Notes on Mark’s Gospel (10)

“On Your Mark”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

The Power and the Assurance (Chapter 1 Verses 9-13)

The Holy Spirit’s influence is never forced upon anyone. He must be desired, sought after, in order to be received (John 7.37-39; Luke 11.9-13). In Luke’s account of the good news, we are told that prior to his baptism the Lord had been praying (Luke 3.21), and here we see the answer to that praying, God answers, coming down in the Person of his Spirit. Are you thirsty? Do you crave a drink of living water? Should there not always be a sense of thirst with us as Christians? Is that partly why we are so powerless today as a Church because we are simply satisfied with what we have got? If what we see around us today in this nation’s church is all there is to Christianity, then we are of all people to be most pitied.

“As pants the hart for cooling streams,
When heated in the chase;
So longs my soul, O God,
for Thee, And Thy refreshing grace”
(N. Tate)

Does not the Lord himself teach us to ask for the Holy Spirit (Luke 11.9), praying effectively, in faith to receive? When Jesus so teaches us, he does so from personal experience, he submits to the will of God in the Jordan, he prays, asking, seeking, knocking, and the Father answers, heaven is opened and God the Holy Ghost descends upon him (Psalm 72.6). Where else does the power come from to heal the sick, open the eyes of the blind and raise the dead? Where else would we get the self-same power from to be what we should be, and to minister effectively amidst a world drowning in sin?

It is important that we notice the activity of the three Persons of the Trinity, active and involved here, as of course they always are, whether in creation, providence, or redemption. But it is yet another proof of the Holy Trinity as taught in the Bible, “In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit” (Westminster Confession, Chapter 2, Section 3.) (1John 5.7; Matthew 3.16-19; 2Corinthians 13.14). It is the Father’s voice that sounds from the open heavens, declaring beyond doubt the eternality and divinity of the Sonship of Jesus. That voice was as real to one’s ears as the open heavens to one’s eyes. But do you see the important progression here? Still more and more intimate and personal communication, as the Father reveals his heart to the Son showing all that he is to him, “Thou art my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased”? What a send-off into one’s ministry, what love, what assurance. Is it not beautiful! The Lord now knows that he himself is the supreme object of the Father’s love, not only assuring but enabling him to bear witness to a hostile world (Romans 8.7), of that same Father’s love for them (John 3.16). Is it not true that such Christian assurance will carry you through almost anything? The Spirit gives such assurance (Romans 8.16). Have you been baptized with the Holy Ghost?

(© James R Hamilton, written September 1996)

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