In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. In previous weeks we’ve seen that God made a ‘covenant of works’ with humans which we broke by sinning. But then we saw that God made a ‘covenant of grace’, which, among other things, means God graciously gives us his Spirit. This week I want to start looking at what it means that God gives us his Spirit.
One of the first things the Holy Spirit does in those who are part of the covenant of grace is to produce faith in God. Paul in 2 Corinthians calls the Spirit the Spirit of Faith: ‘It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence’ (2 Corinthians 4:13-14).
So we must remember that even our faith in God is a gift from him. Paul calls faith a gift of God in Ephesians: ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast’ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Paul speaks in a similar way in Philippians: ‘For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have’ (Philippians 1:29-30). If you are going to believe in Jesus’ death for your sins, God must grant you by the Holy Spirit the gift of faith.
And then if the Holy Spirit graciously produces faith in you, the Holy Spirit becomes the guarantor of your salvation. Paul says in 2 Corinthians ‘Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come’ (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). Then later in the same book of the Bible Paul says: ‘Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come’ (2 Corinthians 5:5).
So if you don’t trust in God, you mustn’t have the Holy Spirit in you. If that is you, beg God for his Holy Spirit. Jesus marvellously promises: ‘whoever comes to me I will never drive away’ (John 6:37).
Do you have the Holy Spirit by God’s grace and therefore faith?