Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective:Prayer Dependent on the Spirit

The Pastor’s Perspective
Vol. 30 Num. 17
“Prayer Dependent on the Spirit”
First Published: May 15, 2009

So far we have reviewed five aspects of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:3-14. It is trinitarian (that is, it highlights the work of the blessed Trinity in our salvation), decretal (that is, it accents the sovereignty of God in the whole work of redemption), redemptive (that is, God’s redeeming, saving blessings are systematically rehearsed in it), Father-focused (that is, the Father’s goodness, love, and initiative are celebrated repeatedly), and Christ-centered (that is, the integral role of the Son’s redemptive work is accentuated). Two more emphases remain to be surveyed.

Today, I want to draw your attention to the fact that this prayer of praise is also Spirit-dependent (that is, the Holy Spirit is viewed as both the substance and conduit of blessing). Throughout the prayer, Paul acknowledges that the Spirit Himself is gifted to us by the Father, and the Spirit Himself is the means of the Father’s conveying the various blessings to us.

Notice, for instance, at the very beginning of the prayer that it is stressed that all the blessings are SPIRITUAL: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (3). That is, these blessings are OF the Holy Spirit. They are Spiritual in nature, and they come from the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, all the blessings are received and pledged in the Spirit: you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory” (13-14). In other words, God’s blessings are experienced by virtue of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling us (they are “sealed” to us by the baptism of the Spirit), and the Spirit Himself is God’s pledge (or down payment or deposit) guarantying that we will one day receive the fullness of all His promises. To put it plainly, the Spirit Himself is the seal - a living, sovereign seal (assurance) of God’s promises. That is why He is called here: “the Holy Spirit of promise.” When we are brought to Christ and Spiritually regenerated, we experience a foretaste of divine fellowship, in fulfillment of Abrahamic promise and which is at the heart of our salvation: God with us.

Are not these things matters for praise which ought to populate our prayers of adoration. May God grant to you a greater appreciation and apprehension of the Spiritual riches which are yours in Christ. And then may that realization overflow in praise and devotion.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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