From Your Pastor: The Holy Spirit in Our Souls


“There is a general omission in the saints of God, in their not giving the Holy Spirit that glory that is due to His Person, and for His great work of salvation in us, insomuch that we have in our hearts almost lost this Third Person [of the Blessed Trinity]…He is a Person in the Godhead equal with the Father and the Son, and the work He does for us in its kind is as great as those of the Father or the Son” (Thomas Goodwin, Works, Vol. VI, Book 1, chap. 2).

Have you seen your sinful condition? Have you been humbled because of it? This is the work of the Blessed Spirit of Jesus! (John 16:8). Give thanks for His grace and power.

Have you repented because of your sins? Have you turned from sin to God? This is the work of the Blessed Spirit of Jesus! (1 Thess. 1:5; Acts 5:31-32; 11:18). Give thanks for His grace and power.

Do you have faith that unites you to Jesus Christ, and receives Him as a perfect and sufficient Savior? Have you a spiritual sight of Christ and God’s free grace in Him? Has your heart been drawn to Jesus in love? This is the work of the Blessed Spirit of Jesus! (2 Cor. 4:13; Acts 6:5; Gal. 3:1). Give thanks for His grace and power.

Have you been brought close to Jesus for justification and righteousness? Have you come to Christ for the perfect righteousness that the Father provides for ungodly sinners and imputes to needy sinners by faith alone? This is the work of the Blessed Spirit of Jesus! (John 6:37, 44; Rom. 4:5; Eph. 2:18). Give thanks for His grace and power.

Do you recognize God as your Father in Christ Jesus? Can you freely call out to him in prayer or in need “Abba, Father!” This is the work of the Blessed Spirit of Jesus! (Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:15; 8:26). Give thanks for His grace and power.

Do you have communion with the Father and the Son? Do you desire to pray and seek after God in Christ? (Matt. 7:7; Eph. 2:18). This is the work of the Blessed Spirit of Jesus! (John 16:14-15; 1 Jo. 1:3; Phil. 2:1; 2 Cor. 13:14). Give thanks for His grace and power.

Do you have joy and peace in believing? Who has brought you that peace with God in Christ that passes all understanding and comprehension? This is the work of the Blessed Spirit of Jesus! (Rom. 15:13; Phil. 4:7; Rom. 14:17; Jude 20). Give thanks for His grace and power.

Is the Spirit at work in you? Is the Spirit at work at KCPC? Give thanks and seek the LORD Jesus Christ who is full of the Spirit for us!

Suggested Hymn: ‘For Your Gift of God the Spirit’ -339

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Biggs

From Your Pastor: Presbyterian Pentecostal Outpourings: Revival and the Reformed Tradition

Reformed teacher Robert Davis Smart asks an important and pointed question in the book Pentecostal Outpourings: Revival and the Reformed Tradition: “What Presbyterian today is there who prays for the outpouring of God’s Spirit?”[1] Let us prayerfully consider his question. Is there anything particularly unusual about having the words “Pentecostal” and “Reformed” in the same title of a book made up of Reformed scholars teaching on the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in revival? Though the term “Pentecostal” has been abused by well-meaning Christians, it is actually a biblical term that should be used more often by scholars, pastors, and laypersons in the Reformed tradition.

We should be reminded that “Pentecostal” simply refers to Christ, who is the Source of all Holy-Spiritual benefits and blessings for His Church. We who are confessional and Reformed, who seek to be Christocentric (Christ-centered) in our emphasis on the Person and Work of Christ, should understand that “Pentecostal” first and foremost refers to the Source of all power and blessings on God’s people as the Ascended-Enthroned Christ continues His work in and through us to the ends of the world (Acts 2:33-41; Matt. 28:18-20).[2] The book Pentecostal Outpourings is an outstanding book of essays by various scholars, pastors, and teachers in the Reformed Tradition to “promote the knowledge of God, the gospel of Christ, and the great outpourings of the Spirit through a variety of Reformed authors reflecting and applying historical and biblical lessons for today’s Christian leader”.[3]

What are genuine revivals? Revivals are genuine movements or outpourings of the Spirit upon the Church when God does a mighty work above His normal working through the ordinary means of grace (preaching, sacraments). It is important to note that a revival is foremost the “sovereign, extraordinary, saving activity of the Holy Spirit and is characterized by an intense sense of God’s presence.”[4] Yet a revival can be confused with “revivalism”. A revival refers to the genuine and sovereign work of God’s Spirit in contrast to the counterfeit work of man in “revivalism”.[5] To use a popular distinction: Revival is “prayed down”, through humility and faithfulness to God’s means of grace in the Church; Revivalism is “worked up”, through the plans, powers, and techniques of man to produce certain quantifiable results.[6] As Pastor Eifion Evans wrote helpfully, revivalism tends to deny “God’s sovereignty and providential order”, and the essentially “inward nature of regeneration and substitutes an outward profession or response for the evidence of a transformed lifestyle.”[7]

Revivalism has at least three important characteristics: 1) It is man-centered. The focus is a man-centered “decisionism” rather than the preaching of Christ, His Person and work; 2) It is “worked up” through emotions. There is a focus on entertainment, particularly in emotional and sentimental music; 3) It tends toward individualism away from a visible, orthodox congregation of saints. There is a separation from, and sometimes complete neglect of the visible church, the importance of church membership, and the important submission to pastor-elders.

We should note that the experience of God’s love, and true emotions of joy and praise of God are important, and are legitimate responses to revival, but these must always be tethered to God’s Word. The Spirit works through His word. Therefore, the reactions and experiences of folks to the Holy Spirit, like the revival itself, must always be tethered to God’s holy, breathed-out Word. We must see to it that genuine revival never devolves into revivalism. Though there are abuses and misunderstandings, true and genuine revival ought to be sought out by those in the Reformed tradition. In fact, Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) commented that

“There is no subject which is of greater importance to the Christian church at the present time than that of revival. It should be the theme of our constant meditation, preaching and prayers.”[8]

The book Pentecostal Outpourings defines a genuine revival specifically as the time when the “presence of God’s Spirit has been experienced by His people in a particularly powerful way.[9] Additionally, a genuine revival represents

The powerful work of the Holy Spirit in which there is recovered a new awareness of the holiness of God among His people. This heightened knowledge brings in a new season of the conviction of sin, which, in turn, leads to heartrending repentance. This lowly humility ushers in an awakened love for Christ. Believers begin to pursue personal holiness. Love for other believers intensifies. The gospel spreads like wildfire. Sinners are brought to faith in Christ, and the church is enlarged and empowered.[10]

Note the characteristics of a genuine revival here. If KCPC experienced a genuine revival, what would it look like? Both personally (individually) and corporately (as a congregation), because of the Holy Spirit’s powerful working, there would be a deeper awareness of God’s holiness and character. This would produce a greater fear, awe, and reverence for God. This deeper awareness of God would cause us to see more clearly the depths of our depravity and need for more Christ, and a deeper repentance. More particularly, a “heartrending” repentance because we would be sorry not merely for the consequences of our sins, but because our sins offend God and hurt others. There would be a deep, spiritual humility that would love Christ more, and desire to be holy, gentle, more like Him. This would cause us to overflow in love for one another, and more of a concern for the souls of men, that would cause the gospel to spread. The church would grow both spiritually and numerically.

In times of true revival in church history, it was not the opposition to the revivals that were as problematic as the so-called “friends” of the revival. One tremendous problem of revivals in church history has been the problem of a counterfeiting of the Spirit’s holy work.[11] Revivals have been criticized in church history because of emotionalism, and because personal testimony time could replace the preaching of God’s Word, and sound, biblical exposition.[12] Furthermore, revivals could be too “emotionally driven” and downplay the good of denominational distinctions, “watering down” theological truths.[13] Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), sometimes called the “Theologian of Revival”, was mightily used by God’s Spirit as a minister of the First Great Awakening in North America (ca. 1730s-40s). Edwards is remembered for faithfully defending revival on two fronts: (1) The rejection of fanaticism (or “friends” of revival) and, (2) Anti-revivalism (“opposers” of revival, or those suspect of all revivals). Edwards’ revival theology was to encourage ministers and churches to seek God for more “outpourings of the Spirit”, and to defend this as a Presbyterian credenda (something believed and confessed) and agenda (something done, or lived out).[14] Edwards rightly warned critics of genuine revival when he said, “To oppose a genuine revival is to oppose God Himself”.[15]

Against both counterfeit fanaticism and anti-revivalism, Edwards wrote that a genuine and true revival could be recognized by a few important characteristics:

  1. Christ-centered: True revival makes much of Jesus Christ, not a focus on self;
  2. Humble, Other-worldliness: True revival operates against Satan, the world, and the flesh;
  3. Use of Means of Grace: In true revival there is a higher regard for Scripture and preaching;
  4. Witness and Seal of the Spirit: The Spirit of truth witnesses to genuine revival’s validity;
  5. Personally, Congregationally, Culturally Transformative: A change of heart evidences itself in love to God and others (this has societal and cultural implications).[16]

Prayer is of utmost importance for revival. The grand object of prayer is to be that the Holy Spirit may be poured down on our ministers and churches, that sinners may be converted, the saints edified, the interest of religion revived, and the name of God glorified. Prayer, because it is a weapon common to all who are friends of truth and holiness, is one sphere in which Christians can present a fully united front against Satan.[17] Jonathan Edwards wrote concerning the importance of prayer:

When God is about to bestow some great blessing on His church, it is often His manner in the first place, so to order things in His providence as to show His church their great need of it, and to bring them into distress for want of it, and so put them upon earnestly crying to Him for it.[18]

Edwards’ pastoral-theological instinct was “simply to prayerfully seek and expect from God ‘outpourings of the Holy Spirit’ as the central means of spreading Christianity until the Consummation”.[19]

We ought to pray for revival as Reformed folks at KCPC. In fact, without true and genuine revival, we can never be continually reforming as we necessarily need to be doing! The main point of this fine book Pentecostal Outpourings is that both true reformation and genuine revival should be part of the Reformed church experience. Let us at KCPC be characterized by faith and prayer, and particularly faith in prayer, and more particularly faithful prayer to God for the Sovereign working of God’s Spirit. True revival will never depend upon techniques and the self-centered works of men. We must seek God for outpourings of His Spirit, while remaining ever faithful to the preaching of God’s Word, and the means of grace He has graciously provided for His church to accomplish the mission He has given us. Let us pray and wait upon God to bring revival. Let us be full of hopeful expectation, while acknowledging God’s sovereign Spirit and perfect timing.  Further reformation will hopefully come through revival as we pray that God’s Spirit would be pleased to grant us His power and grace.

As God’s people at KCPC, let us prayerfully and discerningly remember that though Pentecostalism and revivalism are counterfeits, and therefore not from God, we do not want to overreact to the terms Pentecost, Pentecostal, or Revival, and so prejudice ourselves against, or perhaps oppose the legitimate and genuine work of God’s Spirit. Let us remember the warning of Edwards that to oppose true revival is to oppose God. Yet let us seek a true Christian experience rooted in God’s Word, bathed in prayer, filled with the Spirit, and let us desire the pure fruits of the Holy Spirit as we live out our lives. Let us be thankful to God for revival, as we wait upon the LORD through faithful ministry and prayer.

Let us pray for revival, dearly beloved! Only God can grant genuine revival to us, our larger presbytery, denomination, and other faithful, Gospel-preaching churches in our community. Amen and amen.


In Christ’s love, and for a Presbycostal Revival and Reformation! Amen and amen.

Pastor Biggs



[1] Robert Davis Smart, Michael A. G. Haykin, Ian Hugh Clary, eds. Pentecostal Outpourings: Revival and the Reformed Tradition (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2016), Kindle Loc. 3545. Note: I also used the Kindle version of this book. Location numbers rather than page numbers will be used in footnotes if I’m referring to Kindle version.

[2] Perhaps “Presbycostal” would be a helpful term?

[3] Ibid., x.

[4] Ibid., 18.

[5] Kindle Loc. 2787.

[6] Kindle Loc. 1239.

[7] Ibid., 19.

[8] Ibid., vii, from forward by Steve Lawson.

[9] Kindle Loc. 707.

[10] Ibid., vii.

[11] Kindle Loc. 806.

[12] Kindle Loc. 1128.

[13] Kindle Loc. 1144, 1216. In fact, it was the excess, emotionalism, watering down of theological truths, and undermining of the local church and her ministry in some of the so-called revivals that caused the Presbyterians to split between Old and New School divisions in 1837. Old School Presbyterians who opposed revivals were concerned about what they observed to be merely city organizing and marketing and celebrities being used with revival techniques outside the authority of regional presbyteries, and incorporating a mixture of theologies and an element of entertainment. As a pastor who would be theologically and ideologically characterized as an Old School Presbyterian, I nevertheless, believe true and genuine revivals are most important for the church. We should be concerned about the counterfeits, but seek for the authentic and genuine revivals of God’s Spirit.

[14] Kindle Loc. 3150.

[15] Kindle Loc. 4109.

[16] Kindle Loc. 4099.

[17] Kindle Loc. 2049, 2109.

[18] Kindle Loc. 4147.

[19] Kindle Loc. 3116.

From Your Pastor: Richard Sibbes on “Entertaining the Holy Spirit”

There is nothing good in man by nature (Rom. 3:10-23). The Holy Spirit is sent from the risen-ascended Christ to make believing men good (Acts 2:33-36). The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to come and live within believers and to conform them to Christ’s likeness (Rom. 8:29). The Holy Spirit is particularly the “Spirit of Holiness” (cf. Rom. 1:4); Christ’s Spirit is the cause of all holiness in the believer.

Richared Sibbes (1577-1635) wrote “That attribute the Spirit delights in is that of holiness, which our corrupt nature least delights in and most opposeth.”[1] Man was created by God with a desire by nature for holiness, and a desire for happiness. After the fall of man into sin and rebellion against God man still seeks after happiness, but the desire for holiness has been extinguished.[2] The Spirit of Christ comes to dwell in believers to oppose the flesh and fallen nature of man to produce Christ-likeness that brings deep and lasting happiness to the believer.

Sibbes wrote, “Let us labor to be in Christ that we may get the Spirit. It is of great necessity that we should have it (“Him”). Above all things next to redemption by Christ, labor for the Spirit of Christ, Sibbes persuaded believers.”[3] Sibbes taught that the primary ministry of the Spirit of Christ was to enlighten believer’s minds, to soften their hearts, to quicken their wills to faith and action, and to sanctify God’s people.[4] The Spirit’s ministry is a sanctifying ministry, but wonderfully relational as well. God communicates Himself to believers, and believers through the Spirit communicate their hearts back to Him. Without Christ, there could be no Holy Spirit for the believer; without the Spirit there could be no union with Christ and enjoyment of His benefits. Without the Spirit, there could be no real communion with God in Christ.

All the communion that Christ as man had with God was by the Holy Ghost; and all the communion that God hath with us, and we with God, is by the Holy Ghost: for the Spirit is the bond of union between Christ and us, and between God and us.[5]

Sibbes wrote that “God communicates Himself to us by His Spirit, and we communicate with God by His Spirit. God does all in us by His Spirit, and we do all back again to God by His Spirit.[6] Sibbes wrote: “There is nothing in the world so great and sweet a friend that will do us so much good as the Spirit, if we give Him entertainment.”[7]

The Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son to conform believers to the obedience of Christ as a Holy friend with whom to walk and talk in fellowship together. So for Sibbes, “entertaining the Spirit” is being careful and cautious not to grieve the Spirit of God (cf. Eph. 4:30). To put it positively, “entertaining the Spirit” is to subject ourselves to Christ as Lord and kind king as believers. It is treating the Spirit as a kind friend as well as a king (cf. Malachi 1:6) who has brought glorious and holy fellowship from the Father and the Son to redeemed sinners (cf. 2 Cor. 13:14). Sibbes wrote summarizing his understanding of entertaining the Spirit:

…There is the obedience of faith, and the obedience of life. When the soul is wrought to obedience, to believe, and to be directed by God, then the Holy Spirit is given in a farther measure still. The Holy Ghost is given to them that obey, to them that do not resist the Spirit of God….the Spirit is given to them that obey the sweet motions of it…If we have the Spirit of Christ, let us labor to subject ourselves unto it. When we have any good motion by the ministry of the Word, or by conference, or by reading good things (as holy things have a savor in them…)…Oh, give way to the motions of God’s Spirit! (my emphasis)[8]

The obedience that the Holy Spirit equips believers with is no mere morality, or outward show of behavior resulting in hypocrisy, but an inward disposition of particularly “cheerful obedience”. The believer is to be stirred up by the Spirit, motivated by the love of God in Christ that will encourage her to obey the Savior who has loved them and laid down His life for them. Sibbes was cautious to avoid bare moralism that was an unbiblical error of his time. Sibbes emphasized that believers’ love because they have first been loved by God in Christ (cf. 1 John 4:11-19). Sibbes wrote pastorally for believers to understand that the love of God must be the believer’s motivation in all that they do for God if it be true, Christian obedience:

Whatsoever we do else, if it be not stirred by the Spirit, apprehending the love of God in Christ, it is but morality…What are all our performances if they be not out of love to God? And how shall we love God except we be persuaded that he loves us first? …The gospel breeds love in us to God…working a blessed frame of sanctification, whereby we are disposed to every good duty.[9]

“Let the Spirit dwell and rule in us,” captures in summary what it mean for Sibbes for believers to entertain the Spirit of God.[10] Sibbes sweetly called the Spirit the “Blessed Lodger that ever we entertained in all of our lives.”[11] For Sibbes, that entertaining meant to welcome with hospitality and nurture our friendship with the indwelling Spirit.” This relationship with the Holy Spirit as the believer’s holy guest was subject to a deepening and ever-intensifying growth in the love and peace of God. The more the believer seeks to let the Spirit guide, comfort, conform, edify, and guard the soul from sinning, Christ will desire by His Spirit to develop the believer’s soul more maturely and deeply (Eph. 3:17-19). Sibbes wrote, “Christ desires further entertainment in his church’s heart and affection, that he might lodge and dwell there.”[12]

Entertaining the Holy Spirit also meant for Sibbes a further subduing of sinful corruption in the soul, and an enlarging of God’s grace and comfort in the heart:

Let us remember that grace is increased, in the exercise of it, not by virtue of the exercise itself, but as Christ by his Spirit flows into the soul and brings us nearer to himself, the fountain, so instilling such comfort that the heart is further enlarged. The heart of a Christian is Christ’s garden, and his graces are as so many sweet spices and flowers which, when his Spirit blows upon them, send forth a sweet savor…Therefore keep the soul open to entertain the Holy Ghost , for he will bring in continually fresh forces to subdue corruption, and this most of all on the Lord’s day (my emphasis).[13]

Because the souls of believers are still contaminated by sin (Rom. 7:7-25), they are to trust Christ to further subdue the corruption, thus enlarging the believer’s heart, and making the soul a more pleasant and holy place for Christ to dwell. This is to be obtained by prayer to God in Jesus’ name. Entertaining the Spirit meant for Sibbes never to grieve the Holy Spirit of Christ (cf. Eph. 4:30). Sibbes plead with God’s people: “Oh give him entrance and way to come into his own chamber, as it were to provide a room for himself.”[14] Believers can grieve the Spirit when they resist his teaching, direction, strengthening, and/or comfort from Him.[15] When believers receive the delight and comfort brought to them by the Spirit, they entertain his motions of grace and comfort toward them, but when they refuse Him, they grieve Him, and sin against Him.[16] Sibbes taught realistically that the best of believers are prone to grieve the Spirit. Believers who have the Spirit of God within them know experientially that there is an enmity within and without against the workings of the Spirit.[17]

Sibbes taught that believers should remember that the Spirit is a Spirit of Holiness and so he “is grieved with unclean courses, with unclean motions and words and actions.”[18] The Spirit is a Spirit of Love and so he is grieved when believers cherish malice or corruption against other Christians. “He will not rest in a malicious heart who is the Spirit of Love.”[19] There must not be any rottenness or malice that is practiced and performed in the hearts of believers. The Spirit is a Spirit of Humility and wheresover He is, there is humility. Those that are filled with vain and high thoughts, proud conceits, and self-centeredness grieve the Spirit of God (cf. James 4:6-8).[20] The Spirit of God is especially grieved by spiritual wicked sins such as pride and high-mindedness, perhaps even more so offended than by sins against the body, Sibbes taught. Grieving the Spirit can also be a disregard of a well-informed, Biblically-enriched conscience. Sins against conscience can grieve this wonderful Spirit if Christ, and “lay a clog upon Him” as Sibbes says colorfully.[21]

The primary goal of the Christian life is to please Christ (2 Cor. 5:9-10), and to enjoy comfort in Him, being equipped with gifts for loving service by the Holy Spirit.[22] We can grieve the Spirit and not properly entertain His sweet and comforting work in and through us when we are distracted by worldly things, and prefer creaturely, created things, more than “His motions leading us to holiness and happiness”.[23] When the mind is troubled with much (as Martha in Luke 10:38-42), then the Spirit is grieved. Especially in our time, believers ought to heed the wisdom of Sibbes here:

…When the soul is like a mill [or loud industrial warehouse], where one cannot hear another, the noise is such as takes away all intercourse. It diminishes of our respect to the Holy Spirit when we give way to a multitude of business (what we would call “busyness”); for multitude of business (“busyness”) begets multitude of passions and distractions; that when God’s Spirit dictates the best things that tend to our comfort and peace, we have no time to heed what the Spirit advises. Therefore we should so moderate our occasions and affairs, that we may be always ready for good suggestions. If a man will be lost, let him lose himself in Christ and in the things of heaven…(my emphasis).[24]

Because the primary office of the Spirit is to “set out Christ, and the favor and mercy of God in Christ,”[25] let believers never slight the good news of Christ in the Gospel. Let God’s people receive God’s grace in Christ as He is held out to them, especially in preaching. Sibbes counseled that eagerness to hear God’s Word preached by God’s called, gifted and ordained ambassadors was a primary way to make “way for God in the heart” and so he said: “Give [the preachers] entertainment.”[26] Sibbes emphasized not only the work of the Spirit within the believer, but the Spirit’s work through the means appointed by God, particularly preaching.

More on Richard Sibbes in the weeks to come… More on preaching and the Spirit of God…

Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) was affectionately known as the “Sweet Dropper” as a Puritan preacher.[27] He has been distinguished among the Puritans as the “Heavenly” Dr. Sibbes because he was famous for his affective spirituality.[28] Affective spirituality is a focus on the affections or the desires as they are transformed by the Spirit of God motivating believers to joyful obedience in Christ.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs



[1] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:412

[2] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:413

[3] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:212

[4] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:413

[5] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:17

[6] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:17-18

[7] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:431

[8] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:24-25

[9] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:24

[10] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:25

[11] Sibbes, A Description of Christ in Works, I:25

[12] Sibbes, Bowels Opened in Works, II:58

[13] Sibbes, The Bruised Reed in Works, I:75

[14] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:236

[15] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:415; Sibbes gave advice on specifically how to avoid the grieving of the Spirit. 1. Let believers submit our souls entirely to the Spirit of God as Divine Governor. 2. Let believers walk perfectly (“precisely”) in obeying the Spirit in all things.

[16] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:415

[17] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:414

[18] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:236

[19] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:237

[20] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:237

[21] Sibbes, Excellency of the Gospel in Works, IV:237

[22] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:414

[23] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:416

[24] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:422

[25] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:420

[26] Sibbes, A Fountain Sealed in Works, V:426

[27] Packer, J. I. A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), 179.

[28] Kapic, Kelly M. and Gleason, Randall C., Edited. The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 79.

From Your Pastor: Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 31

Question: WSC 31  What is effectual calling?

Answer: Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit,(1) whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery,(2) enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ,(3) and renewing our wills,(4) he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.(5) (1)2 Tim 1:9; 2 Thess. 2:13,14 (2)Acts 2:37 (3)Acts 26:18 (4)Ezek. 36:26,27 (5)John 6:44,45; Phil. 2:13


Scripture Memory: “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30).


An Explanation: God calls sinners to Himself with a general call as well as a specifically effectual call. Both are the works of God’s Spirit. The general call is a work of God’s Spirit in the sphere of common grace and this call can be resisted by sinners (Acts 5:33; 7:51-54). The effectual call is a work of God’s Spirit in the sphere of special grace that always results in powerfully making dead and sinful hearts alive (Ezek. 36:26-27; Eph. 2:4-6), and beginning the work of restoring the image of God in man in the sinner’s union with Christ (Col. 3:10; Acts 2:37-39). Effectual calling can be illustrated in Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead. Until Jesus called Lazarus, he was dead and unable to respond to Jesus’ call. Once Jesus called Him, the dead Lazarus could not resist (cf. John 6:44), for the Spirit had made Him alive, and thus He willingly responded to His master’s voice (John 11:40-43; cf. John 10:4).


God the Father particularly calls sinners by the Spirit through the Gospel (Rom. 1:16; 2 Th. 2:13-14). As the Apostle Paul testifies of the power of God through the Gospel: “…Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began…” (2 Tim. 1:9). Effectual calling is a work of God’s Spirit that is not because of our works, but because of God’s “own purpose and grace” in Christ Jesus. The effectual call is completely the initiating and sovereign work of God, but sinners truly respond to this call. Note four things that the Spirit of God does in this work of effectual calling.


The Spirit convinces sinners of our sin and misery (John 16:8-11). We are convicted of our sins, and realize our need for a Savior (Acts 2:37: “What shall we do?”). The Spirit enlightens our minds (Acts 26:18; 1 Cor. 2:10,12; Eph. 1:17,18).  The natural man does not understand the things of God; the unregenerate sinner is blinded to the glory of God and “darkened in their understanding” (Eph. 4:18). The enlightening work of the Spirit is described in this way: “…To open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18; cf. 2 Cor. 4:6).


The Spirit renews our wills (Ezek. 11:19; Phil. 2:13; Deut. 30:6; Ezek. 37:27). By nature our wills are in bondage and slavery to sin and Satan (Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 6:16-18). The Spirit frees our wills by His power, so that we will freely choose the grace held out to us in the Gospel of Jesus (Phil. 2:13: “…To will and to work for His good pleasure”). The Spirit works powerfully in granting us freedom and we respond with the obedience of faith and repentance (Rom. 1:5; 16:26; cf. Acts 5:31-32): “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18). The Spirit persuades and enables us to embrace Jesus Christ offered in the Gospel. This is real Holy-Spiritual power! The apostle describes it as “…The immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might…” (Eph. 1:19). (John 6:44,45; Ps. 110:3; John 6:37; Rom. 6:16-18).


A Prayer: Father, you predestined me from the foundation of the world. You sent your beloved Son to accomplish my redemption through His blood. In real history, you come by your Spirit to apply that completed redemption on my behalf and effectually call me to yourself by your Sovereign power. Let me live in your love, and dependent upon your power. Amen.


In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Biggs


Be Filled with the Spirit

Pentecost was a once-for-all, unique, redemptive-historical, unrepeatable act of the Risen-Ascended Christ in sending forth His Spirit (John 7:37-39; Acts 1:5; 2:33-36). Pentecost was the coming of Christ to His Church as the life-giving Spirit at a new stage of redemptive-history (Acts 2:33-36; cf. 1 Cor. 15:45). Pentecost can be no more repeated than the death and resurrection of Christ can be a repeatable event. Pentecost and the first few stages or phases of the event that are recorded in Acts is not a paradigm for all believers to experience individually, but a pattern to note how the Spirit was poured out upon the Body of Christ in redemptive-history by the Risen-Ascended Christ and spread from Israel to the nations.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).

Dr. Luke’s important stress throughout the Book of Acts is on how the apostolic gospel spreads from Mt. Zion in Jerusalem to Israel on the Day of Pentecost to the nations, or “to the ends of the earth” as the Old Testament prophets foretold (Psa. 2:8; 22:27; 72:8; Isa. 2:2-5; 5:26; 45:22; 52:10; cf. Acts 28:28:31). The events recorded in Acts 8, 10-11, and 19 are “extensions,” “expansions,” or “stages” of the once-for-all Day of Pentecost through the foundational ministry of the apostles: “…Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets…the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:18-22).

The Apostles, the newly reformed, reconstituted Israel received the promised gift of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, then they were used as Christ’s instruments of blessings to give the life-giving blessings of the Spirit to the believing remnant in Jerusalem, then to Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (even Old Covenant believers who had not heard of the full work of Jesus and the Spirit heard the complete news of redemption, and received the Spirit (see Ephesians 18:24-19:5). The Book of Acts emphasizes that because of Pentecost, the Church is the Body of Christ made up of Jews, Gentiles, slave, free, male, female, and all are one in Christ (cf. Gal. 3:26-29). The blessings made to Abraham have now gone to the nations; Abraham has become more fully the “Father of many nations” (cf. Gen. 12:1-3; Gal. 3:14, 16, 29).

Now believers who receive Christ, receive the fullness of His Spirit, and are baptized in the Spirit upon conversion or regeneration.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free- and all were made to drink of one Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13).

We must make clear that the baptism of the Spirit takes place for each member at the time of being incorporated into the one body of Christ, at the time of saving inclusion within the covenant community in regeneration, and not at some time subsequent to that saving incorporation. Christ baptizes all believers with the fullness of His Spirit through faith. All believers are sealed unto the day of redemption by Christ’s Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). All believers are the “dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22) and the temple of God in which the Spirit and Glory of God dwells (1 Cor. 3:16). Dr. Sinclair Ferguson writes that “…Pentecost (or the Acts as a whole) provides us not with a two-stage paradigm for personal experience of the Spirit, but rather that at the point of faith we participate individually in the effect of the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.”

There are importance applications and implications for believers today.[1] Dr. Richard Gaffin makes an important distinction between understanding the eschatological dimension of Pentecost that was once-and-for-all (historia salutis, an event in the history of salvation) and the individual-experiential dimension (ordo salutis, the order we receive the blessings of redemption) that we continue to enjoy as Christians united to Jesus Christ. To think more about the individual-experiential, ongoing dimension of Pentecost in the believers’ lives, let us think particularly about the signs on the Day of Pentecost and what they symbolize for Christians as the work of the Spirit in us because of what Christ has accomplished.

Although the signs and wonders of Pentecost have passed away, the meaning of the signs have not. On the Day of Pentecost there was wind, or the very “breathing” of the life of God into His body (cf. Ezek. 37:5-9), there was the light of fire that rested above the disciples’ heads (Mal. 3:2-3; Exo. 3:2; Heb. 12:28-29), and there were the languages that they spoke to God and one another (Acts 2:1-4). What are the meanings behind the signs that we should understand as Christians today?

Life (Wind/Breath): God gives believers His life in the Spirit in our union with Christ. This is the full and abundant New Covenant life that was not possible until Jesus Christ had fully completed His work of sinners in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. In Christ, by the Spirit, the Father makes us alive (Eph. 2:1-10). He breathes into us His life to live for Him, and to live abundantly and joyfully in the Spirit (cf. John 20:21-23). “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11; also Rom. 8:2, 6, 10). This life is given to believers to live for Christ in union with Christ. This is abundant life that is nourished by the reservoir of grace found in Christ; apart from Christ we can do nothing, produce nothing living and good to the glory of God (John 1:16-18; 15:1ff; Rom. 8:5-11).

Light (Fire): God gives us light to purify us, to consume our dross, but to also enlighten our minds to the truths of Scripture (Eph. 1:18; Heb. 6:4; 10:32). God gives light to warm our hearts to know more deeply His love for us in Christ and be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:16-19). The Apostle Paul prays for believers to have illumination by the Spirit to know who they are in Christ, to experience the deep love of God the Father found in Christ Jesus through the Spirit in our inner being (Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21).

Language (Tongues): While the languages of Pentecost as signs and wonders to testify to a new epoch of redemptive-history were necessary in the transitional time between the Old and New Covenants, they are no longer necessary now as the complete, inspired Scriptures have been written and given to God’s people. But what these languages pointed to are still important to us. The two important aspects of these Spirit-given languages were for worship and witness. The worship of God in Spirit and truth through transformed hearts (John 4:24; Jer. 31:31-34; cf. 1 Cor. 14:1-5), and the witness within the community in building one another up in the truths of Scripture, and the witness to the world in the good news of salvation.

We see the glorious use of these Spirit-given “love” languages particularly in the Apostle Paul’s writings. Paul often stresses to speak to one another to encourage and especially to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15, 25-32, 1 Cor. 12:7; 14:5; cf. Acts 9:31). Isn’t encouraging, humble, holy, honest speech a wonderful and glorious working of God’s Spirit?! The Apostle Paul refers to the ongoing work of the Spirit and the implications of Pentecost in the believers’ life not as a second blessing, but as a continual need to seek to be filled with the Spirit of God. The Apostle Paul teaches the churches to be “filled with the Spirit”, which can also be said as being filled with God’s Word. The Spirit works so closely in and through the Word of God that it is important to note this.

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Eph. 5:18-20). “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:16-17).

In both of these important passages, we see the “love” languages given by the Spirit for true worship of God (“…Giving thanks always and for everything…” “…With thankfulness in your hearts to God…”) and to witness (“…Addressing one another in [Scripture]…singing and making melody…” “…Teaching and admonishing one another…”).

So let us as a family at KCPC, united to Jesus Christ by faith, seek to be filled with the Spirit of God because we have received the baptism and full immersion in the Spirit in our union with Jesus Christ by faith!

We should remember that the Spirit of God’s presence is not known first and foremost through a feeling (although feelings should and do accompany). The Spirit of God’s presence is known first and foremost from His blessed fruit and His holy effects on one’s life (Gal. 5:16-25; cf. John 3:8: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit”). What are the blessed fruits and holy effects of the Spirit in your life? In the life of your family? In our congregation at KCPC? These fruits and effects of Christ’s Spirit will reveal Christ’s life in us to others, causing us to hate the sin that remains in us, and to desire more holiness (Christ-likeness) (Rom. 7:11-25); to desire humility in our worship to God and service to one another, and to cultivate honesty before God and others. These fruits and effects of Christ’s Spirit will be seen in our learning to walk as Jesus walked (imperfectly, yet sincerely by His Spirit):

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call…

Let us pray to be filled with the Spirit, and learn some helpful hints as to how from Dr. John Harvey.


Helpful Hints on how to be filled with the Spirit of God (by John Harvey)[2]

  1. Make certain that your heart is wholly (sincerely) devoted to God (Deut. 6:5; 11:11-13; 30:6; Psa. 31:23; 111:1; 116:1; 119:2, 10, 34, 69, 145; Jer. 24:7; Matt. 22:37; Luke 10:27; 2 Cor. 6:16; 1 Jo. 5:21).
  2. Determine not to compromise your walk with God (Psa. 119:1-8; Phil. 1:21; 2 Cor. 5:-10, 14-15).
  3. Be sensitive to and repentant over sin (Psa. 130; 139: 23-24; 1 Jo. 1:8-2:2; 2 Cor. 7:10-11).
  4. Be faithful in the little things (Matt. 25:14-23).
  5. Remember who gets the glory! (Rom. 11:33-36; Psa. 115:1).
  6. Devote yourselves to prayer (Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18-20).
  7. Keep your eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:1-2).


For Further Reading and Study

Intermediate: A Theology of the Holy Spirit – Frederick Dale Bruner / Beginner: Anointed with the Spirit and Power: The Holy Spirit’s Empowering Presence (Explorations in Biblical Theology) – John Harvey / Intermediate: Perspectives on Pentecost – Richard Gaffin, Jr. / Intermediate: The Holy Spirit – John Owen / Advanced: The Holy Spirit (Contours of Christian Theology) – Sinclair B. Ferguson

[1] As Dr. Ferguson writes: “…While Pentecost is also once for all time in character, implications of the baptism of the Spirit which took place on that occasion overflow the banks of that Day and flow on, down through the centuries. Just as the blood of Christ cleanses men and women from every tribe, tongue, people and nation (Rev. 5:9), so the Spirit flows from the riven side of Christ on Pentecost into Jerusalem, and from there spreads throughout Judea, gathering momentum on to Samaria and indeed to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8).”

[2] Remember that while these are helpful hints, and they are biblical, we must nevertheless always remember the sovereignty of God in His Spirit’s working (cf. John 3:3-8). Though there are ways we can prepare, and seek God, we must always be willing to wait upon the LORD. But seek Him we must because of both the command and the privilege! Amen.