Study 4 THE GLORIOUS MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
HOLDING OUT THE WORD OF LIFE
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: John 14:16-31)
The Holy Spirit has been described as the neglected member of the Godhead, because while many Christians know about God as their loving heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus as their risen Saviour, they do not know much about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Many Christians are like the twelve men at Ephesus who said, “We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit” (Acts 19:2). This theme is sadly neglected; in the New Testament alone He is mentioned scores of times and yet in much preaching and teaching today He is ignored. No wonder the Church is weak and powerless and that the testimony of many Christians is so weak! It is impossible to live and serve the Lord effectively without relying on the Holy Spirit’s power, the One who lives within us. First of all we must emphasise three fundamental truths:
- 1. The Holy Spirit is a Person. He is divine (Acts 5:3-4); He is the third Person in the Trinity (Matthew 3:16-17). Read John chapters 14, 15 and 16, and notice all the references to the Holy Spirit in which He is clearly presented as a Person, one with the Father and with Christ Himself.
- 2. The Holy Spirit indwells every Christian. This is clearly taught in Scripture - compare John 14:16-17; Romans 5:5; Romans 8:8-9; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:8. In these references the Holy Spirit is said to dwell ’in’ the Christian. He has been ‘given’ to the Christian. The Christian ’has’ the Holy Spirit.
- 3. The Holy Spirit indwells the Christian as the executive of the Godhead, meaning that He is the member of the Godhead who is today active in the life of the Christian. He lives within the Christian to make real in him all that God the Father has planned and all that God the Son has made possible.
The divine standard that God has set for Christian living and service is so high that it is impossible to reach that standard without the enabling ministry of the Holy Spirit. Human ability and human genius are quite inadequate; thus the Person of the Holy Spirit has made His residence in the life of every Christian in order to do - what? What is His ministry? Let us take a bird’s-eye view of some of the things He does in the life of a Christian.
1. He is the SAP of the Christian’s life
How do I become a Christian? - by being born again (John 3:3,5). Whose work is it that produces the new birth? The Holy Spirit’s. We are born again when He implants this new life in us, and from that moment the life of the risen Lord begins to rise within us; we “participate in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). Jesus is on the throne and He is our life. He is the Vine, we are the branches, and His life flows into us; the sap rises within us and the One who imparts this new life to us extends it within us, and transmits it by the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. He is the SEAL of the Christian’s assurance
Notice this in Ephesians 1:13; 4:30. Every Christian is sealed with the Holy Spirit. A seal is a mark of ownership and it speaks of safety and security. A slave was branded to show the name of his owner who had responsibility for him to keep him safe. God has sealed us, has marked us off as His own, and has given us the assurance that because his mark is upon us we belong to Him and are safe in His keeping - look up Romans 8:15-17.
3. He is the SECRET of the Christian’s victory
The Christian life should not be one of failure but a life of victory and triumph. The One who lives this life out in us is the Holy Spirit, so that we are able, through His empowering to be victorious over sin, self and Satan (2 Timothy 4:18). Read Romans 7, noticing the repetition of ’I’, ‘I’, ‘I’; then read Romans 8 and notice the references to the Holy Spirit!
4. He is the STRENGTH of the Christian’s service
We are all saved to serve, but Christian service is impossible in our own strength. In Old Testament times God called people to serve Him, giving them special anointings of the Holy Spirit to make them effective in service (Exodus 31:3; Numbers 11:29; 1 Samuel 10:10; 1 Chronicles 12:18). Even the Lord Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit when He began His public ministry (Luke 3:21-22; 4:18). The disciples needed to be filled before they began to serve the Lord (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). Look up Zechariah 4:6.
5. He is the SPRING of the Christian’s joy
The Holy Spirit lives within us to produce this joy! - look up and compare Galatians 5:22 with Acts 5:41; 13:52; 16:25; Ephesians 5:18. The Holy Spirit lives within us to make us joyful, happy, radiant people.
6. He is the SOURCE of the Christian’s knowledge
See what Jesus said in John 14:26, and compare John 15:26 and 1 John 2:20. His Holy Spirit teaches us all that we need to know concerning our walk and our work, what we are and what we are to do. How wonderful to have the divine Teacher instructing and guiding us into the truth, in order to please the Lord.
7. He is SUCCOURER of the Christian’s Faith
We are to live by faith (Romans 1:17; Hebrews 11:6). Therefore the Devil attacks our faith (Luke 22:31-32). We are subject to many trials and testings, overwhelmed by sorrow, but the Holy Spirit is within us to succour us at such times. Read 1 Peter 4:14, and see it illustrated in the record of Stephen in Acts 7:54-60. Also read Galatians 5:16 and Ephesians 5:18.