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Rector’s Reading Group – Delighting in the Trinity #5

Thoughts on Chapter 4

1. I thought this chapter set out a great vision for a Spirit-filled life, and as such offers an interesting correction to some well-meaning but perhaps wrong-headed approaches to Christian spirituality. Further discussion (at point 12) after some (11!) quotes:

2. This was a good summary – “Since the problem is with our hearts, the Spirit gives us new birth into a new life precisely by giving us new hearts. The tool he uses is Scripture, but through Scripture he opens our blinded eyes to see who the Lord truly and beautifully is and so he wins our hearts back to him” p. 86.

3. “The life that the Spirit gives is not some abstract thing. In fact, it is not some primarily some thing that he gives at all. The Spirit gives us his very self, that we might know and enjoy him and so enjoy his fellowship with the Father and the Son” p. 87.

4. The gift of the Spirit is how we can answer the charge that the idea of God’s grace leads us to become flippant about personal holiness. Speaking of the dispute between Sadoleto and Calvin, Reeves writes “Sadoleto had fundamentally misunderstood salvation, as if it were something other than being brought to know, love and please a beautifully holy God. For Calvin, salvation was not about getting some thing called grace, it was about freely receiving the Spirit, and so the Father and the Son.” p. 88-89.

5. “Having once given life, then, he doesn’t move on; he stays to make that life blossom and grow” p. 90.

6. “How, though, does the Spirit enlighten us to know the love of God? Quite simply, by opening our eyes to see the glory of Christ.” p. 91.

7. “My new life began when the Spirit first opened my eyes (there’s the light) and won my heart (there’s the heat) to Christ. Then for the first time, I began to enjoy and love Christ as the father has always done” p. 93

8. “The sinful turn from being lovers of God to being lovers of self of course makes us ever more devilishly ugly, ever more self-absorbed and vicious. But by cultivating in us a deepening taste for Christ, the epitome of beauty, the spirit polishes a new humanity who begins to shine with his likeness. We become like what we worship.” p. 93

9. “But the Spirits first work is to set our desires in order, to open our eyes and give us the Father’s own relish for the Son, and the Son’s enjoyment of the Father.” p. 100

10. “His [the Spirit’s] desire (which is the desire of the Father and the Son) is to bring us to such a hearty enjoyment of God through Christ that we delight to know him, that we delight in all his ways, and that therefore we want to do as he wants and we hate the thought of ever grieving him.” p. 101-2

11. “If I don’t enjoy Christ, I wont speak of him. Or perhaps worse, I will, but without love and enjoyment—and if my mouth does give away me heart, people will hear of an unwanted Christ. And who would want that?” p. 107.

12. Reeves’ vision is compelling. He speaks of warmthheatenjoyment, and of loving God. This is the Christian experience we all yearn for, isn’t it? To have a faith that is felt and not just known and assented to. We yearn for it but somehow it feels elusive for many in our church tradition (witness the well-trodden path out of Evangelicalism to Pentecostalism). Yet the process for receiving this kind of spirituality sounds very familiar – the Spirit uses the tool of Scripture to help us see a compelling picture of Jesus. If we are sold on the process and seek to put that process into practice, then why do we evangelicals often complain that church is somewhat frigid? Why is Pentecostalism on the upswing while other denominations seem to struggle?

13. According to what Reeves writes here, Pentecostalism isn’t holding out the right process. The process of focussing on the direct ministry of the Spirit (ie not necessarily through the Scriptures) is not what Reeves prescribes here.

14. So we have an unusual situation: The Penetcostals seem to have arrived at the right place via the wrong means, and the Evangelicals use the right means but arrive at the wrong place. What is going wrong?

15. Could it be that the place the Penetcostals have arrived looks right, but on closer insepection is wrong?

16. Could it be that the process used by the evangelicals looks right, but on closer inspection is wrong?

17. Or could it be that what Reeves prescribes is wrong? Ie he’s setting up a false expectation?

18. We might not be able to do much better than to pray that the Spirit does what Reeves discribes at point 9 above. My suspicion is that as the Spirit does this work then we will start to take joy in exactly what it is that the Father takes joy in, ie perhaps the problem is that we are seeking this emotional satisfaction in the wrong things. As Reeves says in point 10, “we will delight in all his ways”.

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