The work of the Holy Spirit is powerful, yet regularly overlooked. The world was created by God saying ‘let there by light’ and breathing life into man. Often we forget that we are dependent upon this Holy, Creative God for everything. Recently I’ve been mulling over various thoughts about the Holy Spirit as the topic has come up in various forms: studying the Gospel of John in Bible Study Fellowship, reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan, and listening to the Secret Church: Exploring the Holy Spirit by David Platt. I’m eager to process these thoughts “outloud” here for the benefit of my heart and hopefully yours as well!
It’s a common understanding that God is a triune God dwelling as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but often we neglect how the third personhood of God affects our daily lives. The Lord has been stirring my affections to understand and experience a greater depth of the Holy Spirit in these last several months. My heart easily admits I can’t comprehend the complexity, authority and intimacy of the Spirit. The one who breathes life into me, the one who regenerates my heart, the one who indwells me with his presence to live a life glorifying to God… this is the Spirit. About him do I want to learn more and experience more over the coming years. What a treasure Jesus spoke about when he said,
“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 go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment,” John 16:7-8
Francis Chan writes in his book Forgotten God about how we often assume it would be an amazing benefit to have the literal, physical person of Jesus standing next to us to offer wisdom for every situation. We ask questions like “What Would Jesus Do?” or “What would you ask Jesus if you could have coffee with him?” Although this would be wonderfully amazing, the truth is… even if Jesus gave me the perfect advice (which he would) I would not be able to carry it out on my own accord. I would be left trying to become like Jesus in my own power. I would try to abide and follow in Christ footsteps according to my own strength. All of which I would fail miserably doing.
Thankfully this is FAR from the truth. Instead of just having Jesus standing next to me to chat with, I have power through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to live the life Christ has called me to and has exampled for us. All too often, though, I neglect the authority of the Holy Spirit in my life and I wonder if you do the same. Let’s look at a few verses that speak to the work of the Spirit in the lives of believers.
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father- the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father- He will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” John 15:26-27
This is the one who came by water and blood- Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 1 John 5:6
Jesus says the Spirit will testify about him and we must do so as well. Both of these verses connect for us the Spirit and truth. Both speak to the validity of the Spirit. He confirms who Christ is and what Christ has done for us.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Have you ever thought about that? You and I were bought with a price. What was the price? The very blood of Jesus Christ. His perfect life and sacrificial death paid the penalty for our sin. And the Spirit of truth testifies to that if you are a believer.
David Platt, clearly outlines the work of the Spirit in the life of a believer in his Secret Church: Exploring the Holy Spirit content. The following content is a short summary of his explanation. The Spirit regenerates us by opening our eyes, changing our hearts, enabling us to turn from sin, and ultimately transforming our lives for the Father’s eternal glory and our eternal good. The Spirit sanctifies us by transforming our lives to be holy. The Spirit indwells us. He unites our life with Christ through his presence with us. Our body becomes his home and he generously and graciously gives good gifts according to the Father’s will (Platt, 2008).
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12
The Spirit supernaturally produces the characteristics of Christ in and through us. This “fruit” along with “greater works” are only possible through the work of the Spirit in our lives. He teaches us as He takes all that belongs to Christ and makes it known to us. The Spirit guides us as he leads God’s people to accomplish God’s will. The Spirit gives gifts and equips every Christian to edify the Church for the glory of Christ, (Platt, 2008).
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The Spirit empowers witness as he fills the church so the gospel can be proclaimed to the ends of the earth. The Spirit unifies by inciting worship of God and creating oneness among God’s people, (Platt, 2008).
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. Acts 9:31
And the Spirit comforts us for He is our advocate and helper. He intercedes for us according to the Father’s will (Platt, 2008).
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
And this is what I long for… to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. I recognize this is only possible through Christ dying to atone for my sins, resurrecting from death to conquer the evil one, and rising again to heaven which offers me the hope of the Spirit’s work in this life of mine here on earth and in the eternal life to come.
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of His Spirit. 1 John 4:13
In both John and 1 John we hear of the joy and victory that comes from knowing Christ and experiencing the Holy Spirit. Right after explaining to his disciples that he would be leaving for a little while and promising the sending of the Holy Spirit, Jesus encourages them by saying:
“You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.”… “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:20, 33
And later the apostle reminds us:
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 4:4-5
What confidence I can have resting in the victory of Christ!! There is joy provided by the Spirit knowing that if I abide in Christ I will overcome the world. I want to walk in confidence, rest in victory, and live in the joy provided by Christ through the Spirit for the glory of God! The trinity embodies the truth of what my heart deeply longs for and I pray that your heart longs for this too!
Practically speaking what does this mean? If I am believing that Christ sacrificed his life to redeem me from my sins for God’s glory, then I should follow his example and lay down my wants and desires for the glory of God. What does this look like day-to-day? Treasuring my children more than my to-do list. Encouraging others more than seeking affirmation for my self. Choosing joy and gratitude more than anger and jealously. Do any of these resound with you?
If I am believing the Spirit empowers me with his gifts, then I should boldly use them for the building up of the church and proclaiming of the gospel. Day-to-day application? Commit to regular prayer for fellow believers and others. Use my time to make meals for the new mom at church and chat with my neighbors about the gospel. Manage my household in a way that’s modeling Christ’s love to my children and husband. The options are endless. And I hope I am filled with joy more and more as I walk in obedience to God’s word through the power of the Spirit, because we all know this cannot be done of my own accord! Praise the Lord he has given us the Spirit to indwell us for God’s glory here on this earth and for eternity for those who repent and believe in Christ as their Savior and Lord.
Some ideas taken and summarized from:
Platt, David. (2008). Secret Church: Exploring the Holy Spirit. © David Platt & Radical. Website: Radical.net
Chan, F. (2009) Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.
Photo used with permission from hpumc.org