In His final words, alone with His disciples, Jesus had talked about the work of the Holy Spirit.
And when [the Advocate] comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:
about sin, because they do not believe in me;
about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, and you will see me no longer;
about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.John 16:8-11 (NRSV)
When the Spirit came, the Spirit would first convict people of sin. It would be an eye-opening experience for people, a realization of all the ways they had fallen short of what God had created them to be, of God’s own glory, and the likeness people have been created in.
Those convicted would see the precipice they had been walking along, held up only by God’s mercy, kept safe only by God’s grace. And people would sense deep in their bones the righteousness of God’s wrath against all that is wrong, including what is wrong in us.
But through that conviction people would come to repentance and experience the flood of God’s cleansing and forgiveness, the gift of God’s love, called grace.
If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:7-9 (NRSV)
We see this overflowing relief and joy in Isaiah’s next oracle
You will say on that day:Isaiah 12:1 (NRSV)
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
and you comforted me.”
The word Isaiah used for “you” is in the singular
“Surely God is my salvation;Isaiah 12:2 (NRSV)
I will trust and will not be afraid,
for the Lord is my strength and my might;
he has become my salvation.”
This is a personal experience of God’s forgiveness and cleansing. Salvation is the reason for each person’s praise.
Cleansing, Comfort, Communion
To draw life from the Spirit of Christ is to have joy.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.Isaiah 12:3 (NRSV)
If God is salvation, then the water is also God, that is why we read about Jesus’s teaching concerning Himself, that He is Living Water. The first time was sitting alone at Jacob’s well. Jesus was talking with a spiritually sensitive and scripturally astute woman who would soon become the first evangelist to Samaria. He said,
“Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”Jesus to the Samaritan Woman, John 4:14 (NRSV)
The second time came during the middle of the Festival of Booths in Jerusalem. It was at that moment when the priests commemorated Moses drawing water from the rock. Jesus, standing on the steps of the temple, cried out to the crowd,
“Let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive, for as yet there was no Spirit because Jesus was not yet glorified.Jesus, John 7:38-40 (NRSV)
- Whoever drinks from Jesus, the Living Water, will never be thirsty again.
- That person will have eternal life welling up within them.
- That life will flow out in rivers of grace to others.
In salvation, God cleanses and comforts, and then gives God’s Own Person in communion with each believer.
God the Holy Spirit is given to every believer to live within them.
This is the true baptism of the Holy Spirit.
By definition, this event happens only once, because it permanently and immediately alters a person from being mortal to immortal, and every spiritual blessing in heaven is given at once to the believer. To this day every believer receives the Holy Spirit when they put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ., and it is through the Spirit that we receive all these things.
The Holy Spirit imparts to every believer Messiah’s own love that will protect the unity and harmony of the whole Body of Christ.
The Fruit of the Spirit
The apostle Paul also taught on the work of the Spirit, beginning with those qualities that flow forth from the Living Water.
The fruit of the Spirit is
There is no law against such things.
And those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.Galatians 5:22-25 (NRSV)
Look back at Isaiah’s oracle just preceding this one,
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;Isaiah 11:1 (NIV [Syriac text])
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
In his imagery, Isaiah likened the Davidic dynasty to a mighty tree springing from David’s father Jesse. When Judah would be taken into exile and Jerusalem destroyed, it would be as though that mighty dynasty was hewn down, leaving only a dead stump behind.
But in Isaiah’s vision, against all odds, a shoot springs up from the stump, holding within it the potential for another mighty tree. The emergence of the shoot is a miracle in itself, but holds within it yet another mystery, for this imagery is of resurrection.
And out of Jesus’s miraculous resurrection will be borne fruit.
- Sowing: The Gospel being sent across the whole earth.
- Salvation: All those who have put our faith in Jesus, and now abide in Him.
- Sanctification: The Spirit conforming the faithful to the goodness of Who Jesus is.
- Spread: As a direct result of the Spirit’s conforming, works of love, mercy, and grace.
Jesus Himself spoke of the fruit that would be borne through the Branch as the hundredfold harvest of a fertile field, as the rich clusters of grapes from a fruitful vine, as nets filled with a bountiful haul of fish.
I wonder why we focus on the cross when Jesus Himself had His eyes always lifted to the future beyond the cross, the fruit of His resurrection.
Though the apostles spoke of the cross, and of Jesus’s suffering in terms of our lived experience here on earth, it was not the cross they all looked towards. From the first patriarch, Abraham, to every person mentioned in the Hebrews Hall of Faith, to Peter, to Paul, to the apostle John and the Revelation given him by Jesus, it is the reconciliation of all things in Christ that held their attention.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.Hebrews 11:1 (NRSV)
Isaiah’s oracle of joy is about salvation now and for eternity, the great hope in what is yet to come.