The Holy Spirit

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The Holy Spirit is not a doctrine. He is a person, the third person of the Trinity, OUR GOD.

Firstly I want us to take a look at how Jesus introduced the future coming of the Holy Spirit into his disciple's lives.

John 14 v 15-23

15 “ If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, thatHe may abide with you forever, 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

19 “ A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that time you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”

23 Jesus answered and said to him, “ If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.


So lets unpack this passage of Scripture in the light of its context:

Jesus is telling the disciples that he's going to physically leave them to go back to his Father in Heaven quite soon. The disciples have been on a roving mission with Jesus for about 3 years. We can't imagine how extraordinary and wonderful this was.

For the disciples, every day must have been very precious, filled with the emotion of seeing people healed, delivered from evil powers and brought into the Kingdom of God. Although, along with Jesus they suffered rejection and persecution too, they had Jesus with them physically with his amazing insight, wisdom and power.

This incredible and unique relationship was now going to come to an end. Jesus clearly loved his disciples and no doubt he could foresee the anxiety they would feel when the enormous blessing of His physical presence was taken away.

Jesus clear aim in what he said was to give reassurance to his disciples that God was with them.

In verse 15 Jesus mentions 'Commandments' He is referring here to keeping all his teachings, through love, rather than being a slave to Laws.

16 Jesus promised them another helper The Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit.

This shows us a difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Under the Old Covenant the Holy Spirit came to people and then departed. In the New Covenant, V16 says that the Holy Spirit will come to them and will stay with them forever,this wonderful‘forever' means that this is an eternal promise, so we are included in this too.

Verse17 shows that the disciples already knew the Holy Spirit and that HE lived with them, but soon He would be IN them.

Jesus takes this wonderful spiritual relationship a step further and makes the promise that the Holy Spirit will be IN them. Another big difference from the Old covenant.

Verse 18 and 19 shows us that Jesus, won't leave them as orphans, His Spirit will also come to them.

This new experience is wonderful, because although Jesus will not be with them physically, his Spirit will be IN them. But if we look at verse 23 we see that it is even more amazing than that. God the Father will come to them as well.

23 Jesus answered and said to him, “ If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

In V 20 Jesus states that he is IN the Father and the Father IN him, but Jesus goes on the say that He will be IN them. If God the Father is in Jesus and He is in us, this means that the Father must be IN us too. This is not just a blessing for the disciples, we are included in this.


The Spirit of the Father

Matt 10 v 20 and Romans 8 v 9-10 show us that The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father.

But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

Rom 8 v 9-10

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead (God the Father) dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

We can see clearly from these scriptures that we cannot escape from the fact that our God is a Spirit.



There can be no doubt about our Triune God. He is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is not enough to believe or say this, we have to put this into practice and live as though God is IN us.

The Trinity is the Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit, together they are The one true God.


When we receive the Holy Spirit into our lives we also receive the Spirit of God andthe Spirit of Jesus, therefore, it's impossible to over-emphasise the Holy Spirit at the expense of the Father and Son as some people fear,because they are one.


My mother, I remember, had believed fervently in Jesus from her early teens, but she was frightened of the Holy Spirit and so she tried to minimise Him in her life because she was afraid of Spiritual things. One day she repented to God about her fear and it changed her life, and it strengthened her walk with God.


Equality

I believe that God does not give more of His Holy Spirit to some people than to others. The Holy Spirit is not a commodity, He is a Person. Clearly, that some people on occasions can be full of the Spirit, is an established part of Scripture. Jesus is described as being full of the Spirit, so were Barnabas, Stephen, the Apostles and the early deacons and more. But I believe that not being full of the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with a reluctance on God's part to give His Spirit,but rather, on our reluctance to receive His gift and His work of sanctification in every part of our lives.


You can only be full of something if you are completely empty of everything else, and I for one struggle with the fact that I am never really empty, there is always something taking up too much space in my life.

Being empty can be described as a living sacrifice to God. Only when we lay down the entire ownership of our lives to God can we be truly full of the Holy Spirit.

1 Cor 6 v 19-20 puts it like this

Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which belong to God.


The Bible does warn us that people really can:

Grieve the Holy Spirit

EPH. 4 v 30-31

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

People can resist the Holy Spirit

Acts 7 v 51

You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.

and People can Quench the Holy Spirit

1 Thes 5 v 19-21

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast to what is good.

We are told to be discerning rather than having a reaction to snuff out the flame of the Holy Spirit.


The Holy Spirit brings the Character of God into our lives as fruit with which he wishes to replace our feeble natures, so that people see God's character in us rather than our own earthly one.

We read about these fruits in Galatians 5 22-23 they are

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

The more we are empty of self, the more these lovely things will be evident to others.


Facing up to the Big Question - WHEN?


One of the principle arguments that divides the Church is, 'when do we receive the Holy Spirit?'

Some say that it's at conversion, others say it's always a separate experience. This subject is highly controversial because both sides see their own view as being clearly the most Biblical.


I find myself accepting both sides of this argument, especially in the light of what I've already drawn from Jesus's own words.

As the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father as well as the Spirit of Jesus, I can't see how we can possibly receive the Spirit of Jesus into our hearts and not receive the Holy Spirit at conversion, since they are one, together with the Father.

On the other hand, can every newly born Christian (many of whom have never even heard of the Holy Spirit), in spite of their ignorance and immaturity, be suddenly and completely full of the Holy Spirit? Of course not! We all know that New Birth is only the beginning of the Christian life.

I hope and pray that the following short discourse will convince you that the extremes of the two views have caused an unnecessary split in the Church of Jesus Christ.



For the disciples, receiving the Holy Spirit was a separate experience, something new, they were already committed disciples of Jesus. This was a promise, but a separate event because Pentecost had not yet happened.

The difference for the disciples was to be - God IN them, and not just God WITH them.


How often when we preach the Gospel do we also teach about the Holy Spirit? For the most part, we don't mention the Holy Spirit when we preach the Gospel.

It's clear that there were some 'believing disciples' mentioned in Acts who didn't even know there was a Holy Spirit. For them, being full of the Holy Spirit was a separate blessing that they received with joy! This was in spite of the fact that the Holy Spirit had already descended on God's people at Pentecost.

This is often the case today, people are not aware that there is a Holy Spirit when they're converted.


Another question arises then: if we're saved when we accept Jesus into our hearts, does this mean that we have received the Holy Spirit without realising it, or is it that we receive the Holy Spirit, but we are not yet full of the Spirit? Bear in mind that Scripture describes new converts as babies.

You have to be rather blind not to see that there is a massive variation in the commitment of Christians to the rule and purposes of God in their lives. However there are many who classify themselves as 'Spirit Filled' but show little or no fruits of the Spirit or maturity.

In my experience, people who label themselves as 'Spirit Filled,' then continue to ask God to blow on them, fall on them, breathe on them or rain on them. They are failing to grasp a basic truth. Surely if they're 'Spirit filled' the Holy Spirit is already living in them! Asking for more of the Holy Spirit is unnecessary, instead they should be making a greater personal commitment to be empty of 'self', so that there is more room for Him to work in and through them.

So, my answer to 'the big question' is that some can be full of the Holy Spirit at conversion and others need to be taught about Christian living, or need to allow God to clear the rubbish from their lives before there is the room for them to be full of the Holy Spirit. So 'fullness' is really about a greater commitment on our part to the Spirit of God, rather than a separate act on God's part.

In actuality, this means that the state of full surrender to God, is the result of the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit received at conversion, in order to sanctify our hearts. The Holy Spirit can then completely fill a person, this means that 'fullness' is often experienced after conversion as happened in New Testament times.


Conclusion

Putting it simply, we do receive the Holy Spirit when we're converted, but the 'fullness' of the Holy Spirit depends on our emptiness of everything ungodly and selfish, and our willingness to open our entire lives to God. Therefore, 'fullness' of the Holy Spirit is more often a separate or a progressive experience.

To allow ourselves to be full of God, also requires us not to resist or grieve the Holy Spirit .

We should welcome all that God has for us, but we must be empty of 'self' if we desire to be full of Him.


The Bible gives us some wonderful promises about the Trinity.

The Father says 'I will not leave you or forsake you.” Heb 13

Jesus said: 'Look, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Matt 28

And in John 14 v 16 it says that the Holy Spirit will abide with us forever.


Martin Edwyn

It might be helpful to listen to my article about spiritual gifts todayin order to get a fuller picture.See the list of subjects on the top right of this article.


Martin Edwyn 2015/2016