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Making Known God’s Grace in Warm Spring

July 12, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Oak Hills is going on another missions trip. Yes, as a church, we are going. Sure, only 10 of our members depart Saturday morning for Warm Springs, Oregon, but we are all involved with the mission. It’s part of our DNA. We “long to know and make known the astonishing grace of God.” This longing to make known the grace of God is rooted in our growing knowledge and experience of God’s gracious kindness to us in Christ and our deepening compassion on those who do not know Christ. Our longing drives us to send and go and pray and be involved with missions. If our longing is weak, we have much to learn and we ought to beseech God to enliven our hearts.... Keep Reading

Oceans of Love

July 2, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Greetings from Folly Beach in Charleston, South Carolina! My family and I are enjoying summer vacation on the beach (and my nephew is getting married tonight). My kids love the beach and ocean for hours of adventurous play (don't worry, we're looking out for sharks). I love the ocean because of its power and rhythms and beauty and depth of mystery. As one of God's splendid creations, the ocean has inspired much poetic reflection. One of my favorite hymns incorporates the imagery of the ocean:... Keep Reading

The Body Work of the Spirit

June 25, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Over the past month I have been reflecting on the various aspects of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit seeks to sustain us “in Christ” through his ministries of regeneration, illumination, and sanctification. The work of the Spirit is not limited, though, to an individual experience. In fulfillment of his declaration in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” Jesus has poured out his Spirit on believers. It is through the work of the Spirit that Christ builds his church. We call this the body work of the Spirit and the gifting of the Spirit. Both are the work of Christ through the Spirit in order to build his church.... Keep Reading

The Sanctifying Ministry of the Spirit

June 18, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Over the past few weeks we have been reflecting on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Sinclair Ferguson says: “The heart and soul of the Spirit’s ministry is to sustain us ‘in Christ’” (The Holy Spirit, p. 100). Part of sustaining us in Christ is the Spirit’s sanctifying work. Sanctification is the necessary process of the Holy Spirit making us more and more like Christ. Our growth in holiness is an essential result of our salvation (notice it is not the means of our salvation). Christ has graciously given us his Spirit to empower this process. So, how does the Spirit empower the process of sanctification? How does the Spirit help me grow in holiness? John Calvin and the Puritan pastors of the 17th century spoke of the Spirit’s work of mortification and vivification: death & life. Daily dying to sin and daily coming to life to righteousness.... Keep Reading

The Sanctifying Ministry of the Spirit

June 11, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Sinclair Ferguson says: “The heart and soul of the Spirit’s ministry is to sustain us ‘in Christ’” (The Holy Spirit, p. 100). The ministry of the Spirit does not add anything to what we have in Christ, nor does the Spirit compete with or replace Christ. The Spirit unites us to Christ and sustains us in that all-satisfying, all-sufficient relationship. Last week we looked at the Spirit’s specific ministry of illumination, which is the Spirit’s work of opening our minds and hearts to see the beauty and goodness of Christ in all of Scripture and invigorating our minds and hearts to delight in Christ more and more. Let’s consider the Spirit’s ministry of sanctification. Sanctification is a biblical word that speaks about the process of becoming more and more holy. What role does the Spirit play in this process and how is sanctification connected with our being in Christ? Sanctification is the necessary process of the Holy Spirit making us more and more like Christ. Let’s break down this definition... Keep Reading

The Illuminating Ministry of the Spirit

June 4, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Last week we considered Sinclair Ferguson’s excellent summary of the ministry of the Spirit: “The heart and soul of the Spirit’s ministry is to sustain us ‘in Christ’” (The Holy Spirit, p. 100). The ministry of the Spirit does not add anything to what we have in Christ, nor does the Spirit compete with or replace Christ. The Spirit unites us to Christ and sustains us in that all-satisfying, all-sufficient relationship. We then looked at a brief survey of the New Testament passages that highlight this ministry of the Spirit.... Keep Reading

The Ministry of the Spirit

May 28, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

What does the Spirit do anyway? Over the past two weeks we have considered the goodness of the gift of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Jesus promised in Acts 1:8 that the Spirit would empower his disciples to be witnesses. On Pentecost the Spirit was poured out on the church, with several signs, by Christ to affirm and apply his redemptive work. Left with only these descriptions, though, the ministry of the Spirit still is vague. He gives power and he applies the work of Christ. But how does this work and how is the Holy Spirit’s ministry connected with the work of Christ? And what difference does the ministry make in our day to day lives?... Keep Reading

Life in the Spirit, Part 2: Pentecost

May 21, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This Sunday is Pentecost. For the Jews, Pentecost is the feast celebrating the first fruits of harvest, the late Spring harvest. Jews from throughout the Roman empire would gather in Jerusalem to offer thank offerings to the Lord. For Christians, Pentecost is the day we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church. We read in Acts 2 of this unique event from redemptive history, “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (2:1-4). Unfortunately, the event of Pentecost has been debated among Christians, causing confusion and even ignorance about this significant event. ... Keep Reading

Life in the Spirit, Part 1

May 14, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Happy Ascension Day! This is 40 days after Easter, the day the Scriptures tell us that Jesus ascended into Heaven (see Acts 1:3). There is much significance tied to the ascension of Christ (his vindication, his exaltation, his intercession, etc.), but I would like to spend a few weeks reflecting on the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says in John 16:7, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” The ascension of Christ precedes, and directly causes, the giving of the Holy Spirit. Let’s unpack some of the riches of the gift of the Holy Spirit.... Keep Reading

This is the last of a three part series reflecting on the nature of God’s grace in perseverance and the church community’s responsibility for her members’ perseverance. Our Confession of Faith states that “perseverance of the saints depends not upon their free will, but upon” God himself (WCF 17.2). Yet, God’s sovereign grace in our perseverance does not abdicate our responsibility to persevere and help one another persevere. The following paragraph in the WCF states that “through…the neglect of the means of their preservation, [the saints] may fall into grievous sins.”... Keep Reading

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