To be drawn

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
– From Paul’s letter to the believers in Philippi, 61 AD, Philippians 2:13 (ERV).

There’s no clearer statement in all of Paul’s letters than this one in the letter to the believers in Philippi, that more clearly illustrates this inner-life partnership between God and those early believers that were drawn to respond and accept the call to “work out” their faith and new life as Christ-followers.

For it is God who works

Those first words he spoke in this passage set the stage. “For it is God…”. God is the starting point, followed by “who works…”. It’s remarkable that in the original Greek language of this passage, the word ěněrgěō – meaning to work, to be active – is used in reference first to the work of God. Without first the drawing of the Holy Spirit in believers, there can be no change of human will. Everything that you ‘will’ in following Jesus is an inner spiritual response to a preceding inner spiritual call. In other words, you are drawn initially (and continuously) by God. The word found in New Testament scripture, “ἑλκύω” in Greek (lexicon G1670), means to be drawn by an inward power. “For it is God” who draws.

In you

Following that initial phrase in Paul’s statement are the two words: “in you.” Once God draws a believer, as the believer’s spirit discerns the call and responds, the will of his soul becomes receptive. Only by God’s work were those early believers in Philippi empowered in their own hearts and minds first to will, and then to work (take action on that will). You’ll see the same Greek word ěněrgěō used again in the passage (also meaning “to act”) in reference to the believers’ response.

Again this is that inner-life mystery we’ve been talking about. It is God who draws by the power of the Holy Spirit so that, as you respond, the life of Christ is being formed in you! Thus begins the surrendering of your own will for His.

One more thing to note: In Paul’s statement above, he says, “God who works” and in some translations, “is working.” The tense of the verb in both cases is the progressive tense implying that it’s the continuous work of the Holy Spirit within you. He is continuously drawing you. It’s so encouraging to know that He never stops drawing you to “want” – i.e. will – to follow. Not only that, He supplies the power for you to actually do so!

How does this apply to you right now? You’ve already learned previously that as a believer following Christ, you know that only one thing matters to Him, and that is a posture to hear and receive from Him (i.e. coming to Him, “sitting at His feet”). This posture toward your Master Teacher will prepare you to sense His drawing. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t think you’re “hearing” from Him. As you continue to stay close to Him, be expectant! You’ll naturally be engaged with Jesus through reading His word, by conversing with Him in prayer, in worship and many other ways. You’re going to learn in the next series of articles entitled “Traits of a Christ Follower” about what these internal responses in your life will actually look like.

The divine dance

It becomes clear that following Christ into this new life that you’ve been given is a beautiful partnership. It’s where the supernatural and the natural intersect. It’s the divine dance of the Creator with His creation. This is where it all begins, in your “inner life,” i.e. that dynamic integration between the Holy Spirit, your spirit, and your soul. This is where the transformative process takes root, because once you begin to respond, over time your will becomes aligned with God’s will, in your inner life and then your outer life. His will begins to drive yours.

Oswald Chambers reminds us of this beautifully powerful partnership, which is the drawing of God and our subsequent response:

“…When a truth of God is brought home to your soul, never allow it to pass without acting on it internally in your will, not necessarily externally in your physical life. Record it with ink and with blood— work it into your life. The weakest saint who transacts business with Jesus Christ is liberated the second he acts and God’s almighty power is available on his behalf… When we are confronted with such a word of truth from our redeeming Lord, we must move directly to transact business with Him. “Come to Me…” (Matthew 11:28). His word come means “to act.” Yet the last thing we want to do is come. But everyone who does come knows that, at that very moment, the supernatural power of the life of God invades him. The dominating power of the world, the flesh, and the devil is now paralyzed; not by your act, but because your act has joined you to God and tapped you in to His redemptive power.” – Oswald Chambers

Whatever is living in your heart drives your life. Whatever ‘will’ controls your inner life will be revealed in your outer life. A will surrendered to the continuous drawing of the Holy Spirit receives and engages with the power of the risen Christ within to defeat strongholds of sin, to resist the lies of the enemy, to be a living witness for those that are lost, and to glorify God. You’ll be learning more about this “secret place” in the next article.

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” – from Paul’s letter to the first-century believers in Rome

Key takeaways:
1. “For it is God who works” means that it’s always God’s will and work first, empowering your own.
2. “In you” means God’s drawing and the believer’s hearing and responding occurs in the inner life or “secret place.”
3. The ‘drawing’ of God’s Spirit upon the believer’s spirit is continuous. Some believers will discern His “still small voice” and some will not.
4. Sensing the drawing of God can occur at any time and any place, and increases as you are responsive.

< Am I really ready for this?The secret place >

Photo by Francois Verbeeck

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