I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13
I get anxious about a fair number of things. Many things can trigger it – bills, messes in the house, something broken that I have to fix (add it to the list), being unable to meet all the demands of a father, husband and employee. God’s word tells us:
“Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down,
but a good word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety does indeed weigh me down. That anxiety then expresses itself in a few different ways (anger, retreat, seeking comfort). But doesn’t Jesus promise us peace? How can we claim that peace? Jesus says:
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” John 14:27
How did Jesus leave peace with us? What are some of the things Jesus left for us? According to John chapter 17, Jesus prayer to The Father, 2 primary things he gave us seem to stick out – Eternal life, and God’s word.
Eternal life is profound in that we already have it, if we confess Jesus as our Lord and follow him, and yet it feels far away – like something we will do one day far far from now. At least 26% of the US population is confessing atheist and walk around believing after they die, they will simply cease to exist. Shouldn’t the Christian, sure of his eternal life in heaven with his creator, be exponentially more full of joy and peace than the atheist or agnostic? We know from scripture that the actual number of people who will enter eternal life is “few,” and those who will die the second death (hell/separation from God) are “many.”
“Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
Perhaps we do not fully grasp the gift of eternal life. If we are not overjoyed and full of peace at the prospect that because of what Jesus did for us, we get to live forever and ever with him, then it seems likely we have not understood what he saved us from, and how good eternal life with our Father will be. And maybe that’s reasonable – how easy is it to grasp such a weighty concept? In our hedonistic society, full of pleasure and distraction, how are we even able to look past this very moment, let alone into eternity? That is not to suggest it is either impossible nor acceptable to not try. It is to say however, that perhaps our small human brains need help to understand.
“We do, however, speak a wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, because if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived — God has prepared these things for those who love him. Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, and yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 CSB
This amazing word from Paul in Corinthians tells us that without the Holy Spirit we simply are unable to understand spiritual things, which would certainly include eternal life in heaven with God. How can we possibly grasp that without the power and teaching of the Holy Spirit?
So how do we get help from the Spirit so that we can understand?
Scripture is littered with verses about the importance of God’s word. It is obvious from these scriptures that as believers we must be in God’s word every day. “Oh the joy of those who…. meditate on it day and night.” Psalm 1. But what if God’s word is more than just important? What if God’s word is itself a part of the Holy Spirit that we need to understand spiritual things?
“The Spirit is the one who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” John 6:63
In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14
The words that Jesus spoke are spirit. John 6:63
God is Spirit. John 4:24
Jesus is called “The Word” and “The Word of God.” John 1:1, Revelation 19:13
Jesus calls us to remain in Him (the Word). John 15:5
The word of God is living and active. Hebrews 4:12
These verses when understood together help us see that God’s word is itself, somehow, a physical manifestation of the Holy Spirit. I’m not suggesting the entirety of the Holy Spirit dwells in God’s word alone, but throughout scripture we see the Word paired with the Holy Spirit. At a minimum, God’s word is living, breathing truth and life given to us by The Holy Spirit himself. Acts 4:31, Ezekiel 36:27, 2 Peter 1:21, John 14:26
When you feel anxious, trust in God’s promises of peace. Remember that he gives us eternal life. In order to understand God’s promises, listen to the Holy Spirit. Immerse yourself in God’s word – the powerful gift from His Spirt.
“All scripture is breathed out by God.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13