Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

In a previous post, I discussed some ways the Holy Spirit is misrepresented in a large part of the church today.  Today I want to talk about who the Holy Spirit is and the role He plays in our lives as Christians.  The first aspect I want to bring up right form the start is that the Holy Spirit is not an "it", but a Who.  The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit is not some force but a Person.  The Holy Spirit, just as much as the Father and Jesus, is God.  We must recognize that before having any real discussion on His role in our lives. 

I think that is one of the biggest misconceptions of the Holy Spirit in the church today.  We "use" the Holy Spirit and arrogantly take the position of harnessing and distributing His power.  We may acknowledge Him as God with our lips, but we deny his deity by our actions in that we treat Him as some kind of force we can control.  We must submit to the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit does not submit to us.  A beautiful picture of the Triune God working together is shared by Peter.
PETER, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.  1 Peter 1:1-2 NKJV
This passage also brings up the first role of the Holy Spirit we will speak of today.  The Holy Spirit is the Person of God that works in our sanctification.  It is the Holy Spirit that convicts us of our sin and leads us to obedience to Jesus.  It is the Holy Spirit that is the convicting agent of God's chastisement.  On the other hand, it is the Holy Spirit that also encourages us when we are doing right.  It is the role of the Holy Spirit to do that work that brings us from a fallen sinful man to who we are in Christ and continuously leads us in that growth until we are with the Lord.  That Holy Spirit convicts, encourages, and exhorts us as needed in our growth in the Lord. 

In fact, it is the Holy Spirit that reached you for Jesus to begin with.  The Bible is clear that it is the Holy Spirit that goes throughout the world convicting people of their sin.  If not for the Spirit, people would not recognize their sinful state and need for a savior.  We can not take credit for convicting someone of their sin as that is the work of the Spirit through us and in their hearts.  Jesus spoke of this.
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. " John 16:7-11 NKJV
This passage alludes to the next role that we will discuss.  The Holy Spirit is our Helper.  The Holy Spirit was sent to take the place of Jesus in the world.  In fact, the Holy Spirit is even better as the person of Jesus did not express his omnipresence while on the earth.  The Holy Spirit is in the hearts of every Christian and in all parts of the world at all times.  He is our helper in ministry in that we are not to to rely on our own words or actions to show the need for Jesus, but to submit to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to do that convicting work.  Not only is He our helper in that he convicts the hearts of others for the need to Jesus, but He also helps us in several ways in our own actions in ministry.  First of all, it is the Holy Spirit that gives us the words to share, especially in the most difficult of situations. 
"But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. " Mark 13:11 NKJV
The Holy Spirit also gives us gifts that are to be used in our ministry. 
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.  1 Corinthians 12:4-11 NKJV
Our abilities in ministry are all given to us by the Holy Spirit, as the Holy Spirit wills.  If you can teach, that is from the Holy Spirit.  If you can sing or play an instrument, that is from the Holy Spirit.  If you are a pastor, that office was given to you by the Holy Spirit.  If you can prophesy, speak in tongues, work miracles, or perform any other spiritual gift that gift was given by the Holy Spirit according to His will. 

Not only does the Holy Spirit gives us our talents and abilities for the Lord, but He empowers us to use them.
I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.  1 Corinthians 2:3-5 NKJV
The Holy Spirit is our guide in our ministry.  His work in us begins before we are saved, convicting us of our sin and our need for Jesus.  When we come to Jesus, the Holy Spirit does the work of our sanctification drawing us closer to Jesus.  As we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, we desire to do works for Him.  The Holy Spirit gives comes along side us convicting the hearts of those we minister to, giving us the power and abilities we have in our ministry.  All of the work we do for God is done through and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is not for our glory that we do work for God, but for God's glory.  All the work we do for God is based on our relationship to Him.  That is also a function of the Holy Spirit and so now that we see how the Holy Spirit guides us in our ministry to others, I want to spend time speaking of the Holy Spirit and His work in our own hearts that becomes the foundation for our desire to serve the Lord.

First, and most importantly, the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in our hearts when we come to Jesus. 
"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." John 14:16-17 NKJV
After our salvation, this is the greatest gift of God.  His Holy Spirit comes and abides within us forever.  The Spirit does not come and go and will not be removed.  He will be with us forever.  His indwelling is what allows the Holy Spirit to do all that work in us and through us.  It is our comfort and our down payment for our salvation.  That is the first work of the Holy Spirit within us, to truly let us know that we are saved.  He is the down payment for eternity.  He is the assurance of our salvation.
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.  Ephesians 1:13-14 NKJV
Now that we are saved and the Holy Spirit has come into us assuring us of our salvation, the Spirit goes to work on our sanctification.  That work includes not only what I stated before, but so much more.  First of all, the Holy Spirit guides us in our prayers.  In fact, not only does He guides our prayers, but He makes them for us when we are not sure what to pray for.
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  Romans 8:26 NKJV
The Holy Spirit is also our guide as we study the Bible.  We can not interpret God's word in our own wisdom.  What better person to interpret the Word for us the He who wrote it?  It is amazing that God not only gives us His Word, but also interprets it for us! 
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.  1 John 2:27 NKJV
It gets even better.  Not only will the Holy Spirit teach you the Word, but He will help you remember it.
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. " John 14:26 NKJV
The Holy Spirit is our guide for our entire lives in Christ.  It is He who encourages, exhorts, and corrects us.  It is He is teaches us God's Word and how and when to apply it to our lives.  He even shows us how to pray to the Father and even makes intercession for us when we do not know what to pray for.  It is He who shows us that Jesus is Lord.  In ministry, the Holy Spirit trains us and gives us the strength and ability to serve God.  In fact, it is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that produces that love of God where we desire to serve Him.  If you do not see this ministry of the Holy Spirit in your own life, you need to check your heart with God.  Make sure you have truly invited Jesus to be Lord of your life and trusted in Him as Lord and Savior.  Make sure you are not hindering the work of the Spirit by your refusal to submit to God.  The Holy Spirit will help you there as well.   

Perhaps the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit is the fruit it produces in our lives.  As He resides in our hearts and fills us with the love of God, the spirit will produce fruit in our lives.  That fruit is the abundant life in Christ God promised to us. That abundance is not measured in material wealth, but in the riches of God's work in our lives.  There is nothing more precious than the treasure we lay up for ourselves in Heaven through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.   After we are saved, there is no greater or more precious gift of God then for Himself to come and reside in our hearts.  What is more valuable than God?  What is better than His fruit produced in our lives?  A life filled with the fruits of the Spirit is an abundant life indeed.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV

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