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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

August 25, 2017

The power that Israel didn't have

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

Ancient Israel was abundantly familiar with God’s Word—more than any other people in history. Yet, with few exceptions, the Israelites failed to steadfastly live by their Creator’s instructions. Though God gave them knowledge of His ways, He did not, while they lived, give them the inner strength they needed to consistently control their fleshly nature. The apostle Paul described his fellow Jews this way: "I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge" (Romans 10:2).

Their experience helps us understand that humans are incomplete without God’s Spirit. As the apostle Paul explains: "No one knows the things of God except [through] the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:11). He adds: "The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14).

This spiritual discernment is accessible only from God as a gift through His Spirit. God makes His Spirit available to those who genuinely repent and have their old selves symbolically buried with Christ in the watery grave of baptism. Jesus has promised the body of believers converted in this manner that the Holy Spirit will "guide [them] into all truth" (John 16:13).

God promised that the time would come when that spiritual power would be made available not only to the Israelites of old but to the people of all nations through the gift of His Spirit. On Pentecost in 31 A.D. God was making His Spirit available for the first time in history to all who were willing to repent of their sins by beginning to obey Him (Acts 5:32). "Then those people who accepted what Peter said were baptized. About three thousand people were added to the number of believers that day. They spent their time learning the apostles’ teaching" (Acts 2:41-42). Nothing like this had ever happened! God’s transforming power was working mightily in the lives of the apostles and the others He was calling.

Do we realize how important the holy spirit is for our salvation? In the same way that our breathing is necessary to sustain our physical life, the holy spirit imparts the seed of eternal life. Just as the wind is an unseen but powerful force in our physical surroundings, so the holy spirit works as a powerful force within us to mold us over time to God's image – as long as we walk in the spirit, i. e., allow ourselves to be led by that spirit.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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