When I reflect back on our wedding ceremony I get a little pit in my stomach about the text we gave the pastor to speak on. Having done many weddings over the years I don’t think I have ever had as difficult of one as we gave him.
Patty and I both attended a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp in high school and the theme was 1 Peter 2:21:
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.”
We both loved the “In His Steps” part but the whole context of the passage is about suffering, not the nicest theme for a marriage. Maybe we should have picked the “love chapter,” 1 Cor. 13.
But our journey of the Simple Gospel will indeed lead us to following in the suffering footprints of Jesus, to “be conformed into His likeness” (Rom. 8:29). I don’t know about you but I can identify with Paul when he says, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out,” (Rom. 7:18).
Once again, we have the Good News of the Simple Gospel. The same Spirit who showed us our sin, opened our eyes to the gift of grace given to us in Christ’s death and resurrection, has given us faith to receive it. The same Spirit enables us to no longer be orphans, but rather sons and daughter of the King! And because of this adoption we can cry out “Abba Father” or my “Beloved Father.” This is the same Spirit who helps us to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This same Spirit is evident at the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water the Holy Spirit filled Him up and the Father’s love was revealed by a shout from heaven. And after that fresh filling of love, Jesus was led into the wilderness for 40 days to fight temptation and to come out victorious to begin His ministry.
Before Jesus ascended into heaven He told His disciples that the only way to follow in His Steps was to wait for the gift of the Father. Don’t do anything until the Spirit comes upon you and fills you with courage through the Father’s love (Acts 1:8). Undoubtedly the book of Acts is a testimony to the Spirit filling weak followers with the power of Christ in them.
Warning: The Simple Gospel leads to a path of suffering. Our battle with sin, Satan, and the world will get intense. But we are offered the gift of the Holy Spirit-who testifies with our spirit-that Christ and the Father make their home in us and therefore “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us,” (Rom. 8:37).
How do we live in the power of the Holy Spirit?
The answer: Die to self! Paul teaches that because of the gift of the Simple Gospel daily we can climb up on the altar and “present ourselves as living sacrifices…which is our spiritual act of worship,” (Rom. 12:1-2).
Dying to self is when we truly know our sinful hearts, know our weakness and inadequacies and cry out in prayer to the Father, “I can’t do this, I’m empty I need a fresh filling of your Holy Spirit.”
The Spirit is waiting for your cry!
The Spirit is attracted to and loves to fill the weakest of vessels who cry out to the Father for help.
And since the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us, He will fill you so that even in your weakness you are able to follow in His Steps! His glory and honor will enable you to encounter “joy unspeakable and be full of glory!”