Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Holy Spirit's Activity In The World Today

The Holy Spirit has three main activities in the world today.

[A] He brings forth new life
• By opening people’s minds and hearts to understand the gospel
• Convicting people of their sin
• Drawing people to repentance
• And creating within them new spiritual life, what Jesus called being born again

Every believer receives the Holy Spirit when he or she puts their faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, it’s the regenerating work of the Spirit that makes faith possible. This is the true baptism of the Holy Spirit, and by definition this happens only once, permanently and immediately altering a person from mortal to immortal at the moment of rebirth, imparting to that person every spiritual blessing in heaven in the form of God Himself.

This is a permanent relationship. Once you ask Jesus into your life, He is there to stay. He doesn’t come and go, you can’t get more of Him or less of Him. The Holy Spirit is a whole Person, He comes complete and he seals you to God forever, with the promise of being glorified the day we are reunited with Him –

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14

That seal is your guarantee on your resurrected, glorified body, which you can read about in 1 Corinthians 15.

Until that time, you have a deposit on God’s resurrection power,

What is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places...” Ephesians 1:19-20

This is not some theory, or flowery religious talk. This is actual, real power. The genuine article.

So our goal as believers is not to get more of the Spirit, it is give the Spirit more of ourselves, to become vulnerable to His control of our behavior, our thoughts, our actions, our time and resources. Take a moment to think about that. What have you been holding back from God recently that you could surrender to the Spirit this morning, so He has more of you?

[B] He grows the life He brings forth
• He enables and empowers believers to testify about Jesus
• He causes believers to bear fruit
• He enables and empowers believers to desire God’s will, pray in alignment with God’s will and to obey God’s will
• He transforms believer’s characters and personalities to be ever more like Jesus’

The Holy Spirit is the revealer of truth. He works in conjunction with scripture, helping every believer to understand God through His word. Jesus taught the disciples that the Holy Spirit would interpret Scripture for them, illuminate God’s word, witness to them and through them -- even to the point of giving them the actual words to say – about the gospel, and could cause them to remember everything that Jesus had done and taught, whenever they needed it.

God expects believers to bear fruit. That means both in terms of bringing the gospel to others as God’s rescue plan to save lives, and also the fruit of becoming more like Jesus. God does His part by giving us the Holy Spirit, Who is the agent of our transformation. We can’t make ourselves change, or grow, that’s a divine work, God does that part. But we do have a part, too.

You and I are to proactively cooperate with God. This is no passive “let go and let God” thing. The epistle writers, as well as Jesus Himself, were clear in their teaching that we are also responsible for what the Bible calls sanctification – our progressive spiritual growth. You and I do our part in two ways: spiritual dependence and spiritual discipline

1) Prayer: communion with God. You and I talk with God, but we are also to listen to Him, the discipline to pray, the dependence to listen and receive

2) Bible study: to absorb and apply God’s word. The discipline to get into God’s word, the discipline to apply it to your life every day; the dependence to trust God to help you understand His word, and the ability to apply it

3) Fellowship: sharing your life in Christ with other believers. The discipline to talk about spiritual things, the dependence to receive what others share, knowing that’s something for you

4) Worship: pouring heart and soul out in gratitude, love and honor of God. The discipline to worship in every circumstance, the dependence to receive what He has for you in it

5) Good works: serving God and the people He points you towards: the discipline to seek out and follow through with ways to do good on a regular basis, dependence for the inner resources, as well as practical resources like time and money, you need to do it.

Believers also discover that we can grieve the Holy Spirit and even douse His flame, the Bible calls it “quenching the Spirit,” which happens when you and I indulge in sin. The apostle Paul talks about it

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30 (Also in 1 Thessalonians 5:19.)

The Spirit doesn’t leave you, but it will FEEL like He is gone. This happens when you and I refuse to listen to Him, when we indulge in something that’s wrong for us, or simply wrong, and it’s a warning to every believer: the writer of Hebrews calls it being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, and it’s a warning to every believer.

If you’re recognizing yourself right now, I have really good news for you.
Tuck a little scrap of paper in that page of your Bible, get somewhere quiet today, read it and follow what it says. Believers always have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them, that’s a forever thing. But you and I need to be filled again and again with Him, once again opening our minds and hearts to His presence.

[C] He sustains the life He brings forth to this day,
• By the inward testimony of His presence within each believer, that you are God’s beloved child, and that God – Father, Son and Spirit, have made their home within you
• By giving every believer guidance in every day life, both big decisions and small
• By giving every believer spiritual gifts designed to be shared with the whole body of Christ to keep the church vibrant and healthy.

The Holy Spirit gives believers particular gifts, like teaching, preaching, shepherding, giving and serving in order to build up the whole of the church.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good...

All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills...

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it...” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11, 27

Every single believer in a local gathering of the church has a vital portion to share with the rest of the body. Not 20%. All. What are you actively sharing with the church as the portion God has given you to build up the life of Christ’s body?

The most important gift of all that the Holy Spirit imparts to every believer is love, as the apostle Paul wrote about in his letter to the Roman church, saying “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5) Every other gift is worth nothing if the gift of love is not exercised, as the apostle went to great pains to explain in this next chapter. This love protects the unity and harmony of the church, the thing Jesus wanted most for His own, besides seeing His glory (John 17).

If this post got you to thinking, please leave a comment and join the conversation

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