What The Holy Spirit Does - Part 1
What The Holy Spirit Does
He Has Given Us All Truth
"But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come" (John 16:13).
- The Holy Spirit guided the apostles into all the truth, which included miraculously guiding them to write an infallible record of, not only what Jesus said and did while on the earth (John 14:26), but also guided them to write down everything which God knew that we would need to live the Christian life (2 Peter 1:3; 2 Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work"; "well-prepared at every point" (Tay); "thoroughly equipped for every good enterprise" (Wms).
- I really think that at times we take the Bible for granted. This book contains all truth, which means: when it comes to such things as comfort, encouragement, and motivation, God has given us in the Bible all the comforting, consoling, encouraging, and motivating speeches and examples which we need (Psalm 119:92-93 "For by them Thou has revived me"; "I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Thy precepts" (119:100); "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). So many people are like the rich man in Luke 16:28,30, they are convinced that the Scriptures fail to give us the incentive, motivation, and conviction necessary to turn from sin and serve God, but Jesus was very clear on this point, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead" (Luke 16:31). Jesus would point out that all the convicting evidence and all the miracles which we need to believe in Him, have already been written down and given to us by the Holy Spirit, "but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:31).
- Some claim that the Holy Spirit "illuminates the Word", that is, by some sort of miraculous or mysterious influence, He enables the reader to understand what He has revealed or enables the reader to see hidden truths which cannot be seen by the non-Christian. "This is a strange and peculiar position in view of the fact that the Holy Spirit gave us the Word by inspiring men to write it. Was not He able to express Himself clearly the first time without having to tell us later what He meant? The whole idea is preposterous and it reflects upon the ability of the Holy Spirit…Paul wrote, "Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery or Christ" (Ephesians 3:4)… Furthermore, if the Holy Spirit is illuminating the Word of God, for which group is He illuminating the Scriptures? There are several religious sects who claim Holy Spirit illumination. Since all of them contradict one another, which one of them is the Holy Spirit working through?" ("Indwelling of the Holy Spirit", Weldon E. Warnock).
- Some have tried to argue from 1 Corinthians 2:14, that unbelievers, apart from the miraculous aid of the Spirit, cannot understand the Bible. The "natural man" in this verse isn’t a man so depraved that he can’t understand the Bible. Note the expression, "does not accept", that implies a choice, a conscious decision. He hears the gospel, but he rejects what is said. Those who rejected the gospel in the first century, clearly understood what the preacher was driving at (Acts 17:32; 22:22; 25:25). To a person with this attitude, the gospel message is foolishness, but in order to consider it foolishness, he must know something about it, if only what it claims. The expression, "cannot understand them", simply means that as long as a man chooses to judge everything by his worldly wisdom, he isn’t going to appreciate spiritual truths. If you reject the gospel, your understanding of the gospel is going to be very limited. Note, even Christians through carelessness can become a "natural man" (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:11ff).
Has Given Us A Very Convicting Message
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
- Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit came, He would, "convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment" (John 16:8). The gospel message is the tool which the Spirit uses and it is a powerful message. It is actually called, "the power of God". All the influence, all the pressure, all the grace, love, and so on, that God will use to impress upon the sinner is found in the gospel. "All this power of love and grace is found in the gospel" (Romans, Lenski, p. 73). Paul described the word of God as, "the sword of the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17), and this sword is extremely sharp and penetrating, "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). What this means, is that the Holy Spirit has given us one powerful, convicting, and convincing message. The Bible is called "living" and "active", this message is so persuasive that in order to avoid it, one must harden their heart against its influence, one must become dishonest, one must sear their conscience in order to keep from being convicted (Ephesians 4:17-18; 1 Timothy 4:1-2; Acts 7:51,57 "You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit"; "But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears…"). To put it another way, in order to resist the clear teaching found in the Bible, you have to commit sin.
- Just think of all the convicting statements in the Bible about sin and God’s love for man: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16); "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Think of the statements which tell us why we should serve God: "We love, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). The statements which tell us why we should love others:"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:11). Why we should even love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48 "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?" Jesus Himself, realized the convicting and powerful nature of God’s message, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life" (John 6:63).
- The parables that Jesus taught are simply one convicting story after another. In these parables all sorts of human reasoning and rationalizations are completely destroyed and shown up for what they really are: "We shouldn’t have to forgive people who have sinned against us?" (Matthew 18:21-35). "As long as I believe in Jesus, I really don’t have to do everything He said" (Matthew 7:24-27). "I am kind of shy, and as long as I don’t do anything really bad, I will end up saved" (Matthew 25:14-30). "I’m really busy, and I don’t have the time to be involved in helping others" (Matthew 25:31-46). "What’s wrong with going off and doing what you want to do, finding yourself, and making sure that your own needs are met first?" (Luke 15:11ff) "God may forgive them, but I can’t" (Luke 15:22-32).
- In the Scriptures we have so many convicting examples which cut to the heart: "Well, there is nothing wrong with a little white lie"(Acts 5:1ff). "As long as someone is doing what is right, we shouldn’t be that concerned about their motives" (Matthew 6:1-5). "A loving God would surely save just about everyone" (Matthew 7:13-14). "I really don’t have to be that committed to God" (Matthew 6:24). "God really isn’t that concerned about what I think" (Matthew 5:28; 15:17-20). "It is all right to swear a little, for everybody does it now and then" (Matthew 12:36-37).
- People sometimes forget that it is through the Scriptures that God is guiding us and appealing to our intellect, emotions, and our will. In the Scriptures (if we will only listen), is where God is teaching us to desire what is right, and to come to Him (John 6:44-45; Matthew 11:28-30). So many people claim they want to be spiritual, but they are unwilling to take the time or they are unwilling to be admonished by God’s preaching. It is the Holy Spirit Who has revealed the spiritual food necessary to convict, comfort, encourage, and strengthen the inner man (Ephesians 3:16).
He Plays A Vital Role In Our Salvation
"for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father" (Ephesians 2:18). The Holy Spirit tells us about Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins (John 16:13-14). Note, the Holy Spirit isn’t selfish or self-centered. He didn’t have to be the center of the story. Instead of glorifying Himself and making Himself the Savior, He glorified Jesus and pointed us to Him as the sacrifice for our sins. Note, the confession that we must make prior to baptism is that we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10). The Father could have devised the plan to save mankind, and Jesus could have suffered and died for our sins, but without the work of the Holy Spirit, all of us would have remained in the dark. Without His faithful and accurate revelation to mankind, the faith that leads to accepting God’s grace would have been out of our reach (Romans 10:17; 5:1-2). Without the Word of God, faith is impossible, and without faith, one cannot receive God’s grace.
- Are we thankful that the Holy Spirit gave us a true and accurate picture of God and salvation, even though He knew that His message would offend many people? (1 Corinthians 1:21-23). Are we thankful that He considers the truth more important than being well liked or popular?
- If you love God or want to love God, then thank the Holy Spirit. Because He is the One who has revealed all the reasons why you should love God, "the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Romans 5:5).It is easy to forget that the only way we can even know God and begin to appreciate Him, is through the gospel message (1 John 3:1 "See…").
He Tells Us If We Are Still Saved
"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God". The Holy Spirit has given me a clear standard, the gospel, by which to constantly check my conduct and attitudes. When my life matches the gospel, I know I am a child of God. I am identified as a child of God when I obeyed the gospel and met the required conditions that had been recorded by the Spirit (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-28).
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church Of Christ/(503)644-9017