“Jesus gives the gift of the Holy Spirit, yet when the Spirit comes, He is loaded with packages.”Jack W. Hayford
“I don’t want the world to define God for me. I want the Holy Spirit to reveal God to me.”A. W. Tozer
Once I took my daughter and her friend to a concert about two hours from our home. As we waited, a homeless man approached all of the young people in line, asking for money. He was angry and the kids ignored him as best they could. When he finally got to where we were in line, I put my daughter and her friend behind me and turned to look at him with the best approximation of a smile that I could muster. The Holy Spirit pushed me to show him compassion, so I asked him, “What’s the matter, brother?” He was almost stunned. He pointed at his bare feet and told me that someone had stolen his shoes.
I told him that since we lived so far away and I had to drive these girls home, I couldn’t give him my shoes. Instead I took money out of my wallet and told him that if he went to the Goodwill store down the street, he could probably get some shoes there.
His face shone with such a beatific smile that I was then the stunned one. He reached out his arms and we hugged. He said, “Thank you, mister.” I replied that the reason I did it was because Jesus Christ is my Savior and He tells me that we are all brothers and sisters and that we should care for each other and love our neighbors.” With tears in his eyes he replied, “God bless you sir.” To which I said, “He just did.”
If I had ignored the push of the Holy Spirit I would not have helped one less fortunate than me. I would have turned my back on a chance to witness for Christ. I would have missed out on the blessing of the joy I felt in my heart, and I would have set an unchristian example for my daughter.
For as long as I live, I will never forget what my daughter said. When her friend said, “Your Dad is hugging that homeless man.” She replied, “My Dad, he does that.”
Blaspheming the Holy Spirit
I have been blessed and influenced by the Holy Spirit many times in my life. The feelings and thoughts urging me to “go talk to that person”, “give him or her some money and also witness to them”, “take that leadership position in your church”, and so on. Yet a 2009 survey by the Barna Group revealed that 60% of those who attend Christian churches say that there is no such thing as the Holy Spirit. They say that the Holy Spirit is just a symbol of God’s power, or presence, or purity. Scripture proves that belief to be not only inaccurate but also heretical.
Francis Chan wrote an excellent book about the Holy Spirit titled Forgotten God. That book, and the suggestion to study the work of the Holy Spirit by a pastor friend of mine, provided some of the impetus for this essay. The most important prodding came from the fact that we, as Christians, not only have forgotten about the Holy Spirit, we have taken Him for granted, and practically ignored an awe inspiring co-equal member of the Trinity (Matt. 28:19) who actually inhabits us. Or, we just don’t believe in Him.
As I continued my study, I became consistently aware of the magnitude of the Holy Spirit’s impact on my life that I had been taking for granted. At the moment of my salvation, I became a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), He took up residence in me (John 14:17), and He began revealing truth to me (1Cor. 2:10). On the convicting side of my discoveries are the fact that He can feel sorrow over my actions (Eph. 4:30), by resisting or opposing His promptings I can stifle Him within me (1Thess. 5:19), and the fact that blaspheming the Holy Spirit is the one unpardonable sin (Matt. 12:31-32).
Less selfishly, I learned of His impact on the world at large. Most importantly, He convicts us of sin. Not condemns, convicts (John 16:8-9). Through Scripture study, witnessing, literature, worship, and so many other ways, He reveals and glorifies Christ (John 16:14). This last one stunned me: He restrains evil (2 Thess. 2:1-12). Yes, I know that there is a staggering amount of evil running rampant in this world, and Satan is fiendishly providing it. If one studies what will occur during the tribulation, how bad it could be comes into clear focus. Thank the Lord Satan is being restrained at this time.
The Ministries of the Holy Spirit
The personal ministry of the Holy Spirit can be delineated into two segments. At the moment of salvation and during life after salvation. Briefly those ministries are:
- Anointing (1 John 2:20) By which we can discern truth from error
- Baptizing (2 Cor. 1:21-22) Providing the Spirit as a pledge
- Gifting (1 Cor. 12:4-11) Providing each with an ability to serve
- Indwelling (Rom. 8:9-11) Taking up residence in our soul
- Renewal (John 3:3-7) Providing the way to eternal life
- Sealing (Eph. 1:13) Guarantee of the security of salvation
The Christian life
- Controlling (Eph. 5:18) Providing an alternative to sin
- Comforting (John 14:16) The promise that He will be with us forever
- Convicting (Heb. 12:6-11) He convinces us of our sinfulness but also of our right standing with God due to our acceptance of His Son
- Empowering (Luke 24:49) Christ’s promise of spiritual power
- Enlightening (John 16:13) Guiding us into all truth
- Leading (Rom. 8:14) To become true children of God
- Witnessing (Rom. 8:16) He testifies to God of our salvation
Upon understanding all of these, I could not help but be struck with wonder, reverence, and astonishment at what the Lord has provided to not only me, but to all believers. I have become more dedicated to depending on the Holy Spirit, trying not to quench Him within me by my actions and thoughts, and definitely not grieving Him.
Not Just Any Friend
In 2 Corinthians 13:14, Paul writes, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” That is an incredible statement. God, using a part of His Trinity, wants to be my friend!
Not just any friend. I’ve had students who have informed me that they had 3,000 friends on social media. Not wanting to demean them, but to give them a bit of discernment, I’d ask how many of those “friends” would show up if they needed help at three in the morning. I’d tell them that they’d be lucky if they had one or two friends in their lives that met that qualification.
The Holy Spirit not only is always there, but He’s the friend who will never leave or forsake us and who wants only the best for us. Put simply, that is inconceivably invaluable. Period.
I’m no perfect saintly holy man. Instead I am a sinful man saved by grace and one who is thrilled to be not only enjoying but discovering the depth of the gift that has been given to me by having the Holy Spirit living in me.
I once defined the difference between happiness and joy this way: Winning the lottery, or your team winning the championship brings happiness – but joy is holding your newborn child in your arms. The Holy Spirit, among so many other gifts, brings the possibility of priceless joy and companionship. That is not a gift to be ignored.