|< Previous||Next >|
The Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What is the Holy Spirit?
God is at work through the Holy Spirit when the Gospel is proclaimed faithfully. We, therefore, are to trust Him to accomplish His purpose in the hearts of those who hear the Gospel.
The Holy Spirit is the great Communicator. Without His supernatural work, there would be no such thing as conversion. Satan puts a veil over the truth, and this can be penetrated only by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is this Third Person of the Trinity who takes the message and communicates with power to the hearts and minds of men and women. He breaks down the barriers. He convicts of sin. He applies the truth of the Gospel we proclaim. No evangelist can have God’s touch on their ministry until they realize this reality, and preaches in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We, as proclaimers of the Gospel, must understand that the natural person cannot accept the truth of Christ. The things of God are foolishness to them. They cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned. “But people who aren’t Christians can’t understand these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them …..” (1st Corinthians 2:14 NLT)
That is why Jesus said, “And when he comes (meaning, the Holy Spirit), he will convince the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment” (John 16:8 NLT).
We can -- and must – preach the Gospel, but in the final analysis, it is the Spirit who interprets the Word to the hearer, and quickens it. We cannot manipulate His sovereign work; and once we understand that the results are in God’s hands, it will give us freedom from anxiety, and fear of failure.
Jesus told Nicodemus, “The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven. So, don’t be surprised at my statement that you must be born again. Just as you can hear the wind, but can’t tell where it comes from, or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8 NLT).
Yes, there is a mystery to the working of the Spirit – but we know that God alone can turn sinners from their sin, and bring them to everlasting life.
Again, Jesus explained, “It is the Spirit who gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63 NLT)
The filling of the Spirit was a prerequisite for power in the ministry of the first evangelists. “But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, thorough Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NLT). Their Spirit-filled witness began in Jerusalem, then spread to Judea and Samaria, and on to the ends of the earth.
The Spirit’s filling does not” guarantee” the results we would like to see. Peter’s preaching at Pentecost result in 3,000 who “gladly received his word”, and “were baptized. “ (Acts 2:41). Peter was equally filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8) when he later preached to a more select group. No converts are recorded here -- only antagonism, bewilderment, and persecution.
We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit – but what exactly does that mean? Some define it in terms of certain experiences, or feelings. But the New Testament stresses that when we are filled with the Spirit, we are controlled by the Spirit.
The Apostle Paul illustrated this when he commanded, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you” (Ephesians 5:18 NLT). Instead of being controlled by the wine of the world, we are to be controlled by the Spirit of God. Instead of devil intoxication, it must be divine intoxication.
The verb is the present passive imperative -- which implies yieldedness to the Holy Spirit’s control. As we yield, so he fills; as He fills, so He controls.
This may be a quiet, unemotional reality – in fact, at times we may not even be conscious of it. But when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we renounce our dependence on ourselves and our own strength, and we yield ourselves to His control. As we commit our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Chris each day, the spirit of God fills us, and empowers us, for the work God has for us.
The Spirit-filled life is the normal Christian life. It enables the evangelist to speak the Word of God with boldness. When the early Christians received threats that might have diminished their boldness, they had special prayer for a fresh in-filling. God granted their request and, once again, they “preached God’s message with boldness” (Acts 4:31 NLT).
My wife, Ruth, often reminded me that I should always preach from an “overflow.” I know what she meant. To be so filled with Scripture and so filled with the Holy Spirit that, day or night, I can give a reason for the hope that is within me, or give a Bible exposition, or give an evangelistic sermon (John 7:38-39, 1st Peter 3:15).
The Spirit-filled life was not an option for the early church; neither, is it an extra for today. It is essential. The Holy Spirit’s ministry is an indispensable requirement to enable people to be “born of the Spirit.”
There is another reason for us to know the fullness and control of the Holy Spirit. We will encounter supernatural opposition. Beyond human opposition to our work, we can expect spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12). The “the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God” (Ephesians 2:2 NLT).
That’s why we cannot convert anyone. We cannot match the power of Satan, but we do have authority over him when we call on the power of God’s indwelling Spirit. The supernatural opposition we face is also one reason why one of the most important aspects of evangelism is ….prayer.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul clearly indicated that the evangelistic ministry is a fight, not a frolic. And he realized the need of supportive prayer by God’s people. Paul sought intercessors, prayer partners, among the Ephesian Christians who would pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. “And pray for me, too,” he continued, “Ask God to give me the right words as I boldly explain God’s secret plan that the Good News is for the Gentiles, too” (Ephesians 6:18-19 NLT).
The apostles certainly understood the Holy Spirit to be the Third Person of the Godhead – not an ethereal influence, but a Person, who is an essential part of evangelism. Their evangelistic task would have been impossible without His indwelling and control.
Finally, the servant of God knows when they are not spiritually prepared to proclaim the Gospel because they have grieved the Holy Spirit by committing sin (Ephesians 4:30). “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God, through Christ, has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Maybe bitterness has crept into their life, or envy of Christians who seem to have greater blessings. It could be jealousy concerning another evangelist who appears to be more successful. Or anger. Or unkindness. Their prayer life may have suffered, and their Bible reading may have been neglected.
Even when that which is wrong is confessed and forgiven and cleansed (1st John 1:9), we may be called to walk by faith, not feeling, as we minister. Some of our most effective service may be accomplished without a consciousness of having been successful and effective. God rewards the faith we place in the power of the Spirit to use Scripture, and to bless the witness of even the weakest vessel. His Word will not return empty, but will accomplish that which He desires, and achieve the purpose for which He sends it (Isaiah 55:11).
Constantly, and in all humility, we need to remind ourselves that “unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is useless” (Psalm 127:1 NLT). Make God your highest priority, and let Him do the building.
Is your life controlled by the Spirit of God? Or, has some sin crept into your life and clogged the channels of His blessings: Turn to Christ for cleansing, and yield your life, without reserve, to His Lordship. Then, in constant dependence upon the Holy Spirit, let Him use you for His glory to touch other lives for Christ.
A message by Billy Graham
This article is from Decision Magazine, January 2010
BGEA; Charlotte, NC 28201-001
Contact: E-Mail Help@BGEA.org, or Toll Free (877) 247-2426
|< Previous||Next >|