Saturday, May 2, 2009

Gordon Fee on the Holy Spirit 5

Having just finished Gordon Fee's, God's Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul, I thought it might be cool to do a series of posts featuring quotes from the book on the Holy Spirit.

In this passage, Fee is introducing Spirit theology in the Book of Galatians. He mentions Galatians 6:8, “because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit” (NET). He also discusses Galatians 5:18–24:

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God! But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (NET)
Fee writes:

But for Paul all is not automatic. One must sow to the Spirit (6:8) and be led by the Spirit (5:18); indeed, 'if we live [= have been brought to life after the crucifixion of the flesh, v. 24] by the Spirit,' we must therefore also 'accordingly behave by the Spirit' (v. 25). Thus the Spirit not only stands at the beginning of Christian existence, but is the key ingredient to Paul's understanding of the whole of that existence. Accordingly, the final argument (5:13–6:10) becomes one of the most significant in the corpus for our understanding of Pauline ethics as Spirit-empowered Christ-likeness lived out in Christian community as loving servanthood. (370)
Fee makes the great point that even though the Holy Spirit is the sole cause of spiritual growth in the Christian (he calls it “Spirit-empowered Christ-likeness”), all is not automatic. The believer is called to “sow to the Spirit” and “live according to the Spirit.”

In my spiritual life class, I used gardening as an illustration. There is nothing that we can do to “make” a plant grow. Plants grow according to the wonder of Creation. However, there is much we can do to sabotage a plant’s growth. Without water, proper sunlight, and good soil, a plant isn’t going to grow. Likewise, we have a responsibility to make sure that we are getting plenty of water, sunlight and soil so that the Holy Spirit can work in us for Christ-likeness.

What do you think of the analogy and Fee’s description of spiritual growth as “Spirit-empowered Christ-likeness lived out in Christian community as loving servanthood”?

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