It was almost 7 AM — opening time for a tiny concession stand dubbed the Eureka Café. I was there first, leaning on the counter and staring happily at the trademark: “We Proudly Brew Starbucks Coffee.”
I had expected this summer retreat center to be nestled miles away from a good cup o’ Joe. But according to the words on this sign, and the rustic fragrance that filled the air, I had found it. So I went on to order my coffee — a scene that repeated several times in the course of five days — and it didn’t take long to figure out that “proudly brewing” a brand of coffee and being an official institution of that brand are two different things.
Now don’t get me wrong, the coffee was great. But the Eureka Café was a far stretch from a bona fide Starbucks. Sure, the baristas were nice and the drinks were good, but there were several things you couldn’t get. The half-and-half didn’t need refrigeration. There was nowhere to sit. There was no music, nocoffitivity. Of all the similarities, it still wasn’t the real thing. You know what I mean.
It’s sort of like how we think about the Holy Spirit, when we think about him wrongly. We tend to make him the Eureka Café of God. Sure, there are important similarities, but he’s not the real thing. We know he is related to God, but we can easily hold back from thinking of the Spirit as God himself, which he truly is. And I’m afraid that until we really understand this, we sell ourselves short of living gladly in his benefits. I have two specifically in mind.
1. We Are Inseparably United to Christ
Because the Holy Spirit is God — not a mere emissary of God — it means that our union with Christ is inseparable.
The Spirit’s central role in the life of believers is to show us Jesus and unite us to him. He opens blind eyes to behold Jesus and awakens dead hearts to believe Jesus. The Spirit, through the life-giving faith he empowers, makes us born again (John 3:8). He makes us new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). He brings us into Christ and becomes the bond of our union with him. Sinclair Ferguson writes, “The closeness of our union [with Christ] is dependent upon our mutual possession by, and possession of, the Holy Spirit” (The Holy Spirit, 106).
This is important. Our union with Christ is dependent upon the Spirit— not our will to believe, though the Spirit fuels our faith; not our intellect, though the Spirit gives light; not our affections, though the Spirit makes us feel; not our obedience, though the Spirit produces fruit. The Spirit himself is the bond of our union, which means, because the Spirit is God,the bond of our relationship with God is God himself. And that means there’s no going back.
This bond does not expire or dissolve. This is what the Spirit does and has always done. Before the foundation of the world, the Spirit was the personal bond of glorious love between the Father and the Son. And now, the Spirit is that love in us (John 17:26;Romans 5:5). He has brought us into an inseparable union — one that is as secure as the Father’s love for the Son, as sure as God’s love is for himself.
Because the Holy Spirit is God, we’re in for good.
2. We Are Inseparable Without Regret
Because the Holy Spirit is God, and therefore our union with Christ is inseparable, it means God will never regret saving us.
This part is more than a theological point of our security. It has to do with how we grasp it. It’s not enough to say that we are inseparably united to Christ. But how does God feel about that? What good would inseparable union do for us right now if we thought that God was unhappy about it? What tempered good is eternal security if we thought God felt stuck with us?
Because the Spirit unites us to Christ, it means that all of Christ’s benefits become our own. His sin-defeating death was where the guilt and power of our sin were defeated (Romans 6:3). His death-defeating resurrection was where the power and sting ofour graves were overcome (Romans 6:4). His vindication as God’s Son is a vindication in which we now share.
In Christ, as the Spirit himself bears witness, we are God’s children (Romans 8:16–17). We are fellow-heirs with Christ — beloved of the Father like he is. And this kind of love from this kind of Father is not begrudging.
Because we are united to Christ, and the bond of that union is God the Holy Spirit, then even in our worst moments, in our lowest lows, in our deepest darkness, God has never regretted saving us. Never.
He chose us for the praise of his glorious grace (Ephesians 1:4–6); he made us his own workmanship (Ephesians 2:10); he will complete what he began (Philippians 1:6) — all of which the Spirit guarantees (2 Corinthians 1:21–22). It really is true: God will never regret saving us. He is irrevocably glad in the inseparable union we have with Christ that he has accomplished by his Spirit.
You can’t get that at the Eureka Café.