Born of a Holy Spirit

John 3:1-17

      How do you know if you’ve been born again? I think it’s easy to know. The Bible says the result (fruit) of receiving “the Spirit” is love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are present when a person is filled with a holy spirit.

symbol of the Holy Spirit      Jesus said that being born of the Spirit is like the wind, and the wind doesn’t blow because we tell it to blow by making a decision or a commitment.  “It blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.”

     The Spirit doesn’t come just because we decide it’s the right time for the Spirit to enter us. Like we can summon God whenever we are ready for Him.  Remember Jesus told his disciples, “You didn’t choose me. But I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last.”

      I’m afraid some pastors think they empower the wind when they sprinkle water over infants or immerse adults in water. If that were true, there would be a lot more loving, kind, gentle people in the Christian church.

      Martin Luther compared being filled with the Holy Spirit to the iron of a blacksmith that would glow, burn, and place its stamp on wood. Those who are born of the Spirit leave their mark, an impression on whatever and whoever they touch.

      If you really want to know Martin Luther’s stance on the role of the Holy Spirit, read my post on the topic. You probably didn’t learn this in confirmation class.

      The word “holy” in Greek means “worthy of reverence, worthy of praise.” God is worthy of reverence and praise. Why?  Because God is love. God is the Source of peace and joy and all the fruits of the Spirit.

      I always wondered what it meant in the Bible when different writers said,

 1 Peter 1:15-16 “Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

 Ephesians 1:4 “…just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.”

      It means “be worthy of reverence and praise in everything you do.”

      In the human condition, it’s not possible to hold onto love, peace, and joy all the time. Since that’s the case, it means we are not always under the power of a “holy spirit.” Sometimes the power of unclean spirits rule within us. That’s why baptism (immersion) in a Holy Spirit is not just a one-time thing.

      We need our spirit to be reborn (re-immersed) every day because we enter exit the kingdom of God every day, sometimes several times a day. You can be experiencing the goodness and peace of God in the morning, and by the afternoon, you can be as angry as a hornet whose comfortable nest has been disrupted.

      You must receive a new and right Spirit daily that is capable of bearing the fruits of that Holy Spirit – which are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23).

      There are times when I think I’ve reverted back to the caterpillar stage of the human spirit. Those are the times I identify with St. Paul when he says, “The works of the flesh (which are in opposition to the Spirit) are obvious: (they include) hostilities, conflict, anger, quarrels, disagreements, divisions, and things like these. I am warning you as I warned you before: those who do these things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).

      No one can experience peace, no one experiences unity, when they are fighting and arguing. The church is providing no example of the unity called for by Jesus that anyone, including the U.S. congress, can follow these days. Forget converting unbelievers, I think the church needs to be born again.

      Yet Sundays are the days I tend to feel most like I’ve been born again. I experience peace after I have received the assurance of God’s love and forgiveness in worship, in hymns, Scriptures, and in the bread and the wine. My spirit feels renewed. I feel uplifted. I feel at peace with God.

      When you are experiencing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, you have the kingdom of God. It is these that Christ came to bring us — to save us from our humanness, our arguments, and our divisions.

     Do you want to be born again? Jesus said, “If you who are evil know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give a holy spirit to those who ask him?” Ask for a Spirit that is holy. Ask for a Spirit that is worthy of reverence and praise. And your heavenly Father will be pleased to give you the kingdom.

     Let love be your guide and you will know what it’s like to be born again of the Holy Spirit.

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