit gives life to the Church, by helping us forge relationships that are loving, forgiving and meaningful. He unites us around our common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and his saving work.

May we continue to grow in grace as we learn about the Holy Spirit together.

Your minster and friend,