Friday, September 24, 2010

Bethlehem, Calvary, and Pentecost


2 Corinthians 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.


The "grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" takes us back to Bethlehem, where He became poor for us (2 Co 8:9); "the love of God" takes us to Calvary, where God the Father gave His Son (Luke 23:33); and "the communion of the Holy Spirit" takes us to Pentecost, where the Spirit was poured out for all believers. (Acts 2:1-4)


As we take a closer look at this wonderful verse, I want us to begin to see that it is a picture, a snapshot if you will, of the spiritual development God desires for every Christian. The verse can be divided into three distinct parts:

1. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

The first phrase is "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ." This points us to Bethlehem where the "Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14) Those who are sure of their salvation know that their spiritual journey began with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without this marvelous grace we could not be born again and know God. Hence, the first part of this verse should be a picture of our first experience with the Lord. Paul refers to this first experience with the grace of God in Ephesians 2-8 when he says, "For by grace are ye saved."

2. The love of God

Once this grace touches our lives, we are hurled forward to the second part of 2 Corinthians 13:14, which is indicative of our second phase of spiritual growth as a Christian -"the love of God." This points us to Calvary where "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus) that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16)

There is nothing with which to compare the love of God that a new believer experiences when he or she has just been saved. At that glorious moment when the burden of sin rolls away, you really know you are loved by God. I have often heard new believers say that when they were born again they felt as if they had been baptized in divine love It seemed so real at the moment that they were nearly able to reach out into the air and scoop it up with their hands.

This is one reason why it is such a joy to lead people to Christ. When brand-new Christians lift their heads and open their eyes, the look on their faces is worth more than all the money the world has to offer. Their faces gleam with joy because they know they are forgiven, cleansed, and that they are new creatures. Most of all, they know they are loved.

The problem is that this wonderful sense of love is so real and so life-changing that new and immature believers often try to reproduce that same feeling over and over again throughout the years to come. Rather than move forward in their spiritual growth, they get stuck on past emotions.

While we must never lose "the wonder of it all," neither must we seek to relive past experiences which were never intended to be relived over and over again. We must not stop our growth because we want to recapture the feelings we had when we were born again. God wants to move us from "feelings" to walking by FAITH.
If you find yourself in this rut, it is probably past time for you to press ahead into another realm of spiritual development - "the communion of the Holy Spirit" (2 Corinthians 13:14).

3. The communion of the Holy Spirit

In this third phase you will come to know new power, new strength, new ability, new discernment and, yes, new and more mature spiritual emotions. This points us to Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit was poured out for all believers. (Acts 2:1-4)

This spiritual maturity is the very thing for which your heart is yearning. In this third realm, you learn how to walk in the Spirit, move in the power of God, know the voice of God, have the mind of Christ, pray effectively, receive direction, be sensitive to Him and much more. This third realm is where spiritual maturity begins - and it is available to everyone. That is why Paul prayed for the communion of the Holy Spirit to "be with you all."

The grace of God is where all this begins, and the realization of God's love is the foundation for everything we do. But this communion with the Holy Spirit is a launching pad for a life of supernatural power and consistency of godly character. Without this daily communion with the Holy Spirit it is impossible to live a victorious Christian life.


"Lord, I am so thankful for the Grace of Jesus, the Love of the Father, and the Communion of the Holy Spirit. I want more in my walk with You. May I desire a deeper relationship with Your precious Holy Spirit today. In Jesus' name, amen!"