….but ye know him…. (John 14:17)
….but be filled with the Spirit; (Eph 5:18)
In preparing this Bible study on the Person and Power of the Holy Spirit, my sincere desire is neither to condemn certain attitudes of men and women nor to condone the correspondent actions of their movements.
In fact, I am ever so grateful to my heavenly Father that HE has not burdened my soul (or any one else’s for that matter) with either the role of a judge, or the responsibility of a policeman over HIS own people. Almighty God is capable of doing that HIMSELF quite successfully, and HE certainly does not need my help or anybody else’s;
However as an undershepperd and a pastor, and like every other sincere disciple of Christ, I am expected to be rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15) and encouraged to become a discerning Berean (Acts 17:10-11)
I am also concerned (like many others) that some well meaning and sincere Christians are being fooled by the Hollywood style of greed, rather than being filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
I believe Kel Willis hit the nail on the head with the following admonition:
“To claim that signs and wonders are evidence that God is at work is to neglect the words of Jesus on Matthew 7:22,23: ‘Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me you evil doers.’ These passages are strongly worded and one hesitates to use them in this situation. However they do apply to some of what we are seeing, particularly in the more extreme groups.” (p.51, Willis, Kel. The Experience Trap)
It is abundantly clear to the serious student of the Word that what is happening and taking place in some corners and quarters of the Christian world is not so much a deeper trust as it is a distortion of truth.
Therefore in a nutshell my threefold purpose for developing this Bible study is:
1.The Concern for error;
2.The Confusion of experiences;
3.The Confidence in exposition.
1.The Concern for error
When an individual believer or a corporate body accepts, believes, and commits to personal sentimental experiences apart from and/or ahead of proper scriptural exposition, then the possibility and potential for error is at a dangerously high level.
(Mat 22:29) “Jesus answered and said unto them,( i.e the sadducees on the resurrection vs 23) Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”
Here is another timely warning from Kel Willis :”Error keeps appearing in the church in one form or another, still bewitching believers and leading them into a spiritual cul-de-sac. As we said earlier, because of these erroneous philosophies contain some elements of truth the error is frequently not recognised or is overlooked, especially by those whose grasp of the gospel is inadequate, and that of course makes the error all the more dangerous. Theological error is still today very much part of Satan’s strategy to undermine the sufficiency of the gospel. Frequently those bringing the ‘new revelations’ seem to be godly and genuine, and the experiences on offer hold such promise of spiritual blessing that believers are lulled into thinking that the message is from God, when in fact such messengers are masquerading as angels of light.” (p23, Willis, Kel. The Experience Trap,)
2.The Confusion of experiences
Today there seems to be all sorts of strange and even silly experiences that are trusted blindly and taken to heart quickly without a single discerning question of whether they are from God or not.
What is also frightening is that often some of these same weird experiences are automatically assumed to be from God. For instance, take the following report in The American Cleveland Plain Dealer on April 14th , 2002 :
“Fire officials said a blocked chimney caused carbon monoxide poisoning that sent 46 of 90 Iglesia Cristiana Pentecostal Church members to area hospitals for treatment on Friday, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.
About two hours into the ceremony, dozens of parishioners began feeling ill, and some even fainted. “I felt [a] headache, dizziness and chest pain, [and]…we didn’t know what was going on,” churchgoer Rita Serrano said, local TV station NewsNet5 reported. Rescue workers responding to a 911 call found many sprawled on the church’s front lawn, sick to their stomachs.
“We thought it was an ecstasy that happens when the Spirit takes you all of a sudden,” said pastor Joe Roman.
“We noticed more people were falling dizzy. “Nine people were being baptized at the service when members of the congregation began to feel warm at about 9:30 p.m., the “Plain Dealer” reported. One woman fainted after she was baptized, and several others vomited or complained of dizziness, officials said. About 10 ambulances took the sick to eight hospitals. Most of the people were treated and released, while some were kept longer for observation. But all are expected to recover fully from potentially fatal levels of carbon monoxide, NewsNet 5 reported..(Copyright 2002 Strang Communications Co.)
3.The Confidence in exposition
The Bible is not a book of mere sayings of people but a more sure word of prophecy.
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts”(2 Pet 1:19)
The Holy Spirit is directly involved in the inspiration and authorship of its message as well as in the instruction and authorization of the men who wrote it. This was not limited to an isolated section or two but applied to the whole Bible:
Old Testament – 2 Sam 23:2,3; Isa 59:21; Jer 1:9; Matt 22:42; Mark12:36; Acts1:16; 4:24,24; 28:25; Heb 3:7; 10:15-16.
New Testament – 1 Cor 2:13; 14:37; Gal 1:7-8; 1 Thess 4:2,15; 5:18; 2 Thess 3:6, 12, 14; 2 Pet 3:16; (Dr.Layton Talbert)
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”(2 Pet 1:20-21)
The word translated “move” refers to that which is borne along by the force of a breeze or wind .Its nautical sense is beautifully illustrated in Acts 27:15,17 (Dr.Layton Talbert)
I. THE PERSON – “but ye know him ”
“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”( John 14:17)
The first thing that God’s word wants us to understand is that The Holy Spirit is not just:
– a pure influence ,
– a personal force,
– an eerie presence ,
– an invisible aura or
– a flowing energy ;
But that HE is a real and an influential person with a mighty force.
As the late Richard W. De Haan former president of Radio Bible Class puts it:
” Some people think of the Spirit as being impersonal. They claim He’s merely an influence who guides man’s conscience. Others view Him as some kind of force programmed into man to give him signals from God. But the Holy Spirit is a Person. He is God. And since He is God, He is also co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son. So beware of those who deny the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit.”
Also what is so wonderful is that each believer in Christ can fully know HIM and follow HIS lead. Now the way to know HIM today is thru HIS word – the Bible.
1.HE is a person
(John 16:7-8;13-14) “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”…Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.”
He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.”
2. As a person HE…
– INTERCEDES & HELPS
(Rom 8:26) “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
– SEARCHES & KNOWS
(1Cor 2:10-11) “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”
– REVEALS & SPEAKS
(Acts 10:9) “On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:” (Acts 13:2) “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.”
– HEARS & GUIDES
(John 16:13-14) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.”
3. As a person HE can also be…
(Acts 7:51 ) Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
In “Day By Day By Grace” ,Pastor Bob Hoekstra, Director of Living In Christ Ministries, writes: “…Here we are given the kind of attitudes that oppose the work of the Spirit. These people were “stiffnecked.” They were stubborn and self-willed. They wanted their will, not the will of God. They also were “uncircumcised in heart and ears.” They did not allow God to cut away the carnality of their inner being. They would not allow God to speak to them through His messengers. They were self-righteous and self-sufficient. When we conduct ourselves in this same manner, we also are “resist[ing] the Holy Spirit.”
(Eph 4:30) “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
Charles Spurgeon – the Prince of Preachers writes in his Morning & Evening devotional :”………Are you wanting to be made like the angels of God, full of zeal and ardour for the Master’s cause? You cannot without the Spirit-“Without me ye can do nothing.” O branch of the vine, thou canst have no fruit without the sap! O child of God, thou hast no life within thee apart from the life which God gives thee through his Spirit!
Then let us not:
– grieve him or provoke him to anger by our sin.
– quench him in one of his faintest motions in our soul;
– foster every suggestion, and be ready to obey every prompting. …”
(1 Th 5:19) “Quench not the Spirit.”
In the classic “My Utmost for his highest”, Oswald Chambers writes:
“…….The checks of the Spirit come in the most extraordinarily gentle ways, and if you are not sensitive enough to detect His voice you will quench it, and your personal spiritual life will be impaired. His checks always come as a still small voice, so small that no one but the saint notices them.
…..Whenever the Spirit checks, call a halt and get the thing right, or you will go on grieving Him without knowing it. ………Suppose God has brought you up to a crisis and you nearly go through but not quite, He will engineer the crisis again, but it will not be so keen as it was before. There will be less discernment of God and more humiliation at not having obeyed; and if you go on grieving the Spirit, there will come a time when that crisis cannot be repeated, you have grieved Him away. …..
We’ve seen & studied the Person, let’s now look at & learn about his Power …..
II. THE POWER – “but be filled”
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (Ephesians 5:18)
On deep reflection, the discerning reader can make three observations in regards to this verse: (Later on in this study we’ll see 7 characteristics of a Spirit Filled Church)
1.CONTRAST WITH DRUNKENESS- And be not drunk with wine,
Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit , contrasts the filling with drunkeness .He is basically saying that it is the opposite to slurry or/and vulgar speech; It is rather spiritual & sound , demonstrated not in false human eloquence but in geniune spiritual power.
2.COMMAND TO OBEY- be filled with the Spirit
No where does the scripture command us to be baptised by the Holy Spirit , or to be sealed or convicted by Him, or etc…but here we are actually commanded to be filled with the Spirit…So it is not a question whether we agree or disagree with it, it is a question whether we obey or disobey it.
3.CONTINUOUS ACTION – be filled
Thirdly the filling of the Spirit is also supposed to be an ongoing lifestyle not a once-of lip service. The verb Filled is in the present tense ,linear action – i.e. over & over & over & over etc…. In other words “obey & keep on being controlled & empowered”- this is a continual repeated action.
There is something else here that I want you to see in regards to CONTROL. It is not about you being out of control yourself , nor is it about you being in control of others or others being in control of you, It is about you being controlled by the Holy Spirit .
So then what is the evidence or the fruit of being filled?
As we consider the big picture and then compare scripture with scripture we conclude very clearly that ….. the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,Meekness, temperance: …..(Gal 5:22 -23a) .
Also the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;(Eph 5:9)
(We’ll cover more of this in the study later on.)