Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sabbath School Insights No. 8, Qtr2-06

Special Insights No. 8

Second Quarter 2006 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Holy Spirit”

(Produced by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)

“The Fruit of the Holy Spirit”



Galatians 5:22, 23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” As we read this we are transported back to Mount Sinai, to God’s friend Moses of whom it is written, “But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deut 34:10). Israel had a bad series of days and when it was all over God called them “stiff-necked people,” and told Moses that He would destroy Israel and start over with him. Moses, knowing God, “pleaded” with God and He relented. Israel was to journey to Canaan, but Moses wanted assurances of God’s presence with them. He asked God to show him His glory. God said, I will let all my goodness pass before you.... graciousness.... compassion. Later on the Mount the Lord descended in the cloud and declared the name of the Lord “... merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Ex. 34:6). The church is God’s temple (Eph. 2:21, 22). As His glory filled the Jerusalem temple, so today Jesus Christ who is the glory of God wants the church to be filled by His Spirit.


As we read Galatians 5:22, 23 and realize that this is a call for the character/glory of Christ to be manifest in us, we are overwhelmed and wonder how this will be. The answer is in Galatians 5:16: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” So what does it mean to “walk in the Spirit”? Walking in the flesh produces the works of the flesh outlined in verses 19-21, but in contrast there is walking in the Spirit, which produces the fruit of the Spirit. So how do we “walk in the Spirit”?


John 14:16, 17, 26 says, “ And I will pray the Father and He will give you another Helper,.... the Spirit of truth.” “He will.... bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 15:26: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth.... He will testify of Me.” Lastly, John 16:13 says, “However when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak.” The Holy Spirit brings us the truth—the truth about Jesus Christ, who came to reveal the Father. So ultimately the Holy Spirit is revealing the truth about the Father—that He is our Friend as much as Jesus is.


As we go back to Galatians to understand how to walk in the Spirit we look at some of the context. Galatians 5:7 says, “You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” Galatians 3:1: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?” Paul refers to this heart-response to the cross as “obeying the truth.” There is only one truth and that is the truth of the gospel. Paul goes on in Galatians 3:2 about the truth about God the Father: “This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” The question is, what does Paul mean by the expression “the hearing of faith”? At first glance it appears that Paul’s intent is to juxtapose one type of human activity (works) with another (hearing-believing). What if on the other hand Paul’s intent was to juxtapose human activity with God’s activity, as revealed in the proclamation of the gospel message. What is the relationship?


This contrast is clearer in Galatians 3:5: “Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” This text speaks of God’s action and how it is accomplished. God does work miracles “through hearing [with] faith.” This phrase “hearing [with] faith” is best understood as a designation for the hearing and believing of the gospel, which proclamation has power and thus becomes the instrument through which God gives the Spirit to us and transforms our lives into fruit-bearers. Galatians 3:5 could be translated as follows: “He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you—does He do it through works of the Law or through the proclamation of the gospel of the faith—the faith of Jesus Christ?”


There is power in the blood!


How do we walk in the Spirit? Only by understanding and being personally heart-touched by the truth about the self-renouncing love (agape) of God. Never has a message about the love of Christ been so heart-moving as was the “most precious message” which “the Lord in His great mercy sent” us in 1888. Ellen White says that this redeeming love is a mystery into which angels desire to look (The Desire of Ages, p. 19). May we take a long look and be transformed by it. This is my prayer.


Lyndi Schwartz


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