Posts Tagged 'The Holy Spirit'



The Holy Spirit and You, Part 6

TheOtherBaptism

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Part 2

 

The New Testament teaches that there are three baptisms:

   baptism into Jesus Christ, which refers to our initial conversion

   baptism in water, which is a testimony to the world of our conversion

   baptism in the Holy Spirit, which refers to a heavenly blessing, from Jesus, whereby a believer experiences a fullness of the Spirit he never experienced before

The baptism in the Holy Spirit – this “subsequent baptism” – gives its recipient the potential of exhibiting various gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Even though every born again believer is filled with the Holy Spirit at the very moment of his conversion, the teaching of the New Testament definitely supports the idea of a “subsequent baptism,” an experience available to all believers; a glorious encounter with the Spirit, that adds a depth to his relationship with Christ.

When a Christian is baptized in the Spirit, something happens to him on the inside.  Somehow, that believer realizes his complete and utter helplessness and unworthiness as he feels the tangible presence of God in his heart.  He will become very conscious of God’s presence in his life; he will feel when God’s Spirit is grieved because he himself will be grieved.   The Word of God will take on a new, burning importance to him.  He will experience a strange, new enthusiasm for the “things of God,” things like Bible study and fellowship with other believers. 

It’s no exaggeration to say that a Christian baptized in the Holy Spirit has a power heretofore unknown to him, but it is a power to serve and glorify God, not a power to benefit his flesh in any way.  And this is the important point.  The Holy Spirit wasn’t given until Christ was glorified, and until we are prepared to glorify Him at any cost, we won’t experience the baptism in the Spirit.  This is probably why so many Christians have not experienced this blessing; they may love Jesus and they may serve Him, but He is not The Lord of their hearts.

When a believer is baptized in the Spirit, certain things will happen.  The Spirit always makes His presence known!

1.  Amazement

 “How can this be? they exclaimed. For these men are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking all the native languages of the lands where we were born! Here we areParthians, Medes, Elamites, men from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia Minor, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the Cyrene language areas of Libya, visitors from Romeboth Jews and Jewish convertsCretans, and Arabians. And we all hear these men telling in our own languages about the mighty miracles of God!

They stood there amazed and perplexed. What can this mean?” they asked each other.  (Acts 2:7-12  TLB)

“What can this mean?”  All these people visiting Jerusalem for Passover celebrations saw and heard a lot more than they bargained for!  They experienced “second hand” the tremendous blessing the disciples received.  They saw and heard, but they didn’t understand it.  Why?  It’s because the natural mind cannot make sense of the things of the Spirit.  The unredeemed mind will always be blind to these things until it is set free by the Holy Spirit.

But the man who isnt a Christian cant understand and cant accept these thoughts from God, which the Holy Spirit teaches us. They sound foolish to him because only those who have the Holy Spirit within them can understand what the Holy Spirit means. Others just cant take it in. But the spiritual man has insight into everything, and that bothers and baffles the man of the world, who cant understand him at all. 16   (1 Corinthians 2:14, 15  TLB)

When a Christian has experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit, his life will not be the same; his speech will not be the same; God’s thoughts become his thoughts.  When a preacher experiences this fullness of the Spirit, his sermons become more than just talks laced with man’s wisdom, they will demonstrate the power of Spirit because where the Spirit is, He will manifest His own presence.  Listeners will ask, “What does this mean?” and lives will be changed by the Word.

2.  Glory to God

Be happy if you are cursed and insulted for being a Christian, for when that happens the Spirit of God will come upon you with great glory.  (1 Peter 4:14  TLB)

Not everybody appreciates the fact that you are a Christian and even within the ranks of the Church, not everybody will appreciate the fact that you have been baptized in the Spirit.  Brothers and sisters in the Lord may mock you, as surprising as that may seem.   It’s always that way, though.  The worldly mind has a hard time comprehending the things of God.  And, sadly, the church of Jesus Christ is awash in worldly minds today.  But, as Peter observed, consider it a blessing when you are “cursed and insulted for being a Christian.”  Consider it a badge of honor when your testimony confounds even a fellow believer because in those moments, God will be glorified!  God is always glorified when He anoints one of us.  God is always glorified when we are at last humbled and He becomes the One standing in our stead. 

When God is truly glorified IN us, He will be glorified THROUGH us.

3.  Ongoing fellowship

If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you.  (John 14:15, 16  TLB)

But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, in your hearts, so that you dont need anyone to teach you what is right. For he teaches you all things, and he is the Truth, and no liar; and so, just as he has said, you must live in Christ, never to depart from him.  (1 John 14:6  TLB)

Our continuing fellowship with God the Father is made possible ONLY if we remain in full communion with the Holy Spirit.  Now would be a good time to consider how much time you spend in active fellowship with the Holy Spirit over the past week.  Did you even give Him a passing thought?  You might want to reconsider the role He plays in your life!  He makes fellowship with God the Father and the Son possible. 

Yes, continual, ongoing fellowship is made possible by the Holy Spirit.  But when we neglect the Holy Spirit, either on purpose by ignoring Him or simply by honest neglect, we are literally cutting ourselves off from the kind of intimate fellowship God wants with us.

So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the olive oil he had brought and poured it upon Davids head; and the Spirit of Jehovah came upon him and gave him great power from that day onward. (1 Samuel 16:13  TLB)

“From that day onward.”  David, sins and all, had unbroken fellowship with God  every day because the Spirit was in him and, as we read in the Psalms, he acknowledged His presence.

4.  Holy boldness

The presence of the Holy Spirit in a believer will make that believer especially bold when it comes to sharing the Word of God.  Just consider these verses:

When the Council saw the boldness of Peter and John and could see that they were obviously uneducated non-professionals, they were amazed and realized what being with Jesus had done for them!  (Acts 4:13  TLB)

Teacher, these spies said, we know you tell the truth no matter what! You arent influenced by the opinions and desires of men, but sincerely teach the ways of God. Now tell us, is it right to pay taxes to Rome, or not?  (Mark 12:14  TLB)

The Holy Spirit will make you like Jesus.  Jesus courageously proclaimed the Word of God, and when you allow His Spirit to use you, so will you!  You will be like Jesus:  courageous.  Do you find it hard to share Jesus with other people?  You need to step out in faith, open your mouth, and let Him speak through you.  Think about Gideon:

Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet as a call to arms, and the men of Abiezer came to him.  (Judges 6:34  TLB)

Gideon was filled with a holy boldness when he blew that trumpet.  The fact is, when one is overflowing with the Holy Spirit, he can not help but blow that trumpet!  When you are overflowing with the Holy Spirit, you can not help but speak the Word of The Lord to those who need to hear it.

“We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we saw Jesus do and heard him say.  (Acts 4:20  TLB)

5.  A powerful testimony

When you walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, you will be an effective witness for Christ.  This is all part of that “holy boldness” in that declaring the goodness of God will become natural to you.  Here is the Biblical precedent:

After this prayer, the building where they were meeting shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and boldly preached Gods message…And the apostles preached powerful sermons about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and there was warm fellowship among all the believers… (Acts 4:31, 33  TLB)

But we also see this precedent in the life and ministry of Micah, the Old Testament prophet, who wrote this:

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, fearlessly announcing Gods punishment on Israel for her sins.  (Micah 3:8  TLB)

Micah was filled with the Holy Spirit and was consequently filled with His power for the purpose testifying!  When you are full to overflowing with the Holy Spirit, He will anoint you to share Jesus – to testify about Him – without holding anything back.  He will give you the right words to say and He will bring back to your memory the Word you have hidden in your heart.  In fact, the Holy Spirit is the Great Witness, and we are co-workers with Him.

But I will send you the Comforterthe Holy Spirit, the source of all truth. He will come to you from the Father and will tell you all about me.  And you also must tell everyone about me because you have been with me from the beginning.  (John 15:26, 27  TLB)

And we are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to all who obey him.  (Acts 5:32  TLB)

So the Holy Spirit will give us the power to talk about the greatness of God.  But, that power will only be in direct proportion to how willingly we work with Him.  If you want to experience the power of the Holy Spirit, then step out in faith and open your mouth.

6.  Might works

Those who have experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit and who continue to walk in the fullness of the Spirit will be able to not only talk about the greatness of God, but they will be able to DO great things for God.  Think about Samson:

At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him and since he had no weapon, he ripped the lions jaws apart and did it as easily as though it were a young goat!  (Judges 14:6  TLB)

Samson ended up a failure, but that’s not the fault of the Holy Spirit.  We can see multiple examples in his life of how the Spirit gave this man supernatural strength.  He can do that for you too.  The “lion difficulties” of your life, which threaten to derail your faith, will become as feeble as a “young goat” when you walk in the fullness of the Spirit.

Jesus promised:

In solemn truth I tell you, anyone believing in me shall do the same miracles I have done, and even greater ones, because I am going to be with the Father.  (John 14:12  TLB)

This promise was fulfilled because Jesus left and sent us the Advocate, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.  The baptism in the Holy Spirit opens up new avenues of service because we are given gifts to do work for Christ.  So many Christians – genuine believers – are fearful of this experience, and yet there is no need to fear any blessing from Christ!  The Holy Spirit’s business is NOT to embarrass you, making you do crazy things you would otherwise never do.  He is not a feeling or an emotion or a foreign language.   The Holy Spirit is already in you, waiting to do even more through you.  Let Him engulf your whole being and you will be amazed at He will do.

The Holy Spirit and You, Part 4

 

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The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

As Christians, we never need to worry about the Holy Spirit suddenly disappearing from our lives.  Most of us are familiar with the words of the great King David:

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  (Psalms 51:11 NIV84)

These words were written by a faithful man who knew his weaknesses.  In his dispensation the Holy Spirit had not been poured out; that was an event yet to occur.  In spite of his spiritual frailty, David’s heart’s desire was to live wholly for God and he had enough discernment to know that in order to live like that, he needed the continuous help of the Holy Spirit.  His presence in the daily life of Israel’s King was indispensable.  David may have had in mind another leader of Israel whose career was cut short because the Spirit left him.  The mighty Samson became as weak as other men when God withdrew His Spirit from him.

It is God’s plan to not only fill us with the Holy Spirit, but that He should be be a part of our  lives.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever…  (John 14:16 NIV84)

The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, is to abide in believers forever.  He is to be a part of our lives – a part of all we do.  Let’s take a closer look what it means to have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you.

1.  You become His home

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.  But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.  And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.  (Romans 8:9-11 NIV84)

When a person is born again, the Holy Spirit literally comes in and takes possession of his heart for Christ so that Christ now dwells in his heart by His Spirit.  The Holy Spirit, in these verses, is “the Spirit of life,” bestowing on all believers a new life.  The implication of verse 9 is obvious:  all people that have the Spirit in them, belong to Christ, those who do not, do not! 

Paul had been writing about what it means to be living according to the sinful  nature, and he makes it clear that as Christians we aren’t supposed to.  Christians are not under control of their sinful human nature but of the Holy Spirit.  That’s the new life He gives us – a life that has the potential to please God.  Of course, reason tells us that we have to yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit; that He doesn’t force us to live a God-pleasing life.  But without the Spirit, no human being can please God.   So when the Spirit comes in and takes possession of our hearts, we are given the ability to please God in how we live because the Spirit tells us what we should do and gives us the ability to do it.  We don’t have to depend on our consciences or the laws of man!  We just have to listen to that “still, small voice” and act on what He is saying.

A lot of Christians struggle constantly with living right, as many in the Roman church did.  That’s why Paul tells them how powerful the Holy Spirit is:  If He raised Christ from the dead, then surely He can help you live a good, God-pleasing life!  But make no mistake about it, it’s not our righteous acts that please God, it’s our yielding to the righteousness of Christ which is in us – imputed to us – by the Holy Spirit! 

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  (1 Corinthians 1:30 TNIV)

The Spirit quickens our mortal bodies.  This  has a reference to our future resurrection; just as Christ was raised in glory, so also will those who are full of His Spirit.  But it also has reference to our bodies today.  The Holy Spirit vitalizes the whole person today!  The mortal bodies of Moses and Stephen were “quickened” when they were in God’s presence and their faces radiated with His glory.  We should also radiate God’s glory; it’s a witness to His presence in our lives; it’s proof to the world that we belong to Him and that the Holy Spirit dwells in us and it’s a foretaste of resurrection glory.

2.  He gives you strength

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.  (Micah 3:8 NIV84)

This verse found in Micah’s book is given in the context of false prophets versus Micah, a true prophet.  Unlike these false prophets – or  “placebo preachers” as Walter Kaiser calls them – Micah was full of power because he was full of the Spirit of The Lord.  His rivals, the false prophets, were preaching ridiculous messages of peace and safety when violence abounded and sermons full of cheery bromideswhen the people wallowing in their sin. 

Micah, in the face the difficult situation of having to tell his people how sinful they were, was given the strength to do just that by the Holy Spirit!   The Holy Spirit empowered Micah, as he empowers all believers today, to impartially declare the Word of God to those who needed to hear it.   It was the Holy Spirit that gave the prophet the boldness to say the right things and to live the right way; the Holy Spirit put something in Micah that wasn’t there before.  And He can do that for you, too, if you would let Him.  In fact, He wants to do that.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.  (Philippians 2:12, 13  TNIV)

God, through the Holy Spirit, enables you to “will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”  He not only gives you the strength, but also the will.   Very often we may be aware of God’s will and we obey it, yet our hearts may not be in it.  But part of the work of the Spirit is to bring our hearts along and get them in-line so that God’s will eventually becomes OUR will, too!

Both Micah and Paul recognized that the good in their lives – the good they were doing for God – was not a work of their own abilities but a work of the Holy Spirit in them.  These men didn’t boast of their talents or achievements or great plans, their focus was on God who sent them to do work for Him.  Peter and John experienced the same thing and it was noticed by people around them:

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.   (Acts 4:13 NIV84)

That “courage” was not native to Peter or John; it was put in them by the Spirit, which is why onlookers were “astonished.”  That’s the wonder the Spirit!  That’s what He does for believers in the here and now.  But notice, in the cases we have looked at, the Spirit put power in people to do the work of The Lord, not to make money or win friends and influence people. 

3.  He is LIFE

Jesus answered, Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.  (John 4:13-14 NIV84)

Jesus was talking to a Samaritan woman whom He had asked for a drink of water.  He took the opportunity to teach her about the kind of “water” He could give her as opposed to the natural water she was giving Him.  The water from her well, natural water, would quench a person’s thirst temporarily; that person would need to have another drink some time.  But the “water” Jesus could offer was not natural water but spiritual water.  Of course, He’s not really talking about H2O, He’s talking about LIFE – specifically the kind of LIFE given by the Holy Spirit.  But the figure of “water” and “drinking” is a powerful one.  The “water” is LIFE and the “drinking” is FAITH.  It is by faith that we receive the new life of the Holy Spirit.  But this new life is so powerful, ONE drink lasts FOREVER! 

Not only does the Holy Spirit give us LIFE – both eternal life but also a new life for today – but that blessing in us is not confined to us only:

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.  (John 7:38-39 NIV84)

This precious Holy Spirit flows out from us, touching others. 

Those who thirst will find satisfaction is Jesus Christ.  As we are filled with His Spirit, He overflows us and we become spiritual fountains for other people.  When we trust Christ, we not only receive the “water” that produces eternal life, but we become a source of that life for others!  The fact is, nobody can possess the Holy Spirit and keep Him to himself.  Jesus is teaching us that where the Holy Spirit is, He flows forth.  If there is no “flowing forth, He is not there” (William Temple).

Receiving the Holy Spirit

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Receiving the of the Holy Spirit

We all know why Jesus came to earth:

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.  (Luke 19:10  NIV)

The promise of salvation was why Jesus came, we all know that.  But the gift of the Spirit is as much a promise of Christ as the gift of salvation:

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.  (John 15:26  NIV)

When we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, we become sons (and daughters) of God:

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  (Galatians 4:5  NIV)

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…  (John 1:12  NIV)

In the same way we as children of God have a right to be filled with the Holy Spirit; to be filled with His power.  But how exactly does this happen?  To be sure, at conversion we are filled with the Spirit.  But what about after that?  What about subsequent infillings of the Holy Spirit?  What about the fullness of the Holy Spirit?  Such questions are not the purview of the Pentecostals or the charismatics!  The fullness of the Spirit is available to all Christians.  The Bible tells us exactly how to receive the Holy Spirit.

1.  You must live in forgiveness!

As one Bible scholar remarked, “The holy dove cannot dwell among unclean birds.”  So, if you want to experience the fullness of the Spirit, you must be forgiven and walk in forgiveness.

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  (Acts 2:38  NIV)

Peter, in preaching to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost answered the burning question of the ages:  “What shall we do to be saved?”  Peter had just told those in the assembled crowd that they were guilty of crucifying Jesus, and that He was the Messiah.  Peter’s answer to their question stresses three things. If these people wanted to get right with God and enjoy His presence, then they must make:

  • A complete confession of their guilt, as it related to how Jesus was treated;
  • A complete confession of their helpless condition:  they were sinners unable to save themselves;
  • A complete submission to the apostles so that they may be delivered from their guilt.

If you notice, in Peter’s answer to, “What must we do?”  he does NOT tell them, “There is nothing YOU can do.”  In his answer, he tells them exactly what they MUST TO. While they cannot save themselves; there is a correct response to hearing the Gospel:  THEY must repent;  THEY must be baptized.  But none of this is possible unless God is drawing them by the power of Word.  It is our will that moves and acts but it is only God’s grace that makes that possible..

The baptism referred to here is water baptism.  It has no saving power in and of itself, but it is symbolic of their submission to God and a demonstration to others of their new found faith in Christ.

Once these things are in place, they would be free to receive the Holy Spirit.  If you want to experience the absolute fullness of the Spirit in your life, you have to do what Peter told his people to do.  Repent, submit, live your faith then you will be in a position to receive the Spirit.

2.  You must be a child of God!

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  (Galatians 4:6  NIV)

In the context of this letter, Paul wanted his readers to know that they, mostly Gentiles converts, had become “sons of God.”  It is for these “sons of God,” the Spirit in intended.  The Holy Spirit was poured into their hearts just as He has been poured into our hearts.  Why? Every child resembles their parents.  God sent His Spirit so that we may start looking like our heavenly Father!

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  (2 Corinthians 3:18  NIV)

It is the Holy Spirit that slowly transforms us into God’s image.  This is not to say we become “gods,” but that we begin to take on some of His attributes.  We, as born again believers, like to talk about our “relationship” with God, and we certainly have that.  But “relationship” is not the same thing as “likeness.”  It is only through the work of the Spirit that we become like Jesus.  And that “likeness” is nothing less than the outward evidence of our “relationship.”

3.  You must recognize your need!

Consider the words of the prophet Isaiah:

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.  (Isaiah 44:3  NIV)

Unless you feel the need, God will never endow you with the fullness of the Spirit.  Yes, you are filled with the Spirit when you become born again, but there is more.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit IS the fullness of the Spirit, but no believer may enjoy that unless they know they need it. If you feel self-sufficient in yourself, you won’t be seeking the fullness of the Spirit and it won’t be offered to you.  But to those who need more strength, more of the presence of God, the fullness of the Spirit is offered unreservedly.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  (Isaiah 40:29  NIV)

But you have to KNOW your need before God can meet it!  A lot of Christians seem to want to experience Spirit baptism, but they haven’t realized the purpose for which it is given.  Know your need or needs and God will give you MORE of His Spirit to meet those needs.

4.  You need faith!

It’s strange that people seem to be able to have faith for salvation but have very little faith for receiving the fullness of the Spirit.  Part of this problem is a lack of teaching or just plain bad teaching.  Over and over again, otherwise orthodox preachers and Bible teachers make fun of the baptism of the Spirit and mock those who believe in it and the contemporary manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit.  But if you if have the faith, you will receive more of God’s presence in your life.

By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.  (John 7:39  NIV)

It all starts with belief in Jesus; confidence in His Word and in His Work.  Think about what Paul told the Galatians:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”  He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.  (Galatians 3:13, 14  NIV)

 In this verse, we see the two aspects in receiving the Spirit:

  • The fact:  Christ redeemed us!  Our redemption is an accomplished, historical fact.
  • The purpose:  That we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

It is an odd thing that within the broad Christian community, the FACT is so universally believed, but the PURPOSE is so ignored.  If you have faith for your salvation, you should easily have the faith to receive the fullness of the Spirit!

5.  You must be obedient!

It’s a fact.  You can desire all the things of God—the deeper things of God—but if you aren’t living in simple obedience to His will and His Word there’s only so much God can give you and only so far you can go.

We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:32  NIV)

When you are living in obedience to the Lord, you will be placing yourself in the very mainstream of His will for you and you will be in a position to receive all that God wants to give you, including the fullness of His Spirit.

6.  You must be willing to wait (be patient)!

The disciples were told to “wait for the promise of the Father,” in Acts 1:4.  As the disciples waited in patient obedience, the Promise came.

I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.  (Luke 24:49  NIV)

Why did they have to wait?  What was the purpose for the waiting?  We can’t know for sure, but it probably all has to do with two things:  obedience manifested by patience.  Human beings, even redeemed ones, are not good at waiting for anything.  We want what we want when we want it.  But we have to wait for the Promise to come to us.  When we exercise our faith, we obey, and we learn patience.

7.  You must pray!

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!  (Luke 11:13  NIV)

Such a simple step, but it gets missed in the hustle and bustle of our lives.  Sometimes we get so caught up in expecting God to “just do” things for us that we neglect to sit down and actually talk to Him about it!  Even with Jesus, it was while He was praying that Heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him—

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”  Luke 3:21, 22  NIV)

And it was while the disciples were praying that they were filled with the Spirit—

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:31  NIV)

And remember what happened to Solomon?

When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.  (2 Chronicles 7:1  NIV)

Prayer is what moves the Hand of God.  Prayer is what shows God how serious you are.  It’s more than merely “talking” to Him.  True prayer reveals your heart to Him and it opens you up to His Spirit.

If you are serious about walking in the fullness of the Spirit and and if you want to do extraordinary things in and for the Body of Christ, then start considering receiving more of the Holy Spirit.  Why wouldn’t you want more of Him?

 

The Holy Spirit and You, Part 2

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Grieving the Holy Spirit

 Last time, we discussed the reality of the Holy Spirit’s personhood.  He is a Person.  He is not an “it,” “an emanation,” “a warm fuzzy feeling,” or anything that looks like a leaping flame on your head or a dove, floating down from the sky.  The Holy Spirit is a Person, the third Member of the Holy Trinity.  He is, for all intents and purposes, the abiding presence of God that rests inside every born again person.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  (John 16:13 NIV84)

 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.   (John 16:7 NIV84)

Jesus told His disciples He had to go (to be crucified and return to the Father) so that He could send the Holy Spirit to them.  This was important because while Jesus was on the Earth,  He was pretty much a local personality; His ministry confined to the plains of Galilee.  But things needed to change.  The Gospel message was about to spread to the ends of the Earth.  The presence of God needed to be where all believers were going to be, not just among the converts in Galilee and Judea.  In short order, there would be Christians in Asia Minor, Rome, Italy, and all over the world.  Jesus, before He was crucified, prayed this:

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your namethe name you gave meso that they may be one as we are one.   (John 17:11 NIV84)

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.   (John 17:15 NIV84)

The Holy Spirit is God the Father’s answer to Jesus, the Son’s prayer.  And as we work our way through our study of the Holy Spirit, we will discover He fulfills Jesus’ prayer of John 17 to the letter.

Being a Person in every sense of the word, the Holy Spirit can be hurt. He can be offended.  He can be resisted.  This time, we will look at how the Holy Spirit suffers. 

1.  He may be blasphemed, Matthew 12:31, 3

And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.  Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.  (Matthew 12:31-32 NIV84)

What exactly does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit?   Just what is the dreaded “unpardonable sin?”

It’s a remarkable statement; all sin and blasphemy – even when committed against Jesus Christ – can be forgiven!  Now that’s some amazing grace!  However, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will NEVER be forgiven.  The key to understanding this terrible sin is glancing back to verses 24 and 28–

But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.  (Matthew 12:24 NIV84)

But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.  (Matthew 12:28 NIV84)

What is it that the Pharisees did?  They attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to that of the Devil, thus they blasphemed the Holy Spirit.  John Wesley wrote:  It is neither more nor less than ascribing those miracles to the power of the devil which Christ wrought by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Essentially, the Pharisees were rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit, claiming it was Satanic in its origins.  They were rejecting the witness of the Christ and the Holy Spirit.  Can this sin be committed today?  It’s committed when a person willfully resists the Holy Spirit.  That sin cannot be forgiven because the Holy Spirit brings forgiveness.  Forgiveness is the cure for sin, and it’s the Holy Spirit that applies it.  If a sinner rejects it, he is rejecting the cure.  That’s unpardonable.

2.  He may be insulted, Hebrews 10:29

How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?  (Hebrews 10:29 NIV84)

This verse should be taken in context of the writer’s larger context.  He is contrasting the days of the Old Covenant with the days of the New.  He compares the penalty for sin under the Old – physical death – with the much stronger penalty under the New – spiritual death.  He points out the differences between breaking the Law of Moses and despising the Son of God and the Holy Spirit.

The sinner who rebels against God under the New Covenant rejects the Person of Jesus Christ and His work and He rejects the Person of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of grace.  So, the “unpardonable sin,” then, involves three aspects:

(a)  Sinning against the Son of God.  The sinner tramples under foot Jesus Christ.  That’s a figurative way of describing how we treat things that bother us, like chunks of mud in the treads of our sneakers.  The sinner scrapes and grinds the Son of God into the ground.

(b) Sinning against the Work of Jesus.  Jesus shed His blood as the supreme sacrifice for our sins.  To sin against that sacrifice is to consider it as nothing significant.  It’s to think of the blood of Jesus like anybody else’s blood.

(c)  Sinning against the Holy Spirit.  When a sinner does this, he insults the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of grace – by ignoring Him or by attributing His work to something else.  Insulting this third Person of the Trinity is the height of man’s arrogance and folly and sin.  He can never be forgiven for such a flagrant display of pride.

3.  He may be grieved, Isaiah 63:9, 10 

In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them.In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.  Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit.So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.  (Isaiah 63:9, 10 NIV84)

Think of Israel, the redeemed ones, rebelling against the Holy Spirit, grieving Him terribly.  No wonder the Spirit “turned and became their enemy.”  When God’s people knowingly rebel against Him, He becomes their enemy.  Verse 9 might be the most heartbreaking verse in the Bible.  It describes a God who totally identified with His people; who did so much for them, yet they completely turned their backs on Him.  Instead of being grateful and serving God in humble thankfulness and appreciation, they fought against Him; kicking violently against the goad.

God the Holy Spirit is hurt when we treat His goodness, faithfulness, and compassion as nothing at all.  It’s more than hurt.  To rebel against the Holy Spirit is to hurt the Holy Spirit and that puts you on the wrong side of the equation.

4.  He may be resisted,  Acts 7:51

You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!  (Acts 7:51 NIV84)

The people to whom Stephen was speaking were “stiff-neck” (unbending), whose faith was all for show.  Those who are like that are able to resist the Holy Spirit; those whose faith is all on the outside, with nothing on the inside.  The church attenders whose faith is a Sunday-only proposition, for example, are like this;   people like that routinely resist the Holy Spirit.  They are able to render all the sermons they hear as nothing.

Why God’s Word breaks some hearts and is resisted by others is a matter of some mystery.  Of course, the former is due to God’s amazing grace and the latter due to man’s sinful nature.  The Jews Stephen was addressing were all guilty, as where their forefathers, of resisting the Holy Spirit as He sought to lead them and guide them.

When a believer easily resists the Holy Spirit, it is probably an indication they don’t take their faith seriously; they doubt the Word of God they may claim to defend.  If the Holy Spirit is to have full possession of the “Canaan Land” of the heart, then the whole Word of God must be believed and yielded to, or the Spirit will be resisted.

5.  He may be quenched, 1 Thessalonians 5, 19, 20

Do not put out the Spirits fire;  do not treat prophecies with contempt.   (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 NIV84)

The Thessalonian church was busy church.  They were, by all indication, doing the “good work” of the Lord:  sharing their faith in the community, with their worship services characterized by great manifestations of the Holy Spirit:  joy and enthusiasm in the The Lord.  In verse 20, one particular gift of the Spirit is singled out:  the gift of prophecy.  We may debate what the spiritual gift of prophecy is, it is in essence a message from God.  This sin is slightly different from resisting the Spirit.  This involves actively stopping the proclamation of God’s message to a congregation.

How does this happen?  It happens when we hear something we don’t like from the pulpit – a message from God, not an opinion – and we speak against it or against the one who gave it.

You may say that rarely happens, but the evidence of your own eyes proves that it does:  the dozens and dozens of denominations that dot the religious landscape in America all testify to the reality of people who, rather than deal honestly with the Word of God, start their own church so as to preach a message they like to hear.  The Holy Spirit is quenched all the time.

6.  His heart may be broken, Ephesians 4:30

And do not make God’s Holy Spirit sad; for the Spirit is God’s mark of ownership on you, a guarantee that the Day will come when God will set you free.   (Ephesians 4:30 GNTCE)

This “grieving” of the Holy Spirit is a little different from what was mentioned earlier.  In the context of what Paul wrote the Ephesians, it seems the Holy Spirit can be hurt by how we treat others!  Malicious, sacrilegious, or unwholesome talk that could hurt others causes pain to and hurts the Spirit of God.  Can you imagine?  Does that make you think twice about the words that come out of your mouth?  If you knew what you were saying was hurting God, would you keep saying it?

If you are a Christian, you don’t have the right to say anything you feel like saying.  You have to take into consideration how your words will touch the Spirit of God within you.

Remember, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.  (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 NIV84)

The precious Holy Spirit, who lives in every believer, was given freely in love by Jesus Christ, is deeply wounded by irreverent and hurtful talk.

Let’s think twice about how we treat others, how we respond to the Word of God, and how think about what the Holy Spirit may be doing in the lives of fellow believers.


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