The very important subject of the Person and work of the Holy spirit is often a neglected area of study or an area where there are imbalances of teaching. In this post, I am trying to give an overview of the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life, I am convinced that we need to realise that the Holy Spirit is a personal and empowering presence in our lives. He is not someone who can be safely relegated to doctrine but rather someone who needs to be welcomed into every area of the Christian’s life and witness.
The Spirit’s role in bringing us to faith
The New Birth is essential for anyone to become a Christian, if we have not been born again we are not truly Christians. The Holy spirit is the one who works in our lives and opens our eyes to the need of a Saviour. We need to be clear here that each testimony will be different because the Holy Spirit works with us as individuals. Jesus very clearly teaches about the new birth when he says,
Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (Jn 3:5–6).
Our spiritual life is dependent upon the Holy Spirit working within us and leading us to put our faith in the good news of the gospel.
The book of Acts gives us many examples of the way the Lord brings people to faith, it is interesting to compare the testimonies of believers in Acts 16 ,
14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. (Ac 16:14–16).
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized(Ac 16:25–33).
The contrast between these two stories is immense, the latter case is very dramatic but the first is very gentle, this illustrates the diverse way the Holy spirit works in our lives. I have heard people say that they wish their conversion experience had been more dramatic but this is to forget that the Lord works in us in the way that he sees is best suited to us.
What is your own experience of the Spirit leading you to faith in Christ?
Sanctification: 13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To be sanctified is to be set apart for a good and noble purpose, the Holy spirit sanctifies us to make us more like Jesus. In other words, he leads us into Holy Living.
13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. (2 Th 2:13–15).
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Ga 5:16–17).
Paul here holds together belief in the truth and being sanctified by the Holy Spirit sometimes today people overemphasise doctrine at the expense of being open to the Holy Spirit, or on the other extreme so emphasise the work of the Holy Spirit that truth is forgotten. We need to realise that the Holy Spirit is the one who inspired the Holy Scriptures and he leads us according to those same scriptures. The Scripture reveals to us a God who wants to be active in our lives through the dynamic work of the Holy Spirit.This means that we depend upon the Holy Spirit to make us spiritually grow. Are you depending on the Holy Spirit moment by moment to help you grow?
Are you depending on the Holy Spirit moment by moment to help you grow?
Fruit of the Spirit 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Ga 5:22–24).
If we desire to be fruitful for the Lord we will need to depend upon the Holy spirit to produce his fruit in us, how are we doing this? Look at each aspect of the fruit and prayerfully ask the Lord where do I need to grow more?
Baptism with the Holy Spirit
The Lord Jesus knew that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a vital experience for his disciples to have if they were to impact the world with the gospel. He, therefore, tells them to wait for this blessing before trying to witness for him.
4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Ac 1:4–5). See also Acts 2 for the fulfilment of this promise.
The book of Acts shows us what can happen when Christians are baptised with the Holy Spirit, time after time we see the Holy Spirit powerfully at work as he uses ordinary men and women to minister his love. Everything that is achieved in the book of Acts is because the early church knew the reality of the empowering presence of God. We must ask ourselves do we know that same reality that the early church knew or it foreign to us.
We must realise that God is always willing to give this gift to us , as Jesus said,
13 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!” (Lk 11:13)
The baptism with the Holy Spirit is given to empower us for a life of service and witness for the Lord. When we are baptised in the Holy Spirit we have a deep realisation of God’s presence and blessing which is manifested through praise, speaking in tongues and prophecy.
Have you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit? If not, why not ask for it right now?
Being filled with the Holy Spirit:
Be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph 5:18–21)
We are baptised with the Holy spirit once but there are to be many fillings, in fact, the apostle expects the believers to be full of the Spirit every day. as we look at the wider context of this verse we will realise that being full of the Holy spirit is something we need for the whole of our lives. The verses following this talk about family life,marriage and work which shows how comprehensive the spirit filled life is. sometimes we can think of the Spirit-filled life as something we tack on to ordinary living, this is not the case, Spirit-filled living should be the normal Christian life.
Notice that Paul commands the Ephesians to be full of the Holy Spirit, this needs to be a constant experience because as D L Moody once said, “We are leaky vessels”. are you seeking the filling of the Spirit every day?
Are you seeking the filling of the Spirit every day?
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
The gifts of the Spirit are vital for the Christian life and the edification of the Church, they were not taken away at the end of the apostolic period, there is no evidence for that on the pages of scripture. We need to realise that God has not changed and he still equips His church for ministry. some people think that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are weird but they are not that, rather they bring the loving grace of God into a situation in a very real and dynamic way. Sometimes we will find it hard to step out in faith even when god prompts us to use his gifts, but we will realise when we do what a blessing that gift is to the body of Christ. The Apostle Paul listed some of the Gifts in 1 Corinthians,
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines (1 Co 12:4–11).
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. (1 Co 14:1) also see Romans 12 and Ephesians 4
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given for the upbuilding of the Church, not for our spiritual prestige but rather so that we can serve one another. We should, therefore, be open to all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Are you open to all that the Holy Spirit wants to give you? Do you desire to serve God in his way?
We are involved in a spiritual battle against the forces of darkness and at times the Christian life is not easy but the Lord has provided all that we need to be involved in the battle, Paul put it this way,
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Eph 6:10–18)
We are involved in a spiritual battle and we therefore need to rely on the Holy Spirit to enable us to use all the armour and weapons he has provided for us. Paul gives us a comprehensive list of armour that God has provided for us and he has also provided us with the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Paul also ties praying in the Spirit into the whole area of Spiritual warfare, it is in prayer that we depend on God. all of our praying is meant to be Spirit lead praying. The Spirit is able and willing to guide us in our praying and he helps us in our weakness to cry out to God.
Are you relying on the Lord for his strength or are you trying to live the Christian life in your own strength?
I have tried to show abo the importance of a dynamic relationship with the Holy Spirit and I hope that as you read these words you will desire to know the Holy spirit working more deeply within you.