Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grieving the Holy Spirit

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30 NKJV).

Forever I think, I have disagreed with the remark don't grieve the Holy Spirit. I realize Scripture instructs: "Don't grieve the Holy Spirit." Can this remark stand on it's own? Is there something more to this Scriptural text than meets the eye? God knows everything from beginning to end; it is by Him we exist. Can God be disappointed? Can God be surprised?

God the Holy Spirit lives in all the regenerated. He brings us unmarked by sin to God. We will live with God forever in purity. Finally, in my life, I have come across some teaching on the subject grieving the Holy Spirit.

It is not only corrupt speech (Eph. 4:29) that grieves the Holy Spirit (30). Lying (25) grieves the Spirit, for He is the Spirit of truth. Sinful anger (26-27) grieves the Spirit, for He is the Spirit of self-control. Stealing (28) grieves the Spirit, for He is the Spirit who works and enables us to labour honestly.The verse after our text lists other sins which grieve the Spirit: "bitterness," "wrath," "anger," "clamour," "evil speaking" and "malice"(31). These things are abhorred by the heavenly dove and drive Him away from our breasts.

Notice that these sins are sins against our brothers and sisters in the church. Do not lie, "for we are members one of another" (25). Do not steal but work in order to help those who are in need (28). Use wholesome, not corrupt, speech "that it may minister grace unto the hearers" (29). Instead of "bitterness," "malice," etc., we must be "kind one to another" (31-32). Thus the prohibition of sinful anger (26-27) especially deals with our fellow saints in the church. If you go to bed at night without confessing the evil of wrath against your brother or sister, you are not only giving place to the devil (26-27), you are also giving him room to work destruction through you in the church, the body of Jesus Christ. And you are grieving the Spirit, the Spirit of love and communion.

At this someone might protest, "I was bitter only towards my sister; I spoke harshly only to my brother; I sinned only in a particular area of my life. I did not realize that the Holy Spirit was involved. I did not intend to grieve Him!" You did not intend to, but you did. We must use the truth of Ephesians 4:30 (in its context) to fight against our iniquities, realising that it is not only that "corrupt speech" and all these other things transgress the law but also that they grieve the blessed Spirit. Surely, we do not wish to treat the Holy Spirit unkindly or disrespectfully, or displease Him. We do not want Him to withdraw or depart from us with the comforts of the gospel of Christ. We need Him. We pray for His presence with us. We love Him as God’s Spirit and Christ’s representative, who makes us enjoy the blessings of the covenant of grace.

The result of grieving the Holy Spirit is not the loss of salvation, for this would overthrow the preservation and perseverance of the saints. We are God’s inviolable property—past, present and future—"ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (30). The Spirit, personally, is this seal.

The result of grieving the Holy Spirit is the loss of our assurance. This is the rationale of the text: "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Grieving the Spirit results in His withdrawing from us His gracious operation of assurance as a seal (cf. Covenant Reformed News XII:8-9). Thus lying (25), sinful anger (26-27), stealing (28), corrupt speech (29), "bitterness," "wrath," "anger," "clamour," "evil speaking" and "malice" (31), as well as other sins, especially those against our fellow believers in the church, grieve the Spirit and cause us to lose our assurance.

Do you have assurance that you belong to Jesus Christ, that He died for your sins, that you were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, that you are His forever? If you do not, there is something wrong. Have you been grieving the Spirit by sinning against the saints? Repent, child of God, and believe in the power of the cross of Christ for forgiveness and sanctification!

When we grieve the Spirit, the Spirit grieves us; we are grieved too. You respond, "But Ephesians 4:30 does not say this!" Ah, but it logically follows. When we grieve the Spirit, He withdraws from us. Remember that He is the Comforter! Withdrawal of the Comforter means we lose comfort and thus experience sorrow and pangs of conscience—grief! Loss of assurance is itself grief. No longer convinced of the Father’s hearty love for you; not sure if you are His child; walking in spiritual darkness and coldness; what else is this but grief! It is grief too for your family, your fellow saints and your church’s office-bearers, who are to look after your spiritual health. Ultimately and by sheer grace, the Spirit brings us to the wholesome grief of true

When Christians become deeply backslidden, especially if, for example, they sinfully stop attending church for some time, their whole lives become ones of grief. The Bible remains unread; they lose all joy from the communion of the saints. They are filled with guilt, losing all comfort and becoming deeply miserable. Sometimes they even waste their time and make things worse by going to secular psychologists, who try to alleviate their guilt in humanistic ways rather than pointing them to the cross of Christ. The grieved Christian may even sink to the depths of blaming God: "Look at the mess I’m in, and He does not do anything for me!" What about the atoning death of His Son? Is this not the central thing that He has done for us? "Why does He not assure me of His love?" He has written it in blood in the Scriptures, which tell us that His love is experienced as we walk in the light. "But He does not hear my prayers!" But what are you asking for? What about coming to Him with words such as these: "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee." The Father’s arms are stretched out for you; the fatted calf is ready; you will experience once again the formerly grieved Spirit as a seal of assurance and the blessed Comforter![1]

The remarks above do indeed bring some sense to, "Can a Christian Grieve the Holy Spirit?" Christians are not always obedient. God can never be pleased or disregard disobedience. Disobedience can only Grieve God the Holy Spirit.

We know Christians don't always love their brothers in Christ. They are not always honest. They don't always show compassion etc. Yes, God is not pleased! it is true Christians who continue in sin do indeed drift away from the sweetness of the presence of the Holy Spirit!

Was God pleased with the children of Israel who complained to Moses and God about being led into the wilderness, "We would have rather been left in Egypt as slaves, at least we had food they ranted"? God was very displeased with them, his people, the people of Israel, God was grieved by them! After we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit unto the day of our redemption we can grieve the Holy Spirit.

Ken Clouse
Lay Administrator NEMRS

[1] Stewart, Angus. Grieving the Holy Spirit. Covenant Reformed News. Volume XII, Issue 13. May 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Free Sermon Downloads from Alastair Begg

Alastair Begg's Truth for Life is offering free sermon downloads. Begg is an outstanding expository preacher. You will be challenged and encouraged.,14&noprice=1

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Layman's Prayer Revival

“Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” prayed Jeremiah Lanphier out of his passion for the salvation of the residents of New York City. On September 23, 1857, he knelt in prayer, alone, shortly after the noon hour. Lanphier’s intercession ascended from the upper lecture room of the Old North Dutch Reformed Church. His heart was broken for the purposeless, despondent masses of New Your. A single lay missionary, he had been wed to his ministry of personal evangelism, street preaching, and door-to-door witnessing. His burden for the throngs of people had forced him to his knees. Could he have ever imagined what would soon come about? Within a matter of months, more than fifty thousand people would gather daily for prayer! The Layman’s Prayer Revival proves Matthew Henry’s old saying: When God desires to do a fresh work, He sets His people to praying.

The power of prayer was demonstrated in the union prayer meetings inaugurated by Jeremiah Lanphier. Calls to prayer had begun in some denominations before the New York union meetings, but the most significant meeting began at the North Dutch Reformed Church on Fulton Street.

New York City was in deep spiritual decline. The old North Dutch Reformed Church downtown employed Jeremiah Lanphier to influence their area for the gospel. He had bee converted in the year 1842. He was a forty-year-old single businessman filled with enthusiasm. Like most leader of this revival Lanphier was primarily a layman.

Lanphier began his assignment on July 1, 1857. He put together a folder describing the church and commending his lay missionary work. He gave the folder to everyone he met. He passed out Bibles and tracts. While he found some success, he was overwhelmed at the enormity of the task. Thus, he prayed, “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” This led him to a novel approach.
Lanphier had found prayer to be a great source of comfort. He had noticed how the businessmen were “hurrying along their way, often with care worn faces, and anxious, restless gaze.” He presented to the church board the idea of a prayer meeting for businessmen. Their response was less than enthusiastic, but they agreed to allow Lanphier to proceed. Determining that the noon hour was the most feasible time for prayer meeting, he printed and distributed a handbill publicizing the meeting. He promoted the meeting with great zeal.

Lanphier began praying alone at noon September 23, 1857. Soon one more joined Lanphier until by the end of the hour there were six. The following Wednesday there were 20, and on the third, 30-40. Those present determined to meet daily rather than weekly. On October 14 over 100 came. At this point many in attendance were unsaved persons, many of whom were under great conviction of sin. By the end of the second month three large rooms were filled. Prayer meetings were springing up all over the city and in other cities across the nation. The prayer meetings led to many conversions, and the revival was so popular that local papers reported the conversion numbers.

One of the most moving accounts came from Kalamazoo, Michigan:

At our very first meeting someone put in such a request as this: “A praying wife requests the prayers of this meeting for her unconverted husband, that he may be converted and made a humble disciple of the Lord Jesus.” All at once a stout burly man arose and said, “I am that man, I have a pious praying wife, and this request must be for me. I want you to pray for me.” As soon as he sat down, in the midst of sobs and tears, another man arose and said, “I am that man, I have a praying wife. She prays for me. And now she asked you to pray for me. I am sure I am that man, and I want you to pray for me.” Five other men made similar statements.

“The only place you’ll ever find power coming before prayer,” commented one elderly saint, “is in the dictionary.” The Layman’s prayer revival of 1857 bears this out. If God is stirring your hearts, pray for revival.

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

This story comes from Malcolm McDow and Alvin Reid. Firefall How God has Shaped History through Revival (Wipf and Stock Publishers 1997)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Paul Helm's Blog

Paul Helm is a Calvinist theologian and Teaching Fellow at Regent College in Canada since 2005. Helm is also a professor at Highland Theological College since 2007. He was the J.I. Packer Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Regent College from 2001-2005. Prior to these positions, Helm was Professor of the History and Philosophy of Religion, King's College, London, from 1993-2000. Helm earned his BA and MA from Oxford.[1]

Helm's blog is not your typical blog. His blogs are lengthy and substantive covering many subjects under the heading philosophical theology. Read, think, and enjoy:

Pastor Jeremy Lee
Twining Baptist Church

[1] from