The Role of The Holy Spirit.
Over the past few weeks we have looked at various aspects of church and how we ‘do’ church. We have examined the Greek word used that we translate as church and have established that is not a physical building but something in the invincible world around us, or to be more exact, in the Kingdom of God. A building made of invisible blocks, or living stones, who are us – the followers of Christ. We have also looked how two aspects of the church are represented in scripture as The Body and The Bride. This week it is time to look at the person of the Holy Spirit and what His role is in today’s church.
***Edit*** I have just edited this post (20th May) because of the schoolboy typos and I felt the need to add something. I add it here at the top so you can have the words fresh in your mind if you decide to read or re-read the rest of the article.
Over the past few weeks I have experienced something new to me from the Holy Spirit. I know others have been experiencing it too, not just those coming to the Cornerstone. There seems to be something going on all over the place; a kind of restlessness with the same old same old. If this is also happening to you then take heart. It is time to listen to the Holy Spirit. He is here waiting to help all of us. To help us to find our way back to where we should be; to help us understand exactly what authority we have been given, and, most importantly, how to exercise it.
If you are experiencing some kind of calling of the Holy Spirit and are inside a large ‘church’ then listen carefully to Him. If you have unfulfilled prophecies over your life now is the time. Start to speak them out and say ‘your will be done.’ They will come to pass. God wants prophets now. Right now. Those who are prepared to speak out His will so that it comes to pass. Read Acts 8 and see how Philip obeys the Angel of God despite being in the company of Peter & John. Read Ezra 6 and see that the rebuilding of Jerusalem prospered because Haggai and Zechariah were prophesying over it. Speaking God’s word. Now is the time.
Firstly, let us take a quick look at the words we are going to be using to discuss the topic:
Strong’s Concordance #G40. The word we translate as ‘holy’ is in fact the Greek word ‘hagios‘, which means sacred. That is to say that it is used to describe something both physically pure and morally blameless. Something or someone can be ‘made holy’ through the process of ceremonial consecration but in the context that we are looking at it is important to note that the person of the Holy Spirit has not been ‘made holy’…He is Holy. That is why the prefix of ‘Holy’ comes before the Spirit. It will serve us well to always remember that whilst something can be made holy by consecration, the person of the Holy Spirit is Holy by both design and nature.
2. Ghost or Spirit
Strong’s Concordance #G4151. The King James version translates the word as ‘ghost’ but more modern translations have veered toward ‘spirit’. Technically the word used, ‘pneuma‘, means neither. Ghost or Spirit is simply what we understand it to mean. ‘Pneuma‘ literally means a current of air, i.e. a breath or breeze. The sense is that this is a controlled current or air. This is not something random such as wind or a blustery day blows anywhere it appears to want to. No, the context is much more focused than that. It has purpose built into it and is described as air because we can’t see it. Think about the Jet Stream that dominates the weather reports nowadays. Purposeful. Think also about a pneumatic drill. A drill driven by controlled and compressed air.
3. Comforter or Helper or Counsellor
Strong’s Concordance #G3875. The word that gives us ‘comforter’, ‘helper’ or ‘counsellor’ is the Greek word ‘parakletos‘. The ‘para’ part of the word indicates that the help itself is to come alongside us. In the case of the Holy Spirit this is highly pertinent. ‘Parakletos‘ then translates as an intercessor, consoler, advocate or one who comforts or puts at peace. This is exactly the role that the Holy Spirit plays in our lives. As we walk through our lives we must learn to rely more and more upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit. His role is not only for comforting us but to help and counsel us.
Read the Gospel of John chapters 14, 15 and 16. I am going to hi-light some important points that Jesus tells about the role of the Holy Spirit in both our lives as individuals and as a body of believers – the church.
The start of this chapter sees Jesus telling us (He is always telling us this – we need to start living it!) “Let not your heart be troubled…”. This is vital to building our trust in God. Jesus is commanding us to choose not to be troubled by whatever situation we are in, now matter how difficult or gruesome it may appear. What follows is a dialogue that can read in a confusing way but I urge you to take your time to read and consider what Jesus is saying carefully. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to understand the meaning. He will. That’s His role.
“If you love Me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – 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.” [NKJV]
Let us break this down for it is vital to have the right understanding of the Holy Spirit from the outset.
In the first sentence Jesus says that the ‘fruit’ of our love for Him will be to obey His commandments. His commandments aren’t unreachable or unattainable – far from it. His commandments were simple. Love one another. Treat everyone the same way which you like to be treated. He continues by telling His disciples (and us) that He will ask the Father to send the Helper to us. Why? Because Jesus took on human form out of choice and remains in that form and cannot be in more than one place at a time. The Helper (the Holy Spirit) however, can be everywhere all at the same time. Not only did Jesus send the Helper but He sent Him to abide (remain with) with us FOREVER. Not just a season. Forever. That means now too. Who is this Helper? The Spirit of truth. This means we can wholly rely upon what He tells us for it is truth. In today’s world many will claim there is no absolute truth. This aids their opposition of Christ. There is absolute truth and the Holy Spirit is here with us to enforce it. And because He is truth the world rejects Him because it wants the proof of visibility. Always remember that in the Kingdom of God believing is seeing not the other way around. Jesus finishes by saying that we know Him (the Holy Spirit) because He is living with us and in us. Learn to recognise His presence in your life and rely upon Him. There is no one more reliable in the whole world.
“…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 have said to you.”
This verse shows us that the role of the Holy Spirit is to teach us ALL THINGS. That means we can ask the Holy Spirit anything and He will reveal it to us. This verse also gives credence and authority to the written gospels. It was the Holy Spirit who enabled the disciples to recall everything that Jesus had said for the likes of us to have to read today.
The first part of Chapter 15 deals with how we operate as a body or bride or church…in conjunction with others. Whilst an individual follower of Jesus can be a part of the body of Christ even if they don’t attend a church on a Sunday, the True Vine analogy teaches us that without being grafted in or plugged into the network (for want of a better metaphor) then we cease to produce the fruit that we were intended for.
Read the rest of Chapter 15 carefully. It contains a perspective that is vital for what lays ahead for many.
Verses 5-15 give us a real insight into why Jesus had to ascend to Heaven (besides the role He needs to fulfil in preparing a place for His bride). If He didn’t ascend then the Helper wouldn’t be sent. The the role of the Holy Spirit is then revealed:
“…He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement: in regard to sin, because men do not bevel in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgement, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” [John 16:8-11 NIV]
That is to say that the Holy Spirit the unbelief of people to prove to them the gravity of sin. He uses the fact that Christ rose from the dead and triumphed over death to prove that righteousness is available and that Satan already stands both judged and condemned and therefore his defeat convicts them that judgement is a certainty.
Take some time for this to sink in. This is the role of the Holy Spirit. He convicts people not us. No clever words will ever persuade an unbeliever to believe…only the conviction of the Holy Spirit can achieve this. This is why we need Him with us at all times. This is why the gospel should never be preached without His welcomed presence. This is why we need Him.
If you read nothing else this week reads these chapters of John and include chapter 17. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you receive the fullness of the prayer that Jesus prays for all believers.
Now, to conclude we should discuss the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul describes the gifts of the Holy Spirit and emphasis that the they all originate from the Holy Spirit even though the gifts are diverse. He lists them as follows:
1. Words of Wisdom – that is often revelation of things previously hidden – such as scripture or information that can aid our lives or the lives of those around us.
2. Words of Knowledge – this often manifests in situations where the Holy Spirit wishes to heal people but many people might find information about certain situations just ‘appears’ in their head when they are praying or ministering for someone.
3. Faith – Everyone has been given a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) but a gift of faith for a particular God-appointed task is often given. See George Muller.
4. Healing – As with all the gifts of the Spirit they are to be given out to others. Healing is something that the Holy Spirit does through us on occasions and gives gifts accordingly.
5. Miracles – Whilst a healing is often classed as a miracle (and rightly so) I believe that Paul is here referring to the impossible happening, such as the feeding of the 5000. The multiplication of food or any other substance is supernatural and therefore a miracle.
6. Prophecy – Elsewhere this is described as the most important gift. Why? Because by prophesying you are speaking out the very will of God. And because it is spoken out this gives the Holy Spirit the right to being the said prophecy into being. If you have had prophecy said over your life that have not yet come to pass, start speaking them out. Look at Mary when Gabriel told her God’s will. She said ‘let it be so’…and it was.
7. Discerning Between Spirits – There are good and bad spirits. Having the gift to discern a spirit that may be influencing a person gives you the right and authority over that spirit. Look throughout the bible and you will see description on types of spirits that are sent to torment, confuse and scare people.
8. Tongues – I advocate that there are essentially two types of tongues. One which an individual will use in prayer to God. That is our spirit communicating directly with God and asking for what we need better than we know how to ask ourselves or to praise God. The second is for edifying others in a meeting of Christ’s followers and will usually (but not exclusively) be a foreign language rather that the utterings of our spirit. Then God can be glorified by someone being able to interpret what is being spoken. That tongue is the Holy Spirit talking to us. The first is us talking to Him.
9. Interpretation of Tongues – This gift is vital. Sadly I have often heard a tongue spoke and there has been no interpretation afterwards. God will never provide one without the other. People become self-conscoius or shy when this supernatural event occurs. We need to stop worrying (see Matthew 6) and start moving in the gifts of the Spirit.
We should eagerly desire all of the gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31). Ask the Holy Spirit to start to show you how to exercise the gifts; to show you how to use them. Get closer to God by talking to the Holy Spirit constantly. The closer you are to God the more you will experience the Holy Spirit and be able to use the gifts He brings in our everyday lives…get ready for the supernatural…He’s coming your way.