God has provided a way for the good news of Jesus to reach every city and village in the world. Through us, as followers of Jesus, God is replicating and extending the life and work of Jesus to everyone on earth.
By the Holy Spirit, we are fully prepared for this. The apostle Paul rejoices: “Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
In this imagery drawn from the Roman empire, Paul pictures Jesus as a victorious general who has overcome rebellion and now leads willing captives in triumph as they spread “the aroma of Christ” to everyone (2 Corinthians 2:15).
The apostle asks, “Who is sufficient for these things?” And he answers: “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God [by the] Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:5-6).
Think of our qualifications as followers of Jesus, empowered by the Spirit:
By the breath of God—that is, by the Holy Spirit—we have entered into a deep and rich spiritual dimension of life (John 3:5-8; 20:19-23). Having trusted in Jesus Christ as our Savior, the “water” of repentance washes the liability for sin out of our life; and the Holy Spirit infuses his divine presence and power in us (Titus 3:4-7).
The Holy Spirit is now living and working in us, to renew us from within. “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).
Relating to one another as “living stones”—yes, even in our less-then-perfect local churches—we lose our rough edges as we bump against one another and learn, amid the altercations, to “maintain the unity of the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:1-16; 1 Peter 2:5).
Gifted by the Spirit with a wide span of abilities and gifts among us, we can encourage, comfort, strengthen, and equip the people of God. Contributing to one another in this way, everyone grows to “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11).
Even in his magnificent earthly life, Jesus could only be in one place at one time. Now that the Holy Spirit has been lavished on all believers (Acts 2:17), Jesus can be physically present everywhere on earth, through his followers.
When we draw on the sufficiency of the Holy Spirit, we have access to the same goodness and power that Jesus displayed in his early ministry. We are able, therefore, to extend his work and witness to broken and fragmented humanity near and far (Matthew 10:1; Acts 1:8).
This is the glory, the exponential potential, of the age of the Spirit.
This post concludes a series, "Sketches of the Spirit." To go to the beginning of the series, click on "Wind."