Everyone needs quality friends to grow as a believer. This is why we put such a stress on small groups at CBC. you cannot grow well as a follower of Christ on your own. I am grateful that throughout my life I have had such quality friends involved in my spiritual development. No friend, however, is like the Holy Spirit. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit means several important things for your spiritual growth.
The Spirit of God does many things in our lives, more than I can address aptly in a blog post. But Paul prays that the Corinthians would know and experience the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Cor. 13:14). It is important then that we, even if we only scratch the surface, begin to understand what this concept means. I want to look at six aspects of the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” with believers. The Holy Spirit does the following six things in the life of a believer in communion with Him: communicates God’s love, teaches us, assures us of salvation, intercedes for us, empowers us, and comforts us. We’ll take a quick look at the first three in this post.
Paul tells the Romans about this great hope that they now possess in Christ, and it he adds this important phrase in Romans 5:5, “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” The Spirit communicates God’s love to us. In fact this text says the Spirit has “poured God’s love into our hearts.” It’s a beautiful picture. John Owen said it this way:
The Holy Spirit so persuades us that God loves us that our souls are filled with joy and comfort. This is his work and he does it effectively. To persuade a poor, sinful soul that God in Jesus Christ loves him, delights in him, is well pleased with him and only has thoughts of kindness towards him is an inexpressible mercy. (“The Things In Which We Have Communion With The Holy Spirit”)
When I think about my life and the myriads of ways in which I have rebelled against God I wonder how on earth it is that God could love me. Yet most days I have no fear that God will abandon me, will reject me, or that he hates me. Rather I grasp firmly the love of God that the Scriptures detail. How is this possible? Only because I have fellowship with the Spirit of God who is pouring out this love of God in my heart.
This Spirit is called our “helper.” That’s a key identifying noun for the Spirit of God in the New Testament, especially Acts. Here we are told that the God has sent His Holy Spirit into the world to “bring to remembrance” all the things that Jesus had taught (John 14:26). This is a promise to the disciples as they write the Scriptures and as they establish the church (2 Peter 1:21). But it is also a promise that believers can rely on the Spirit of God to teach them and to “guide [us] into all truth” (John 16:13). Believers in communion with the Spirit of God are led by the Spirit, and can trust him to guide them away from sin and destruction and into truth and life (Gal. 5:16-18). He does this primarily through teaching us the Scriptures. The “Helper” helps us to understand God’s Word by illuminating our minds to perceive the spiritual truths therein (1 Cor. 2:13-14). As we study Scripture we pray that the Spirit would enlighten our minds to understand the things of God. Part of our communion with the Spirit involves his guiding us into truth.
Part of the truth that the Spirit guides us into is the assurance that we are children of God. So Paul writes to the Romans saying, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). I have sat with many men and women in my office lately who struggle with their own assurance of salvation. It is a common problem for believers. Often it arises because people don’t rightly understand sanctification, but sometimes it comes because they are trying to find assurance apart from the Spirit. That is, some believers are trying to find solid proof of their conversion from their own lives and their own hearts. Such a pursuit will never provide solid footing. The depths of my own heart and my own motivations are a bottomless of pit. It is the Spirit of God, however, that cries out in our hearts “Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6). And it is with the Spirit that we are sealed, and promised to God (Eph. 1:13, 4:30). He is given to us as a guarantee of our inheritance to come (Eph. 1:14). We rely on the Spirit, pray to the Spirit for confirmation, trust in the Spirit. We do not trust in ourselves or our own works, we look to the Spirit for confirmation that we are God’s children. One such evidence, of course, is the very fact that we are concerned for our salvation. That in and of itself is a work of the Spirit in us.
Fellowship with the Spirit of God has profound implications for our lives. Christians cannot grow apart from Him. Like quality friends in a believer’s life, we need the Spirit of God to help us. The truth is not only can we not grow apart from the Holy Spirit, I can’t imagine who would want to try to grow apart from Him.