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hope for churches in stress

A New Beginning

Life in the Spirit begins, Jesus said, when we are “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5-8). What a bewildering statement, but the reference to natural birth at least provides a clue for understanding.

When a baby is born, the infant takes in a breath of air for the first time, cries and kicks, and goes on breathing to live without “life support” outside the mother’s womb.

By the breath of God—that is, by the Holy Spirit—a newborn believer enters for the first time into a deep and rich spiritual dimension of life (John 20:19-23). When we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior, the “water” of repentance washes the liability for sin out of our life; and the Holy Spirit infuses a divine presence and power to renew us from within (Titus 3:4-7).

With a surge of supernatural power, we are “born of the Spirit.” From this time on, the Holy Spirit:

  • dwells within us (Romans 8:11)

  • assures us of God's love (Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:4-7)

  • is powerfully at work in us (Ephesians 3:20; 1 John 3:9)

  • guarantees our salvation (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14)

  • strengthens our inner being (Ephesians 3:16)

  • guides us into all truth (John 16:13-15; 1 John 2:27)

  • helps us to pray (Romans 8:26-28)

  • gives us words to talk about Jesus (John 15:26-27; Matthew 10:19-20)

  • fills us with hope (Romans 15:13)

  • reclaims our physical bodies to wholeness (1 Corinthians 6:17-20)

  • transforms us into a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

  • fills us with praise (Ephesians 5:18-20)

We do not have to struggle to live a normative Christian life in our own strength. The Holy Spirit is living and working within us, enabling us to accomplish our good intentions. “And we all . . . beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

This post continues a series, "Sketches of the Spirit." To advance to the next post, click on the title, "United in Spirit." To go to the beginning of the series, click on "Wind."

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