On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." By this, he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time, the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified (John 7:37-39).
When we look in the book of Acts, we consistently see three moves in the life of those who come to Christ:
- Public confession of Jesus as Lord and Messiah, the Son of God.
- Baptism in water.
- The coming of the Holy Spirit.
The order of these three moves may vary (compare Acts chapters 2, 8, 9-10, 19, 22 for variations). However, these three movements of grace and faith are found consistently through the story of the early church in Acts.
Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, also emphasized each of these three moves when he taught about conversion. He pointed to three core truths for saving faith in Jesus. These three were the authoritative message of the early church from the beginning (1 Corinthians 15:1-4):
- Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures.
- Jesus was buried.
- Jesus was raised on the third day, according to the scriptures.
Paul then emphasized that in baptism, the believer participated in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-14; Colossians 2:12; 3:1-4).
Paul also stressed the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in conversion (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The Spirit's power gave the repentant and believing person new birth into God's family (John 1:10-12; 3:3-7; Titus 3:3-7). This new birth made them a new creation of God (2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul also emphasized that the Spirit, who began this new life of the believer, would continue to be at work in each follower of Jesus throughout his or her life (Romans 8:1-39; Galatians 5:22-23). The Spirit was the power behind the living witness of Jesus in his disciples' lives. The Spirit in Jesus' disciples was also the ongoing testimony to the Lord's resurrection from the dead!
James Nored shares the importance of Jesus' resurrection for Paul and ties it to the work of the Holy Spirit in today's video:
Paul completely reoriented his life around Jesus because of his conviction that the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus' resurrection and appearance to witnesses validated him as the Son of God in power (Romans 1:4). Jesus of Nazareth's resurrection from the dead also demonstrated that he is Lord — Lord of all things and Paul's personal Lord. The resurrection of Jesus was the foundation for Paul's unique call to take the good news of Jesus to the Gentiles (Romans 1:5; 1 Corinthians 15:8-9). Paul proclaimed this truth for all of us:
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you (Romans 8:11).
The Holy Spirit brings us God's life now and ensures that life will extend beyond the boundaries of time and mortal bodies. He is saying in different words what Jesus had promised in John 7:37-39. The resurrected Jesus, who poured out the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:33) and on each of us at our baptism (Titus 3:3-7), is alive within us. That same Spirit of the living God who raised Jesus from the dead ensures that this life is eternal for all of us who belong to Jesus. A true believer's life lasts beyond the death of her or his mortal body. The Holy Spirit within each of us ensures our resurrection from the dead! We have eternal life that begins when we come to Christ (John 5:24), and it is a life that will never end:
Jesus said to [Martha], "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26).
The transformational work of the Holy Spirit began at our conversion (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). It continued through the Spirit's ongoing work to morph us into full Christ-likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:22-23). This transformation, however, will not be fully realized until we are given our new immortal bodies to be with Jesus, and have an immortal body like his, forever (1 Corinthians 15:48-49; 1 John 3:1-2).
The Holy Spirit is the water of life welling up unto eternal life. The resurrected Jesus poured out the Spirit on us (Acts 2:33; Titus 3:5-6). The Spirit is alive in us to guarantee our life forever with Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14). Jesus wasn't just raised from the dead two thousand years ago. The Lord is now alive in us through the Holy Spirit, ensuring that we will one day be like him and see him face-to-face!