Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Holy Spirit: Part 1

When is the last time the Church as a whole really gave the Holy Spirit the credit he deserves? We usually talk about our relationship with Jesus and having Jesus in our heart. I am not saying we should ignore Jesus or that his relationship with him is not the most important thing in our lives as believers. But sometimes we do not acknowledge the Holy Spirit as much as we should. It is important that we remember that our power to live for God does not come from some inner willpower. It comes from the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth” (Amplified Bible). The other extreme is also present in some circles in the Church.

The true evidence for Holy Spirit baptism is a changed life. One of the best examples of this is the Apostle Peter. Peter denied Christ three times during the darkest time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. “Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant woman came and said to him, ‘You were also with Jesus the Galilean.’ But he denied it in front of all of them, saying, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about.’ When he went over to the gate, another woman saw him and said to those who were there, ‘This man was with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.’ With a solemn pledge, he denied it again, saying, ‘I don’t know the man.’ A short time later those standing there came and said to Peter, ‘You must be one of them. The way you talk gives you away.’ Then he cursed and swore, ‘I don’t know the man!’ At that very moment the rooster crowed. Peter remembered Jesus’ words, ‘Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.’ And Peter went out and cried uncontrollably” (Matthew 26:69-75 Contemporary English Bible).

Peter later became a preacher of the Gospel filled with the Holy Spirit who converted thousands during the first ever evangelism meeting and wrote two books of the New Testament. “So those who accepted what he said were immersed, and there were added to the group that day about three thousand people” (Acts 2:41 Complete Jewish Bible).

He was so committed to God that he was crucified upside down for being a follower of Christ who was unwilling to deny him ever again. Fox’s Book of Martyrs writes of the Apostle Peter, “Among many other saints, the blessed apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified, as some do write, at Rome; albeit some others, and not without cause, do doubt thereof. Hegesippus saith that Nero sought matter against Peter to put him to death; which, when the people perceived, they entreated Peter with much ado that he would fly the city. Peter, through their importunity at length persuaded, prepared himself to avoid. But, coming to the gate, he saw the Lord Christ come to meet him, to whom he, worshipping, said, ‘Lord, whither dost Thou go?’ To whom He answered and said, ‘I am come again to be crucified.’ By this, Peter, perceiving his suffering to be understood, returned into the city. Jerome saith that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.”

Tim LaHaye writes in his book Finding the Will of God in a Crazy Mixed-Up World “When you were born again, God’s Holy Spirit came into your life. God’s Spirit wants to fill you or control you...Just as a drunk person is controlled by wine or alcohol, so the child of God should be controlled by the Holy Spirit. How do we let the Spirit control us? The to be filled with the Word of God. it’s impossible to be filled with the Spirit on a lasting basis without being filled with the Word of God.”

Pentecostals and charismatics express the baptism of the Holy Spirit differently with more of an emphasis on the outward expression related to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Dennis and Rita Bennett write in their book The Holy Spirit and You, “Speaking in tongues is not the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but it is what happens when and as you are baptized in the Spirit and it becomes an important resource to help you continue, as Paul says, to . . . “keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).”

So mainline denominations and the charismatic movement emphasize different manifestations of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. What there is complete agreement on though is the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives to give us the power to live the way he wants us to live. The first instance of baptism of the Holy Spirit is when the disciples spoke in other known languages in Acts 2:1-8. “On the day of Pentecost all the Lord’s followers were together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting. Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there. The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak. Many religious Jews from every country in the world were living in Jerusalem. And when they heard this noise, a crowd gathered. But they were surprised, because they were hearing everything in their own languages. They were excited and amazed, and said: ‘Don’t all these who are speaking come from Galilee? Then why do we hear them speaking our very own languages’” (Contemporary English Version)?

The Holy Spirit was with certain people in the Old Testament. He was present during the creation of the heavens and the earth. It is an entirely different thing to have the Holy Spirit with you versus having the Holy Spirit in you however. Having the Holy Spirit in us makes the gifts of the Holy Spirit available to us. “And He Himself gave some as apostles, and others as prophets, and others as evangelists, and others as shepherds and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building-up of the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, being tossed-about and carried-around by every wind of teaching, by the trickery of people, by craftiness with-regard-to the scheme of error, but that while speaking-the-truth in love, we may grow as to all things into Him Who is the head— Christ, from Whom the whole body, being fitted-together and held-together by every joint of supply according to the working in measure of each individual part, is producing the growth of the body for the building-up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16 Disciples’ Literal New Testament).

The evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in someone aside from the spiritual gifts talked about above is what the Bible calls the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things” (Easy-To-Read Version). We will change the world and stop looking like the lost when we depend on the power of the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out rather than trying to change ourselves through our own willpower from the outside in.