The Big Story of the Bible, Part 11 - Chapter 10: Application
November 10, 2022 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises made in the Covenant of Redemption. By his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus fulfilled the law, satisfied the just wrath of God, and paved the way for all believers to be reconciled to the Father. Jesus purchased and accomplished redemption. Question 29 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks and answers, “How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ? We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.” Chapter 10 of the Big Story of the Bible focuses on this Application by the Holy Spirit.
Let me address this topic by asking three questions: why, how, and what.
Why do we need the Holy Spirit to apply the finished work of Christ to us?
Can’t we just do this by ourselves? The resounding message of Scripture is No! The apostle Paul says we “were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked” (Eph. 2:1). He also quotes Psalm 14 in Romans 3:10-1 when he says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” What Paul is describing in these passages is the dead condition of the human heart. Ezekiel calls this condition “a heart of stone” (Ez. 36:26). Therefore Jesus explains that one must be “born again” by the Spirit (John 3:5). The Spirit removes the heart of stone and gives a heart of flesh so we can cling to Christ by faith. Apart from this work of the Spirit, no one will ever enjoy the finished work of Christ.
How does the Spirit apply the finished work of Christ to us?
How does the Spirit work? Is it some sort of magical or mystical moment? Once again, the Bible is clear how the Spirit works. Jesus calls him the “Spirit of truth” and says that he will “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). The Spirit works through truth, which is found in God’s word. Paul calls Scripture the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17). And in his parallel letters, Ephesians and Colossians, he makes the connection between the Spirit and Scripture even more compelling. In Ephesians 5:18, Paul commands, “be filled with the Spirit.” In Colossians 3:16, he commands, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” When you compare the contexts around these commands, you discover that these two commands are two sides of the same coin. The Spirit works through the Word of God. Therefore, it is through the ministry of the Word that the Spirit applies the finished work of Christ to us.
What happens when the Spirit applies the finished work of Christ to us?
In a nutshell, every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places is ours in Christ through the Spirit. God explains these glories by stating in Ezekiel 36, “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (36:27-28). Paul says we are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) and that the Spirit is transforming us from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18). The Westminster Shorter Catechism Question and Answer 32 says we become partakers of “justification, adoption, and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.”
Those three questions summarize the theology behind this chapter of the Big Story of the Bible, Application. This takes place when the Spirit is given on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Throughout Acts we read about the Spirit being given to more and more people, especially those of diverse ethnicity (the Samaritans in Acts 8; Cornelius in Acts 10; the Ephesians in Acts 19). So, when we read the book of Acts, we are reading the story of the Spirit applying the finished work of Christ to the early church. To this day, believers enjoy this same blessed work of the Spirit.