Spirit of the Everlasting God
May 29, 2019
by David Ward
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV).
It does not take much to see that the world is changing around us. That phrase is by nature a cliché, especially when one considers how the world has been changing since creation. Nevertheless, it is true! Not only has the world been in a constant state of flux, it will also continue until the return of Christ. As someone who prolifically reads the news, changes tend to come in waves. In addition, a group of similar changes tend to occur simultaneously. This reminds me of my wife and how she describes her job as an emergency room nurse. In her experience, there may never be a patient with a heart attack all week. However, on a random day they may get four heart attacks back to back all before lunch. Moreover, the patient demographics vary significantly. From a biblical perspective, another way of describing a group of similar changes is seasons. As described by Solomon, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV 1984). For this article, in this season, there has been a particular trend frequenting the news, and it is a great concern for our state as a Christian nation.
In a moment of honesty, I am not familiar with the faith of author Michael Knowles, nor am I wholly convinced of the statistics in his article described below. Nevertheless, a troubling argument is presented in his article about our country and religion titled God Help Us: Atheism Becomes Largest Religion in U.S. Mr. Knowles obtained the data from the General Social Survey. What is even more troubling, Pew Research consistently documents similar trends. For example, several articles display data of various topics that include how Americans find meaning in their lives (religion is of lower importance), correlations of greater education and decrease religion, Christian belief in the biblical account of Jesus is decreasing, and generalized decreases in beliefs and practices. These topics are research articles published by Pew Research since 2015. To potentiate these changes, perhaps a topic for another time, the beliefs of those identifying as Christians, do not consistently match the beliefs of the Bible. The source of these issues listed above, as well as those not listed and are in contrast to the teachings of the Bible, is not always very obvious; however, it is clear that the one thing we need the most in our lives is the Holy Spirit.
In this season, it could not be timelier to reflect on the apostle Paul and his teachings about the Holy Spirit. Specifically, apostle Paul in Ephesians. In chapter 3, Paul prays for the Holy Spirit to strengthen us, in order for Christ to dwell in our hearts through faith (Ephesians 3:16), that we may be unified and know the great dimensions of Christ’s love (Ephesians 3:18), and to be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19). Powerful. It is through this fullness that we can achieve great repentance, correction and discipline and be victors in our battles with the world. I do not have enough space to discuss the very necessary instructions Paul gave in Ephesians chapters 4 and 5, but he mentions similar issues again in Galatians with one variation. Specifically, he states, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious…” (Galatians 5:19, NIV 1984). These forces against us have an even greater power to combat these issues. That is through the power of Christ dwelling within us. However, as per Paul’s teaching, that relationship with Christ is strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16).
Therefore, in a word of encouragement, Paul concludes the instructions above with, “…Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18-20, NIV 1984). These verses remind me of a hymn we would sing in my childhood church, Level Creek United Methodist. As I pray these lyrics over myself and family, I hope you the reader do the same, “Spirit of the Everlasting God, fall afresh on me.”