This is the second episode in our series on Spiritual Counsels. Watch or listen to the first episode here.
Salvation is wholly the work of God. All three Persons of the Trinity are involved in this work of salvation. Salvation proceeds from the love of the Father, through the grace of the Son, and by the operations of the Holy Spirit.
It is the Spirit who applies the work of salvation in our hearts. Thomas Charles writes of this in Spiritual Counsels:
“The same love which influenced the Son when he took upon him the form of the servant and became obedient even unto death, influences the Spirit in his condecension and undertaking in comforting and sanctifying . . . The Holy Spirit comes to and sanctifies and abides with the ungodly. He comes into the heart when it is nothing but filth, a hellish scene of all abominations and iniquities, a horrid darkness, a miserable confusion, like the world in its chaotic state. He so loves his people that he abides and dwells with them forever."
- The Spirit is free to do what he wishes to do.
- He is free to work in the most sinful people.
- He is free to bring us from death to life.
It is love that motivates the heart of God, of the Son, and of the Spirit. In John 16, Jesus tells us that it is for our good that He must go and send the Spirit:
But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged (John 16:7-11).
We are blind to our sin and we need the Spirit to convict us of sin. He helps us understand it in a way that leads us to Christ. The conscience is not enough because sin has so completely twisted it. “It may make us fearful and uneasy, but it will not make us repent and turn from it from the living God. But when the Spirit enters the heart with the glass of the law, as it were, in his hand, and shows sin in this glass, then we see it to be sin and exceedingly sinful” (Thomas Charles, Spiritual Counsels).
Even the law, by itself, is not enough. It does not possess the strength to change us. It is like holding up a mirror in the dark. We need light to see ourselves truly. The Spirit alone brings light.
The Spirit reveals deep and secret sins. God strips everything away and we see that we are broken, unworthy, and helpless. The curse is pronounced. God brings us to a place of self-despair. The Spirit shows sin to be sin and opens our eyes.
But He does not leave us there. The Spirit shows us the gate to salvation and to Christ, and also the path of the Christian life. He continues to convict us and strengthen us in faith. May the Spirit continue to fashion you more and more into the likeness of the Son in this New Year.
Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,Draw me, my Savior—so precious Thou art!Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast;Shelter me safe in that “haven of rest”;Shelter me safe in that “haven of rest.”
Nearer, still nearer, nothing I bring,Naught as an off’ring to Jesus, my King;Only my sinful, now contrite heart,Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart;Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.
Nearer, still nearer, Lord, to be Thine!Sin, with its follies, I gladly resign,All of its pleasures, pomp and its pride,Give me but Jesus, my Lord crucified;Give me but Jesus, my Lord crucified.
The New Year is a good time to pause and take stock of what the Lord has taught you and to prepare for the coming year. One of the best ways you can use your time in 2020 is by studying God's Word. In this week's Supporter Episode, Dr. John Snyder shares the best Audio Bible practices and resources.