Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
CHRISTIAN FOUNDATION FIVE: THE HOLY SPIRIT
Everyone talks about the Holy Spirit. Well, nearly everyone. But, there is a big question. Just who or what is the Holy Spirit, and how do we know. Let me explain from the Bible’s point of view. This is the fifth Christian foundation in this study. I will show you what the Bible says about His Person, work and filling of believers. It is exciting. Join with me.
I. THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The first thing to recognize is that the Holy Spirit is a Person. And, in the Bible, He is referred to in the masculine gender. He is not just an invisible force of God, nor is He one of several gods, nor is He a god that was once a man. Scripture portrays Him with intellect, emotion and will (1 Corinthians 2:1 1; Romans 15:30). The apostle Peter listened to His words and obeyed Him (Acts 10:19-21). Christ Himself nailed the issue down best when He used the personal pronoun in referring to the Holy Spirit as a Person (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit is a “He” not an “it!”
Secondly, the Holy Spirit is God. He is the third Person of the Trinity who fully, equally, and eternally shares in one common nature with the Father and Son, yet is represented in Scripture as being a distinct Person. He is called God by the Apostle Peter and displays characteristics of God: all wise, all powerful, all knowing, eternal, and holy (Acts 5:3, 4; 1 Corinthians 2:10, 11; Luke 1:35; Psalm 139:7-10; Hebrews 9:14).
He does the works of God. He was involved in creation, He wrote the Bible, was involved in the conception of Christ, regenerates believers, and convicts the unsaved (Genesis 1:2; 2 Peter 1:21; Matthew 1:18; John 3:5; 16:9-11).
To recap, the Holy Spirit is a Person. He is God and He is intimately interacting in your life, whether you are a Christian or not. Now let’s get an overview of how the Holy Spirit is working in the world today.
II. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN GENERAL
The first of four general activities is that of restraining sin and evil in the world (Genesis 6:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:6, 7). When we look at history of the rapidly changing world scene today we see great evil inflicted upon humanity. You and I live in a very brutal world. Hitler, for example, killed six million Jews plus untold others in World War II. That is twice as many people as now live in New Zealand! The Japanese inflicted much cruelty upon the Pacific islands. The sinister forces of communism dealt death to untold millions, some sources estimate over 20 million - more than the entire population of Australia!
Those forces savagely sought world dominion, yet they were thwarted. Something put a stop to Hitler, Japan and now we see communism crumbling before our eyes. What stops or hinders the march of evil? The Bible says it is the Holy Spirit. God permits evil, but He limits, will punish and finally banish it to the lake of fire.
Secondly, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin (John 16:8-11). He is presently convincing the world of the truth of the gospel and Jesus Christ. Obviously, the entire world is not convinced, much to their disadvantage! Specifically, the Holy Spirit is pressing the matter that mankind has sinned, that righteous is available only in Christ and that ultimate judgment is certain. The Holy Spirit uses the Bible. Christians are His witnessing mouthpiece; consequently, it is well if we devise and align our message with His designs and purposes.
Third, the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ (John 16:14). Famous and powerful people have large staffs and spend millions of dollars to draw attention to themselves. The advertising industry spends billions to attract people and sell them their goods. Even here in Tonga stores advertise in newspapers, magazines and on TV. The Holy Spirit is in the advertising business also, promoting Jesus, stimulating adoration, worship, and loyalty toward Jesus Christ. He does not spotlight Himself or any signs and wonders He performs, but He glorifies Christ. That is His job.
Fourth, the Holy Spirit is building Christ’s church (Acts 1:5: 2:4; 1 Corinthians 12:13). God is in the process of drawing out of the world a people of His own. This group includes people of every race and nationality. He named this group the Church. He started this process when Christ was on the earth almost 2,000 years ago, and soon that body of people (which is the church) will be complete.
Now that we have the big picture in mind of the Holy Spirit and what He does, I turn to His special work in the lives of believers.
III. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN BELIEVERS
In this section, I will show you seven ways that the Holy Spirit interacts in the actual lives of all those who place their trust in Christ for their salvation and become Christians. It gets somewhat scary, but also comforting, to know of His intense interest and concern for us.
First, the Holy Spirit regenerates the believer (Titus 3:5; cf. John 3:3-8). You might ask, “Why does He do that for?” The Bible says that we are spiritually dead in our trespasses and sin, but by His grace He made us alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:1, 5). This act of imparting eternal life to a believer is sometimes called being “born again”.
There are many graves here in the islands. When I drive out in the bush or to beaches, I often see many graves. They are covered with sand and elaborately decorated with bottles, flowers and signs. The graves contain dead bodies that can never give life to themselves. They are dead physically. So we are dead in a spiritual sense, we can never give life to ourselves. God knows this and that is why the Holy Spirit must give us life. He calls it eternal life.
His second work the Bible refers to as Spirit baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 6:1-4; Gal 3:27). Two major events happen: we are literally placed into Christ, that is, spiritually united as one with Him. This experience gives us the basis for victory in the Christian life. The second event is that we are placed in the body of Christ, the church, which includes all true believers from the day of Pentecost until the future rapture (1 Corinthians 12:12,13; Colossians 1:18: Ephesians 4:3-6). This spiritual experience is unique to this church age.
Third, believers are sealed in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30; 2 Corinthians 1:22). A seal indicates possession and protection, which is a guarantee of the security of our salvation. It means that we belong to God. He owns us forever. He will keep us, because He has given us His permanent pledge and promise. It is a legal transaction.
Fourth, the Holy Spirit literally comes to live, or dwell, within the believer (Romans 8:9; John 14:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 6:19). This is an astonishing truth: God comes to dwell within every believer. Occupancy coincides instantly with the moment you become a Christian. This awesome experience is permanent and constant. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon people in a selective and temporary basis for a special endowment for a specific reason.
However, in the case of believers during the present church age it is different. What an intimate and personal relationship we have with God. How important to live our lives in such a way as not to offend Him. If a king came to live with you, you would live in such manner as to not offend him or cause him grief and sorrow. How much more should we live to please the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
It is also great to know that He personally knows of our problems and trials in life. In that way He can give us strength and courage to overcome hard times and sad times.
Fifth, The Holy Spirit guides the believer (Romans 8:14, 16, 26; John 16:12-15; Psalm 138:8; 139:10, 16, 23, 24).This involves teaching, giving assurance, assisting in prayer, using the Bible and counsel of other mature Christians. He leads by circumstances, subjective impressions, and giving resources for tasks and opportunities He sets before us. He directs our thoughts to focus on areas of ministry. We praise Him that He is a personal God who deals with us in personal way - but always in a way that is in keeping with His written Word, the Bible.
Sixth, the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual gifts, which are special abilities for service in His work (1 Corinthians12; 1 Peter 4:10, 11; Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:7-12). Every Christian has been given at least one gift. These gifts can be developed. When Christians faithfully exercise their respective gifts, complementing each other, then the work of Christ proceeds smoothly.
A society works the same way. In each country the farmers, fishermen, teachers, doctors, government leaders, businessmen, bankers, technicians, and secretaries all do their part and the country functions. Likewise in the church, when we all exercise our gifts, then things go well.
Sins against the Holy Spirit
Before I go on to the final major point, I must mention three specific sins Christians can commit against the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30; 1Thessalonians 5:19; Acts 5:3).
The Bible says that we can “quench” the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). In other words, we can hinder His ministry in individuals or the church.
Next, we can “grieve” the Holy Spirit by being bitter, angry, hateful, vengeful and unkind toward others (Ephesians 4:30). Too often in churches people are hostile and angry, backbiting, gossiping against one another, or complaining about petty, trifling matters. This kind of shameful activity brings humiliation on the church, the people involved, and even to Christ.
Christians can also “lie” against the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). This sin involves hypocrisy and cheating.
These sins against the Holy Spirit involve a heart attitude and relationships with other people. It is vital to understand that we cannot fool God about our attitudes, words and actions toward others. We cannot hide how we treat our husband or wife, children, parents, co-workers, or church members. God knows if we keep our word or if we are faithful to our boss.
Sometimes we volunteer for service and do not follow through and do a good job. God knows that, and your fellowship with Him is harmed. He knows if we steal, commit adultery – remember, He lives within us! We cannot hide anything from God. He will discipline and chastise believers who stray into the paths of sin (Hebrews 12:5-7).
When we realize that we have sinned against God (and we all sin) we must confess our sins, put them away and walk by faith with Him in kindly fellowship (1 John 1:9; Proverbs 28:13; Galatians 5:16, 25, 26).
Keeping things in balance, we are also comforted to know that God knows of our heartaches, troubles, temptations, and struggles in this life (Hebrews 4:15, 16). He is tender toward us, compassionate, understanding, merciful, and sympathetic of our weaknesses. He is our friend and desires our fellowship. Friend, God is for us, not against us! Nothing can separate us from His love, and the good work He has started in our lives He will complete (Romans 8:31-39; Philippians 1:6).
I have shown you the Bible teaching about the Person of the Holy Spirit, His work in general, and His special work in the lives of Christian believers. But, there is more. We now turn to that extraordinary experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
IV. THE FILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN BELIEVERS
I first need to point out the tremendous need in our lives as Christians. It is impossible for Christians to live the Christian life on their own power. Impossible. We have that old sin nature within us that wages wars against the Holy Spirit, the world system that confronts us on every side, plus Satan and his onslaught against the work and people of God (Galatians 5:16-26; Romans 7:15-25; 1John 2:15-17; Matthew 13:18-23; Ephesians 6:10- 20; 1 Peter 5:8-10).
God has given us provision, however, to live a victorious life. Jesus said: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). To live the Christian life, God has given us a new nature, which is a capacity to please God and do good for mankind and ourselves. We have literally become a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:4; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 2:10; 4:24; Colossians 3:10).
God has also given to us the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer. Thirdly, He has given to us what the Bible calls His “filling,” and it is to that experience I now turn to explain.
The Bible commands us to, “be not drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The key thought in this passage is “control”. As a drunken person is under the control or influence of alcohol, we are to be under the control or influence of the Holy Spirit. This filling is broken by sin in our lives, thus we need many fillings. Let me list many benefits.
1. We experience Christ daily in our lives and He strengthens our inner man, and gives us awareness of His abundant love toward us (Ephesians 3:l4-19).
2. We experience a new ability to worship Christ with happy hearts full of thanksgiving toward God in Christ (Ephesians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:16).
3. We experience a new relationship with people. We become nice, humble people who encourage and love others. We become positive, loving, and thankful (Ephesians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:16). Friend, remember this: mean, fighting, cranky, faultfinding, negative Christians are not filled with the Holy Spirit!
4. We experience a new quality of life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self -control (Galatians 5:22, 23).
5. We experience a new power to defeat temptation in our lives (Luke 4:1-14). Temptation itself is not sin, but when we yield to temptation we sin. Someone said, “We cannot stop the birds from flying over us, but we can stop them from nesting in our hair!”
6. We experience power for effective Christian service (Acts 1:8; 2:14, 37, 41; 6:1-3). Our preaching, teaching, soul winning, helping, administration, and projects will have power to bring about spiritual results.
How to be filled with the Holy Spirit
Now the big question arises: how can we be filled with the Holy Spirit? Let me suggest four steps, as I understand the Bible.
1. We must confess and forsake our sin (1 John 1:5-9; Proverbs 28:13). Sin breaks fellowship with God. We lose that intimate closeness with God, like the special bond between parents and a rebellious youth is broken. We sin and fall many times in life. Some bad habits linger for years. The good news is that fellowship and companionship can be restored. Not, however, by punishing ourselves or being consumed in remorse, but by the simple act of coming to God with a tender, humble, repentant heart and confess to Him our sin, sorrows and struggles. Then, we believe that God has forgiven and cleansed us. He promised that He would.
2. Second, we make the decision that we will quit walking in sin, and surrender In obedience to God. We dedicate our self unto God’s service (Romans 12:1.2; Galatians 5:18). Submission and surrender to God and His plan for our lives is crucial.
3. Third, we renew our mind through the Bible (Ephesians 3:14-19; Colossians 3:16; Romans 8:4-7; 12:2; Ephesians 4:22-24). The Holy Spirit speaks through the Bible and gives us God’s viewpoint on life. Our knowledge of correct attitudes and actions comes from the Bible.
4. Fourth, we walk our life by faith and prayer (Galatians 2:20; 5:16, 18, 25; Ephesians 3:14-17; Acts 4:31). We permit ourselves to be led and guided by the Holy Spirit. We believe, talk, commune and fellowship with God. With a willing and expectant heart, we step out in the direction the Holy Spirit has indicated, believing He will empower us as we go and correct us as needed. As we begin to practice new behavior, new habits begin to develop.
I must make one final point. Being filled with the Holy Spirit does not mean that we become sinless and perfect. That comes in the next life. It does not mean that all our problems will cease. They may get even worse. It does not mean that we walk in ecstasy. Sometimes we grieve and are crushed. It does mean, however, that our lives will take on a new power, purpose, and perspective as we deal with life. This brings us to the end of this lesson on the Holy Spirit: who He is, His work and His filling of Christians. Next we turn to the church.
NEXT, Chapter Six: The Church
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