Gentle and Lowly: Discussion of Chapter 13 — Why the Spirit?

Hi @Interested_In_Book_Studies,

In what ways has the Holy Spirit been involved in your life?

When did you last hear a sermon discussing the work of the Spirit?

For many of us, perhaps the Holy Spirit is the most overlooked Person of the Triune God?

In this chapter, Dane Ortlund corrects that imbalance. He first summarizes the orthodox teaching about the work of the Spirit.

And then, wonderfully, he plunges in to show us the ways in which the Spirit awakens us to the reality of Christ’s love for us. As he writes, “the Spirit causes us to actually feel Christ’s heart for us.

In doing so, Ortlund frees our imagination of the Spirit from the limits of a merely academic or factual understanding - which is necessary and important - to understand in our hearts that the Spirit is a person who relates to us with loving kindness.

He writes:

Remember, the Spirit is a person. He can be grieved, for example (Isa. 63:10; Eph. 4:30). What would it look like to treat him as such in our actual lives?

This chapter raises the question: as we encounter the Holy Spirit as a person, what does the Spirit communicate to us?

Ortlund explains:

The Spirit simply causes our apprehension of Christ’s heartful love to soar closer to what it actually is.

But the Spirit takes those words of Christ’s and interiorizes them at the level of personal individuality. The Spirit turns the recipe into actual taste.

Paul is saying that the Spirit has been given to us in order that we might know, way down deep, the endless grace of the heart of God.

The Spirit’s role, in summary, is to turn our postcard apprehensions of Christ’s great heart of longing affection for us into an experience of sitting on the beach, in a lawn chair, drink in hand, enjoying the actual experience.

These are wonderful truths!

At the same time, we might ask ourselves whether or not we want the Spirit to do this work in our lives? Are we willing to give up our idols? Are we humble to follow his prompting and guidance? Will we accept the need for change and redirection?

We also might wonder if this is ‘for real.’ In seasons of discouragement or great trial, we might sense the absence of God. How do we navigate the experience that God is not with us when the Scripture tells us of the heartwarming, affectionate love of the Holy Spirit?

Finally, we might consider why it seems that so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are trying to follow God without the aid of the Holy Spirit. (Or why we have made the same mistake!) How did it come to be that we could desire religion without the work of God in our hearts?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this chapter too!

Discussion questions:

  1. How have you experienced the Spirit’s love in your own heart?

  2. What are the ways you are resistant to a deeper friendship with Christ through the Spirit’s work?

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WHY THE SPIRIT?

Jesus was about to return to his Father in Heaven. He tells his disciples that it is to their advantage that he goes to the Father because this will usher in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The author lists many functions of the Holy Spirit on page 105. Number 2 is Convicts us from (John 16:8). This verse is most often misunderstood to mean He convicts believers of sin, but it says: “convict the WORLD concerning sin.” Verse 10 tells us He convicts of RIGHTEOUSNESS, who? Believers! Romans 5:1, 5:9, 5:17, & II Cor. 5:21 tell us that believers are JUSTIFIED, or made righteous in our Father’s eyes, and that they will REIGN in life. We are to reign in life, through faith in the finished work of our Savior, Jesus Christ. But many Christians are living lives of quiet desperation.

Looking further through this list of functions of the Holy Spirit we find a glaring omission, I Cor. Chapter 12. Paul begins this chapter with the words: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, I do not want you to be unaware.” The Apostle Paul dedicates the entire chapter to the functioning of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, and within the organized church. Unfortunately, this topic has become quite controversial in the modern-day Christian church. Many pastors & teachers pick & choose which gifts of the Spirit are acceptable today, & which they relegate to the time of the apostles.

What is God calling every seeker to? Intimacy! Jesus tells us in Rev. 3:20 that He is standing at the door of every human heart, knocking; if anyone hears his voice, and opens the door, He will come in and fellowship with them. In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus tells us that we are to love God with our whole heart, and love our neighbor as ourselves. Then He says when we do this that we are fulfilling all the instructions of the Law & the Prophets. In fact, right after Paul’s chapter on the functions of the Holy Spirit, he gives us the Love Chapter, I Corinthians 13. Paul tells us that there is faith, hope & love, but the greatest of these is love! The Christian life so much about doing good deeds as it is about living a life of truly loving God and others through an intimate relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ. When we understand that God the Father loves us so much that He “gave His only begotten Son” & whoever believes in Him will not perish, but gain everlasting life. When really get hold of this reality the good deeds, and good behavior, will flow out of our heart of love for God and others. It is a by-product of a life of love.

Carson, you ask two excellent questions near the end of your last paragraph: “We might consider why it seems that so many of our brothers & sisters in Christ are trying to follow God without the aid of the Holy Spirit; and how it could come to be that we could desire religion without the work of God in our hearts?” The answer is actually quite easy. We are living in an age plagued by the disease of self. Much of the church has fully embraced the surrounding culture to the degree that it is difficult to distinguish between Christion and Heathen. John answers both your questions in three verses, I John 2:15-17. “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” Question: “If the majority of Christians were put on trial for their Christian faith would there be enough evidence to convict them?” No! The fact is the majority don’t often pray, read the bible, attend weekly services, serve others, or even believe that God loves them, or that nothing can separate them from God’s love-not even their sin! From cover to cover the bible is all about Jesus. The New Covenant is all about God’s love for man so richly demonstrated in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who is himself God. He is our only hope of redemption. He is the only path to Father God (John 14:6). He loves us, helps us, supplies our needs, and fills us with himself through the gift of the Holy Spirit given to every disciple. We must cultivate this relationship by spending time with Him!