The Christian life—as it is presented in the Scriptures—is made up of indicatives and imperatives. These are grammatical terms for “statements about the gospel” and “demands that flow from the gospel.” The apostle Paul structures his epistles around these two ideas; the first part is generally doctrine followed by practice. Keep your eyes open for the “therefores” in the epistles (e.g. Romans 12:1ff).For any area of life we must always go back to the gospel—the indicatives—for the power to live out the imperatives.
The Holy Spirit, or course, is the vital element in bringing these two aspects together. Take the Great Commission, for example. Like all gospel demands, the Holy Spirit is the power necessary for its fulfilling. The command to “go into all the world” was given prior to the ascension but it was not implemented until Pentecost (Acts 1:8). Missions need financing and personnel and a sense of responsibility, but let us never forget that without the Holy Spirit even missions—or any Christian service—is a burden too heavy to carry.
“The Church does not simply receive a commission or command from without, but is also moved by the Spirit from within.”—G. C. Berkouwer