Yours in Christ: Pastoral Letters from Resurrection, State College

Communion With the Holy Spirit

Dear Resurrection,

As Jesus prepared His disciples for His upcoming departure from earth, He said, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away.” Why? Because He was planning to send them “the Helper” (John 16:7). In Communion With God, this is where John Owen starts when he explains what it means to have communion with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit doesn’t work alone. He is given (John 14:16), sent (John 15:26), and poured out (Titus 3:6) by the Father and the Son, and His special work is intimately interwoven with theirs—“to bring the promises of Christ to our minds and hearts, to give us the comfort of them, the joy and sweetness of them.” In fact, any “peace, relief, comfort, joy, support” or other blessing we have from Christ, we actually come to experience it through the Holy Spirit’s ministry.

This is the first way Owen says we have “communion and fellowship with” the Holy Spirit. “The life and soul of all our comforts lie treasured up in the promises of Christ,” he says, and when you feel “the life of” those promises “warming [your] heart, relieving, cherishing, supporting, delivering from fear,” you can “know that the Holy Ghost is there; which will add to [your] joy, and lead [you] into fellowship with him.”

The Holy Spirit works in many ways. Here are just a few: He persuades us of God’s love (Romans 5:5), assures us of our place in God’s family (Romans 8:16), and stamps us with God’s seal of security and belonging (Ephesians 1:13). He helps us to pray (Zechariah 12:10; Romans 8:26). Owen says, “The soul is never more raised with the love of God than when by the Spirit” we are “taken into intimate communion with him in” prayer.

So how can you grow in enjoying the kind of communion with the Holy Spirit that the Bible describes so beautifully? To begin with, Owen reminds us of three things we should not do. Ephesians 4:30 says we must not grieve the Holy Spirit, which we do by “negligence, sin, and folly.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says we must not “quench” the Spirit by working at cross purposes with Him. We also should not “resist” the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51) by ignoring or rejecting His word.

Grace-Based Action Point

If those are some things you should not do, here are three things you should do to grow in communion with the Holy Spirit. First, when you pray, Owen says you should ask for the Holy Spirit’s presence and work in your life (Luke 11:13). Second, specifically ask the Holy Spirit to give you the comfort, peace, and strength that Christ promises. And third, remember to thank Him specifically when you experience these blessings in your life. “When we feel our hearts warmed with joy, supported in peace, established in our obedience, let us ascribe to him the praise that is due to him, bless his name, and rejoice in him.”

Don’t be misled into thinking of the Holy Spirit as a mystical force to be tapped for self-centered purposes. Look to Him as the Person of the Trinity who loves to bring you close to your heavenly Father by making real in your life all the precious promises of Christ.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Simmons