Derek begins looking at the importance of our relationship with the Holy Spirit and His working in our lives. He is the One Jesus sent to give direction to believers so we each need to learn to be sensitive and listen to Him as He works in our lives.
I think we have only just glimpsed the troubles and the pressures that are coming on the whole world, and not least on the United States of America. We are going to need the Holy Spirit to warn us of things that are going to happen so we won’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
One of the prayers that Ruth and I pray continually is to be always in the right place at the right time. Only the Holy Spirit can make that possible.
Then it says in verse 14:
“He [the Holy Spirit] will glorify me...”
And please note that’s one distinctive mark of the Holy Spirit. There’s a whole lot of things in the Charismatic movement which are said to be the work of the Holy Spirit but they lack the mark of glorifying Jesus. Anything that exalts a human personality is not from the Holy Spirit. It may be spiritual but it’s not from the Holy Spirit. Bear that in mind. Whatever the Holy Spirit does, His ultimate aim is always to glorify Jesus. If Jesus is not in the center of the stage, the scenario was not from the Holy Spirit.
That’s enough, I think, of that passage. Let’s go on to Romans 8:14:
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
The word there is not a child but a grown up son. How can you live as an adult Christian? There’s only one way: to be regularly led by the Spirit of God. It’s what we call in English a continuing present tense. Those who are regularly or continually led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God.
And some of the people who talk most about the Holy Spirit know least about being led by Him. I’ve been a Pentecostal for more than fifty years. I’m not ashamed of it, I thank God for Pentecostals, I owe my salvation to them. But the people who say, “I was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1986 and I spoke in tongues and that’s it,” are probably far out of touch with the Holy Spirit today. It’s not a one time experience, it’s an ongoing relationship.
2 Corinthians 3:17:
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.”
The Lord in the New Testament is equivalent to the sacred name Jehovah, or whatever you want to call it, in the Old. So not merely is God the Father Lord, not merely is Jesus Christ the Son Lord, but the Holy Spirit is Lord. He Himself is God. And where He is Lord, there is liberty or freedom.
Again, with my background in Pentecostalism I’ve seen the snare that many fall into, and Charismatics just follow them, assuming that because you got blessed through dancing and jumping last time, every time you want to get blessed you have to dance and jump. Brothers and sisters, that’s not liberty, that’s bondage. Liberty is doing what the Holy Spirit directs us at any given time in any given place. And, there’s a lot of variety in the Holy Spirit. He’s got more than one act.
And then in Ephesians 2, two verses, verse 18 and verse 22:
“For through Him [that’s Jesus] we both [that’s Jews and Gentiles] have access by one Spirit to the Father.”
Notice all three persons of the Godhead there. Through Jesus, by the Spirit, to the Father. That’s the way up. Verse 22:
“In whom [that’s in Jesus] you also are being built together for a habitation [or a dwelling place] of God in the Spirit.”
So in Jesus God dwells in us by the Spirit. God indwells by the Spirit those who are in Jesus. Both directions, upward and downward, the link is the Holy Spirit. If you miss out the Holy Spirit there’s no connection. You can have all sorts of good doctrine and religious activity but if the Holy Spirit isn’t there you have no contact with God. He is the only way by which we can contact God.
Now, I want to discuss briefly with you the issue of initiative, and I want to come to the point where I apply it very personally. One of the words that’s used again and again in the Bible is the word choose or choice. I’m not going into it doctrinally but the truth of the matter is we are the product of God’s choice. If God hadn’t chosen us we’d never become believers. The initiative did not proceed from us, it came from God. How many of you know that? You didn’t get saved because you were trying hard, you got saved because God decided to save you. And if He hadn’t decided to save you, you could have done whatever you liked but you’d never been saved. That’s humbling because it shuts us up to total dependence on God, which is just what we’re all afraid of.
Now, Jesus said to His apostles in John 15:16:
“You did not choose me but I chose you...”
That’s very clear, isn’t it? There’s no doubt about that. You didn’t make the choice, I made the choice. I don’t think that’s the choice for salvation, that’s the choice for apostleship. He said, “I’ve chosen you twelve.” Then He said, “One of you is a devil.” That’s a remarkable thing to say, wasn’t it? That’s something to ponder over but we won’t go into it.
Then He said:
“You did not choose me but I chose you, and appointed you [or placed you], that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give you.”
I understand from that that the only enduring fruit proceeds out of the choice of God. Only that which God has chosen will produce enduring fruit. You can have all sorts of religious elections and programs in the church, and religious activities, but if God didn’t initiate them there will be no permanent fruit whatever.
And then Jesus also said:
“...and whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give you.”
Do you understand, that to be able to pray effectively to the Father proceeds out of the choice of God? We can pray all sorts of prayers but if they don’t proceed out of the choice of God we have no assurance that God will answer them.
I sense myself, this is my impression, that God is urgently dealing with the church in the United States to bring us back to the place where we realize our total dependence on God.
I think we’ve had a measure of success in the Charismatic movement. I wouldn’t call it a movement any longer because I don’t think it’s moving. But we have had a measure of success. But we’ve forgotten that it all came from the mercy of God. We didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t because we were clever, or spiritual, or well educated, or country hicks. It wouldn’t matter.
So, initiative is expressed through choice. The only things, as I understand it, in our lives where God is really involved are the things which God has chosen. I think that applies to marriage. If you’re considering getting married, my advice to you would be marry the person of God’s choice. Find out. Don’t make your own decision. I’ve been married twice. Both have been happy and successful. Not a lot of people can say that in the world today. The reason is God chose, I didn’t. I’ve never chosen a wife. I’m not saying everybody has to have it that way but that’s the way it was with me. God knew I wasn’t intelligent enough to make the right choice. I say that sincerely. When it comes to abstract reasoning I’m successful. When it comes to understanding people I’m at a loss. So, God very directly intervened and overruled any situation. And in either instance was I trying to get married, either. Listen, young women and young men, I never dated but I’ve been married happily twice. You don’t have to date in order to get married. That applies to older people, too. I’m not saying it’s wrong to date but don’t depend on dating, depend on God.
So we turn to Acts 1, just before the Day of Pentecost. The eleven remaining apostles had assembled in Jerusalem with a lot of other people. But there was one missing because there had to be twelve. I really don’t know exactly why there had to be twelve but there had to be twelve. Because, there’s going to be twelve foundations in the New Jerusalem and twelve gates in the city and, anyhow. So, the apostles knew they needed one more because Judas had dropped out. Peter says, he’s the leader, in Acts 1:21:
“Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us—beginning from the baptism of John, to that day when Jesus was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
So there are certain basic qualifications.