God has promised to give his Holy Spirit to his people, but there is a lot of confusion about the work of the Holy Spirit.
When I was a teenager the evidence of possessing the Holy Spirit was falling on the floor and speaking in tongues, the so-called heavenly language. Then came the Toronto blessing, where you laughed uncontrollably as evidence of possessing the Holy Spirit.
I was at a meeting recently where we were encouraged to release the Spirit in our “worship” time, and that meant stage-diving.
The Holy Spirit seems to love getting people to do weird and unusual things – so it seems.
The Holy Spirit has a floodlight ministry
The Holy Spirit may be called the shy member of the Trinity (FD Bruner); he never attracts attention to himself, but focuses the attention on Jesus. In fact, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job description to glorify Jesus.
Pentecost is a good example. At Pentecost (Acts 2), the ascended Lord Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to his followers in a dynamic new way. The age of the Spirit has begun.
What do these new, Spirit-filled Christians do?
Do they talk about the Holy Spirit? No
Do they talk about Jesus? Yes
The evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit is not that you laugh, fall, speak in tongues or stage dive; it’s that you love Jesus and want to talk about Jesus.
The evidence of a real Holy Spirit church is not that the church has smoke machines, amazing singing or records their own worship CD’s; it’s that the church loves Jesus and exalts Jesus.
A church that keeps focusing on the Holy Spirit, I think, is not a real Holy Spirit church because the Holy Spirit has a floodlight ministry.
The Holy Spirit works through the Word of God
The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the church in Thessalonica:
…For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. (1 Thessalonians 1:4 -5)
How exactly did the gospel come with power, the Holy Spirit and full conviction?
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
One of Holy Spirit’s chief roles is to enable us to believe the gospel!
When we hear the word of God (the Bible) explained, we accept it as the word of God, not as worldly opinion. When we accept the Word of God as the Word of God, it exalts Jesus – because the word of God is all about Jesus.
God works by his Word and his Spirit in the lives of Christian people, as the Holy Spirit helps us to understand God’s Word and obey God’s Word.
At our church services, we may not have miraculous healing, or falling over, or speaking in tongues, or stage-diving; but that’s fine, because the Spirit is doing a greater work. He is opening our eyes to accept the Word of God as the Word of God.
The Holy Spirit is casting his floodlight on Jesus, on which the Word of God centers.
We may draw a false distinction. We may say that one church is a “Spirit-filled” church and another is a “Bible” church. In reality, if it’s not a Bible church it can’t be a Spirit-filled church because the Spirit enables us to accept, understand and obey the Bible. If there’s no Word of God, there is no Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit gives us new life in Christ
V1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:1-3)
The Holy Spirit in us enables us to say and mean, “Jesus is Lord.”
For you and me to become Christians, it took a great miracle. We were spiritually dead, blinded, lost and ignorant, but God by his Spirit when we heard the gospel, made us alive in Christ.
God showed us our sin, God enabled us to see the glory of Christ, and God – by his Spirit – brought us to repentance and faith.
2 Corinthians 4:6 says it took the same amount of power that God used to create the universe, for God to save you.
You might think, “I’m just an ordinary Christian. I’ve never experienced a miracle.” Yes, you have. Your conversion. You were dead in your sins and now you are alive in Christ. That was a great miracle that God did for you by his Holy Spirit.
Question is not: Can you stage-dive or speak in tongues? Nor, do you feel the Holy Spirit?
The question is: do you love Jesus? Do you want to honour and glorify Jesus with your life?
If the answer is yes: you have the Holy Spirit, you are a Christian.
If the answer is no: you should get down on your knees and ask God to save you.
The Holy Spirit bring us to faith in Christ and, when we put our trust in Christ, God gives his Holy Spirit to indwell and empower us, and enable us to understand and obey God’s Word.