The Holy Spirit - The Part of God Who Touches Us - Part 2
Pastor Arn Buck
Heart Song Worship Center
2 Peter 1:3 (NLT) By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
He In-fills and Empowers Us
There are numerous explanations for the infilling, empowerment, and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Some focus on one manifestation and ignore the others. Sometimes the labels of the manifestations will be switched as if they were interchangeable when compared to other viewpoints. So far I have not seen one explanation that adequately addresses all the cases found in the New Testament.
Amidst all these theological arguments, there is one practical observation that can be extracted. The Holy Spirit refills us and provides special empowerment as He sees the need to. In other words we can trust the Him to provide what we need to do the job He calls us to do. It is not necessary for us to understand how He provides it. Let me give an example to illustrate this point. When we are employed by a company, we are required to be there during working hours and to use the skills that we have acquired. The company provides everything else that we need to do the job. This could include an office, desk, chair, phone, computer, training, lighting, heat, and instructions on what to do. We do not have to know who the company uses to provide phone service as long as the phone works when we need to use it. This is similar to our service to God. We have the responsibility to make ourselves and all the talents He has given us available for His use. He has the responsibility to provide everything else.
Let's look at an example of the Holy Spirit filling Paul to deal with a Jewish sorcerer name Bar-Jesus. Paul has just started his first missionary journey. At this point the sorcerer is attempting to interfere with Paul's desire to share the gospel with Sergius Paulus who was the governor of Paphos.
Acts 13:9 - 12 (NLT) Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye. Then he said, "You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time." Instantly mist and darkness came over the man's eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him. When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.
Here we see that Paul is filled with the Holy Spirit in order to expose the false teachings of Bar-Jesus to the governor. God then validates these claims by a demonstration of His power. He uses Paul to punish the sorcerer by striking him blind. Without this sign Paul's words would have little credibility in comparison to Bar-Jesus who had an established relationship with the governor. Verse seven, of this chapter, says that Bar-Jesus had "attached" himself to the governor. Sometimes those who are held captive by false teachings need to be set free from those teachings in order to be able to hear the truth. We must pray that the chains that bind them be broken by the Holy Spirit.
Was Paul able to detect that he was being filled with the Holy Spirit? Did he feel a surge of energy? Did he feel a tingling sensation in his fingers and toes? Did he feel a rush of adrenaline? We do not know. He may not have felt anything abnormal. If Paul's emotional reaction to the infilling was important, God would have included it in this passage. He might choose to make us feel a surge of power as He empowers us if He knows that we need to feel that. When we look at infilling and empowerment, it is not important to know how He does it or when He does it. It is important that we avail ourselves to Him and ensure that He gets the credit and glory for what He does through us.
Once the my wife and I saw the Holy Spirit work through someone who wasn't even aware that they were used. I found myself unemployed in the late 1980's. My wife, Linda, sought God in prayer for comfort and assurance. In response He gave her Isaiah 55:12 - "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." Although the verse was reassuring to her, she asked God to verify that it the verse was truly from Him. She expected the pastor to quote it in his sermon on the following Sunday. She was somewhat disappointed when that did not happen. However, later than same Sunday, a group of us were gathered in a circle for prayer prior to the evening service. A woman, named Chris, was praying. All of a sudden she stopped and quoted Isaiah 55:12. After doing this she continued praying were she left off. Isaiah 55 was comply unrelated to anything else that she was praying. The Holy Spirit had used Chris to verify His promise to my wife. Later when Linda thanked Chris for being obedient to God, Chris had absolutely no remembrance of quoting the verse. Our knowledge of being used by Him is not important. He will use whomever and whatever He chooses to accomplish His will. We should count it as a blessing when he chooses to work through us.
He Reveals God's Righteousness and Judgment and Convicts Us of Sin
For someone to become a Christian they must know that they are a sinner in need of a savior. They must also know that the savior is truly who He claims to be. Saving faith cannot be exercised without these two pieces being tangible. Mere intellectual comprehension is not enough to make it work. How can these perceptions become an applicable reality? The Bible informs us that the agent who helps us bridge this gap is the Holy Spirit.
John 16:8 - 9 (NLT) And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world's sin is that it refuses to believe in me.
Fortunately we have the Holy Spirit to make the consequences of our sin real enough to compel us to turn to Jesus as our savior. Our ability to rationalize and justify our actions often keeps us from seeing our sinful state. We truly need the Holy Spirit to unveil the unpleasant and hidden truth. This revelation humbles and breaks us so that He has a suitable foundation on which to build us up.
He Gives Gifts for Service to the Body
The Holy Spirit provides each of us with gifts. These gifts are not designed to benefit us but to be of benefit to the Body of Christ. Generally they are used to serve others in the local church. Just us He has designed us to be dependent on Him, he made us to be dependent on one another. This helps to keep us humble and always gives us an opportunity to truly respect each other for the part that we bring to the whole.
1 Corinthians 12:4 - 11 (NLT) There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice, to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
Please notice that at the end of the passage it clearly states that it is the Spirit who decides which gifts are given and who gets them. We do not pick one from the list. Isn't this unfair? What about our rights? Shouldn't the leadership of the church have the right to assign people as needs arise?
We gain a sense of completeness as we discover our gift and begin using it. This is where we step into the role that God has created us for. Church leadership does a disservice to individuals and the church when they push people into positions that they are not gifted for. Idealistically someone new in a gift should be paired with another who is mature that same gift. This is type a apprenticeship is an important part of discipleship. Failure of the church to do this is, in my opinion, one of the main reasons that the church universal is lacking in power.
There is a sense of joy and desire to serve with excellence when people operate where they are gifted. Conversely there is dissatisfaction, grumbling, and sloppiness when people are force fit to match the perceived needs of the church. How dare we steal a right that is clearly claimed by the Holy Spirit for the sake of filling our church organizational charts. Can you imagine our powerful a church would be if we had people that were truly empowered to operate in the gifts defined in 1 Corinthians chapter 12.
About seven years ago I was led to a church that had a number of talented singers and musicians in their worship team. In spite of this, their worship music was far below their potential. They had a bass player who, at that time, did not have the ability to play the instrument or know musical role of the bass. He was there because they felt that it was better to have a bad bass player than not have one at all. I joined the team as a guitarist and after earning their respect I replaced the bass player with myself. Now there was a solid musical foundation for the rest of the worship team to build on. The drummer who used to play simple parts to try to hold things together now was free to express himself in very creative ways. The lead guitarist could soar to new heights because he had a consistent and emotionally strong backing to launch from. From that point they rapidly improved and became one of the best worship teams that I have heard. Each one except for their original bass player had been clearly called to the ministry of worship. They had the right hearts, the gifting, and the drive to become proficient on their instruments and voices. We loved playing for the Lord so much that our practices would frequently go on until very late at night.
He Leads and Guides Us
Do you ever have a meeting with someone where you knew that a wrong answer could have dire consequences? Wouldn't have been nice to have all the right answers whispered to a hidden earphone? Shortly after Pentecost Peter and John found themselves in a very dire situation. They were standing before the very council that had previously condemned Jesus. They were there to defend their actions. They had healed a lame beggar, in the name of Jesus, at the Temple gate. Jesus predicted what they were now facing in the following passage.
Luke 12:11 - 12 (NLT) "And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don't worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said."
Fortunately, for them, Jesus' words were trustworthy. They had that earphone with the correct answers in the form of the Holy Spirit. Here they were as uneducated men facing the elite intellectuals of Jewish society. They must have known that their very lives were at stake.
Acts 4:5 - 9 (NLT) The next day the council of all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, along with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other relatives of the high priest. They brought in the two disciples and demanded, "By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of our people, are we being questioned today because we've done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed?
Acts 4:13 (NLT) The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.
God would be a cruel master if He demanded obedience without making His desires clear to us. It is important that we learn to hear His voice through the Spirit. The Bible, provides guidelines, principals, historical examples, and acquaints us to the nature and character of God. As important as this is, the Bible does not provide the detailed instructions that we need to serve Him in the situations of everyday life. However, what we hear from the Spirit should never conflict, in any way, that which we see in His Word.
I was teaching a series at my last church every Wednesday night. About half-way through the series the Spirit told me to wrap it up in three weeks. He helped me bring to a surprising yet good conclusion. This allowed me to give the pastor three weeks notice to prepare to take over for me. After the third week I learned that my boss a work had assigned me to a project that included a mandatory conference call every Wednesday evening. Because of the guidance provided by the Holy Spirit, I was in a great position to make the transition from teaching at church to the requirements of the new project at work.
He Sanctifies Us and Produces Fruit
Since the Holy Spirit dwells in us, He is in a good position to develop us from what we are to become more like Him. The word sanctify means to make holy or to free from sin. He is there as we struggle. He is there to see our victories and our defeats. Remember the Spirit has emotions. How do you think it affects Him when he consistently turn a deaf ear to His voice. In spite of that He patently and faithfully works in us to make us better for ourselves, better for others, and a more suitable vehicle for Him to work through.
Romans 15:16b (NLT) I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:16 - 17 (NLT) So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
Galatians 5:22 - 23 (NLT) But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Sometimes He gently exposes the hindrances that we present to His task of sanctifying us. After becoming a Christian my overwhelming desire for drugs was taken away. One day when I was home sick and laying in bed the Spirit asked, "Do you really trust me?" I answered, "Yes, of course I do." He then asked, "Why do you have an ounce of grass in your desk drawer?" "That's in case things don't work out with y...", I answered realizing the limitations of my trust. Within a few minutes that hindrance was removed as it was flushed into the sewers where it belonged.
Isn't it great that the Holy Spirit does not give up on us. He continually lifts us up when we fall. He tenderly nurses our wounds and places us back on the right path facing in the right direction. Someday we will look back and see how great the expense our selfish desires have been to ourselves and those around us.
We have looked at the deity, person, and ministries of the Holy Spirit. We are a blessed people when we consider all that the He does to make us successful in achieving the great things which God has planned for us. His many ministries to us clearly reflect God's indescribable love and His desire to fellowship with us. How could we ever imagine serving God without the guidance and empowerment of the Spirit? Although there is no physical form that we can use to visually picture Him in our minds, He is the part of God that we directly experience the most. He is the part of God who touches us.