By Joseph Ametepe
Sharing the Good news of Jesus Christ is a mandate given to all believers. It is not an option. It is an obligation for the believer, who is born again by the Spirit of God and brought into a personal saving relationship with Jesus Christ. We cannot excuse ourselves from it. In fact, there is no excuse you and I can give to God to convince Him to make an exceptional clause for us. No one has been successful in changing God’s mind in this matter. If there was any man who could have come close to “convincing” God to release him from the divine obligation of sharing the Gospel, it was Apostle Paul. He was beaten with rods three times for preaching the Good News. He was persecuted fiercely for sharing his faith. He was chased out of town several times. He was stoned. He was shipwrecked on three occasions. He was jailed on several occasions for the cause of the Good news. Five times, he received thirty-nine lashes from the Jews. He was constantly in danger from robbers, his own countrymen, the Gentiles and from false brothers (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-29).
• In spite of all these hardships, which include many sleepless nights, hunger and cold, Paul felt a great sense of responsibility for sharing the Gospel. He was greatly impacted by the joyous privilege of sharing the Good News. He had a great burden for presenting the Good News. He did not ask to be excused from the obligation of sharing Christ to a lost world. Rather, with a great sense of urgency and heartfelt passion, Paul declared,“For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).
• The point is clear, none of us can be excused from the mandate of sharing Christ’s message of life and redemption to a lost world.
• But the question is: how do we share the Glad News which tells about Jesus Christ our Lord?
• With whose wisdom are we to proclaim the Good News? The Spirit’s or ours?
• In whose power are we to announce the truths of the Gospel? In God’s power or in our power?
• On whom are we to rely to effectively present the Glorious News of our God? On the Holy Spirit or on ourselves?
• Effective witness of Christ is not a matter of using our own wisdom and strength. It is not a matter of depending on our skills and abilities. Nor is it a matter of relying on ourselves, no matter how smart we think we are.
• Sharing the Good News is an intensely spiritual activity. Therefore, it cannot be done fruitfully by relying on man’s strength and skills. Neither can it be done by resting on our wisdom and words. Effective presentation of the Gospel, successful sharing of the Good News, depends on the presence and power of the Person of the Holy Spirit. Reliance upon Him is therefore the key for successful sharing of the Gospel.
• The purpose of this article is therefore to help us reacquaint ourselves with the Holy Spirit and discover afresh His profitable and powerful role in the presentation of the Gospel. The result of this being, learning practical ways of depending on Holy Spirit so as to effectively share the Gospel in such a time as this.
The Definition of the Gospel
• What then is the Gospel (Greek, Euangelion)? The English word “gospel” came from the Anglo-Saxon word “god-spell,” that is, “God-story.” In its simplest form, the Good News or the Gospel is the saving message of Jesus Christ. It is the glad news which tells about Jesus Christ. It is therefore always centered on the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, who He is, and what He has done for the salvation of sinners in every nation. The Gospel is the joyous proclamation of God’s redemptive activity in Christ Jesus on behalf of man enslaved by sins.
• In other words, the Gospel is the presentation of the life of the Person of Jesus to show His saving significance for all people and to call them to faith in Him.
• To state it in another way, it is the saving work of God in His Son Jesus Christ and a call to faith in Him. Faith is more than intellectual consent to a theoretical truth. Faith is trust placed in a living person, Jesus Christ.
The Definition of Salvation
• The term salvation (Greek, soteria or soterios) is familiar to most of us. Yet its true meaning is not familiar to us. It is therefore necessary to give a clear definition of salvation at this point. In its simplest form, salvation is deliverance from the punishment, penalty, power, pollution and finally from the presence of sin.
• It is an eternal gift, bestowed on those who personally place their complete trust in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and in His sacrificial death on the cross for their sins. This wholehearted personal trust results in entering into a saving relationship with God as well as receiving complete forgiveness of one’s sins against a holy, loving and righteous God who is from everlasting to everlasting.
• To state it in another way, salvation is simply an application of Christ’s victorious work over sin to the life of the individual. It pertains to the most crucial need of the human person – the need to be freed from sin, which separates us from a loving, gracious, holy and just God.
• In the Old Testament, the term “salvation” sometimes refers to deliverance from danger (seeJeremiah 15:20), deliverance of the weak from an oppressor (see Psalm 35:9-10), the healing of sickness (see Isaiah 38:20), and deliverance from blood guiltiness and its consequences (seePsalm 51:14). It may also refer to national deliverance from military threat (see Exodus 13:14) or release from captivity (see Psalm 14:7). But salvation finds its deepest meaning in the spiritual realm of life. It is this deepest meaning of salvation that I have defined above and am concerned about in this article. The absolute necessity of salvation, deliverance from the penalty and power of sin is indeed one of the clearest teachings of the Bible. The need for salvation is a universal need. Everyone desperately needs it, but unfortunately, not everyone desires it or seeks it.
The Definition of Sin
- It is necessary for us to define sin at this point. Sin is simply lawlessness (1 John 3:4) or transgression of God’s will, either by failing to do what God’s law requires or by doing what it forbids. Sin or transgression can occur in thought (1 John 3:15), word (Matthew 5:22), or deed (Romans 1:32). To state it in another way, sin is any form of wrongdoing, whether consciously committed or not, and thoughts, words, or deeds which fall short of God’s standard of perfection. Defining it bluntly, sin is doing evil in the sight of a Holy God. It is missing the mark (Romans 3:23). It is unbelief (John 16:8).
- God created mankind without sin. Morally, he was upright and inclined to do good (Ecclesiastes 7:29). But sin entered into human experience when Adam and Eve violated the direct command of God by eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3:1-6). Since Adam was the representative head of the whole human race, his sin affected all future generations (see Romans 5:12-21). So we are all sinners who have fallen short of God’s perfection. But in our fallen and sinful state, God reached out to us in the Person of the Lord Jesus to save sinners like us from our sins.
Overview of Article
- Writing on the Holy Spirit is always a great challenge and a call to humility. No one has complete knowledge and understanding of the Spirit of the Living God. What we know of the Holy Spirit is what God has revealed in His Holy Word. Even with what has been revealed of Him, we still do not fully comprehend Him. We only see dimly of Him. And so it is with a humble heart that I approach the subject of writing on the Spirit’s significant role in sharing the Good News.
- To gain a richer understanding of His role in presenting the Gospel, it is necessary for us to examine other truths about the Holy Spirit as revealed in the Bible. First, we will look at the truth that the Holy Spirit is a Person. Second, we will learn about the preciousness of the Holy Spirit. Third, we will direct our thoughts to the perfection or purity of the Holy Spirit. Fourth, we will consider the past works of the Spirit. Fifth, we will examine the promise of the Holy Spirit. Sixth, we will look at the provision of the Spirit. Seventh, we will focus our attention on the truth of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Eighth, we will learn about the passion of the Holy Spirit. Ninth, we will discuss the all-important truth of the power of the Spirit. Tenth, we will state the particular functions of the Spirit in the lives of God’s people and in the lives of the people of the world today. Eleventh and finally, we will look at the profitable and powerful role of the Spirit in the presentation of the Good News.
The Person of the Holy Spirit
- It is very important to know who the Holy Spirit is. Is He an influence - a power or a source of God-given energy, as some have insisted Him to be? Is He a ghostlike or mere impersonal force, entering or leaving us at will, as some people see Him to be? Is He a kind of cosmic magician, elusive and vague, who magically and mysteriously drops into our lives to make goose-bumps religious things happen and then vanishes as quickly as He came? Who is the Holy Spirit? What is your answer to this all-important question?
- Thanks be to God that He has given us a clear, concise and convincing answer to the question of who the Holy Spirit is!
- The Holy Spirit is a living Person who indwells every believer. As a Person, the Holy Spirit lives in every Christian, who is born again and brought into a saving personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and thus belongs to Christ. The Scriptures clearly speak of the personality of the Holy Spirit. He is not an impersonal force or energy. He is a Person who possesses all the qualities or characteristics which a person has.
- The first evidence of the Spirit’s personality is that the Holy Spirit is spoken of as “He.” When the Lord Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, He referred to the Spirit as “He.” As the Lord Jesus describes the Holy Spirit’s ministry, He uses a masculine pronoun “He” (ekeinos).
- “But I tell you the truth, 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. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged… But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come”(John 16:7-11, 13).
- Clearly, the Helper [Greek, Paracletos:- one called alongside to help or Comforter], the Spirit of truth, is a person, not a thing or an abstract influence.
- The second evidence of the Spirit’s personality is seen in the fact that He has intelligence and knowledge. Speaking of the works of the Spirit, the Lord Jesus promises His disciples that “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you”(John 14:26). Also the Holy Spirit knows “the deep things of God” and makes them known to us (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). Only a person has this kind of intelligence, teaching all things and knowing the deep things of God
- The third evidence given for the personhood of the Holy Spirit is that the Holy Spirit has a will and is able to make decisions which are always wise and best for us. The will of the Holy Spirit is clearly and convincingly stated in 1 Corinthians 12:11. There we read,“But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” The Holy Spirit has complete knowledge of us and decides which spiritual gifts to bestow on each believer. Only a personal being can make decisions. Thus again showing that the Holy Spirit is a Person, not a force
- The fourth evidence for the personhood of the Spirit is that He has emotions. InEphesians 4:30, the inspired Apostle, Paul, warns of grieving the Spirit. Isaiah the prophet, refers to the children of Israel as people who have rebelled and grieved God’s Holy Spirit (see Isaiah 63:10). As part of His emotions, the Spirit is spoken of as having love (see Romans 15:30) and as the One through whom the love of God has been poured within our hearts (see Romans 5:5). An impersonal force cannot feel emotions like these
- The fifth evidence of the Spirit’s personality is that He can be affected in other ways as a person is. It is possible to lie to the Holy Spirit, as Ananias and Sapphira did (see Acts 5:3-4). He can be sinned against in the following ways, quenching the Spirit (see 1 Thessalonians 5:19), resisting the Holy Spirit (see Acts 7:51), blaspheming against the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:29). It is possible to resist a mere force. But one cannot lie to or quench something which is impersonal
- The sixth evidence for the personality of the Holy Spirit is that He engages Himself in activities and ministries which can only be performed by a person. In other words, Holy Spirit does things only a person can do. He teaches (John 14:26). He regenerates sinners (Titus 3:5). He searches all things, even the depths of God (1 Corinthians 2:10). He speaks (John 16:13; Acts 8:29; Revelation 2:7). He intercedes for believers (Romans 8:26). He commands (Acts 10:19-20). He testifies (Romans 8:16). He guides us into all the truth (John 16:13). He discloses truth to us (John 16:14, 15). He glorifies Christ (John 16:14). He leads (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18). He illumines believers (1 Corinthians 2:14-16). He reveals (1 Corinthians 2:10). He sanctifies Christians (1 Peter 1:2). He convicts of sin (John 16:8). He appoints leaders in the church (Acts 20:28). He gives spiritual gifts to believers (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). He empowers God’s people for witness (Acts 1:8). Only a personal being can do these things.
- Not only that, the Bible makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is God (see Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17). In both of these passages, the “Holy Spirit” and “God” are used interchangeably, implying that the Holy Spirit is indeed God. Also, in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the phrase “God’s temple” is equated with the phrase “a temple of the Holy Spirit.” The conclusion being that the Holy Spirit is truly God, the Third Person of the eternal Trinity, one with the Father and with the Son (see Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:2). All this is to say that the Holy Spirit is a Person, not an impersonal force, not an influence, and that Person is God, one and the same with the Father and the Son.
- It is this Person that wants us to rely on Him in sharing the Good News.
- Who would not want to rely on such a Person?
The Perfection or Purity of the Holy Spirit
- The Holy Spirit is not only a Person but He is also a Perfect Being. We are familiar with the perfection of God the Father and God the Son. The Bible speaks repeatedly of the holiness of God (Exodus 15:11; Leviticus 11:44-45; Psalm 99:3, 9; Isaiah 6:1-4; Revelation 15:4). It also affirms the sinlessness of Christ Jesus (Isaiah 53:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15;7:26; 1 Peter 2:22). However, we do not often think of the perfection of the Holy Spirit.
- Being the Third Person in the Godhead, the Holy Spirit has the same attributes of God. He has the same characteristics of God's nature. The Holy Spirit possesses the same permanent qualities which constitute what God is.
- It is very sad and dishonoring to the Person of the Holy Spirit that we speak very little of His perfection. I have never heard or read about the perfection of the Holy Spirit. This shows how little we know of the Person of the Holy Spirit.
- Perfection defines the Person of the Holy Spirit. Perfection is inherently His very nature just it is inherently the very nature of God the Father and God the Son. The Holy Spirit is absolutely perfect in His being. He is spotlessly perfect in His essence. He is unblemished in His nature. He is impeccable. He is flawless. He is absolutely perfect. He is perfect in character. He is perfect in wisdom. He is perfect in understanding. He is perfect in knowledge. He is the embodiment of absolute purity. Like the other Persons in the Godhead, the Holy Spirit is absolutely free from anything wicked or evil. Because of His absolute purity or perfection, the Holy Spirit is untouched and unstained by the evil in the world.
- The Holy Spirit is not only personally free from any moral wickedness or evil, but He is unable to tolerate the presence of evil. If you please, He is as it were allergic to sin and evil. Like the other Persons in the Godhead, His eyes are too pure to behold evil and look on wrong (see Habakkuk 1:13). He cannot be tempted with evil (see James 1:13). Because of His absolute purity, He will not act wickedly, nor will He pervert justice (see Job 34:12).
- The perfection or absolute purity of the Holy Spirit is preserved for us in His name. Notice that the first part of His name is, "Holy." The Hebrew word for "holy" is qadosh. It means "marked off" or "withdrawn from common, ordinary use." Like God the Father and God the Son, the Holy Spirit is distinctly set apart and above all. He is a being of perfect splendor. In other words, He is perfectly holy.
- The Holy Spirit is flawless. He is spotless. He is holy. He is separated from sinners. Not only is He perfect in His being, but He is also perfect in His works. When we speak of the Holy Spirit who is also called "the Spirit of holiness" (Romans 1:40), we are speaking of One who is absolutely perfect in His nature and in His actions.
- The Spirit's perfection is the standard for our moral character and the motivation for our walk with God (see Leviticus 11:44-45; Matthew 5:48; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:15-19; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).
- Our proper response to the perfection of the Holy Spirit should be one of awe, reverence, worship, praise, silence and confession. When the prophet Isaiah saw God in His holiness, he became very much aware of his own impurity and cried out in confession; "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts" (Isaiah 6:5).
- We too need to catch a glimpse of the holiness and purity of the Holy Spirit. It will do us much good in our relationship with the Holy Spirit and our reliance on Him to fulfill the Great Commission. We are called to rely on a Person, a Perfect Being, the Holy Spirit. Our dependence on Him will therefore not be in vain.
- Oh the Holy Spirit! He is a Person. He is a Perfect Being. What a privilege to depend on Him to share the Good News!
The Preciousness of the Holy Spirit
- The Holy Spirit is indeed a Person. He is absolutely perfect and pure in His nature and in His works. But we now learn something of His preciousness. Serious believers whose eyes have been opened to see how much Christ has done to save them, often speak of Him as being the greatest treasure of their hearts. They know without Him their lives will be meaningless and hopeless. They express their gratitude and appreciation of Him in words similar to those of Apostle Paul: "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15). No doubt Christ is precious. His blood which was shed to redeem us from our sins is precious (1 Peter 1:19). Indeed, He is God's indescribable gift to mankind, which is made up of wretched sinners.
- Both the Son and the Spirit are eternal members of the Triune God. The Three Persons in the One God are eternal. They have always been in intimate fellowship with each other from eternity. Their eternal relationship is one of eternal, infinite and indescribable love. Human words cannot describe how precious and close their relationship has been from eternity until now. The unity in "God's Three-in-Oneness: the Trinity" is beyond description. The eternal bond between them is unbreakable.
- Yet Scripture tells us of God sending His Son and His Spirit to us. In other words, God the Father shared the most precious part of Him with humanity. "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law... Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father!" (Galatians 4:4,6).
- Incredible! Indescribable! Incomprehensible! God desires that we will share in His life even here on earth.
- The preciousness of the Holy Spirit is revealed in a statement made by the inspired writer of the epistle of James. James held up the mirror of God's word (James 1:23-25) to show his readers their true faces. His readers were to seek peace (James 3:17-18) not pleasure (James 4:1-2). They were to go to God in humility to meet their needs not to try to use God as a celestial shopping center for worldly goods (James 4:2-3). They were to be friends of God, not friends with the world (James 4:4). In other words, God was to be at the center of their lives not the world and its goods.
- Worldliness, which is an attitude that places self and the things of this world at the center of the believer's aspirations and activities, was not to be a part of their lives. But unfortunately it was, and it is with us. This of course grieves the heart of God.
- With this in mind the inspired writer asked his readers and us a penetrating question. "Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us?" (James 4:5).
- This verse is one of the most difficult in the epistle of James. Various translations have been suggested. But the above rendering fits the immediate context better than other renderings such as in the NIV.
- To be in love with such a system therefore makes one an enemy of God. The world is opposed to God. It doesn't want anything to do with God. We are seeing this more and more in this country. God is being pushed out of both the public sector and the private sphere.
- God has given believers His precious Holy Spirit not for them to fall in love with the world but to fall in love with Him. So verse 5 is speaking of God's jealous longing for His people's love. The word translated "desires" (epithothei) also means "to long for," "to yearn for" something or someone. God jealously yearns for our devotion and love to Him because He has given us His precious Holy Spirit through whose help we are enabled to love Him. If God has not given us His precious Holy Spirit He will not be jealously longing for our devotion to Him. But He has in fact given us His Holy Spirit to dwell in us. So He will tolerate no rivals. He jealously desires the Spirit to dwell in us to love Him, not to love the world which is strongly opposed to Him and His values. All this is to teach us that the Holy Spirit in believers is so precious to God. By giving us the Holy Spirit, God has given us a cherished, most treasured and desirable gift of His.
- Have you discovered this truth about the Person of the Holy Spirit? He is precious indeed to the heart of God.
- No specific Old testament passage contains the words of James 4:5, but many passages express a similar sentiment - God is a jealous God (see Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Deuteronomy 32:16; Zechariah 8:2).
- God has a jealous longing for His people simply because He has made His precious Holy Spirit to live in them. This makes friendship with the world enmity toward God. The believer who is a friend of the world is guilty of spiritual adultery or unfaithfulness.
- The precious Holy Spirit God has caused to dwell in us yearns over us with jealously for our entire devotion to Jesus Christ.
- May God open our eyes to see how precious the Holy Spirit is so that we will gladly and entirely allow Him to direct our heart's devotion to Christ Jesus our Lord and also fully depend on Him in making Jesus Christ known!
The Past Works of the Holy Spirit
- Since this article is not intended to be an exhaustive study on the Majestic Person of the Holy Spirit, we would attempt to be concise, not comprehensive. The Holy Spirit is an eternal Person who had done many God-sized works before we came on the scene.
- What are these past works of the Holy Spirit?
- First is the work of creation. The opening words of the first book of the Bible tell us of the Spirit’s work. “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). The Spirit of God, that is, the Holy Spirit, played a key role in creation. The Spirit, an intelligent eternal Person, was behind the creation of the universe.
- Another past work of the Spirit as seen clearly in the Old Testament, is the giving of prophecy. The Old Testament Scriptures clearly reveal that prophecy was the work of the Holy Spirit. The clearest example of the Spirit’s work of prophecy is seen in His work in the prophet Ezekiel. “As He spoke to me, the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking to me” (Ezekiel 2:2; compare with 8:3; 11:1, 24). The Holy Spirit even entered such unlikely persons as Balaam and prophesied through him (see Numbers 24:2). Saul also prophesied as the Spirit of God came mightily upon him (see 1 Samuel 10:6, 10).
- Apostle Peter testified to the fact that prophecy was exclusively the work of the Holy Spirit. His inspired testimony was: “no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21). The Lord Jesus Himself earlier affirmed the Spirit’s work of giving prophecy.
- Questioning the Pharisees who had gathered to test Him, our Lord asked them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying…?” (Matthew 22:43; cf. Acts 1:16;4:25).
- Closely related to the Spirit’s work of giving prophecy is the writing of Scripture. The Holy Spirit produced the Scriptures which are inerrant in their original autographs. The Holy Spirit guided the prophets and apostles in writing down the inspired words. All Scripture is therefore God-breathed (see 2 Timothy 3:16). When correctly interpreted, the Bible can be fully relied upon in all that it teaches. It is a sure, dependable, and trustworthy authority.
- Another past work of the Spirit was in bestowing certain necessary skills for various tasks upon certain individuals. In the construction of the tabernacle, we read of Bezalel being called by God and filled with the Spirit. “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for the work in gold, in silver, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship” (Exodus 31:2-5; cf. 35:30-35; 36:1-2). Without the Spirit of God, Bezalel could not have been suited for the work of constructing the tabernacle. The Spirit’s wisdom, understanding, and knowledge were necessary for such a work, which was to be done exactly according to the pattern God revealed to His servant, Moses.
- Another important work of the Spirit in the past was raising up judges to rule over Israel in a time of very little national leadership. In the time of the judges of Israel, the Spirit of God came upon certain men to judge the floundering people of Israel and grant skill in waging wars against their oppressors. The Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon Othniel and he went out to war and the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia, into his hand (see Judges 3:10).
- The Spirit of the LORD took possession of Gideon; and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him (see Judges 6:34). The Lord reduced the number of Gideon’s followers from 22, 000 to 300 soldiers. Having been assured of victory, Gideon and his men went out to war against the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east, as numerous as locusts (see Judges 7:11).
- Samson was also filled with extra-ordinary strength when the Spirit came upon him, and he was able to perform supernatural feats (see Judges 14:19; 15:14-19).
- The Spirit also endowed the early kings of Israel with special capabilities. Saul prophesied when the Spirit came upon him (see 1 Samuel 10:10). When David was anointed in the midst of his brothers by the prophet Samuel, the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward (see 1 Samuel 16:13).
- Another effective past work of the Holy Spirit was that of admonishing God’s straying children. God brought Israel out of bondage in Egypt to draw them close to Himself. He desired to relate to them and to follow His ways but Israel kept wandering from God. They kept going astray. They turned their backs on Him many times. Since it was not God’s desire to abandon them, He spoke to them through the Holy Spirit to admonish them. He called out to them many times through the Holy Spirit. A classic example of this work is found in the prayer of the returnees from Babylon. After the people confessed their sins and read from the Book of the Law and worshiped, they prayed. In their prayer, the Holy Spirit’s work of admonishing Israel was made known. “However, You bore with them for many years, and admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets, yet they would not give ear. Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands” (Nehemiah 9:30).
- It is true the Holy Spirit admonished the children of Israel in the past. He is admonishing God’s wayward people today. He calls out to us when we are straying from the right path in life.
- The work of the Holy Spirit, in the Person of the Lord Jesus, is an important part of His past works. The very beginning of our Lord’s incarnate existence was a work of the Holy Spirit. After the virgin Mary was informed by the angel that she was to have a child, the angel explained to the questioning virgin; “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
- After the holy Child was conceived, the angel spoke to Joseph to whom the Virgin Mary had been betrothed. He had planned to send Mary away secretly after finding her to be with child by the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 1:18-19). The angel’s words to Joseph clearly affirmed the work of the Spirit in our Lord’s conception and birth. “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived is of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20).
- The place of the Holy Spirit was also highlighted at the announcement of our Lord’s ministry by John the Baptist. John himself had been filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. He testified: “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).
- Our Lord’s ministry was carried out in the power and by the direction of the Holy Spirit. His teaching was by the Spirit. Following His temptation in the wilderness, Dr. Luke reported that “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all” (Luke 4:14-15). Clearly, there is a correlation between returning in the power of the Spirit and teaching. Our Lord’s teaching ministry was in the Holy Spirit.
- Similarly, His preaching was by the Spirit. Our Lord Himself testified of this in His hometown of Nazareth. Having been given the book of the prophet Isaiah, our Lord opened and read these words: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD” (Luke 4:17-18). After His reading, our Lord made a bold declaration that “this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).
- His miracles were also performed by the Spirit. He was not only anointed to preach the Good News but also to heal, giving recovery of sight to the blind and setting free those who are oppressed. In His healings, the Holy Spirit worked through our Lord to confront the unholy and evil demonic forces. He was accused of casting out demons by the prince of demons (see Matthew 12:25-27), but our Lord solemnly countered, saying, “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:30). This verse could be rendered “since I indeed cast out demons by the Spirit, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” It was the Holy Spirit who was working through Him to perform these miracles.
- Not only our Lord’s teaching, preaching, and miracles, but His whole life was lived “in the Holy Spirit.” He was “full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1). “He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Luke 10:21) when the seventy returned from their mission and reported to Him that even demons were subject to them in His name (see Luke 10:17). Our Lord’s life was completely filled with the Spirit
- Certainly, the concise examination of the past works of the Holy Spirit is revealing. It shows a Person whose work in creation, in countless biblical characters and in Christ, is well documented and proven. Because of the well-proven past record of the Holy Spirit, we can be fully confident that when we depend on Him completely, when we allow our lives to be so filled with Him, we will see Him do God-sized works through us.
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
- One of the blessings of careful and prayerful study of the Bible is the discovery that God makes promises and keeps them. He is a God of promises. Scripture is saturated with God’s promises. He promises to save sinners (Romans 10:9-13). He promises to forgive our sins (Isaiah 1:18; Jeremiah 33:8; 1 John 1:9). He promises to make all things new (Isaiah 43:19; Revelation 21:5). He promises a glorious future for Israel (Isaiah 62:1-12). He promises to bless those who believe in Him with a new heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). He promises to be with us even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). He promises that Jesus Christ will come again a second time (Acts 1:11; John 14:3). He promises to prepare a place for us where we will spend all eternity with Him (John 14:2-4). He promises to change our perishable and mortal bodies into imperishable and immortal bodies at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). He promises to love us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). He promises to conform those who believe in Him into the blessed image of His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). He promises to complete the good work He has started in us (Philippians 1:6). He promises to answer our prayers (Psalm 91:15; Jeremiah 33:3; Matthew 7:7; John 14:13-14; 15:7).
- Knowing very well the need for the Person of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the God of promise also made promises concerning the Person of the Holy Spirit. The Bible specifically speaks about the promise of the Holy Spirit. God wants Him to be an integral part of our lives. God knows He is an essential part of our walk with Him. Therefore He directly gave promises in His Word concerning the Person of the Holy Spirit. Scripture even calls Him the Holy Spirit of promise (see Ephesians 1:13).
- No doubt, the promises of the Holy Spirit permeated the Scriptures, especially concerning the Messiah, upon whom the Spirit is to rest in an unusual degree and fashion (see Isaiah 11:1-5; 42:1-4 and 61:1-3; cf. Luke 4:18:21). There is, within the Old Testament, witness to the Holy Spirit in anticipation of a coming time when the ministry of the Holy Spirit will be more complete. Part of this relates to the coming Messiah. In other words, the promise of the Holy Spirit is closely tied to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through Christ that the promise of the Spirit will be fully realized (see John 7:38-39).
- Apart from the special promise of the Spirit in relation to the Messiah, God also gave a more generalized promise of the Holy Spirit, one which is not restricted to the Messiah. This is found in Joel 2:28-29: “It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” At Pentecost Peter quoted this prophecy, indicating that it had now been fulfilled (see Acts 2:17-21).
- Speaking in the context of the future restoration and renewal of the nation Israel, Ezekiel the prophet spoke in the Spirit about the promise of the Spirit. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:26-27). God knows how essential the Holy Spirit is in our walk with Him. He promised, therefore that He would put His Spirit within us. Although this first applies to Israel, it also applies to believers today.
- Our Lord Jesus Himself spoke on several occasions about the promise of the Holy Spirit.
- “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you… But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things…” (John 14:16-17, 26).
- “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me” (John 15:26).
- After our Lord’s resurrection, He made promises concerning the Holy Spirit. “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
- “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’… but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:4-8).
- During one of His post resurrection appearances to His disciples we are told, “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22).
- The Father and the Son both promised the Holy Spirit. This shows that the Father and the Son work together in perfect harmony. What the Father desires, the Son also desires. Jesus had said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). We see this oneness in their promise of the Holy Spirit.
- What the Father promised (Acts 1:4) was the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit to be given as divine enablement for worldwide witness.
- Speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, Peter testified to the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit. “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear” (Acts 2:33).
- What’s the point of stating all these references to the promise of the Holy Spirit? It is simply this: to assure the believer that God is faithful to keep His promises. God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19). The faithful answer to these questions is that God does what He says and God makes good what He has spoken. He did it in the promise of the Holy Spirit.
- God truly desires for His people to be blessed with the promised Holy Spirit. The fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit is therefore to strengthen our resolve to fully depend on Him in sharing the Good News.
The Provision of the Holy Spirit
- Since God fulfilled His promise of sending the Holy Spirit, it follows that the Holy Spirit has been provided. He has been made available to us in all His fullness and freshness. It is one thing to promise. It is altogether another thing to provide what one has promised in a tangible form. God’s provision of the Holy Spirit goes to prove that He is indeed a Promise Keeper.
- Please understand that the Holy Spirit and the Son of God are intimate, eternal, precious, living, loving, interrelated and integral members of the Godhead. Yet the Scriptures reveal that God sent both of them to us. “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law… And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!”(Galatians 4:4,6).
- This is so amazing. It is mind-boggling! What is dear to most of us, we keep to ourselves. We find it difficult, if not impossible, to share that which is precious to our hearts. But that is not the case with God. He has shared and will continue to share with us His Spirit and His Son.
- The lesson is clear. God has provided to us the dearest and most precious part of His being in the Person of the Holy Spirit. We give away junk, things that we have used up and no longer need. The world gives away junk, things that clutter lives and choke us. But that is not the case with God. He provides the very best of Him to us. He supplies us with the very best of His being. He doesn’t just give us the best plan in life but the best part of His eternal being in the Person of the Holy Spirit
- Writing to the believers at Philippi from his prison cell in Rome, Paul expressed confidence about his release from prison based on two means, namely, the effective prayers of the Philippians on his behalf and the provision of the Spirit. “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:19).
- The Holy Spirit is referred to here as “the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” He is also referred to as “the Spirit of Jesus” (Acts 16:7), “the Spirit of His Son” (Galatians 4:6), and “the Spirit of Christ” (1 Peter 1:11). All these references point to the same Person – the Holy Spirit.
- In Philippians 1:19, Paul puts great importance on the prayers of a small and feeble band of believers in Philippi. He sees that God can powerfully work through their prayers to thwart the purposes and the mighty power of Rome. Indeed, it is true: believers can influence the destiny of nations and change the course of history through believing prayer. Their effective prayers led to the release of Paul. And our prayers too can be used by God to change the course of history..
- The Greek word translated “provision” in the NASB is epichoregias. It also means supply or support. The idea being expressed here by this word [epichoregias] is the support furnished by the Holy Spirit.
- One writer says, “The supply [or provision] of the Spirit of Jesus Christ means the power of the Holy Spirit stretched forth on Paul’s behalf – the strength which the Spirit would supply to him. In general, it refers to the boundless resources which the Spirit supplies to enable believers to stand fast, regardless of what the circumstances may be.”
- The Holy Spirit has been provided to us according to the promise of the Father and the Son. Not only that, the Holy Spirit Himself is abundantly willing to supply boundless resources to believers to enable them to forge ahead in life victoriously and fulfill the Great Commission.
- What more do we need? What else is there to be provided to us?
- All that we need to be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ has been fully furnished.
- Why then are our lives not bearing fruit as they should in the harvest of souls and the strengthening of our brothers and sisters in Christ?
- Is the story of Isaiah 5 being played out now in church history?
- “Let me sing now for my well-beloved a song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug it all round, removed its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. And he built a tower in the middle of it and also hewed out a wine vat in it; then He expected it to produce good grapes, but it produced only worthless ones. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard. What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? So now let me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. I will lay it waste; it will not be pruned or hoed, but briars and thorns will come up… For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah His delightful plant” (Isaiah 5:1-7)
- May these words serve as a warning to us who have been provided everything for godliness, growth and making the most of the opportunities we have in fulfilling the mandate of the Great Commission!
The Presence of the Holy Spirit
- The Bible points clearly to the presence of the Holy Spirit in its testimony. We are first introduced to the Person of the Holy Spirit in Genesis 1:2. There we read, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” The Holy Spirit was present at creation. He was actively involved in the creative work of God. The last reference to the Holy Spirit in Scripture is found in Revelation 22:17. “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’”
- All throughout the rest of Scripture the Holy Spirit’s presence is repeatedly affirmed. Twenty-four of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament made reference to the Spirit. The only books in the New Testament that do not mention the Holy Spirit are Philemon, Second and Third John.
- In the Old Testament, Major and Minor Prophets such as Jeremiah (Lamentations), Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habbakkuk, Zephaniah, and Malachi did not make any mention of the Holy Spirit. Also, Leviticus, Joshua, Ruth, Ezra, Esther, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon did not mention the Spirit in their testimony. The fact that these books do not contain any reference to the Holy Spirit does not take anything away from the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is eternal. His presence therefore is not dependent on His mention in all the books of the Bible.
- Scripture affirms the eternality of the Holy Spirit. In Hebrews 9:13-14, we read, “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
- Verse 14 of this passage is a Trinitarian passage. It refers to each of the Three distinct Persons in the Godhead. However, it emphasized the eternality of the Third Person, the Holy Spirit. He is “the eternal Spirit.” This means the Holy Spirit is eternally present. Earlier in Hebrews 1:10-12, the inspired writer of Hebrews clearly stated the fact of God’s eternality as against the temporality of all creatures. Since the Holy Spirit is eternal, He must be God. He is not a temporal being. He is an eternal being, One who is ever present.
- With all respects, others like Confucius, Bhudda, Mohammed and Joseph Smith have come and gone. But the Holy Spirit is here to stay. The point I want to make here is that the Person we are to depend on to carry out the Great Commission is an eternal being – the Divine Person of the Holy Spirit. His presence will never fail us. He is ever present.
- Although the Holy Spirit has been present from eternity past, His presence had not been fully manifested to God’s people until after Pentecost. The Spirit’s full manifestation depended on the departure and glorification of the Lord Jesus. In other words, the presence of the Holy Spirit could not be fully realized without the departure of Christ to the Father. This is revealed in Scripture as follows: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because was not yet glorified” (John 7:38-39).
- Ten days after our Lord’s glorious ascension into heaven, the Spirit’s presence was fully manifested to the one hundred and twenty who gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. The divine presence of the Holy Spirit was symbolized by wind, tongues and fire (seeActs 2:1-4).
- Ever since then, God’s people have been experiencing the fullness of the Spirit’s presence in their lives. As God’s people yield to the Holy Spirit, they experience the majestic and mighty presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
- The Holy Spirit is truly present with us. He is present in us who believe in Christ. We can yield to Him and rely on Him to work in and through us. We can look to Him to lead us in God-sized ventures. We can trust in His ever-present reality. We can soar with Him to great heights in our walk with God and in our witness of Christ. Because the presence of the Holy Spirit is a reality today as it was in eternity past and in the ages that followed, we have a reliable, dependable, and trustworthy partner to assist us in the fulfillment of the Great Commission,
The Passion of the Holy Spirit
- Perhaps one of truths about the Person of the Holy Spirit that is rarely taught is His passion. We know and say very little about the passion of the Spirit of God. This is very sad indeed. If we are ever to learn the absolute necessity of depending on the Holy Spirit for effective presentation of the Good News, then we must know what is the driving passion of His heart. We must become familiar with what His strong desire in life is. We must be very aware of the purpose of His presence in our lives.
- Do you know what the Holy Spirit lives for? Do you know what is the all-consuming desire of the Spirit of God? Do you know what He is deeply concerned about daily in this age of grace? Do you know what God's Spirit enjoys doing best? Do you know what the Spirit is most excited about doing? Do you know what His longing passion in life is?
- The Holy Spirit is a passionate being just as God the Father and God the Son are. God the Father has a deep passion. He is very much concerned about His glory. Scripture reveals that His concern for His glory is His great passion in life. Through Isaiah the prophet, God repeatedly spoke to reveal to the children of Israel and to us that the passion of His heart is His glory. Speaking in the context of commissioning His Servant, that is the Messiah, God points us to His heartfelt passion for His glory. "I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images" (Isaiah 42:8). This is an emphatic statement. God refuses to give His glory to anyone. He will not share His honor with another. Glory belongs to Him and Him alone. That is why it is so deadly to not give God the glory due His name.
- The story of Herod Agrippa I, (who had James put to death and imprisoned Peter before he was miraculously delivered) perfectly illustrates the danger of desiring God's glory for oneself. Herod gave a stirring speech before the people of Tyre and Sidon. The people were so impressed and "kept crying out, 'The voice of a god and not of a man!' And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died" (Acts 12:22-23).
- Herod failed to give God the glory He deserves. Since God is righteously jealous for His glory, He brought instant judgment on Herod. God's passion for His glory is indescribable. He will never give His glory to another.
- Again, speaking through Isaiah in the context of Israel's redemption from captivity, God makes known to Israel that He created them for His glory. "I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by My name, and whomI have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made" (Isaiah 43:6-7). No wonder God commanded through Isaiah, "Let them give glory to the LORD and declare His praise in the coastlands" (Isaiah 42:12).
- Most of us are familiar with the passion of Christ. We know the story of His sufferings from after the Last Supper through His death on the Cross. His passion is revealed in His sufferings and His sacrifice of Himself. Our Lord's strong desire to seek and save sinners such as myself led to all His sufferings and sacrifice. Our Lord made His passion known in many ways. He said to His disciples, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28; cf. Mark 10:45)."The Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them" (Luke 9:56)."For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10)."For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him" (John 3:17).
- Christ gave Himself fully to the fulfillment of this passion. I sincerely thank the Lord Jesus Christ for living for this purpose.
- But what about the Holy Spirit, the Third Person in the Trinity? What is His passion? What is He deeply concerned about? What is the all-consuming desire of His heart? What is the one thing to which the Spirit of God fully gives Himself? Into what does He pour His energy? What is He personally and particularly excited about? What does He enjoy doing best?
- Scripture reveals that what the Holy Spirit enjoys doing best is bringing glory to Jesus Christ. He pours His energy into the promotion of Jesus Christ. The all-consuming desire of the Spirit's heart is magnifying the Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Person in the Trinity. The Holy Spirit fully gives Himself to pointing people to Jesus, the Christ.
- The Lord Jesus Himself made this known to His disciples in the Upper Room, during His Last Supper with them. "He [that is the Holy Spirit] will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you" (John 16:14).
- This is the principal mission of the Holy Spirit - glorifying Christ. All He does leads to the promotion of Jesus Christ. He never fails in making Christ prominent in the hearts of men and women and boys and girls. His dominant desire and delight is magnifying Jesus Christ. He enjoys bringing honor to Jesus Christ and Him alone. He is not interested in promoting Himself. His passion in life is directed toward pointing people to Jesus Christ, the Lord of lords and the King of kings.
- Speaking to Apostle Peter on the rooftop at Joppa, the Holy Spirit Himself gives us a glimpse into His personal passion for pointing people to the Person of Christ. The Bible says, "While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, 'Behold, three men are looking for you. But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself'" (Acts 10:19-20).
- Peter obeyed the Holy Spirit and accompanied the men who had been sent by Cornelius. At Caesarea, where Peter accompanied the men, he preached Jesus Christ leading to the salvation of many Gentiles and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 10:34-48). The Holy Spirit is in the business of promoting Jesus Christ. The Spirit is only involved in a ministry in which Jesus is magnified.
- This is the Person God wants us to partner with and rely on in sharing the Good News. The Holy Spirit has a passion for promoting Jesus Christ. To effectively depend on the Holy Spirit, we must know His passion in life. Knowing His passion will save us from trying to promote ourselves in the ministry of sharing the Good News. There is absolutely no room for self-promotion when one is relying on the Holy Spirit. He is a "Savior" promoter not a "self" promoter.
The Power of the Holy Spirit
- All throughout the New Testament, power is associated with the presence of the Person of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit is spoken prominently in the New Testament. This reveals that the Holy Spirit is all powerful, and as such, can be relied upon to do God-sized works.
- In reference to the virgin conception of the incarnate Jesus, the inspired Gospel writer, Dr. Luke, speaks of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Most High. “The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High God will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). This is certainly a miracle of the first magnitude. Note that the phrases “the Holy Spirit” and “the power of the Most High” are in parallel. The Holy Spirit is powerful.
- Again in Luke 4, we read of the power of the Spirit. In the opening verses of chapter 4, we are told that the Lord Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil for forty days and forty nights. After triumphing over the devil, we are told, “And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district”(Luke 4:14).
- The point being made here is that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of power. It is through His power Christ overcame the devil and it is through His power Christ preached and taught and healed (see Luke 4:18).
- Speaking at Caesarea, at the home of Cornelius, Peter testified of Christ's victory over the devil as a result of being anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power. "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with Holy Spirit and with power, and He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38).
- This is an important truth of the Gospel message. Jesus Christ is Victor over the devil because of His anointing with the Holy Spirit and with power. We have an overcoming Savior. We have a victorious Lord. We have a triumphant Messiah. We have a conquering King. How encouraging this is to all who believe in Christ, the Lord!
- Having ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus promised His disciples that same power.
- “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
- “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witness both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
- Certainly the power from on high is the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s function as revealed here is to provide power for worldwide witness. This is the real www. The Holy Spirit is omnipotent. It is through His power that God’s people can make a lasting impact on the world. With His power all things are possible.
- Apostle Paul testified to this truth. He acknowledged that the accomplishment of his ministry was achieved not by his might and power, but by power of the Holy Spirit. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he was enabled to perform God-sized works to the glory of God. “For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:19).
- This was indeed a great achievement. But it was not done in the power of man, but in the power of the Spirit.
- When Paul prayed for the believers at Rome to be filled with joy and peace in believing and to abound in hope, he pointed them to the power of the Holy Spirit. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
- The essence of this prayer is that joy, peace and abounding hope in believers' lives are brought about by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Reflecting on his ministry at Thessalonica, Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to disclose to the Thessalonians the manner in which he and his team ministered the Gospel - it was in power and in the Holy Spirit. "For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
- Truly, divine power is always associated with the Divine Person of the Holy Spirit.
- All these references to the power of the Holy Spirit are to teach us that the Spirit who indwells us is powerful. He is the Spirit of great and infinite power. He is great in power and mighty in deed. He is able to do far more than we can ask or imagine. His power is abundantly available to each believer who yields himself to Him. In dependence upon Him, our witness of Christ can be effective. Our testimony of Jesus can also be given with divine power that makes an indelible impact on our generation. In reliance upon Him, God can do impossible things through us for His glory and for the advancement of the Good News.
The Particular functions of the Holy Spirit
- Earlier, in speaking about the personality of the Holy Spirit, we stated the activities and ministries He engages in as one of the evidences of His personhood. We noted that the activities listed can be performed only by a personal being as is the Holy Spirit.
- We will now discuss these activities under the title, 'the particular functions of the Holy Spirit.' Most of these functions are being carried out presently in the lives of believers and in the lives of unbelievers. One of the functions of the Holy Spirit is still future.
- The functions of the Spirit are not listed in any particular order.
1. The Holy Spirit teaches (John 14:26).
- The Holy Spirit is an excellent Teacher of the things of God. There is no flaw in His teaching. He teaches with the goal of transforming lives. He is not just interested in giving information.
- Our Lord promises His disciples of the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit in these clear and convincing words: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26).
- In one of the longest recorded prayers in the Bible, the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit was exalted. “You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them”(Nehemiah 9:20). The people who benefited from the instruction of the Holy Spirit were the Israelites. They were brought out of captivity in Egypt into the Promised Land. So the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit is not only a New Testament ministry but also an Old Testament ministry. He has been teaching for a long time and is still actively instructing today. He is the One we should constantly look to teach us about the things of God. The Spirit's teaching is convicting and comforting. His instruction is always clear, careful, consistent and complete. He teaches us “all things” (John 14:26). The Spirit's faithful instruction clears away and corrects any wrong thinking we have of God. His teaching is always reliable and refreshing
- Regeneration is the miraculous transformation of the sinner. It is the supernatural work of changing the sinner’s heart and renewing it to desire God. Regeneration is being born anew or being born from above. It is not done by the preacher or pastor, no matter how eloquent and loving he may be. This spiritual work is only done by the Person of the Holy Spirit.
- Our Lord made it clear to Nicodemus, a teacher in Israel, that regeneration is absolutely essential for seeing and entering the kingdom of God. In other words, without regeneration, there is absolutely no hope of being accepted by the Father. Our Lord said in His meeting with Nicodemus: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Nicodemus was shocked to hear this and asked: “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” (John 3:4).
- Being a patient Teacher, our Lord explained Himself to the perplexed ruler and teacher of the Jews. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8). By repeating the phrase “born of the Spirit,” our Lord makes here it clear that regeneration is a supernatural occurrence, and the Person of the Holy Spirit is the agent who produces it. Human effort is completely incapable of accomplishing this transformation.
- In Titus 3:5-6, the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is convincingly stated. There it is written, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
- It is the Person of the Holy Spirit who does this supernatural God-sized work in the hearts of repentant sinners.
3. The Holy Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God (1 Corinthians 2:10b).
- Man is a curious creature. He searches, he investigates, he wants to know all things. He has successfully designed “search engines” such as "Google" to get any information that is available on the worldwide web. But unfortunately man has a limitation. His searches and researches fall short, especially when it comes to spiritual things.
- Paul points us to the Holy Spirit. “For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God” (2 Corinthians 2:10b). Two things must be carefully noted here. First, is the extent of the Holy Spirit’s revelation of God’s wisdom and truth. Notice the Bible says, “the Spirit searches all things.” The Holy Spirit searches “all things.” He searches our hearts, minds, souls, and spirits. Unlike the Google search engine, that can only search for information that is available on the worldwide web, the Holy Spirit searches both that which is available and unavailable to man because of his limited knowledge. The Spirit of God, one of the members of the Godhead, is infinite in wisdom and understands all the truths of God and is able to impart them to others. He knows everything about us and can bring them to light when He pleases. It was He who searched the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira and exposed their pretence and pride (see Acts 5:1-11).
- The second thing to note is the depth of the Holy Spirit’s revelation of God’s wisdom and truth. The deep things of God are not hidden from the Holy Spirit. Since He is God, the Holy Spirit knows the deep thoughts of God and therefore can reveal God’s wisdom and truth to man.
- Finally, please note the use of the present tense of the verb “searches” (eraunao), which also means examines, investigates. The use of the present tense indicates the continual effective ministry of the Holy Spirit in His all-pervading infallible guidance of the writers of Scripture (2 Peter 1:21) and in His effective work in the lives of believers today (Ephesians 1:17-19; 3:16-19).
- As a Person, the Holy Spirit speaks to God’s people. He speaks to make known to us what we need to know. According to Jesus’ teaching, the Holy Spirit “will not speak of His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:13). In other words, Jesus is making it clear to us that the Holy Spirit will communicate with us. For us to enjoy communion with Him, we must make ourselves available to Him to communicate to us. The Spirit spoke to Philip (Acts 8:29) and to Peter (Acts 10:19-20) and directed their steps into ripe harvest fields.
- The Spirit is speaking to the church today (Revelation 2:7).
- But the question is: do God’s people have an ear to hear what He is saying to the churches?
5. The Holy Spirit helps believers in prayer (Romans 8:26).
- The testimony of Scripture is that we do not know how to pray as we should. But thanks be to God the Holy Spirit comes to our rescue. "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should" (Romans 8:26). In this verse our weakness in prayer is revealed. But also, the wonderful help of the Holy Spirit is made known to us.
- We do not know what to ask. We often do not know how to pray as we should to get the attention of God Almighty so as to respond to us in grace and power. We are often perplexed in our prayer life simply because we are not competent judges of our own condition and circumstances. We are shortsighted and very much biased in favor of the flesh. Our focus is often set on fleshly desires and physical needs. We pray selfishly. We pray ignorantly. Bible Commentator Matthew Henry says it best. "We are like foolish children, who are ready to cry for fruit before it is ripe and fit for them."
- Take for example the two sons of Zebedee, James and John. When the Samaritans rejected our Lord Jesus from entering their village they asked for fire and brimstone to consume the Samaritans.
- "When His disciples James and John saw this, [that is the rejection of Jesus by the Samaritans], they said, 'Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them? But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, 'You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.'] And they went on to another village" (Luke 9:54-55).
- We are not competent judges of our circumstances. Truly, we do not know how to pray as we should. Our Lord had to sharply rebuke the sons of Thunder for asking amiss.
- After Elijah was taken to heaven, Elisha his successor had an experience with the sons of the prophet at Jericho. This experience also perfectly illustrates how we do not know what to ask in prayer. The sons of the prophets clearly recognized that the spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha and bowed themselves to the ground before him (see 2 Kings 2:15). Yet they requested something that even shamed Elisha.
- We read the story in 2 Kings 2:16-18. "They said to him, 'Behold now, there are with your servants fifty strong men, please let them go and search for your master; perhaps the Spirit of the LORD has taken him up and cast him on some mountain or in some valley.' And he said, 'You shall not send.' But when they urged him until he was ashamed, he said, 'Send.' They sent therefore fifty men; and they searched three days but did not find him. They returned to him while he was staying at Jericho; and he said to them, 'Did I not say to you, 'Do not go?'"
- The sons of the prophets were not competent judges of the situation, yet they boldly requested to send a search party to look for Elijah. How often we also pray like that.
- Please notice that the inspired apostle includes himself in not knowing how to pray as he should. He wrote, "We do not know how to pray as we should." Paul puts himself among the rest of God's people. If such a great apostle, and apostles James and John, as well as the sons of the prophets of old did not know how to pray as they should, how can we think we know better? How can we go about praying in our own strength and wisdom?
- One of the things I have personally learned by God's grace is that I don't know how to pray in every situation as I should. Therefore I regularly ask for the Spirit's assistance to pray. When I ask Him, I do not doubt Him. I know that He, being a Spirit of grace and supplication, is dwelling in me to help me.
- Notice, it is written, "the Spirit also helps our weakness." He helps us overcome the distractions in prayer. He assists us to overcome the doubts in our hearts as we lift them up to God in prayer. He aids us when our desire to draw near to the throne of grace is cold. He supports and strengthens us when our thoughts are wandering and racing at one hundred miles per second over every trivial, mundane, and completely futile thing. The Holy Spirit comes alongside us to assist us in our weakness in prayer.
- Before you pray, please make it a practice to ask for the help of the Spirit and believe that He will help you. You will be amazed at His help in prayer. The Holy Spirit has been waiting for God's people to ask Him to assist them in their prayers, but few, if any, ask Him. How much we lose each day of His help because we do not ask.
6. The Holy Spirit intercedes for believers (Romans 8:26-27).
- The Bible makes it clear that the Lord Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, interceding for us. Being the High Priest ,according to the order of Melchizedek, Jesus is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He, our High Priest, always lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). We are familiar with the intercession Jesus makes on our behalf. However, the Person of the Holy Spirit also intercedes for us with groanings or sighs too deep for words. The Spirit of God labors on our behalf in earnest and effectual prayer since His intercession is always according to the will of God.
- The Holy Spirit does not only help us in prayer, but He also intercedes for us in our hearts. He groans in prayer on our behalf. The Holy Spirit is a passionate praying Spirit. In Romans 8:26-27, God pulled back the curtain for us to peer into the unseen spiritual realm where a great Person, the Person of the Holy Spirit is at work in prayer on our behalf. This great Person intercedes for us unceasingly with great passion.
- There are many times we do not know how to pray, but the Spirit knows how and what to pray. How thankful we must be! How reassuring this is! The Spirit wisely intercedes for us that God’s will be done in our lives. If others fail to pray for us, we can count on Christ's and the Holy Spirit’s intercession for us and be encouraged. Christ intercedes for us in heaven, at the right hand of God. The Spirit intercedes for us in our hearts. They are both always heard by the Father because their intercession on our behalf is according to God's good, pleasing and perfect will. In other words, their prayers are always for our good.
- Have you thanked the Holy Spirit of late for praying for you?
- Do you know that He never fails to groan on your behalf?
- Do you know that He will never stop praying for you until God's purpose is accomplished in your life?
- The Holy Spirit, being the Third Person in the Godhead, equal to God the Father and God the Son, commands God’s people with divine authority. He commands us and expects us to carry out His command in His strength.
- After Philip’s successful preaching in Samaria, which brought many to Christ, an angel spoke to Philip to go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8:26). Philip obeyed the angel’s instruction and soon caught up with the Ethiopian eunuch traveling in a chariot. When the moment was ripe for Philip to be used to point the eunuch to Christ, the Holy Spirit commanded him: “Go up and join this chariot” (Acts 8:29). Philip’s obedience to the Spirit’s command resulted in a great spiritual blessing- the salvation of the Ethiopian eunuch.
- The Spirit also commanded Peter after his vision on the rooftop. We read in Acts 10:19-20: “The Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are looking for you. But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.”
- Clearly, the authoritative manner in which the Spirit commands God’s people is revealed in this command to Peter. He commands and expects from us prompt, complete obedience. That was exactly what Peter did. The result- a great spiritual blessing for the Gentiles. The door was flung wide open for the Gentiles to share in the eternal riches of the Gospel of God.
- The Holy Spirit is still commanding God's people today.
- But the question is: Are God's people in tune with His commanding voice that directs them into open doors for sharing the Good News?
- Speaking in the context of what true, genuine born again believers or children of God are, Paul was directed to reveal one of the functions of the Holy Spirit – the witness of sonship.
- How does the believer know that he or she is a child of God? Is by regular church attendance? Or by giving? Or by good works? Is it by hearing Christian messages and music? These are not the primary ways of knowing that one is truly born again and belonging to God.
- “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, Abba! Father! The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:15-16).
- As believers, we need to have an abiding assurance in our hearts that we belong to God. We live in a world full of uncertainty. Many are not certain of their future, family and finances. It is a world full of fear. God wants His people to be certain, not fearful. But we cannot generate this assurance in ourselves. If we look to ourselves for such assurance, we will only end up in constant despair and disappointment. We fail and falter so often. But thanks be to God! He knows we cannot generate such confidence in our hearts that we truly belong to Him. So He gave us the Spirit of sonship, the Holy Spirit, to constantly bear witness with our redeemed spirit that we are children of God. This is a precious gift God has given to us in this world of uncertainty. There is a spiritual instinct in the newborn believer that he is a son of God. The Holy Spirit tells him that it is so. There is no need to go to a seminar or to a seminary to discover whether you are part of God’s family. There is no need to go to a special class or college before coming to grips with the truth that one truly belongs to God. The Holy Spirit is here to attest to our hearts that we are children of God.
- Please notice the emphatic way in which this ministry of the Spirit is made known. “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” Such emphasis, “the Spirit Himself” is to build our confidence. The Spirit will never fail to impress it upon our hearts that we are God’s children.
- The Spirit’s ministry of bearing witness with our spirits that we are children of God didn’t stop with the apostles, but continues today [present tense –testifies or bears witness with- summarturei]. The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God primarily through the Word of God. That is why it is so important to be in the Word daily. As we read and meditate on the Word, the Spirit confirms the truth that, because we have trusted the Savior, we are now children of God.
- Pau was led again to write on this special ministry of the Spirit in Galatians 4:6.“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father!” The Spirit of God is the gift of God to every believer because he is a son. It is by the Spirit we cry, Abba! Father! Abba is a term of endearment such as “papa” or “daddy.” Our Lord Himself used it habitually in His prayers to the Father (see Mark 14:36). He then passed it on to those who, through Him, became God’s children.
- Not only does the Spirit bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God, but He also testifies to our hearts about certain decisions God has revealed to us personally. He bears witness to our spirit to confirm the path on which God is directing us (see Acts 20:23).
9. The Holy Spirit prevents God’s servants from speaking or going to a place He has not planned for them to go (Acts 16:6-8).
- Paul was so committed to Christ and His Great Commission. Having gone on his first missionary journey, Paul was filled with greater passion to reach more people for Christ. Driven by this passion, Paul and Silas left Antioch and traveled through Syria and Cilicia strengthening the churches (see Acts 15:40-41). Timothy later joined the team at Lystra (see Acts 16:1-3). They continued on their journey strengthening the churches in the faith and even seeing increase in numbers daily. But then came a halt. They were stopped in their tracks, not by the devil, but by the Divine Person of the Holy Spirit.
- For we read, “They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas” (Acts 16:6-8).
- After ministering in Phrygia and Galatia, Paul and his team wanted to go southwest to the province of Asia, probably to minister in Ephesus, the important capital of Asia, but the Holy Spirit flatly prevented them. Then Paul and his team traveled west to the border of Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but again the Spirit, this time called “the Spirit of Jesus”, would not allow them. The Holy Spirit simply stopped Paul and his team. He prohibited from going where He had not planned for them to go at this time.
- But the question is: Is the Holy Spirit still working in this way? Yes, indeed!
- The Scripture says, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
- We are told that the Spirit stopped Paul and his team, but we are not told how they became aware of the Spirit’s message. I believe God does not want us to rely on a formula but on personal relationship with the Spirit. As we learn to be sensitive to Him, we will be able to hear His voice. The Spirit’s goal in preventing us is not to simply frustrate us, but to teach us that He knows better and wants to help us maximize our witness.
- When obstacles come our way, we must not jump to the conclusion that it is from the devil. We must patiently seek the Holy Spirit to show us if this is of Him. And if so, to redirect us in the path of His choice. Many of us are unfamiliar with this ministry of the Spirit. Oh how we need to learn from the Holy Spirit afresh!
10. The Holy Spirit admonishes God’s wayward children(Nehemiah 9:30).
- God’s people often stray from God’s path and plan for them. As sheep, we so often wander from the loving care of our Good Shepherd. We are so prone to leaning on our own understanding and not acknowledging God in all our ways. Being a loving Father, God does not let His children continue in “wander-land.” His desire is to correct us from our wayward path to the way of life. He calls out to us as a shepherd calls out to the straying sheep. He goes out of His way to bring us back to Himself.
- But what means does God use to bring us back Himself? Does He use the sword to threaten us? Does He use the sledge-hammer to frighten us? Does He use the whip to chase us? God uses none of these. The Holy Spirit is the One whom God uses to bring us back to Himself.
- A classic example of this special ministry of the Holy Spirit is found in the Book of Nehemiah. The people of Israel had wandered from the Lord and His Word. Although God had given them the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey, they were removed from it because of their constant disregard and disobedience to the Word of God. After 70 years in exile, in fulfillment of His Word, God brought them back to the Promised Land. Having completed building the city wall of Jerusalem and rededicating themselves to God and His Word, the people gathered to hear the word of the Lord after celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (see Nehemiah 9:1-3).
- During this gathering, the returnees confessed their sins, read from the Book of the Law for a quarter of the day, and worshiped the Lord their God. Actually, their confession and worship took another quarter of the day (see Nehemiah 9:3). All these led into one of the longest recorded public prayers in the Bible (Nehemiah 9:5-37). The prayer as a whole traces Israel’s religious history and God’s dealings with them. The prayer reveals so much about who God is. He is a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love (9:17). It magnifies God’s great compassion (9:19, 27) and God’s great mercy (9:31).
- But do you know what else the prayer reveals? It shows us Israel’s stubbornness, wanderings and arrogance (9:17a, 26, 28-29). These characteristics are also found in believers today. We should not think for a moment that we are better than the children of Israel. Our hearts are just like theirs – prone to wander from the God we love.
- Speaking in the context of Israel’s stubbornness, refusal to listen and turning their backs on God as we also do so often, the Holy Spirit’s ministry of admonishing is made known to us. “However, You bore with them for many years, and admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets, yet they would not give ear. Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands” (9:30).
- The Holy Spirit repeatedly admonished the children of Israel through the prophets. God used the Holy Spirit to communicate His revelation to the prophets, who in turn communicated to His people. But today we don’t have to depend on prophets. The Holy Spirit who worked through the prophets is personally living in our hearts. This makes His ministry of admonition more personal and more powerful. Please notice that when the people refused to listen to the admonition, reproof and or warning of the Spirit it was not well with them. Similarly, if we turn a deaf ear to the personal admonition of the Holy Spirit, the going will be tough for us.
- Now, what should be said to the objection that this function of the Holy Spirit is not for today? Our response comes from the Word of God. Writing to the church of Corinth of mostly Gentile descent, Paul was led to use the wilderness experience of the Israelites to teach an important lesson.“Nevertheless, with most of them (i.e., the people of Israel) God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved” (1 Corinthians 10:4-5). This passage explains that the Spirit’s ministry of admonition is for us today.
11. The Holy Spirit helps believers who are brought before rulers in defense of their faith (Matthew 10:16-20; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11-12; Luke 21:12-15).
- Speaking to His disciples in preparation for service, the Lord Jesus Christ made it clear to them that they would face persecution and even be brought before rulers such as kings and governors. But in such a needy time in their lives, He assured them that they would be given timely help through the Holy Spirit. Matthew, Mark and Luke record His instructions about the help the Holy Spirit gives to believers in defense of their faith before rulers. It is worth stating them at this point.
- “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matthew 10:16-20).
- “When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11).
- “When they bring you before the synagogues and rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12).
- “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute” (Luke 21:12-15).
- The passages are self-explanatory. The Holy Spirit gives special “on the spot” help to persecuted believers in defense of their faith. This truth was so much illustrated in Paul’s life (see Acts 23:1-10; 24:1-26; 25:1-27; 26:1-32). This work of the Holy Spirit did not stop with the early believers. He is carrying it out even in our day. This should be a great encouragement to us, especially as we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.
12. The Holy Spirit guides those who are in relation with Jesus into all the truth (John 16:13).
- While having the Last Supper with His disciples, the Lord Jesus revealed much to them, especially about the role and function of the Holy Spirit. He had still many other things to tell His disciples, but they could not take them in (see John 16:12). Our Lord never overwhelmed His disciples with teaching. Knowing that they could not take in more of His teaching, the Lord Jesus promised them that the work He had begun would be continued by the Spirit of truth. He would guide them into all the truth. Speaking with great authority and certainty our Lord declares: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:13).
- Bible Commentator, William MacDonald, writes: “There is a real sense in which all truth was committed to the apostles in their lifetime. They, in turn, committed it to writing, and we have it today in our NT. This, added to the OT, completed God’s written revelation to man. But it is, of course, true in all ages that the Spirit guides God’s people into all the truth. He does it through the Scriptures. He will only speak the things that are given to Him to say by the Father and the Son. “He will tell you things to come.” This, of course, is done in the NT, and particularly in the book of Revelation where the future is unveiled.”
- The point is, the Holy Spirit guided the apostles in receiving God’s revelation as we have it in the New Testament. But He has not stopped guiding God’s people into God’s truth. When we need guidance today, the first person we should turn to is the Holy Spirit.
- But how often do we turn to Him? His guidance and counsel are free and available to us 24/7. But yet we spend huge amounts of our earnings for one or two hour weekly appointment with “counselors.” There is nothing wrong in going to godly counselors, but they are never meant to be the first people to whom we turn. The Holy Spirit must always be the first Person to whom we turn when in need of spiritual or practical counsel. His counsel is always reliable, His guidance sure. He guides into all the truth we need to know to make the right decisions and choices in every stage of life. He will never mislead us. His record is clean. He always directs us in the right path in life.
- The Greek word for “guide” is odegeo. It also means lead or conduct. The Holy Spirit conducts the believer in the path of truth. That means you can never go wrong if you have the Holy Spirit as your “conductor” in life. How comforting this truth is!
13. The Holy Spirit discloses truth to us (John 16:14, 15).
- The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). His passion is therefore not only to guide us into all truth but also to disclose or make known the truth to us. He knows that truth is what honors God and truth is what sets us free. Therefore He is committed to guiding, disclosing, leading and revealing truth.
- The word translated “disclose” is “anangello.” It also means to announce, proclaim, teach, and make known. The Holy Spirit is in the business of announcing truth. He is here to proclaim truth. He is only interested in teaching truth. He makes truth known to our hearts.
14. The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ (John 16:14).
- The Spirit’s most dominant passion is to promote the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He loves to magnify Jesus Christ. He delights in bringing honor to Jesus. Wherever the Holy Spirit is truly and effectively at work, Jesus and Jesus alone will be glorified. This is an excellent test for all teaching and preaching. If the teaching or preaching has the effect of magnifying Christ the Lord, then we can be certain that the teaching or preaching is of the Holy Spirit.
- The Spirit’s desire is to glorify the Person and work of Christ. The Spirit’s chief purpose is not to make Himself prominent but to magnify the Person of Jesus. All that He does leads to the fulfillment of the goal of glorifying Jesus. This is the principal work He has been sent to do and He enjoys doing it with all that is within Him. The Holy Spirit is here to promote the Savior not self.
15. The Holy Spirit leads God’s people into a life of holiness(Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18).
- The Spirit of God is interested in leading God’s people into holiness. He is holy and desires that we, as believers are led into that which is consistent with His nature, namely holiness, grace, truth and goodness. He is called variously as “the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22; Acts 1:2), “the Spirit of holiness” (Romans 1:4), “Your good Spirit” (Nehemiah 9:20), “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13) and “the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29). These names point to His nature. His desire is therefore to produce the moral and spiritual qualities of holiness and goodness in all whom He indwells.
- Speaking in the context of the relation of the Spirit to the sons of God as being much like that of a shepherd to his sheep, Paul is used to reveal this function of the Spirit – leading God’s people into a life of holiness. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14).
- In Galatians 3:24 the law is pictured as having a responsibility to “lead” men to Christ. Once this goal is achieved, the law must hand over the leading role to the Spirit, who guides into the truth (John 16:13) and, as in the present passage, into holiness. Unlike sin, which may at first only gently seduce, then deceitfully begin to drive as a hard taskmaster, the Spirit relies on persuasion rather than force.
- The “leading” of the Spirit in this context is not referring to spectacular instances of divine guidance in the lives of prominent believers. Rather, it is simply referring to what is true of all sons of God- namely, that all believers, men and women, boys and girls are led by the Spirit into a life of holiness.
- The verb “are led” (agontai- from ago also means guide) is in the present tense and has a passive voice. This means that the Holy Spirit is continually leading believers into His desire of holiness for our lives. There is never a time in the believer’s life when the Holy Spirit leads him in unholiness. All His energy is expended in directing our lives as God’s children into holiness. He is the Spirit of holiness. He is called the Holy Spirit. Holiness is His nature. Holiness is His desire for us. Since this is His desire, we must allow ourselves to be led in holiness. We must not hinder Him.
- Martin Luther writes: "To be led by the Spirit of God means to despise and renounce everything that is not of God, even oneself, and to reject the pleasures of this world which are impure and covered with filth. It means freely to forsake all (earthly) things and to face and welcome the sufferings of the Christian life. But this is not the work of our corrupt nature, but the work of the Holy Spirit in us."
- Speaking in the context of power for holiness, Paul was inspired to point to the Holy Spirit’s leading of the believer to overcome the flesh which is constantly at war with the Spirit. “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law” (Galatians 5:18). The need for godly living in contrast to living by the law or flesh is the concern of this verse. And who makes godly living a reality in the believer’s life? It is the Holy Spirit. It is not a matter of self-effort. However, it must be pointed out that being led by the Spirit does not imply passivity but rather the need to allow oneself to be led. As the believer cooperates with the Spirit, he is lifted above the flesh and is occupied with the Lord rather than the law.
16. The Holy Spirit illumines believers (1 Corinthians 2:14-16).
- God revealed previously unknown truths to men by the Holy Spirit. They in turn passed on these truths to us by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
- How are these truths to be understood? We understand them by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who enlightens our hearts and minds to the truth of God’s Word. He elucidates God’s truth to the believer. This is a critical ministry of the Holy Spirit. The truths that were miraculously revealed and miraculously inspired can only be understood by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. The illumination or witness of the Holy Spirit is needed if the believer is to understand the meaning of the Bible and be certain of its truth.
- Without this ministry of the Holy Spirit, Bible study will be meaningless. Although man boasts of his wisdom and knowledge, when it comes to understanding God’s truth, he is helpless. He cannot understand the truth without the aid of the Holy Spirit. Left to ourselves, we hear but never understand and we see but never perceive. Our hearts have grown dull, our ears are heavy of hearing, and our eyes we have closed (see Matthew 13:13-15). We therefore need the special work of the Holy Spirit to understand, perceive and to have the eyes of our hearts enlightened. This special work is called illumination of the Holy Spirit. The believer who is illuminated by the Holy Spirit can discern the truths of God. He may never have been to seminary or college, yet through the enlightening work of the Spirit he can understand the deep mysteries of the Word of God.
- Guided by the Spirit, Paul wrote about this special ministry of the Spirit.“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things…” (1 Corinthians 12-15).
- Simply put, if we want to understand God’s truth and comprehend its meaning and be fully convinced of its truth and divine origin, we need the internal working of the Holy Spirit – illumination. We don’t need a Ph. D.
- The Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination was not merely for the first generation believers, but obviously also includes helping believers today to understand and comprehend the Scripture. In other words, the teachings regarding the Spirit’s ministry are for us as well.
- But the question is: How often do you ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten your heart and mind to comprehend God’s truth and to be certain of its truthfulness? Not consistently! We have ourselves to blame.
17. The Holy Spirit reveals all that God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9-10a).
- The theme of Paul’s inspired writing to the believers at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 2:1-16 is that the wisdom of Christ is revealed by the Holy Spirit. In fact, he mentioned wisdom (sophia) fives times in 1 Corinthians 2:1-7.
- Having spoken much about wisdom, Paul now stresses the work of the Holy Spirit in revealing the wisdom of God. “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, al that God has prepared for those who love Him. For to us God revealed them through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10a). The prepositional phrase “to us,” (v. 10a), in this context refers to Paul and to other apostles and their associates. They were those to whom God sovereignly chose to make known His secret wisdom which was not fully revealed, but which He planned before the beginning of the ages. Through them God fully explained His original plan of salvation. Though God outlined this plan in the Old Testament, it is not as fully explained and understood there as it is in the New Testament.
- The verb “reveal” (apokalupto) is a strong term, used in the New testament to indicate divine relation of certain supernatural secrets (see Matthew 16:17; Luke 10:22). Throughout verses 10-16 of 1 Corinthians 2, Paul was led to speak mostly in the first person plural, “we” (not “you”). This actually strengthens the interpretation that he is primarily referring to divine revelation given to the apostles. Later 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 Paul returns to addressing the Corinthians as “you.”
- What is primarily true of Paul and the other apostles, is true secondarily for all believers. The Holy Spirit helps, assists, and aids them to interpret Scripture. This is the context in which the verb “reveal” is being used. We are not teaching that the Holy Spirit gives us new revelations today. Not at all. God forbid it. What is being said here is that the Holy Spirit is the One who helps believers, lovers of God, to wisely interpret the Scripture for life and godliness. He revealed the wisdom of God to the apostles who wrote the Scriptures to which nothing can be added or subtracted. But the same Holy Spirit assists believers today to faithfully interpret the Scriptures and apply them fruitfully to their lives.
18. The Holy Spirit sanctifies those who are saved (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; Romans 15:16).
- The Holy Spirit works sanctification in the life of each and every single believer. By sanctification we mean 'the continued transformation of the believer’s moral and spiritual character' so that the life of the believer actually comes to reflect that of Jesus Christ. Sanctification is the process of making the believer holy and set apart as he or she already is in God’s sight. The Holy Spirit sanctifies us as we set our minds on Him and are led by Him. He sanctifies us as we live by Him instead of living according to the flesh. The Spirit of truth, working together with the word of God (John 17:17) sanctifies us through and through.
- Scripture thrice makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is the One who sanctifies believers.
- “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
- “Who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood” (1 Peter 1b-2a).
- The unique feature about these two passages is that they are both Trinitarian passages. Each refers to the Three Persons in the Godhead. Each also points to a specific role being carried out in the plan of salvation. In the first passage, Christ's love for the believers is magnified. Then God’s choice of them is affirmed. The Spirit’s work of sanctification is then brought to light. In the second passage, God the Father’s choice of believers according to His foreknowledge is again affirmed. The Spirit’s sanctifying ministry is repeated. Christ’s sacrifice of His blood is magnified.
- The third passage in which the Spirit’s role of sanctification is stated is Romans 15:16. It reads, “To be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering to the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:16). Again we see that this passage is Trinitarian in nature. Jesus Christ, God, representing the Father, and the Holy Spirit are mentioned. In this passage, the role of the Holy Spirit as the One who sanctifies believers is again affirmed. As Paul worked among the Gentiles, many came to know Christ. He calls them “my offering of the Gentiles.” Their acceptance by God is based on the sanctifying work of the Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit is the One who sanctifies. We cannot sanctify ourselves and become acceptable to God.
19. The Holy Spirit is the One who will give life to our mortal bodies (Romans 8:11).
- This is one of the unique functions of the Holy Spirit.
- It is the one function of the Spirit which is yet future. The verse clearly reveals that this is something yet to come in the believer's life.
- Notice that the verse is stated in the future tense. "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you" (Romans 8:11).
- The context of the verse is also future. It looks forward to the time when the children of God will be glorified. Creation itself anxiously longs and waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. God's people also groan and wait eagerly for the redemption of their body (see Romans 8:17-25).
- The Spirit's function of giving life to our mortal bodies is indeed a future event. This will be the final act of our redemption - when our bodies are glorified like the Savior's body of glory. Each believer must eagerly look for this great and glorious event.
- In this verse, the Spirit's dwelling in the believer is stressed both at the beginning of the verse and at the end of it. In the First Class Condition, the speaker assumes that the condition stated in the if clause is a reality. The first part of the verse, "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead dwells in you" could be best rendered as, "But indeed the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you."
- At the end of the verse, we are again told that the Spirit dwells in the believer. The Spirit's presence in the believer's life is a great truth of the Christian faith.
- To establish the certainty of this future work, we are given two great assurances, namely the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit.
- The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Without it, our preaching is vain, our faith is futile, worthless and vain, and our hope is empty indeed (see 1Corinthians 15:12-19). Thanks be to God! For Christ, the Lord, has risen indeed, the first-fruits of those who are asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20). Christ triumphed over the grave. Because Christ was raised from the dead, we will also be raised on that day at the sound of the trumpet of God.
- The Holy Spirit who dwells in believers is the One who will give life to our mortal bodies. The same Spirit who regenerates the soul of believers will in the future give life to our mortal bodies. The Spirit who is life in Himself loves giving life. How wonderful is His ministry of giving life!
- Commentator Everett F. Harrison states: "In verse 11 the Spirit is given yet another title: "the Spirit of [Him] who raised Jesus from the dead." The reference is, of course, to God (cf. Romans 4:24). Paul is not asserting, as some claim, that the Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. The title is simply a specialized variation of the Spirit of God. His future work on behalf of the saints will be to "give life" to their mortal (i.e., subject-to-death) bodies. This accords with Paul's description of the glorified bodies of believers as "spiritual" (1 Corinthians 15:44). The life bestowed by the Spirit in that coming day is beyond the power of death or any other agency to vitiate or destroy. It is the very life of God, blessedly spiritual and indestructibly eternal."
- St. Augustus remarks: "In the coming (final) glorification the body will no longer die, but also will be incapable of dying, he does not say that He will quicken your dead bodies, but your mortal bodies, for then (in glory) the bodies will be not merely beyond death, but incapable of death."
- Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19) and the Lord is for the body (1 Corinthians 6:13). It is therefore no wonder that through the life giving power of the Holy Spirit our mortal bodies will be given life and thus glorified, to fit us eternally in the presence of the eternal God.
- The Spirit will surely accomplish this future work. He will not fail or falter.
- But the question is: Are we thinking of this future work of the Spirit and are we thanking Him ahead of time for it?
- To thank Him ahead of time is to express confidence in Him and so honor Him.
- Our lowly bodies will indeed be newly fashioned. They may suffer and lie in ruins, but make no mistake, they will be rebuilt through the divine work of the Holy who lives in us.
- To God be the glory great things He has done and will do on our behalf!
- Since the Holy Spirit is for sure going to do this great and glorious work on our behalf, our appreciation of Him can be shown by living according to the Spirit, not according to the flesh.
20. The Holy Spirit assists believers in overcoming sin in their lives (Romans 8:12-13).
- Scripture makes it clear that the believer has a sinful nature within himself, despite having been crucified with Christ. The flesh, that old sinful nature of ours, has not been eradicated. As long as we live on earth, we have to deal with it. In Galatians 5:19-21, we are given a list of the sinful works of the flesh. It’s an ugly list. Immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, are what our sinful nature revels in.
- Since the Spirit’s desire for the believer is totally different from that of the flesh, there is constant conflict within us.
- But how can the believer overcome sin in his life? How can overcome the desire of the flesh, which is clearly in opposition to the desire of the Spirit? Is it by self-effort gritty determination? Not at all. No one can hope to deal with the sinful nature simply by determination alone. The Holy Spirit is needed, and He is the Spirit of power. In other words, victory is not in ourselves but in the Holy Spirit, who indwells us. Victory over sin is obtained through the Spirit’s overcoming presence and power in us.
- Knowing this, the inspired Apostle writes, “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh- for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:12-13).
- Though the flesh is not eradicated, we are not obliged to live according to it. The old, evil, ugly, sin-infested, corrupt nature has been nothing but a drag. It has never done us any good. In fact, its goal is to drag us down to the lowest, deepest, darkest, hottest places in hell. Why should we feel obligated to such an enemy? If Christ had not saved us and the Spirit had not come to live in us, we would not be able to overcome the sinful nature. The Spirit’s role is critical in this. It is by Him that the sinful deeds of the flesh are put to death. The Spirit’s ministry of putting to death the misdeeds of the body is called mortification.
21. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-11).
- Our Lord’s trustworthy teaching on the works of the Holy Spirit places strong emphasis upon the Spirit’s activity in initiating sinners into the Christian life. From man’s perspective, conversion is the beginning of the Christian life. Conversion is simply the sinner’s turning to God. This turning to God consists of repentance and faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Repentance is a full one hundred and eighty-degree turn from sin to the Savior. Faith is trust placed in a living person, Jesus Christ. It is the acceptance of the promises and work of Jesus Christ.
- Before conversion, which involves repentance, and faith can take place, there must be conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit. In other words, without the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, there can be no conversion. This being the case, our Lord Himself, emphatically instructed His disciples about the Holy Spirit’s work of conviction. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:8-11).
- Please notice that it is the Holy Spirit alone who does the work of convicting of sin. The apostles didn’t do it. We can’t either. The Holy Spirit solely and successfully does this work. The essence of sin as our Lord defined it in this passage is unbelief in Jesus - His message and his mission. Jesus simplifies sin to total rejection of Him and His message.
- The Greek word translated “convict” in the NASB is elencho. It is translated as “reprove” in the KJV and “convince” in the NIV. Actually, elencho is a legal term that means to pronounce a judicial verdict by which the guilt of the culprit at the bar of justice is defined and fixed. The Spirit does not merely accuse men of sin, He brings them to an inescapable sense of guilt so that they realize their shame and helplessness before God. A court can convict a man of murder, but only the Holy Spirit can convict him of unbelief. So the Holy Spirit is the prosecuting attorney who presents God’s case against humanity. He creates an inescapable awareness of sin so that it cannot be dismissed with an excuse or evaded by taking refuge in the fact that “everybody is doing it.” The Spirit’s function is like that of Nathan the prophet, who said to King David, “You are the man” (2 Samuel 12:7), and compelled him to acknowledge his misdeeds (see Psalm 51:4). – Merrill C. Tenny
22. The Holy Spirit comforts God’s grieving children (John 14:16).
- Preparing His disciples for His departure, Jesus promises another Counselor.“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16). The Greek word translated variously as “Counselor” (NIV), and “Helper” (NASB) is paracletos. It means one called alongside to help; or Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor. Because the Spirit’s function is to represent God to the believer as Jesus Himself did in His incarnate state, He said, “He [the Father] will give another Paracletos.” Here “another” (Greek, allon) means another of the same kind, not of a different kind. The Lord Jesus had been with His beloved disciples for three years. But the time had come for Him to complete His work on earth and depart to the Father. This brought much grief to the heart of the disciples. Jesus Himself spoke of their grief twice (see John 16:20, 22).
- Who was to comfort them in their grief? It was the Comforter. And when He came He comforted them. His name is the Comforter therefore He comforts. Today, the Holy Spirit is at work, comforting believers who are grieving.
- When you are grieving, suffering, hurting and in anguish of your soul who do you turn to receive comfort?
- Do you look to your pastor, preacher, parent, playmate, people or anti-depressant pills?
- People are miserable comforters. Ask Job about that and he will be delighted to give you his counsel. Anti-depressant pills are worse. When you turn to the Holy Spirit, He will give you the best comfort that restores your soul, refreshes your heart, rejuvenates your spirit and renews your mind. The Holy Spirit is indeed the True Comforter. His comfort restores the soul of the sorrowful. His comfort even gives rest to your hurting body.
- In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 we read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which ourselves are comforted by God.”
- God is very interested in comforting His believing children. In every affliction or trouble we face in our lives as His people, we can count on His comfort. This comfort is released to us through the Holy Spirit. As the passage makes it clear, only those who have experienced God’s comfort are able to comfort others meaningfully, not miserably.
- The hymn writers Frank Bottome and William J. Kirkpatrick expressed the blessings of the coming of the Holy Spirit in their hymn, "The Comforter Has Come."
- "O spread the tidings 'round wherever man is found, wherever human hearts and human woes abound; let ev'ry Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound: The Comforter has come!
- Lo, the great King of kings, with healing in His wings, to ev'ry captive soul a full deliverance brings; and thru the vacant cells the song of triumph rings: The Comforter has come!
- O boundless love divine! how shall this tongue of mine to wond'ring mortals tell the matchless grace divine - that I, a child of hell, should in His image shine! The Comforter has come!"
- The refrain of the hymn reads, "The Comforter has come, the Comforter has come! The Holy [Spirit] from heav'n - the Father's promise giv'n; O spread the tidings 'round wherever man is found - The Comforter has come!"
- Also the hymn writer Stephen R. Adams captures the comforting ministry of the Holy Spirit in his song, "Where the Spirit of the Lord Is."
- "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is peace; where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is love. There is comfort in life's darkest hour, there is light and life; there is help and power in the Spirit, in the Spirit of the Lord."
23. The Holy Spirit gives eternal life (John 6:63).
- After feeding five thousand people miraculously from five barley loaves and two fish received from a lad on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, the crowd followed Jesus to Capernaum. Jesus exposed their true motive of “seeking Him.” It was because they ate loaves and were filled (see John 6:26). Our Lord then exhorted them not to “work for the food that perishes, for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God has set His seal” (John 6:27). Our Lord went on to make a profound statement which the crowd concluded was a difficult statement, eating His flesh and drinking His blood.
- Having referred to Himself as the bread of life (John 6:48) and the living bread that came out of heaven (John 6:51), our Lord solemnly declared, “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:58). Mere physical food doesn’t give spiritual and eternal life. One must believe in Christ, who is the Bread of Life, the Living Bread. It is in this context Jesus spoke these words: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63). Jesus was speaking here of the Holy Spirit’s role of giving spiritual life. It is the Holy Spirit who imparts life to the believer. Eternal life is not transmitted by the process of physical eating.
- The crowd had been thinking in terms of Christ’s literal flesh, but here He told them that eternal life was not gained by eating flesh but by the work of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord explained that when His sayings about eating His flesh and drinking His blood were understood in a spiritual way, as meaning belief in Him, then those who accepted the message would receive eternal life.
24. The Holy Spirit makes God a reality to believers (John 14:17; John 15:26)
- Making God real to believers is one of the functions of the Holy Spirit. The world wants to know about the reality of God through scientific, technological and philosophical methods. No matter how advanced and costly their scientific and technological researches are and no matter how sound their philosophical reasonings are, these, cannot lead them to discerning and discovering the reality of God. It is only the Holy Spirit who makes God truly real to people.
- Jesus says, “The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). The world neither sees nor knows the Holy Spirit. In contrast, believers know Him because of His abiding presence with them and indwelling prese. It was stated earlier that the Spirit Himself is God. So His abiding and indwelling presence in believers makes God real to them. Furthermore, the Spirit makes God real to us by testifying about Christ. Our Lord says, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me” (John 15:26).
- Please notice that this passage is a Trinitarian passage. It speaks of the Three distinct Persons in the Godhead. The Spirit’s work of testifying about Christ is actually the work of making the One God in Three Persons real to God’s people. If ever God has been made real to you, please know that it was the Holy Spirit who made it happen. The preacher or pastor or teacher cannot make God real to you and me. The Spirit alone makes God real to us. How thankful we should be for the abiding and indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit!
25. The Holy Spirit appoints spiritual leaders in God’s church (Acts 20:28).
- On his way to Jerusalem, Paul stopped at Miletus from where he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church of Ephesus (see Acts 20:17). Paul’s goal on this journey was to get to Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost so he decided to sail past Ephesus (see Acts 20:16). Although he was in a hurry, he had time for one last meeting with the elders of Ephesus where he served for three years (see Acts 20:31). Paul wanted to share his heart with them. Among the many truths he shared with them was telling them about an important function of the Holy Spirit- His appointment of spiritual leaders in the church of God. “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
- The spiritual leaders of the church at Ephesus were first referred to as “elders” (presbyterous). Now, the same people are being referred to as “overseers” (episkopous). Overseers in the New Testament are also called bishops, elders and presbyters. Whatever they are called, the important thing to note is that they are spiritual leaders appointed by the Person of the Holy Spirit. This verse therefore emphasizes that elders are not appointed or elected simply by voting. The Holy Spirit sovereignly raises up undershepherds in God’s church to shepherd God’s flock. We are not familiar with this function of the Holy Spirit
- Many churches have appointed “elders, undershepherds and overseers” who have no businessbeing in such leadership positions. They were not appointed or put in place by the Holy Spirit. As a result, the church as a whole suffers and languishes and wanders off her path. We are not looking to the Holy Spirit to raise up spiritual leaders in our local assemblies. It’s easy to cast the votes and count them.
- On their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for the churches they had the privilege of founding through the Spirit’s help. Did they simply call the churches together to cast a vote? Not at all! The Bible says,“When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed”(Acts 14:23). Notice how the appointment of elders was done- prayer and fasting was the basis of the appointment of elders.
- In Acts 13:2-4, while the church of Antioch was ministering to the Lord, fasting and praying, the Holy Spirit spoke to guide the church. I believe as Paul and Barnabas fasted and prayed and expressed their dependence on the Holy Spirit, He directed them in the appointment of spiritual leaders for the churches. Few, if any, are the churches who earnestly seek the direction of the Holy Spirit in this way for the appointment of spiritual leaders in God’s church.
- Oh, how we need to humble ourselves and trust the Holy Spirit that if we earnestly seek His direction, He will appoint not just people to fill vacant positions on the elder board or deacon’s board, but spiritual leaders, whose lives and ministries will bring much blessing to God’s church!
26. The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
- There is much-heated debate about whether the Holy Spirit is still dispensing charismatic gifts such as speaking in tongues (glossolalia) and miraculous healings (charismata iamaton) in the church today. In spite of this debate, which has led to divisions within the body of Christ, the truth remains, the Holy Spirit bestows spiritual gifts on the church today. The Holy Spirit bestows gifts on the body for the edification of the whole body, not merely for the enjoyment and enrichment of the individual members possessing them. This truth must be embraced today.
- We live in an “individualistic what’s in for me” society. This philosophy and attitude have permeated the church, so much so that, spiritual gifts are used to promote our individual spiritual status. A holier-than-thou attitude dominates in the spiritual gifts debate.
- The truth is that no one person in the church has all the gifts. Moreover, all the gifts are important to the effective functioning of the church. For sure, some of the gifts are outstanding, striking. But that does not mean God is saying that those who have them are more important than the rest in His body. We need each other. Therefore, there is to be no room for “a holier-than-thou” attitude.
- “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
- The main verbs in this passage are simple, namely “are” (eisin- from eimi) (vv. 4, 5, 6), “is given” (didotai- from didomi) (vv. 7, 8), “works” or “operates” (energei- from energeo) (v. 11) and “wills” (bouletai- fromboulomai) (v. 11). The common characteristic about them is that they are all in the present tense. The use of the present tense strongly indicates that the Spirit’s ministry of giving spiritual gifts to the body is still ongoing. The verb “is given” is in the passive voice. The use of the passive voice represents the subject as being acted upon by someone or something else. Therefore the subject receives the action of the verbal idea.
- In other words, the Holy Spirit wisely chooses what gifts He should give to each believer. We don’t choose the gifts we should have. He does the choosing for us. Having carefully chosen the gift (s) we should have, He generously gives them to each one as He wills. To complain about the gifts we have is to insult the all-wise and intelligent Person of the Holy Spirit.
27. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit in believers (Galatians 5:22, 23).
- Having written about the works of the flesh (see Galatians 5:19-21), which are produced by the energy of the flesh, Paul now distinguishes between “the works of the flesh” and “the fruit of the Spirit.” Note that fruit is singular, not plural. The Holy Spirit produces one kind of fruit, that is Christlikeness. All the nine virtues or qualities listed in Galatians 5:22-23 describe the life of a child of God. These qualities reflect the Person of Jesus. “But the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatian 5:22-23).
- These qualities are pleasing to God, beneficial to others, and good for ourselves. But the question is: how is this fruit produced? Is it by our valiant and determined effort? Not at all. There is only one way this fruit is produced in the believer. It is only produced by the Holy Spirit. The expression “the fruit of the Spirit,” itself suggests that which is a natural product of the Spirit rather than of man, made possible by the living relationship between the believer and God. As the Holy Spirit enables us to live in communion with the Lord, to constantly gaze upon our Savior Christ in loving devotion, and to choose to obey Him daily, He transforms us into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
28. The Holy Spirit indwells believers (John 14:16-17; Romans 8:9).
- The Holy Spirit lives in all born again believers. Without the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence, one cannot claim he belongs to Christ. The Holy Spirit must be present within us. The provision of the Spirit is for all believers. No one who belongs to Christ lacks the Holy Spirit.
- The individual indwelling of the Spirit is the specific privilege of the Christian believer. His indwelling marks the difference between the Old Testament experience of the Holy Spirit and the post-Pentecostal experience of the church. The Lord Jesus alluded to this difference in John 14:16-17. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” The last phrase, “He abides with you and will be in you” clearly reveals the difference between the Old Testament experience of the Holy Spirit and the post-Pentecost experience of the church. The Spirit was no doubt abiding with the disciples but He was not in them. But that was soon to change at Pentecost. At Pentecost, the Spirit indwelled the disciples in all His fullness and majesty. And He is living in all who believe in Him today.
- Please notice the certainty with which Our Lord spoke about the indwelling ministry of the Spirit. He said, “He… will be in you,” not “He … may be in you.” He spoke with great confidence knowing very well that what He promised His disciples would surely come to pass. Our Lord’s promises are not empty promises.
- Similarly, the Spirit led Paul to speak with certainty about the indwelling presence of the Spirit in believers. Writing to the Roman believers about life in the Spirit, Paul says by the Spirit, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9). In this passage, the Spirit of God is used interchangeably with the Spirit of Christ. These references point to one person, that is, the Holy Spirit.
- When a person is born again, he is no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit. In other words, he lives in a totally different sphere. Just as a fish lives in water and a man lives in the air, so a believer lives in the Spirit. He not only lives in the Spirit, but the Spirit lives in him. The believer is the dwelling-place of the Spirit. This is the point being made. The believer’s whole life is to be lived in the Spirit who lives in him.
- The ”if” in the expression “if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you” is not intended to raise doubt at all. The “if” in this “First Class Condition” presupposes the truth of the statement. It assumes that the condition stated in the “if clause” is a reality. What is therefore being stated here is that indeed the Holy Spirit dwells in the one who is in Christ. Everyone who trusts Christ has the Spirit, in whom the believer is sealed (see Ephesians 1:13).
- The Spirit's presence in the believer's life is a great truth of the Christian faith. And as such, it is repeatedly affirmed in Scripture (see also Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Ephesians 2:22).
29. The Holy Spirit empowers God’s people for witness (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8).
- The function of the Holy Spirit is to provide power for worldwide witness. In both Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:8, Jesus promised His disciples power for making Him known.
- “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
- “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witness both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
- Our Lord was very clear in His commission, a commission that lays obligation on all believers. There is power for witness. That power is released through the Holy Spirit living in each believer. The Holy Spirit is our source of power for witness. The power of the Holy Spirit indispensable in our witness of Christ. You may be highly talented, well trained, and widely experienced, but without the Spirit’s power you will for sure be ineffective in God’s eyes. You may impress men with your talent, training and experience, but God knows you are not making any impact for His kingdom. The Spirit’s power is essential for effective witness.
- Please notice that our witness concerns a person - the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, on whose authority the church acts. The Person of Christ is the object of our witness. The power of the Holy Spirit is what enables us to be effective worldwide witnesses of Jesus Christ. The same Spirit who directed and supported Jesus’ ministry and the ministry of the apostles is available today to empower every believer to make Jesus known.
- With God’s help, I have attempted to bring to light the functions of the Holy Spirit, that is, what He does in the believer’s life as well as in the lives of the people in the world. What the Holy Spirit does is amazing indeed. He is a very capable being. He is smart. He is powerful. He is full of passion. He carries out His work with purpose. He is successful in all He does. His success rate is a hundred percent. It is this Person who is capable, powerful, passionate, purposeful and successful that God has chosen for us to partner with in the sharing of the Good News.
- Who would not want to work with such a Person?
- Who would not want to be on a team with such a Worker?
- Who would not want to invest his life in the venture being spearheaded by such powerful Partner?
- All these particular functions that the Spirit carries out day in and day out in the lives of believers and unbelievers prove who He says He is, a holy God of power, purpose and passion.
The Profitable and Powerful Role of the Spirit in the Presentation of the Good News
- The believer cannot do without the Holy Spirit. He is the very life of those who trust in Jesus Christ and are in a saving relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit plays a key role in the life of every believer.
- Fruitful and effective presentation of the Good News depends on the empowering presence and leading of the Person of the Holy Spirit. His role in the sharing is profitable and powerful. He doesn’t act in vain. He is powerful and uses His power profitably, that is, in producing life-changing results. Therefore it is necessary for the believer to learn to rely on the Spirit in sharing the Good News
- In fact, there is only one profitable way of presenting the Gospel message. It is by the Holy Spirit. The early believers clearly understood this and convincingly practiced it.
- Writing to the first century church at Corinth, Apostle Paul, inspired by the Spirit, testified of his personal reliance upon the Spirit in presenting the Gospel. He wrote: “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
- Paul knew that merely depending on human skills in the presentation of the Good News would not profit him. At best, such dependence would only produce “human converts” not converts produced by the Holy Spirit. So with dogged steadfastness, Paul practiced reliance on the Spirit in sharing the Gospel. Such reliance on the Holy Spirit results in faith that rests on the power of God not on the wisdom of men.
- Again, writing to the first century church at Thessalonica, under the Spirit’s guidance, Paul reminded the believers of the one way in which the Good News is successfully presented. He wrote: “Knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5). What is being emphasized here is that the one profitable way to present the Good News is “in or by the Holy Spirit.” This truth needs to penetrate the very depths of our hearts.
- Apostle Peter was also directed by the Holy Spirit to write to the scattered and suffering believers of the first century about the one effective way to present the Good News. He wrote: “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven” (1 Peter 1:12). Please note the expression“those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit.” Peter’s testimony is this: there is only one effective way for presenting the gospel. It is by the Holy Spirit. It is in the Holy Spirit. It is in reliance upon the Holy Spirit. It is in dependence upon the Holy Spirit
- Many Christians think that the key to effective presentation of the Gospel is memorizing formulae such as the four spiritual laws and stating them or regurgitating them accurately. Many believers are taught and trained to familiarize themselves with these formulae in order to share them with whom they come into contact.
- While this approach reflects the desire to give out the Gospel, it lacks the essential and vital element of successful gospel presentation, that is, total dependence on the Person of the Holy Spirit, the Lord of the harvest. Please, do not underestimate this foundational truth: The Spirit’s role in sharing the Gospel is profitable and powerful.
- Knowing that the Spirit’s role in sharing the Gospel is profitable and powerful, the Lord Jesus Himself and His apostles depended on the Holy Spirit in presenting and proclaiming the Good News. They relied on the Spirit. They looked to the Spirit to lead and guide them in sharing the Good News in a way that brought much fruit to the glory and praise of God.
- Believers, who simply rely on the correct use of formula, literally put the Holy Spirit in a box. This is sad and unfortunate. We are all guilty of this. We so often focus on the formula that we forget the fullness of power and wisdom the Holy Spirit is able to provide for us in each situation we face.
- The Holy Spirit knows the unbelievers so well. He intimately knows their different personalities, backgrounds and situations. He knows exactly what words to say to remove the scales from their blind eyes. He has perfect knowledge of the stumbling blocks in the heart of each individual unbeliever. He is fully aware of the roadblocks in their hearts and has a perfect scheme for opening their closed hearts. The truth is undeniable. The Spirit’s role in sharing the Good News is profitable and powerful.
- The Holy Spirit knows exactly how to approach each lost person to break down the barriers in his or her life. He has a master plan for opening the hearts and eyes of each unsaved person to the truth of the Good News. In fact, the Holy Spirit is intimately acquainted with the thoughts of every single lost soul. He sees through them as we cannot see through them. He has complete knowledge of the ways and habits unsaved. He knows all their motives and everything that is going on deep down in their hearts.
- Not only that, He is the only One who can convict them of their sins. He is the only Person who can help them see their desperate need for a Savior. He is the only Person who can change their hearts. He is the only One who can woo them successfully to Christ. He is the only One who can create a desire in them to want to know Christ as their Lord and Savior. He is the only Person who has the ability and power to create them anew. He is the only Being who can correct the wrong thinking of the lost. He is the only One who can comfort them with divine and assuring love after they have responded to His convicting work in their lives. He is the only Person whose power can conquer the satanic work of oppression in the lost. The Spirit alone is able to crash all of Satan’s oppositions, strongholds and evil influences in the unsaved. He alone is able to cut them loose from the chains and bonds of Satan. He alone can convert sinners. In deed, the Spirit’s role in sharing the Good News is profitable and powerful.
- It is through His work alone that a sinner can be brought to genuine repentance. Regeneration is the miraculous transformation of the sinner. Human effort is not capable of bringing about this miraculous change. The flesh has never and will never regenerate and renew a sin-infested soul. Regeneration is a supernatural occurrence, and the Holy Spirit is the only Person who produces it.
- Therefore to set aside the Person of the Holy Spirit in the sharing or presentation of the Good news is not only foolish but also futile. It is stupidity on our part. It is shameful and senseless. It is disrespectful and demeaning of His glorious Person and role in the presentation of the Good News. But more importantly, failing to rely on the Holy Spirit in sharing of the Gospel leads to a dead end street. It is a defeated approach. It doesn’t bring victory. It only brings disappointment, and at best, a false sense of achievement. Nothing delights the heart of Satan more than to see believers sharing their faith in dependence on their feeble and failing fleshly strength and wisdom. While the devil delights in seeing some present Christ in their flesh, he dreads those who do so in full reliance on the Person of the Holy Spirit. Though he tries to fight and create the impression of being strong, he loses and flees, defeated and disarmed.
- The Holy Spirit is indeed a Person. He is perfect in His being and in His works. The past works of the Holy Spirit prove that He is who He says He is. The promise of the Holy Spirit has been fulfilled. The Spirit is present. He is graciously provided to us. He is presently at work. His power is available. His purpose is to equip believers for witness. He is not only present with us but also in us. His particular functions set Him apart and above all. His work is profitable. He is powerful. He is earnestly desirous of helping God’s people in the presentation of the Good News to a lost world. However, He wants us to rely completely on Him in this spiritual work, since it is only in dependence on Him can we prosper and bear much fruit in the sharing of the Glad News which tells about Jesus Christ.
- But the question therefore is: “How can one learn and practice dependence on the Person of the Holy Spirit in order to effectively share the Good news?”
- Let me suggest four practical ways to learn and practice dependence on the Holy Spirit
1. Be sensitive to the Person of the Holy Spirit.
- The most practical way to learn and experience reliance on the Holy Spirit is being sensitive to Him. The Holy Spirit is a Person. He is the Third Person of the Trinity. Although we know this, we do not often or consistently treat Him as a Person. In every healthy relationship, people who are involved learn to be sensitive to each other. Over time, they learn the things that bring joy or displeasure to the heart of the other persons in the relationship. The Holy Spirit knows us intimately. He knows all our thoughts, our ways, our moods, our fears, our hesitations, our pains, our confusions, our delights, our weaknesses and our strengths. Indeed, He is well acquainted with us. And He is sensitive to us. But we must also learn to be sensitive to His passion, His purposes and His particular interests.
- All who have shared the Gospel in full reliance on the Holy Spirit learned the lesson of being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Philip, the evangelist, one of the seven deacons, learned to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit led him to Samaria after Stephen’s martyrdom. He preached Christ in Samaria and many came to know Christ (see Acts 8:4-13).
- However, Philip did not set up a mega-church base in Samaria. He couldn’t. An angel of the Lord spoke to him to go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza. On that road God had arranged for Philip to meet an Ethiopian eunuch. As God had arranged, Philip met the eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. But what made the difference in Philip’s witness was his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Because Philip was sensitive to the Spirit, he heard the command of the Spirit, “Go up an join this chariot”(Acts 8:29). The Spirit knew exactly when Philip should join the chariot. He was in charge of this witness. He arranged for it. He knew that the man was ripe and ready for the Good News. He had it all well-planned. Had Philip not learned to be sensitive to the Spirit, the story would not have been written this way.
- Peter also learned the lesson of being sensitive to the Spirit. While praying on a housetop in Joppa, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened up. Peter saw a vision of all the detestable unclean animals he had been taught through the dietary law never to eat. After Peter heard the voice of God and protested, the vision ended, and there came a critical moment in his vision. That critical moment is recorded for us in Acts 10:19-20.
- The Bible says, “While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” Peter was sensitive to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Peter’s sensitivity and submission to the Spirit led to a major turning point in the advance of the Gospel in the Gentile world. At Caesarea, in the house of Cornelius, the door to the kingdom was swung wide open for the Gentiles to enter in large numbers.
- Apostle Paul was another of God’s servants who learned the precious lesson of being sensitive to the Spirit. Paul and Barnabas had gone on their first missionary journey. Mark had deserted them after their ministry in Paphos, where through Paul’s ministry and the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit, the proconsul came to faith in Christ (see Acts 13:6-14).
- How sensitive are you to the life giving Spirit of the living God?
2. Be seriously and sincerely seeking the Spirit’s direction in your daily life.
- In learning to rely on the Holy Spirit, we must be seriously seeking His direction in our daily life. The Spirit is not here to play. He has a mission to accomplish. He is committed to this mission: sinners to save, saints to sanctify; souls to convert, sons of God (believers) to conform into the likeness of Jesus Christ. As He is serious about His mission, so we must also set our minds on consistently seeking His leading in everything we do. When we come to the Bible we must ask Him to guide us into all truth. When we bow before the Lord to pray we must ask for His help to pray confessing to Him that we do not know how to pray as we ought. But that is not all. As we go through the rest of the day, we should be conversing with Him as a Person, asking His opinion and direction in the situations we encounter.
- We should be free to ask Him questions such as these: Holy Spirit, what are You saying to me in this situation? What do You want me to do in this particular circumstance? How do You want me to respond to this person? As we ask these questions, we should give the Spirit time to respond to us. He is more than willing to guide and direct us those who sincerely seek His wise input. He will speak to guide us into His plans and purposes. He will show us what to do. The Holy Spirit always responds to serious and sincere seekers. He is not impressed about superficiality, shallowness and showmanship. He knows people who are sincerely looking for His guidance. He knows whether we are seriously seeking Him or just doing it for show. The Holy Spirit desires sincerity in all we do. He wants us to be serious with God.
- Have you seriously sought the direction of the Holy Spirit at any point in your life today? Have you sincerely searched for His guidance today? Most likely, you have not.
- How then can you rely on the Spirit? Our failure to sincerely seek the direction of the Spirit in our daily lives actually reveals two things. First of all, it reveals that we do know the Spirit intimately. Secondly, it shows that if we ever share the Gospel, we do so, not in dependence on the Spirit but in dependence on our own skills.
- May God forgive us for failing to seek the Spirit’s guidance in our lives! May He help us to see the importance of practicing dependence on the Holy Spirit! May God assist us to make serious and sincere seeking of the Spirit’s guidance a daily practice in our lives!
3. Be submissive to the Spirit’s leading in your life.
- We have clearly stated the necessity of being sensitive to the Spirit and seriously and sincerely seeking Him. But it is not enough to be sensitive to the Spirit and seriously and sincerely seek His direction. One must also learn to be submissive to His leading. This is the bottom line of learning practical dependence on the divine Person of the Holy Spirit. We must submit to His still small voice in us. We must yield to the counsel He wisely gives us. We must obey His promptings. The more submissive we are to the leading of the Spirit, the more sensitive we will become to Him. And the more sensitive we are to the Spirit, the more submissive we will be to Him and the more sincere we will seek for His guidance in our lives.
- The fruit of all this is that we will grow in our practical moment by moment reliance on the Spirit.
- But the question is how submissive are you to the leading of the Holy Spirit?
4. Be sure that the Spirit will do all in His power and wisdom to empower your witness.
- Many believers, (including myself) are guilty of not having full confidence and assurance in the Person of the Holy Spirit. We do not know Him well. Nor do we fully trust in Him. We doubt His power, ability and wisdom. We are not sure of Him. Although the Holy Spirit is fully trustworthy, yet we fail so often to believe in Him. Our unbelief is not only a grievous sin, but it also undermines our learning to completely rely on the Spirit. Our lack of confidence in the Spirit to do all in His power and wisdom to empower us for witness works against us. It greatly hinders learning to depend on the Holy Spirit.
- Therefore, it is very important for each believer who wants to become all that God wants him to be and be used of God to make an impact for the Good News of Jesus Christ to be sure of the work of the Holy Spirit in him and through him. We must be sure that the Spirit of God will do all in His power to empower us for witness. Not only that, we must be certain of the fact that the Holy Spirit will do all in His power to confirm His Word that is spoken and to correct the wrong thinking of the lost. We must be sure that He will do all in His divine strength to convict sinners of their sins, to change their hearts, to create them anew through His regenerating work. We must be confident that the Holy Spirit will comfort those who respond to His convicting work. We must be certain that the Spirit will conquer all of Satan’s oppressive works in the unsaved. We must be fully assured that the Spirit will crash all of Satan’s oppositions, strongholds and evil influences on the lost. We must be sure that He is able to convert sinners. The Spirit alone is the One who brings about genuine repentance in sinners. Above all, we must be confident that the Spirit of God is able, and will conform those who respond to His convicting work into the blessed image of Jesus Christ. The work of conforming sinners who respond to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit into the likeness of Christ is a life long process.
- Somebody may ask, what if the Spirit doesn’t do these things in the life of the unbeliever, what can one be sure of Him doing?
- The answer is simply this: Be sure that the Holy Spirit will continually strive with the unbeliever until he or she chooses to close his or her heart to the message of life and redemption. The Spirit will not fail to convict sinners of their sins. This is what He has been sent to do (see John 16:8). The Holy Spirit will continue to work in the sinner’s heart until the sinner chooses to shut his or her heart to the truth. At that point the Spirit will stop striving with the sinner not because He is weak but because the sinner has completely rejected His gracious work in his or her heart. Practicing and growing in dependence on the Person of the Holy Spirit demands that we are sure of the Spirit's power to do what He alone can do in and through us to advance the Good News.
- So the question is, how sure are you of the workings of the Spirit of God?
- Do you trust Him to empower you to be an effective witness?
- Do you rely on His ability to convict sinners of their sin and their need of a Savior?
- The Person of the Holy Spirit is essential to the life and witness of the believer. It is through Him alone that we can successfully and effectively share the Good News. He is powerful. He is purposeful. He is passionate about glorifying Jesus. He convicts sinners of their sins. He brings them to the point of conversion. He cleanses their hearts. He creates a desire in sinners to turn from their sins and seek Jesus Christ. He changes them into new creations in Christ after their response to His convicting work in them. He cuts loose Satan's chains and bonds upon the lives of sinners, setting them free from his bondage and slavery. Moreover He is the One who is committed to conforming them into Christlikeness after they have accepted Christ through His sanctifying work.
- None of us can be an effective witness without relying on the Holy Spirit. Working with Him is productive. It’s profitable. It bears much fruit. It brings about life changing eternal results.
- Oh the Holy Spirit, He is precious! He is perfect. He is pure. He is passionate about His work of glorifying Jesus Christ. His principal desire is the promotion of Jesus Christ. He is a "Savior" promoter, not a "self" promoter. The Holy Spirit is a Person, not a mere impersonal force. His past activities are outstanding, astonishing, setting Him apart and above all others. He has been promised to us. He has been provided to us and is Himself abundantly willing to supply boundless resources to enable us to work with Him productively in God-sized ventures. His presence is with us and in us. His power is abundantly made available to us for worldwide witness. The particular functions He carries out in the lives of God’s people and in the lives of the people of the world prove that He is who He says He is, a holy God of power, passion and purpose.
- Indeed, His role in the presentation of the Good News is profitable and powerful. We must therefore learn to fully rely on Him in sharing the Glad News that tells about the Person of Jesus Christ. In so doing, we will honor the Holy Spirit in our partnership with Him. He has been sent for the principal purpose of bringing glory to Jesus Christ. As we completely depend on the Holy Spirit in sharing the Gospel, He brings glory to Jesus Christ. What an honor! What a privilege to have a part in this glorious goal!
- There is a chorus which says, “Thank You, O my Father for giving us Your Son and leaving Your Spirit ‘til the work on earth is done.” Indeed, God has left His Spirit ‘til the work of the Great Commission is done.
- Do you want to play a significant role in the completion of this work? My answer is, ‘Yes.’ And I hope it is yours too.
- Then join me in making these hymns our prayers.
- “Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me, Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.”
- “Pilgrims, strangers, ‘mid life’s dangers, we on Thee would e’er depend; Spirit tender, our Defender, Guide us, keep us to the end.”
- “Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love what Thou dost love, and do what Thou wouldst do.
- Breathe on me, Breath of God, until my heart is pure, until my will is one with Thee, to do and to endure.
- Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am wholly Thine, until this earthly part of me glows with Thy fire divine."