Reference: Romans 8:16-17
From last week’s post: Faith means conviction lives in your heart. How does anyone get to that conviction? Indeed, some claim you cannot have conviction.
The involvement of the Holy Spirit
It’s important to remember that in regard to faith, the believer states his belief. He does so before God, the church, and the world. But to that end, Paul teaches in Eph. 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”
How is that gift delivered unto you? Here is what Paul says in Romans 8:16: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” We also read in I Corinthians 12:3, “…no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”
I said a moment ago that faith is something we do express, yet Scripture teaches that our expression will not take place unless it is by the Holy Spirit.
The questions that may be raised — “How can I know? Is it for me?” — actually question the work of the Holy Spirit. Casting doubt on the Spirit means calling into question what God can do — and what He has promised to do. That is pretty serious. Do you really want to question God’s promise?
You need to listen to the word of God. You need to trust in what is promised. It’s a clear message: the Holy Spirit, sent by Christ and the Father, is given so you might believe. The ability to have such faith does not depend on you; it depends on the work of the Holy Spirit.
Based on a regenerated heart
In fact, as stated above in I Corinthians 12, unless the Holy Spirit is working within you, it is impossible for you to respond in faith. Jesus says you must be born of the Spirit. Why?
The heart we all inherited from Adam — the one we’re all born with — is a heart of stone. By it there can be no faith. But God has promised to change that heart, to change it from being a heart of stone to a heart of flesh.
The Holy Spirit has penetrated the heart of the believer and thus enables that heart to receive what the Spirit says.
It is certainly true that no one who is rebelling against God can express faith in God. But remember, it is God who saves, it is God who determined in eternity to call unto Himself a people, and it is God who has determined that those for whom Christ died on the cross will come to know Him as Father.
Faith does not just come out of nowhere. Faith is based on the work of salvation. In particular, faith — by means of the Holy Spirit, in this presentation we are looking at — is based on being found in a state of slavery to sin and the life of the flesh, and being brought out of that situation and adopted into the family of God.
What is the basis for the Holy Spirit to testify to your spirit that you have eternal life? Because God has adopted you as His own. God wants you to know that.
Blog post content taken from a sermon series delivered by Dr. Maynard Koerner, President and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.