The Spirit Promised to Abraham
Drift seems to me to be one of the most dangerous things in the Christian life. It’s easy to drift in the wrong direction in areas of our life without even noticing. When we do, we can so easily miss out on what God has got for us. I wonder if part of Christian maturity is being able to take stock, notice areas of drift in our lives, and then be active in addressing them.
I’ve had to do this recently in terms of my relationship with the Holy Spirit. Over time, I had drifted. I hadn’t come to believe anything heretical, but I had grown to overlook the Spirit’s activity in my life and, frankly, I was often just failing to engage with him.
When I noticed this, I knew I needed to do something about it. As someone who likes to think deeply, I knew that part of the way I could do this was to read some good stuff on the Spirit. (I’m aware that ‘part of the way’ is a key element in that statement – intellectual engagement is not the full answer; intellectual engagement is only worthwhile if it then helps us with practical and personal engagement.)
One of the things I’m reading is Gordon Fee’s Paul, the Spirit and the People of God (his smaller work drawing on the much more substantial God’s Empowering Presence). I’m really enjoying it. The reminder of the centrality of the Spirit in Paul’s understanding of God, salvation history, and the Christian life is increasing my thirst for the Spirit and my desire to engage with him.
There have also been a few great ‘aha’ moments. Including this gem on Galatians 3:14:
‘[T]he promise of the Spirit is equated with the blessing of Abraham, even though the Old Testament passage does not mention the Spirit. Since the “blessing of Abraham” came in the form of a “promise,” this word is the one Paul uses throughout the argument of Galatians 3 to refer to the blessing of the Abrahamic covenant. In a statement crucial to this argument, Paul says the fulfillment of this promised blessing for the Gentiles is in their having experienced the Spirit as a living and dynamic reality. The blessing of Abraham, therefore, is not simply “justification by faith.” Rather, it refers to the life of the future now available to Jew and Gentile alike, achieved through the death of Christ but applied through the dynamic ministry of the Spirit—and all of this by faith.’
Gordon Fee, Paul, the Spirit and the People of God (Baker, 2011), p.60.