Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Holy Spirit

In order to answer the question of how we live out the mission Jesus gave us, we need to understand a little bit about the Holy Spirit and how He works but the Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood member of the trinity. When we think of God we think of the Father, we know Jesus because He was the member of the trinity who came to earth and died and resurrected for us, but the Holy Spirit often seems a bit mysterious. Then to complicate matters there has been so much attributed to the Holy Spirit which was very likely not Him. There has been so many Christians, especially in recent times, who have gone to such extremes that the other Christians have been scared to even mention the Holy Spirit. The enemy tricked one group into one extreme which then led the rest into the opposite extreme and effectively hid an extremely important truth from all. So as you read this section try to put aside all that you have heard regarding the Holy Spirit as I take you through some of the most important scriptures for helping us understand Him.

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” - John 14:16

Here in John we see Jesus first announcing that the Holy Spirit will come. He calls Him the Helper. Looking at the context of the verse we can specifically see that He is coming to help us “keep [Jesus’] commandments” (v15). In other words the Holy Spirit has been sent to us in order to help us live the way Jesus wants us to live. That means He is here to help us with all that we have already been talking about; ie. knowing Jesus, being like Him, giving our lives as a sacrifice, etc. But it also means that He came to help us live the mission as we see in Acts 1:8:

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

It is the power that comes from the Holy Spirit which allows us to be witnesses of Jesus to those around us, to testify as to what Jesus has done in our lives and to share the Gospel with others. That is the purpose for the power of the Holy Spirit, that is the reason He came to dwell in us.
So the first question we need to ask is how do we get the Holy Spirit to come upon us? Many say that this is something that happens automatically with salvation but I believe that the Bible shows differently. Acts 19:1-3 says:

And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul comes upon some “disciples” who had not even heard of the Holy Spirit. By calling them disciples Luke is telling us that they are already saved, they are already followers of Jesus. They already knew Jesus yet had not heard of the Holy Spirit. They were already on their way to heaven but had not yet received the power of the Holy Spirit. As we read on in Acts 19 we see that Paul proceeds to explain the baptism of the Holy Spirit and prays with them to receive it. This shows quite clearly that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is separate from salvation. So if it’s not automatic with salvation, how do we get baptized in the Holy Spirit? 

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” - Luke 11:9-13

Jesus teaches us through a parable that if we want the Holy Spirit all we need to do is ask. He says that if we as humans know how to give good things to our children how much more will God give us good things when we ask for them. How much more will He give us the Holy Spirit when we ask for Him. So it’s that simple. Many teach that you have to speak in tongues in order to truly be baptized, or they say that you have to feel something. I believe that some people do experience things like that but ultimately the Holy Spirit is received in the same way as our salvation; we ask the Father and simply believe that we have received. Then we need to go out in faith that the power of the Holy Spirit is in us to help us be witnesses.

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