The age of miracles has not passed away. The same Holy Spirit who wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul dwells in you and in me. Find out how to walk in the fullness of the provision God has so graciously given us as you listen to this remarkable message.
It’s good to be with you again at the beginning of a new week, sharing with you Keys to Successful Living which God has placed in my hand through many years of personal experience and Christian ministry.
This week I’m continuing with the theme that I commenced last week, “The Holy Spirit in You.” But first, let me say “Thank you” to those of you who have been writing to me. Before I finish this talk we’ll be giving you a mailing address to which you may write. It means a great deal to me to hear how this radio ministry of mine has been helping you and blessing you. So please take time to write, even if it’s only a brief note.
Now, back to our theme, “The Holy Spirit in You.”
In my talks last week I explained the exchange of divine persons that took place when Jesus had completed His ministry on earth. First, Jesus Himself returned to heaven. Then from heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to take His place with His disciples on earth. This exchange was completed on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came to the disciples to be their paraclete, that’s a transliteration of the Greek word. We saw that it means “someone called in alongside to help you, to plead your case, to give you strength and wisdom.”
Various ways of translating that word paraclete are found today. The King James says “Comforter,” other versions say “Counselor” or “Helper.” And in 1 John 2:1, it’s translated “Advocate.” It has a kind of legal tinge to it. At any rate, the Holy Spirit came to the disciples to be all those things to them. For this reason, as Jesus promised, they were not left as orphans without anyone to care for them or provide for them or help them. Also, in fulfillment of His promise, Jesus Himself came to the disciples in the Holy Spirit, but no longer limited by space and time. Through the Holy Spirit He is able to be present with His people everywhere and anywhere at the same time.
At the end of last week I began to explain specific ways in which the Holy Spirit helps us. The first way that I dealt with was the revelation of God’s Word. That is, the Holy Spirit reveals and transmits to us the understanding the content of God’s Word; and God’s Word is both the Scripture, the Bible, and God’s personal Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit reveals and interprets both to us.
Today I’m going to speak about another main result of the coming of the Holy Spirit; namely, it is that we are lifted onto a supernatural plane of living. There are two very interesting verses in Hebrews 6:4-5 that describe Christians by a New Testament standard. And this is what it says about them:
“...those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age...”
You see that there are five things said about the New Testament believers. First, they’ve been enlightened. Secondly, they’ve tasted the heavenly gift (which I believe is the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ). Third, they’ve shared in the Holy Spirit (or been made partakers of the Holy Spirit). Fourth, they’ve tasted the goodness of the word of God (God’s word has become living and real to them). And fifth, they’ve tasted the powers of the coming age. Isn’t that an exciting phrase?
All Christians believe that in the next age we’ll function in a totally different way. We’ll be set free of many of our limitations of our physical body, we’ll have a different kind of body, a totally different lifestyle. But many Christians don’t realize that through the Holy Spirit we can taste a little of this lifestyle right now in this life. We taste the powers of the coming age. We only taste them, we don’t appropriate them in their fullness; but we come to know a little bit of what the next life is going to be like even in this life.
There’s a very interesting phrase used by Paul in this connection. In Ephesians 1:13-14, where he’s writing to believers and he says:
“...you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. [These are people who have heard the gospel and believed it. Then he says:] Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit [the Holy Spirit is God’s seal set upon those who are true believers. And speaking about the seal of the Holy Spirit, Paul says:] who [the Holy Spirit] is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
That word “deposit” is a fascinating word. The Holy Spirit is God’s deposit in us right now, for the next age. I’ve made a study of the word that’s used there. In Greek, it’s arbon and that’s really a Hebrew word. It’s also used in Arabic and it’s also used in the Swahili language of East Africa. The same word. So it’s a very interesting word.
Years back, when I was living in Jerusalem, probably about 1946, I had a very interesting experience which beautifully illustrated for me the meaning of that word arbon or deposit. My first wife and I went to the Old City to buy some material to make drapes for our new home. We saw the material that we wanted, we inquired the price (and let us say it was $1.00 a yard, just to say that) and we needed fifty yards. So I told the man that’s what I want and he told me the price, $50.00. “Well,” I said to him, “I don’t have $50.00 with me right now, here’s $10.00, that’s my deposit. Now the material is mine, you put it on one side, you’re not free to sell it to anybody else. I’ll come back with the rest of the money and I’ll collect the drapes.” Well, that’s the word in Arabic was arbon.
So, the Holy Spirit is the Lord’s deposit in us. He pays a little down payment of the life of the next age in us right now. And when we receive that down payment, we’re like that drape material, we’re set aside, we’re not for sale to anybody else and it’s the guarantee that’s He’s coming back with the rest to complete the purchase. And so Paul speaks about having a deposit until the redemption of those who are God’s possession. We already belong to Him but we’ve only received the down payment, the full payment is yet to come.
Well, that’s what the Holy Spirit is, He’s the down payment of our life in God in the next age. And this supernatural life extends to every area of our experience.
I want to read to you a passage from my book Purposes of Pentecost which emphasizes this. In this book I write as follows:
“If we study the New Testament with an open mind, we are compelled to acknowledge that the whole life and experience of the early Christians was permeated in every part by the supernatural. Supernatural experiences were not something incidental, or additional; they were an integral part of their whole lives as Christians. Their praying was supernatural; their preaching was supernatural; they were supernaturally guided, supernaturally empowered, supernaturally transported, supernaturally protected. Remove the supernatural from the book of Acts, and you are left with something that has no meaning or coherence. From the descent of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, and onwards, it is scarcely possible to find a single chapter in which the record of the supernatural does not play an essential part.”
In the record of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus, in Acts 9:11, we find a most arresting and thought provoking expression:
“And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul.”
Notice that phrase “special miracles.” The Greek phrase here used could be translated somewhat freely, “miracles of a kind that do not happen every day.” Miracles were an everyday occurrence in the early church. Normally they would have caused no special surprise or comment. But the miracles granted here in Ephesus through the ministry of Paul were such that even the early church found them worthy of special record.
In how many churches today would we find occasion to use the phrase “miracles of a kind that do not happen every day”? In how many churches today do miracles ever happen—let alone, happen every day?”
Well that’s a quotation from my book Purposes of Pentecost. One area in which the supernatural was particularly manifested in the lives of the early Christians was in the supernatural direction that they received from the Holy Spirit. In Acts 16 we read about Paul and his companions on his second missionary journey, and they were in what we would call Asia Minor today and it says in verse 6 they were:
“...kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia...”
Then it says:
“...they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus [that’s Jesus, through the Holy Spirit] would not allow them to [enter Bithynia].”
So they tried to go West and the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let them. And they tried to go Northeast and the Holy Spirit said no. Then it says:
“So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. [That was Northwest.] During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ [Then the next verse says:] After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them [in Macedonia.]”
Now that’s a very, very significant incident. And it’s our example of the supernatural intervention and overruling of the Holy Spirit. It would have been natural for them in that geographical situation to go either West into Asia or Northeast into Bithynia. It was unnatural to pass those two areas, go Northwest and then cross over into the continent of Europe. But if we look back over the subsequent history of the church, we see that the continent of Europe played a unique part; first of all, in preserving the gospel through the Dark Ages; secondly, in becoming the main continent for many years in sending forth the Word of God to other nations. So you see, God had a sovereign purpose that included many centuries ahead. Paul and his companions could never have discovered it by natural reasoning but through the supernatural direction of the Holy Spirit, they walked right into the full purpose of God. And all history has been affected by that guidance of the Holy Spirit in their lives which was supernatural.
So that’s just a single example out of many of the supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the early Christians.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll be speaking about the special supernatural way the Holy Spirit helps us in prayer.