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We know that God the Father is a person. We know that God the Son, Jesus, is a person. It’s very important to understand the Holy Spirit is every bit as much a person as the Father and the Son. He’s not just a theological abstraction, He’s not just half a sentence at the end of the Apostle’s Creed; He is a real person. And it will make a tremendous amount of difference in your Christian experience if you can learn to relate to the Holy Spirit as a person.
It’s interesting to turn just to the opening verses of the Bible, in Genesis 1:1–2. Here God is introduced to us but the way in which He’s introduced is very significant. I’ll read verses 1 and 2.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
In that first sentence we have the mystery of the Godhead in capsule form. It doesn’t come out in an English translation. In fact, there’s hardly any translation probably that could bring it out. But, the words in Hebrew are barasheet which means “in the beginning,” and which is the Hebrew name for Genesis. Bara which is created and then Elohim which is God. But, what is very significant is the Hebrew word for God is plural, Elohim. Im is the plural ending in Hebrew just like S is in most English words. But bara is singular. So you have this paradox that God is plural, Elohim, but the verb created is singular. And in that way God, as it were, alerts us to the fact that there’s a mystery. God is one and yet He’s more than one. He’s plural, He’s also singular. And I think it’s amazing that this truth which runs all through the Bible and is unfolded in ever greater detail through the Bible is there in the first three words of the Bible in the Hebrew text.
And then when you look in the next verse the first actual person of the Godhead, of the total nature of God, the first person that we are introduced to is not the Father nor the Son, but the Spirit. For it says the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. The word hovering suggests the activity of a bird. And, of course, those of you who are familiar with the New Testament will recall that when Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form as a dove. So here we have the picture of the Spirit of God, the third person of the Godhead, moving in creative power on behalf of the Godhead.
And then it says in the next verse:
“God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light.’”
And Psalm 33:6 tells us:
“By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all their host by the Spirit of His mouth.”
So the creative power of God is channeled through His word and through His Spirit. The Spirit was moving and when God’s word went forth, when God said the word light, light came into being. That’s the process of creation.
But the first actual person of the Godhead that we encounter in the Bible is the Holy Spirit. And this is significant because I believe when you and I come to know God and have a real personal relationship with God, the first person who contacts us is not the Father, nor the Son; but the Spirit. And the Spirit introduces us to the Son.
I don’t know if any of you can think back on your experience, what happened in your life when you came to know Jesus personally. But, in my experience, first of all I started to study the Bible, the word of God. But I studied it as a philosopher, not as a religious book, not believing is was inspired. And then something strange began to happen to me. I began to change. I was tremendously keen on dancing. I was about age 24 at the time in the British Army. And, I would go out every night dancing. But somehow I didn’t get excited about dancing any longer. You know, I’d go dancing and I wouldn’t feel—I’d think what’s happened to me? Am I getting old before my time?
And then because I was seen reading the Bible in public the chaplain of the unit I was in asked me to read the lesson on Pentecost Sunday. Well, I was rather proud of the way I read English so I thought this is a real opportunity for me to show them how you are to read it. So I read Acts 2, you understand, it’s the story of how the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost. I really worked at this thing and I read it through and I practiced the pauses. I was prepared to make a real dramatic reading and when I stood up there I was an absolute fool because I couldn’t speak more than three words without having to pause for breath. And my breath was coming and going and I thought whatever is wrong with me! What’s happening to me? Something is taking control of me that I don’t understand.
And then I was persuaded to go to a church service. And it wasn’t the Anglican Church which I was used to. It was a group I’d never heard of because I hadn’t heard of many groups at that time. They sang out a red hymn book. I mean that, you know, was pretty unconventional. And then they clapped their hands when they sang. And when they got to a chorus they repeated it about three times. I thought to myself how did I ever get into this place? I wish I could get out! Then the preacher preached. And before he became a preacher he’d been a taxi driver. It was different from the kind of sermons I heard in the Anglican Church—very different. I didn’t really understand it but somehow I felt it had something to do with me. And then at the end he took me completely by surprise and I was very offended. He said, “Every head bowed, every eye closed.” And then he said, “If you want this—whatever it was—put your hand up.” Well, I was indignant. I’d never been to a church where anybody ever asked me to up my hand up. So I sat there in this silence and everybody was silent, nobody was doing anything. Every head was bowed and every eye was closed. In that silence there were two inaudible voices speaking to me. One of them said if you put up your hand in front of all these old ladies and you’re a soldier in uniform, you’re going to look very silly. The other voice said if this is something good, why shouldn’t you have it? I was unable to respond. And as I was sitting there wondering what was going to happen next an extraordinary thing took place. My right army went right up in the air and I knew I had not raised it! Talk about emotionalism, I was frightened. I thought how did I ever get into this situation where someone or something is moving my arm without my deciding to do it?
Well, just a few days later I met the Lord Jesus in a very powerful way in an army barrack room in the middle of the night. But you see, the Holy Spirit was already contacting me. He was moving upon me. When I was reading about the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost this tremendous experience of breathing came. It was the Spirit of God. Now, I wasn’t saved but the Spirit of God was reaching out. He was like the dove on the dark waters waiting for the light to come.
And I think if you go back in your experience many of you will recognize that before you actually came to know Jesus there was an influence at work in your life. You began to change the way you thought. You began to have longings and desires you didn’t ever have before. Maybe you began to feel acutely unhappy. And you see, that was the Spirit of God moving in your heart and on your life to prepare you for the word of God that would bring light.
So, that’s just a little introduction about the reality of the Holy Spirit.
Now I want to show you how the Holy Spirit plays an essential part in every major transaction of redemption. From the beginning of God’s plan of redemption through to the culmination it’s the Father, the Son and the Spirit all working together. It’s as if, if I can say this reverently, the three persons of the Godhead all are so interested in blessing humanity that none of them is willing to be left out at any stage. So, in every stage it’s the Father, the Son and the Spirit.
Let me show you that now, taking the life of Jesus, His incarnation. When He actually was formed in the womb of the virgin Mary. And it says concerning that in Matthew 1:18:
“The birth of Jesus Christ was a follows. After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child by the Holy Spirit.”
It was the Holy Spirit that actually formed the infant Jesus within her womb.
And in Luke 1 when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she was to be the mother of the Son of God, she didn’t understand how it could happen. And in chapter 1, verse 34, Mary said to the angel:
“How can this be, since I do not know a man? And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you. Therefore, also that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’”
So you understand, in the incarnation it was God the Father by the Spirit who incarnated the Son in the womb of the virgin Mary.
Then when it comes to the earthly ministry of Jesus, Peter in the house of Cornelius, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, summed up the ministry of Jesus in one verse in Acts 10:38. He says:
“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”
So the Father anointed the Son with the Spirit. What was the result? It’s exciting.
“He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
So that excites me that the Father, the Son and the Spirit are all united in helping humanity and in healing the sick and in working against the devil.
And then we come to the death of Jesus on the cross, His sacrifice of Himself. And the writer of Hebrews again in one very brief verse describes what happened. Hebrews 9:14. It says:
“Christ, through the eternal Spirit [the Holy Spirit], offered Himself without spot to God.”
So there again you have the three persons. Christ the Son offered Himself through the Spirit to the Father.
And then you come to resurrection and again the three persons are all there. Romans 1:4. Paul says about Jesus in verse 3:
“He was born of the seed of David according to the flesh...”
And in verse 4:
“...declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of Holiness by the resurrection from the dead.”
Now, Paul was a Jew. But the New Testament comes to us in Greek which was the general language of the civilized world in those days. In Hebrew they don’t say the Holy Spirit, they say the Spirit of Holiness. Ruach accordesh. Ruach is spirit, accordesh is holiness. And it’s really interesting that though he was writing in Greek Paul was still thinking in Hebrew so he called him the Spirit of Holiness. But, that’s the same as the Holy Spirit. So the power that raised Jesus from the tomb was the Holy Spirit. So again we have the three persons. God the Father raised the Son by the Spirit.
And then we come to Pentecost as described in Acts 2. And you remember that the Holy Spirit descended upon the waiting disciples and they began to speak with tongues. And a crowd gathered and Peter preached a sermon. His sermon centered in the life and the ministry and death and resurrection of Jesus. He says in Acts 2:32:
“This Jesus God has raised up from the dead, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore, being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.”
The outpoured Spirit. So there at Pentecost the Son received from the Father the Spirit and poured out the Spirit on the waiting disciples. So, every major stage in the whole plan of redemption from beginning to end is Father, Son and Spirit all working together for the good of humanity. I hope that makes you feel good, we have God totally on our side. Paul says if God be for us who can be against us? The whole Godhead is working for our good, for our redemption, for our salvation.
But the part of the Holy Spirit does not end there. If we turn now to Ephesians 2, Paul speaks about how God indwells the church of Jesus Christ, the people who have been redeemed. And he says in verse 18 of Ephesians 2:
“Through Him [Jesus] we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”
Notice again all three persons. Through Jesus the Son by the Spirit to the Father.
And that’s very important for us all to understand. It isn’t just a doctrine that gives us access to the Father, it’s a Spirit. You can have all the right doctrine and say all the right words but if the Holy Spirit isn’t there you don’t get any higher than the ceiling of the church, you understand? That’s the problem of some people who are very correct and particular about their doctrines but they’re not very friendly with the Holy Spirit. They can say all the words but the access is by the Holy Spirit. Nobody approaches God except through the Holy Spirit.
And then in the last verse of Ephesians 2 Paul says:
“In whom you also are being built together for a habitation [or a dwelling of God] in the Spirit.”
Notice it goes upwards, comes downwards. Through Jesus by the Spirit to the Father; from the Father by the Spirit in the Son. It’s very important to see this because our access to God and the reality of God in our lives is totally dependent on the Holy Spirit. It’s not just a religion, it’s not just a set of rules, it’s not just a doctrine. We have to have a relationship with the Holy Spirit. And I venture to say that this is a major problem in the Christian church at this time. A lot of people have got doctrine and say prayers but they don’t have a relationship with the Holy Spirit. Their prayers go no higher than the ceiling. And God Himself is not personally a living reality to them because the Holy Spirit isn’t given access.
Now I want to explain more clearly to you the fact that the Holy Spirit is a person and that this is brought out very clearly by the New Testament. We’ll just look at some words of Jesus in John 16 which He spoke just before He went to His trial and crucifixion. He was, in a sense, saying farewell to His disciples and they were very grieved and distressed, they didn’t understand why He had to go, they didn’t know what was going to happen. In John 16:6–7 Jesus says this:
“Because I have said these things to you sorrow has filled your heart.”
They were very sorrowful at the thought He was going to leave them. Then He goes on to say:
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away the Helper [or the Comforter, a title of the Holy Spirit] will not come to you. But if I depart, I will send Him to you.”
See, that’s very clear. There’s to be an exchange of persons. Jesus says first of all I will go back to the Father, to heaven. Then when I’m in heaven I will send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to you. So, just as really as Jesus is a person so really is the Holy Spirit who comes to take His place on earth as a person.
And it’s worth noticing that Jesus says it’s to your advantage. You’ll be better off with me in heaven and the Holy Spirit on earth than you are with me on earth and the Holy Spirit in heaven. See, a lot of people would say wouldn’t it be wonderful to be back in the days when Jesus was on earth, to be there amongst the crowds that heard Him teach and saw His miracles. Well, it would be wonderful but actually the Bible reveals that we can know God better and come closer to Jesus now through the Holy Spirit than we could have done if He had merely been physically present on earth. So, Jesus says it’s in your best interest for me as a person to go and then for me to send the third person, the Holy Spirit, as your helper, your comforter—various different words are used. Roman Catholics use the word paraclete which is simply from the Greek word paracletos, and it means somebody called in alongside to help you. It’s translated elsewhere in the New Testament advocate. Do you have the word advocate here? You know, you can’t plead your own case in court so you get an advocate to come say the right things for you. Well, that’s a little picture of what the Holy Spirit is. You can’t handle the problems of the Christian life on your own, the devil is much to clever for you. He’ll cheat you out of your inheritance. God says I’ve got the best lawyer in the universe to plead your case for you, I’ll send Him to plead for you. And, His name is the Holy Spirit. So we need to realize this exchange of persons.
From that time until now the Holy Spirit is the personal representative of God on earth. It’s very, very important. He is the only authorized personal representative of God on earth. No one else can take that place. God is represented by the Spirit.
And in 2 Corinthians 3:17 Paul says this:
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty [or freedom].”
The Lord in the New Testament is the way that the writers represent the sacred name of God which we call Jehovah or nowadays they say Yahweh. But they don’t use that in the New Testament. In its place they say the Lord but it means the divine person. So Paul says the Lord is the Spirit. Not only is God the Father Lord, not only is God the Son Lord, but God the Spirit is Lord. Again, it’s tremendously important to see that. Jesus is Lord over the church but the Holy Spirit is Lord in the church. And the Lordship of Jesus over the church is effective only insofar as the Holy Spirit is Lord in the church. We cannot say I’ve made Jesus Lord and set aside the Lordship of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Lordship of Jesus is worked out through the Lordship of the Holy Spirit. If a church really wants to have Jesus as Lord, that church must also have the Holy Spirit as Lord in the church.
And again, this is a great problem of contemporary Christianity. Many churches and Christians confess Jesus as Lord but don’t make the Holy Spirit Lord in their lives and in their meetings in the church. All they have is a label, they don’t have the reality because the reality comes only by the Holy Spirit.
What Paul says there is where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. There’s a paraphrase that says this: Where the Spirit is Lord there is liberty. That’s true spiritual liberty. I’ve been through the Pentecostal movement and the Charismatic movement, et cetera, for nearly 50 years. I think I’ve seen most of the things there are to be seen. I’ve seen some strange things, too. But people tend to get stuck in a rut and it just depends on how God blesses them. For instance, they come to a meeting and God blesses, the Spirit moves, and everybody starts to dance. That’s wonderful. It’s scriptural. But then their idea is I only get blessed if I dance so if I want to get blessed I have to dance. And they come back every Sunday evening or whatever time they may meet and they start to dance because they want blessing. But you see, it doesn’t work that way because the next time the Holy Spirit might be saying kneel down and repent of your sins. So you can go on dancing while the Holy Spirit is saying kneel. And, you and the Holy Spirit are just not together. And that’s not liberty, that’s bondage.
I grew up in the Anglican Church and I thank God for the beauty and the dignity of Anglican services. Then I got involved with Pentecostals without knowing who they were. I think if I’d ever discovered before that I’d never have gone near them! But anyhow, it was too late by the time I discovered, they got me—or rather, the Lord got me. But I discovered, for instance, in the Anglican Church basically—and I’m not criticizing—you know what’s going to happen. It’s in the prayer book and if you can read you can find out. But these others, they thought we’re free, we’re liberated. We don’t have to follow a book. And, they were pretty critical of people who had to read the prayers. But every Sunday evening at about 6:45 they were out in the aisles dancing. Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. I said to myself they’re just as much in bondage only they don’t have it written in a book. You see? I mean, others think if I want to be blessed I’ve got to shout or I’ve got to clap my hands. The only way to be blessed is to do what the Spirit directs you to do. And He is not monotonous, He doesn’t have only one note on His scale. He has a rich variety of different ways of moving. And the secret of liberty is being sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
And I want to emphasize again He’s a person. If you’re married, a married couple, husband and wife, the husband will get nowhere if he treats his wife like a theological proposition. I mean, you know, he’s not going to get the right response. You husbands can say amen to that. All right? And likewise the wife. We have learned to treat one another as persons. And one thing I’ve discovered, I’ve been married twice, is women don’t think the way men think. The ladies can say amen to that! And I learned—slowly—I couldn’t change a woman to thinking like a man. See? I had to learn to adjust to the fact that women think differently. Both my wives are intuitive, they see things quickly. I am essentially a logical person, I have to work it out. So, my wife would say he’s all wrong, don’t trust him, he’s not genuine. I say how do you know? Well, about six months later I say you were right, you know.
It’s a picture, you’ve got to relate to the Holy Spirit as a person. Don’t make Him a set of rules, don’t make Him theology, don’t make Him doctrine; He’s a very sensitive person. I’ll give you a little picture that I didn’t intend but when Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan, you remember the scene, as He came up out of the water a dove came floating down out of heaven to settle on the only person who really was in the same spirit as the dove, the one the dove could utterly relate to. And, before that John the Baptist had introduced Jesus and he said the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. That’s a little parable. What is the dove looking for? What is He going to settle on? Is he going to settle on a lion? Or an elephant? Or a tiger? He’s not looking for that. He’s just looking for one kind of nature, the nature of the Lamb. And the marvelous thing about Jesus was He never grieved the dove, the dove never had to fly away; He was always in perfect harmony. And so, if you really want the anointing of God on your life, don’t be a tiger, don’t be a bull, don’t be an elephant. Learn to be a lamb because that’s the nature that appeals to the dove. The dove settles on the lamb.
Now, what is the nature of a lamb? Out of the Bible, basically, the lamb speaks of a sacrifice, of a life laid down. And it speaks of purity. And, it speaks of gentleness. I think if you want to be friends with the Holy Spirit, that’s what He’s looking for, somebody who is not selfish, self-centered, grabbing and grasping and fighting; but somebody who has the nature of the lamb, who is willing to lay down his life in sacrifice for others, purity and meekness and gentleness. And you may say I’ll get pushed around by people. But I want to tell you this, Paul says the weakness of God is stronger than men. In your gentleness, your weakness, God’s strength will be revealed in a way that He’ll never be revealed in the lives of selfish, self-centered people.
The Holy Spirit dwells in the church, the body of Christ. And He dwells in the church in two ways, which is important to see. In 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul is writing to all the Christians in Corinth and he says:
“Do you not know that you [plural] are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
Now, you can’t see this in English because in English we don’t have the difference between you singular and you plural. In the Old King James we did. Thou was singular and ye was plural. But Greek does and what I’m pointing out is here it’s plural. You plural, all of you collectively together are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
But if you go on to 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul says something that takes us further.
“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit...”
So it’s not just the Holy Spirit will dwell in the church collectively but He also wants to dwell in the body of each believer individually. God wants each of us to present our body to Him to be a temple for His Holy Spirit. That is a tremendous thought, isn’t it, that Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, is so humble that He seeks to dwell in the physical body of each believer. That staggers me. If it wasn’t in the Bible I would never believe it. But, the Bible states it so clearly. God wants to take up His residence in each one of us to dwell within our physical bodies.
Now, let’s consider a little while what is the Holy Spirit here to do? Jesus said I’ll send you another Comforter, He’ll take my place. There could be many answers but I just want to suggest two things. First of all, He’s here to complete the ministry of Jesus. In a certain sense, when Jesus left He hadn’t finished His job. Now, as far as the sacrifice that He gave on the cross, that was perfect—complete. But as far as the training of the disciples, they were far from complete. And I’ve always marveled at the faith of the Lord that He would go off and leave those eleven men. I mean, they had been problems all the way through. Even at the last supper they were still arguing as to which of them would be the greatest. And the Lord have invested His whole three and a half years in these eleven men and He goes back to heaven and says it’ll be all right, I’m sending the Holy Spirit. Well, one of the things that impresses me about the Godhead is each of them has so much faith in the other. The Father had total faith that the Son would do the right job. The Son, having done His job, had total faith that the Holy Spirit would move in and take over and finish off what He’d started. And so, let’s turn to John 14 for a moment, I want to show you some things there. Jesus is telling the disciples through this chapter that He’s going to leave them. And then He says in verse 3:
“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself.”
Then in verse 16 and following He says:
“I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.”
Jesus said I’ve only been with you three and a half years. I’m leaving but when the Holy Spirit comes, He’ll never leave you, He’ll be here forever. And then He says:
“Even the Spirit of truth [that’s one of the titles of the Holy Spirit] whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him or knows Him, but you know Him for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
And then He adds this:
“I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.”
He has twice said I will come. But the application is different. The first time He says I’m going to come back one day and take you to myself. That’s the return of the Lord at the end of this age. But in verse 18 He says I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. And that coming is in the Holy Spirit. So when the Holy Spirit came, Jesus came back to His disciples in the Holy Spirit. And He said I won’t leave you as orphans. You know what orphans are, they’re people with no parents to look after them. Generally speaking, they’re to be pitied, they need help, they need someone to look after them. Jesus said I’m not going to leave you as orphans, I’m going to send you the very best person to look after you, the Holy Spirit. And He’ll take care of you, He’ll teach you, He’ll see that you get everything you need.
But, it’s very important to remember that if we are trying to live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit we are like orphans. Jesus has provided the Holy Spirit so that we wouldn’t be like orphans. But, we’ve got to welcome the Holy Spirit, we’ve got to make Him know that we want His help and we need Him. So that’s the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
And then in John 14, the same chapter, verses 25–26, Jesus begins to explain how the Holy Spirit will complete the ministry that He had begun. And He says:
“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
It’s very important because the accuracy of the New Testament depends on this. Jesus never wrote a word but He left it to His apostles to write the record of His life and to complete the teaching in the epistles. The accuracy of the New Testament does not depend on their memory or their cleverness. He said the Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance everything I’ve said. That’s why we can rely on the record of the apostles. Not because they couldn’t make a mistake but because they were inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit. And then He said I’ll teach you the things I haven’t had time to teach you, things you’re not yet able to receive. So, the Holy Spirit is the one who completes our education as Christians.
And then in John 16:12–15 He says, still speaking to the disciples:
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”
How wise the Lord was. He would have wasted His time trying to teach them any more at that time. They were so full of fear and anxiety at the thought that He was leaving them they were incapable of absorbing any more teaching. But He said I’m not even going to try to teach you.
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak of Himself, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”
So there are two further ministries. He will guide you. We do not need to wander through life aimlessly. We have a personal guide, the Holy Spirit, whom God has provided. We need Him and He’s willing to help us but we’ve got to see our need and we’ve got to build a relationship with the Holy Spirit where He really can guide us.
And then it says He will tell you things to come. And it says He will not speak of Himself but what He hears He will speak. So another ministry of the Holy Spirit is revelation. He shares with us knowledge we couldn’t have in any other way. He shares with us the secrets of heaven. The things that are spoken in heaven He shares with us on earth. And He also will tell us things to come. See, we live in very dangerous days. There’s all sorts of evil, violent forces at work in the world and they’re becoming more evil and more violent every day. You can’t open your newspaper in any part of the earth without reading about violence and crime and fighting. It’s dangerous. But we have somebody who will tell us the things that are going to happen, who warns us. For instance, Ruth and I travel so much by plane we never travel in a plane without asking God to put us in the right plane and the right seat. The world is dangerous today and it’s going to get more dangerous, especially for Christians. But we can be warned in advance. You remember what it says about Noah. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet prepared an ark for the saving of his household. See? Jesus said as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days when I come back. And you can read about all the evil in the days of Noah in Genesis 6. The earth was filled with violence. Every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was evil. All flesh had corrupted its way. There was terrific perversion and immorality. All those things we see abundantly and increasing. That’s the black side of the picture. But the bright side of the picture is Noah was warned of God. He didn’t get caught by the flood because God showed Him what was going to happen. I firmly believe in order to survive and fulfill our task as Christians in the world today we’re going to need that kind of supernatural warning from God. Otherwise we’ll fall into the devil’s snares and traps. This is not a luxury, it’s something that God has provided we need.
And then one more thing Jesus says, and this is really exciting. John 16:14–15, we’ve been looking at. He says:
“He, the Holy Spirit, will glorify me [Jesus]...”
Make a note of that. Everything the Holy Spirit does glorifies Jesus. If you’re in doubt about whether something is from the Holy Spirit of not, one important question to ask is does it glorify Jesus? If it glorifies a human personality or a doctrine or a movement or a denomination, that’s not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not glorify those things. He only wants one person glorified and that’s Jesus. And if you want to attract the Holy Spirit in your life and especially in your services, you know the best way to do it? Glorify Jesus. Lift Jesus up, praise Jesus, proclaim His victory, proclaim His greatness. The Holy Spirit says I like those people, I’ll go and help them because they’re doing what I want done.
I remember in our church in Florida where Ruth and I attend we had a very beautiful Sunday morning worship service, it just flowed, you felt you were on a cloud. As I went out I turned to the worship leader and I said that was a beautiful service this morning. I said do you know why? Because Jesus was the theme all the way through from beginning to end. That’s what the Holy Spirit likes. You want to have the Holy Spirit’s anointing on your life? Anointing in your services? Anointing in your home? Glorify Jesus, lift Him up, speak about Him, worship Him. And the Holy Spirit will be glad to be part of that gathering.
I still haven’t come to the thing I wanted to say! He also says:
“He will glorify me; and He will take what is mine and declare it to you [reveal it to you, impart it to you, share it with you]. All things that the Father has are mine; therefore I said, He [the Holy Spirit] will take of mine and declare it to you.”
So everything the Father has He’s committed to the Son. But everything that the Father and the Son have together, their total wealth, is under the control of the Holy Spirit. He is the administrator of the total wealth of the Godhead. So, dear brothers and sisters, if you want to share in that wealth, make friends with the Holy Spirit. See? Again, it’s not a matter of doctrine. Lots of people who’ve got all the doctrine, they can say all the right things and they don’t experience it. You’ve probably met the people who said when I got born again I got it all. Have you ever met people who say that? My comment usually is if you’ve got it all, where is it all? Let’s see it. The truth of the matter is they got it all in theory but very often they don’t have anything in experience. Why? Because they haven’t made friends with the storekeeper. The storekeeper, the one with the key to all the treasures of God, is the Holy Spirit.
See, in the British Army at onetime I was in charge of rations in a hospital. And believe me, I had a lot of friends. Because, if people wanted a little extra tea or sugar, which were very precious items in those days, they thought that by being friendly with me they could get it. Well, that’s just a little parable. If you want God’s best, be friendly with the Holy Spirit. He has the key. You can have it all in theory and nothing in practice if you don’t know how to receive from the Holy Spirit.
So let me just sum that up briefly—if I’m capable of doing anything briefly. Five assignments of the Holy Spirit to the church. He’s the teacher, He’s the remembrance [the one who reminds us], He’s our guide, He’s our revelator, He’s the administrator of the wealth. Those are five good reasons for cultivating a relationship with the Holy Spirit.
And then His second assignment is to empower the body of Christ. Acts 1:8, Jesus said:
“You will receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses right to the ends of the earth.”
They were already born again, they were already saved, they already knew Jesus but they didn’t have the power that they needed to get the job done. You see, after the resurrection of Jesus the disciples were in the temple every day praising and blessing God. It was wonderful. But the rest of Jerusalem didn’t know what was going on. But when the Holy Spirit came, within a few hours the whole of Jerusalem knew something had happened. That’s how it is when the Holy Spirit begins to move. He impacts people, He impacts situations. If you study the ministry of the apostle Paul, almost everywhere he went there was a riot or a revival or usually both. I’d say sometimes God, give us more riots if we can have revivals with them. The Holy Spirit stirs people up. He rules out indifference. I’ve said sometimes that the problem in many churches is a lot of people are sitting on the fence. They’re not for and they’re not against; they’re trying to be friends with the world and friends with God at the same time. But when the Holy Spirit comes, do you know what He does? He electrifies the fence and you can’t sit on it any longer! You’ve got to jump off one side or the other. That’s why some churches don’t want the Holy Spirit, because they don’t want their neutrality attacked. Jesus said he that is not with me is against me. You’ve got to be one way or the other, with or against. Now, as long as the Holy Spirit isn’t there you can deceive yourself into believing you’re neutral. But when the Holy Spirit comes, that neutrality is stripped away.
In Hebrews 2:4 the writer of Hebrews speaks about what comes with the Holy Spirit. He says in verse 3:
“[Salvation] first began to be spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. [verse 4] God also bearing witness, both with signs and wonders with various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit...”
So through the Holy Spirit God bears testimony to the truth of the gospel. These signs, Jesus said, shall follow those who believe. It’s my personal conviction that we have no right to preach a gospel that is not supernaturally attested. I don’t believe there’s any basis for that in the New Testament. I think we need to apologize to a whole lot of people, to people from other faiths and other religions that we’ve asked them to believe a message that isn’t supernaturally attested. Because, the whole Bible indicates when God sends somebody with a message He bears supernatural testimony to that message.
And then just in closing I would like to say that we are totally dependent on the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit we really can’t do the job. We can go through the motions, we can make the plans, we can form our programs but it’s the Holy Spirit that gets the job done.
In Romans 6:4 Paul says:
“Therefore we were buried with Him [Jesus] through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
The important thing to see there is it was the glory of the Father, that’s the Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus did not raise Himself. He totally trusted the Father to raise Him by the Spirit. And it says just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so we should walk in newness of life. In other words, we should be as totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit for this new Christian walk as Jesus was for the resurrection. We cannot do it in our own strength, we cannot do it in our own wisdom. Education won’t do it, finance won’t do it. They can all be useful but they’re only servants. The only power that will enable us to live the kind of life that God expects and that will accomplish His purposes is the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps you think that I’m emphasizing too much the word supernatural. Well, I don’t believe so. I once decided to read through the book of Acts which has 28 chapters, to see what would happen is I removed all reference to the manifestly supernatural. And I’m not talking about an inward experience like the new birth which is supernatural but it is not manifested to senses, but things that can be seen and heard, by human senses, that are supernatural. So I read through all 28 chapters of the book of Acts and you can do the same for yourself. I came to this conclusion, that if I were to remove all reference to the supernatural not one chapter would be left intact. There is not a single chapter in the book of Acts that does not contain the manifestly supernatural.
My personal conclusion is this. That we’re deceiving ourselves if we talk about New Testament Christianity without the supernatural. I don’t have time to go into this but let me just suggest to you four areas where we need the supernatural power. In the area of prayer, in the area of ministry—proclaiming the gospel, in the area of victory over sin, and in the area of building Christian character. Neither can we have victory over sin nor can we develop true Christian character apart from the Holy Spirit. We need Him. Thank God He’s available, let’s make friends with Him.