23rd August 2019

The Self-Emptying God, Holy Spirit
(Part Six – The Spirit)

“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh…”
Acts 2:17 (NRSV)

In our reflections on the self-emptying God we have seen the kenosis of the Father and Son; however it is not only the Father and Son who act kenotically. Self-emptying is also a mark of the Holy Spirit, which of course, is what we should expect of the Spirit of the self-giving God.

We often think about the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost in terms of what it meant for the people; but sadly we ignore what this event meant for the Spirit. What is often called the “descent” of the Spirit was an immensely kenotic event. Christians are happy to speak of the descent of the Son as kenotic, but the same is true of the Spirit.

The Spirit came down to earth and engages with human life in all its squalor. Take prayer as an example—Romans 8 provides an account of two divine intercessors interceding for us: “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (verses 26-27) and, “Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us” (verse 34). The Spirit prays “within” believers, on the human side of the divine-human divide; while the Son intercedes at the Father’s right hand. This means that the Spirit has humbled himself in ‘siding’ with inadequate human intercessors who hardly know what or how to pray. This is kenosis in relation to the believer.

Now the Spirit not only helps us to pray but by humbling himself to come and live in us he enables all of our Christian life: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:19-24).

With the Spirit in us we put to death the deeds of the sinful nature and live the way God wants us to. So since we live by the Spirit, let us be guided by, and keep in step with, the Spirit (verse 25), as he enables us to have right relationships with others (verse 26).

Father, thank you for the work of the Spirit in our lives.

Study by Barry Robinson

About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder and part of the National Ministry Team directing Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. He is also a pastoral worker in the South of England, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion International Central London
Indian YMCA
Mahatma Gandhi Hall
41 Fitzroy Square

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2:30pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Barry Robinson
Email: london@gracecom.church

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