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What about the Holy Spirit and unbelievers?

Here are some questions about the Holy Spirit.  They were asked by a friend of mine, and I thought I would put them up here to share.

"How involved is the Holy Spirit in the direction and lives of non-believers? If the Spirit fills us only when we are saved by grace through faith (right?), what about those who never come around (either by lack of will or selection)? Is the Spirit acting in their lives?"

Here's what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit's arrival:

7   But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8     When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9     in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10     in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11     and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

John 16:7-11

So one of the Spirit's roles in the "spiritual" life of the unbeliever:  to convict him/her of sin. 

In this passage from Acts, we see that the Holy Spirit is actually responsible for the regeneration of the unbeliever to one that trusts in Christ.

44     While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45     The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.

Acts 10:44-45

Notice that "the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message"  So He's doing it.  Here are some of the main things that the Holy Spirit is involved with:

- The origination and sustenance of the universe

- The origination and sustenance of Jesus' ministry

- The origination and sustenance of our new life in Christ

So the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the unbeliever - convict them of sin and regenerate them.

"Also, at the end of the paper where you review the various cults who have mis-represented the Spirit...what's happening in their lives? I mean, they think they are believers, right?"

What is happening in their lives?  Here's what is happening to them:

3     For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4     They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

2 Timothy 4:3-4

Basically, they have rejected the truth.  As Jesus said, "the truth will set you free".  Free from what?  Their sin.  Since they have rejected the truth about God and about His Son, they have rejected freedom from sin.  "They think they are believers, right?"  Well, let's think about this.  What is a "believer"?  A believer is someone who knows they cannot do anything at all to make it to Heaven, and believe (or trust) in Christ as their only hope of having their sin-debt taken care of.  So I wouldn't say those cult members think of themselves as "believers".  They may believe in God and facts about God, that's head knowledge.  But to actually trust 100% in Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation, they aren't there.  Pray that they would be, but they aren't.  At the end of the day, Paul puts it perfectly...

4     The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:4

They are blinded by Satan.  Nuff said.  God gives them sight.  Who and why?  I'm not sure.  But I definitely can't explain why He chose to give me sight either.  Or you.  But I sure am grateful that He did.  Definitely cause for celebration.  I don't take any credit for knowing the truth.  It all goes to Him.

"Or are we all in the same big pot...all of us either misunderstanding or not taking the Spirit seriously enough? Surely someone out there has it right? JI Packer maybe?"

So we are all in the same pot, as Paul says in Romans 2:

9     What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10     As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11     there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.
12     All have turned away, they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good, not even one.”
13     “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
14     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15     “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     ruin and misery mark their ways,
17     and the way of peace they do not know.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Romans 3:9-18

So we are all in the same pot without Christ.  But with Christ, we are in an entirely new pot.  Indeed, an unbeliever couldn't be further away from Jesus no matter how they tried.  But once we have accepted that Christ is necessary and sufficient to settle our sin-debt, we actually are like Jesus.  What, you say?  Where does it say that?  We are like Jesus?

17     In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
1 John 4:17

Small side note... "confidence on the day of judgement" - o my head cool. Can you imagine being before the Holy Awesome Creator of the Universe with confidence?  You will.

So the short answer is:  if you trust in Christ for eternal life, you "have it right".  You have it just as right as Packer does.  Why?  Because of what the Holy Spirit (God) has done... not because of what you have done.  You don't get to figure anything out, no matter how much it seems like you do.  Nutty.

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