Dr. Jeffrey Anderson, D.Min., Ph.D is a professor of Theology at Regent’s School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Dr. Anderson is a proud husband, father, and grandpa, and has served as a Pastor of numerous churches. This episode is full of theological insight. As one of my professors at Regent's School of Divinity, it is always a joy to learn from Dr. Anderson. I'm confident that you will find immense benefit within this conversation about the Holy Spirit.
We place our faith in the Son, whom the Father sent, and we are made alive by the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is not an “it” He is not a “thing,” He is a person. But without a question, we are dealing with things in which we cannot fully comprehend.
Even if you don’t start off believing that the Bible is inspired, even if you just start out and think, “Okay, I think that it is basically a reliable, historical document,” that’s fine. Even if you just start out with that, what happens is that the Spirit of God somehow works within us unconsciously- we’re not aware of what’s going on- but we begin to see the character of the man. And it’s very difficult to read the Gospels and- at minimum- to at least come to only deeply admire the man of Jesus Christ, and to see the beauty of the things He did. Not just simply in healing people and things like that, but when He said, “No greater love has any man than this, but that a man lay down his life for his friends,” and then he proceeded to illustrate that for us. It is next to impossible not to regard Jesus as being of supreme beauty and worthy of some kind of honor… it’s a very short step from that to believing in Him and trusting in Him. In that sense, what the Spirit of God is doing is that He is doing something unconsciously inside of us… we look and we begin to see the beauty of who he is…it’s more than cognitive information, it’s something that begins to move and transform our very affections.
In each of those (aspects of the ordo salutis) when Christ died, He purchased all of that. It’s not that he simply in dying that He purchased our justification so we have right standing, He also purchased our adoption…
When God redeems us, He not only justifies us, He also adopts us into His family. He places a new principle within us; we are born again. But not only that, but He also begins this process whereby we progressively become conformed more and more to the image of Jesus Christ the Son- what we call sanctification.
It is the Holy Spirit which works each of those into us. The Son purchased those things by His life and His death and resurrection, but it is the Holy Spirit that actually executes those things. We are born again by the Spirit of God. We are justified… the Holy Spirit is the executor of the declaration; when we are justified, it is something that the Father says about us, He changes our legal status. And it is the Spirit- as it were- the spoken Word in that regard. Sanctification is something where now there is a new principle of life within us. But it is the Holy Spirit, it is not something simply where we are like, “Now I’m going to start being Holy, and I’m going to do this or I’m going to use my free will or something like that,” rather, it is the Holy Spirit who initiates and carries us along. Now that we are alive, we can work with Him. It is something that we are involved with. We can’t just say, “Oh, hey, if God wants it, God is going to do it, so I don’t have anything to do.” But that’s not true. We are responsible. And yet, at the end of the day, we can’t just look on and say, “I did it,” or “He did it,” because now we are working together. Philippians 2:12-“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” …we are to permeate, or work out our salvation with fear and trembling… at the end of the day, when we look back, the reason that we have the will to do it, or we have the follow-through to act according to it was because of God’s work. So we don’t look back and think, “Look what I did,” but we look back and think, “Oh my word, even the very desire for holiness, that was something that God gave to me. That, in and of itself, was a gift from God.” The exercise and the effort that we put into it, that is a gift from God.
God is radically different than us. We usually; about 99- probably- .9 percent of the time are unaware of how badly we need His grace, we need His Spirit to sustain us.
God, I’m so grateful for your unlimited patience; because I would never have the patience to work with me, not the way that He does.
Some people have only thought about it (the reason for salvation) in terms entirely as “I chose Christ. I placed my faith in Him.” But then all of a sudden they realize, yes, I did choose Him, but it’s because He started this thing. And it is the Spirit of God, His work.
How do we learn to become more dependent on the Holy Spirit?
1. Virtually every day, I pray that God would pour out his Spirit on me. I am very much aware that even doing day to day tasks that are very much sort of in my wheelhouse. Nevertheless, to do them in such a way in which God is glorified and I find joy, I still desperately need.. I know I need His help, even though I don’t always realize how desperately I need Him. So even just praying that God would continually pour out His grace, pout out His Spirit upon me, my family, my children.
2. If you feel like, I don’t know the first thing about the person and work of the Holy Spirit, read something, go online, get a book…. The book, Finally Alive, by John Piper, is about regeneration, about being born again… Read the Religious Affections by Jonathon Edwards, read anything by Edwards. Find C.J. Mahaney’s, Cross Centered Life. Books that will focus on the cross, the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The misconceptions of the Holy Spirit that Dr. Anderson encounters the most:
People refer to the Holy Spirit as “it.” When they talk about the Holy Spirit like that, they are talking about an impersonal power… None of us would appreciate being referred to as, “it.”
There is no question that there is an element of mystery when we talk about the Godhead- and I get that. But one of the things that the Christian Church has been careful to do among the centuries is to avoid languages that refers to talking about the Godhead in parts… when we are told that Jesus is there, we are told that God is there, all of God. When the Spirit is there, God is there. All of God. Now how does that work? Well, I couldn’t begin to tell you. I don’t know.
How do you live practically for the Lord day in and day out?
Everything that God does ultimately, He does for one primary purpose. And that is, for His Glory. As a Christian, we are to live the same way, we are to lives our lives for the glory of God. That is to pervade everything that we do, as well as think.
Resources that help cultivate Dr. Anderson’s heart for God:
Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections – genuine Christian faith very largely exists in the affections
John Piper, The Pleasures of God, Desiring God- God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him
What area of your life has God lavished His unaltered grace upon you again and again?
I grew up in a Christian family- my parents were the real deal. I honestly feel like God has been so extraordinarily gracious to me in terms of family. When I was younger, my parents and my siblings. Now that I’m older, my wife and my children…. I don’t understand why God has shown me that much mercy in that regard, but I am so grateful.
To find out more about Regent University, or Regent School of Divinity, head to www.regent.edu
Thank You for Tuning in To Our Conversation!
Also, prayerfully consider leaving an iTunes rating and review. Your rating and review will, ultimately, help others to stumble upon Unaltered Grace Podcast & to Biblically inspire|equip|implore others through our conversations about God's Unaltered Grace!
We Would Be Honored if You Would Share this Podcast with Friends!