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Sometimes Christians get the idea that the presence of the Spirit of God in our lives is an option, something we can take or leave, like heated leather seats and dual zone climate control. It’s well and good for Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians, but ordinary people should just stick with God the Father and Jesus. They shouldn’t concern themselves with the Spirit.
Nothing could be further from the truth. A. W. Tozer put it this way: “The Spirit-filled life is not a special, deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for his people.” There is no salvation apart from the Holy Spirit.
It is the Spirit that gives life. Apart from the Spirit no one has the eternal – that is, heaven’s – kind of life (John 6:63; Romans 8:11; 2 Cor. 3:6). The eternal kind of life that is in the Father and in Jesus is now in the people who believe in Jesus, but only because of the coming of the Spirit (John 5:21-26). It is the Spirit of God who shares the spiritual, eternal, undying kind of life with us.
Think of it this way. That eternal kind of life – God’s kind, powerful and undying – was embodied in a man, Jesus. But evil did away with him. Killed him and crucified him. Death triumphed over life, evil over good.
Or so it seemed. But even this was part of God’s plan. God knew that death could not hold his life. St. Peter said: “God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”
The Greek translates something like this: “God raised him by freeing him from the birth pains of death.” The grave was a womb – as it is to this day for God’s people – and hidden within that womb was the life of the world. The earth quaked on that first Easter morning because it was in labor! Acts 2:24 again: “because it was impossible for him – the one with God’s own life – to be held by death.” Death lost its grip, and eternal life was born into the world.
Do you see what is happening? The curse is being undone! Our first parents were warned that the disobedience of unbelief would bring death, but the obedience of Christ The life-giving Spirit has come upon the people of Christ, and Peter tells us that this blessing is not just for the original disciples, not only for his hearers that day, but (Acts 2:39) “for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
For the first time in history, we have a varied group of people, people of different heritages and races and ethnic backgrounds, united by one life, one Spirit. The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, baptizing people into Christ, created something new in the world: the Body of Christ, the Church. brought forth life. And now the Spirit has come to share that life – the life that destroys death – with all who believe in Jesus.