Concerning the Holy Spirit

  • Author: Ray C. Stedman
Read the Scripture: John 14:15-17
John 14:15-17

15"If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

New International Version
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I have suggested to you [in Class #2] the best book I know in explaining biblical anthropology, that is, the doctrine of man. It is What Is Man? by T. Austin Sparks, which is out of print and unavailable. Our good friend here in the publication department has copied it off, and it is available. So far there is only one copy, so look it over and see whether you would like to obtain it. You may have a copy of it for $4.50, which is the offer of the century. [The book What is Man? is available online on the T. Austin Sparks website here.]

The Doctrinal Statement Article #6 we are covering tonight is as follows:

Concerning the Holy Spirit

“We believe that the resurrected Jesus ascended to heaven and on the day of Pentecost sent the Holy Spirit to indwell, guide, teach, and empower all who believe by imparting to them the life of Jesus so that they may live godly lives and engage in loving service to any who are in need.”

The PBC Doctrinal Statement of Faith

This is essentially the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, which we will try to cover from the biblical point of view. The best current book I know of on the Holy Spirit, one that is sane, biblical and well balanced, is James Packer’s Keeping in Step with the Spirit. It is sensitive to the various viewpoints and at the same time very biblical. I would urge you to get it if you want at least one book on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

As you know, there are various views of the work of the Spirit today, and the theological world is perhaps more divided on that subject than on any other doctrine of the faith. It ranges all the way from rabid fanaticism which focuses on some of the more extravagant gifts of the Spirit such as tongues, miracles and healings, all the way to a very dead orthodoxy that holds to the biblical teaching but lacks any experience of the freedom and vitality of the Spirit of God.

I hope you will be familiar with biblical teaching, but realize, as I’ve already suggested, that it is not just a matter of knowing what the Bible teaches, but of experiencing what the Spirit can do in your life. Good Christian living always requires at least two things: the Word and the Spirit. These two are always together. The Spirit gave us the Word, and the Word informs us what we may expect of the Spirit’s work, so that the Word without the Spirit results in a dead, lifeless orthodoxy. The Spirit without the Word results in fanaticism and extremism. It takes the balance of both.

I was invited to speak at a Pastor’s conference a number of years ago near Tacoma, Washington, and there was a song leader there who was a very engaging fellow. He led the singing every morning and did a great job. About the second morning he said “I would like to have us sing one of my favorite hymns. I think it’s the greatest hymn ever written. Not because it’s so good musically, but because it is such a marvelous teaching medium. It incorporates in its verses all of the basic facts of our Christian faith.” Then he announced a hymn by J. Wilbur Chapman called, “One Day”. How many of you know it?

“One day when heaven was filled with his praises.
One day when sin was as black as could be.
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin.
Dwelt amongst men, my example is he.

Chorus: Living he loves me. Dying he saves me.
Buried he carried my sins far away.
Rising he justified freely forever.
One day he’s coming; Oh glorious day.”

It is a good hymn. It contains a lot of truth, and was very popular in the earlier decades of this century. J. Wilbur Chapman was an evangelist somewhat in the style of D. L. Moody in the early part of this century, and had great meetings across the country, as well as in Australia and Britain. This was one of the songs they sang, the lyrics of which he wrote.

The second verse deals with the cross: “One day they led him up Calvary’s mountain.
The third verse deals with Gethsemane and his burial.

“One day they left him alone in the Garden.
One day he rested from suffering free.
Angels came down o’er his tomb to keep vigil.
Hope of the hopeless, my Savior is he.”

The fourth verse is the resurrection: “One day the grave could conceal him no longer.” The fifth is the expectation of his return. “One day the trumpet will sound for his coming.”

They sang the song wonderfully, but something struck me as they were singing, that the great doctrine of the saints was not mentioned at all. I put it to the pastors to tell me what was missing, and none could think of it, which told me how little the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the experience of Pentecost really enters into the practical thinking of Christians today. But this was in some sense the culmination of our Lord’s ministry. Even his Ascension, which I’m afraid we often think terminated his work on earth, was not the end. Remember in the opening of Acts he says to his disciples that John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized by the Holy Spirit. This was his own introduction to the exciting events of the Day of Pentecost.

I hope you will read the opening chapters of Acts frequently, because it is such an exciting introduction to the whole ministry of the Church today. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit that has kept the Church as a vital entity in the world through all the centuries, and is the reason why the promises of the New Testament which we read and believe and are comforted by have any relevance today.

In the Old Testament there is a promise in the book of Zechariah often quoted, which is relevant to this whole subject of the Holy Spirit: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.”(4:6) That is, human effort alone, even the most extravagant and diligent, will not accomplish what God wants done. You cannot organize revival, or bring about spiritual awakening, or produce regeneration by instruction. Education is not enough; human effort is not enough; organization is not enough. “It is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” says the Lord.

So the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is a tremendously important one. We have already looked at some of this. We have noted that in the Trinity the Holy Spirit is as much God as the Father and the Son. They share in that unique divine structure, the Godhood of God. Someone has called the Holy Spirit the “workman of God”. I think that is a good title, because it indicates that he is the one carries out the planning and thinking, the creative ideas of the Father and the Son. He is the one who actually puts it into practice.

I hope no one here refers to the Holy Spirit as “it”. Because the Holy Spirit is not merely divine energy or power. Unfortunately, this is one of the widespread heresies about the Holy Spirit. Many people uninstructed by the Scriptures in this regard speak of the Holy Spirit as though it is just a display of divine might which they desire to have. But the Holy Spirit is more than a power. He is presented to us in both the Old and New Testaments as a Person. If you think of him as a power, then almost invariably your reaction is how can I get more of the power of the Spirit in me, which results from referring to the Spirit as “it”. But if you think of him as a Person, then your response is how can he get more of me? That’s what the Scriptures teach; not how can we get more of the Spirit than we have had, but how can he get more of us. That is what it is to be filled with the Spirit.

Remember as we looked at the nature of man and divided it into those concentric circles, the triangle within is the human spirit surrounded by the circle of the soul, which was shaded to indicate that it was under the control of the flesh, the sinful nature. And it needed to be freed from that. That’s what we are referring to when we speak of the filling of the Spirit. He delivers us within our soul, the inner life of thought and reason and choice, from the control of the sinful nature to that of the freedom of God himself.

According to the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit comes to us from both the Father and the Son. I’m going to spend some time looking at various references. I am loathe to do this because I hate the whole process of proof-texting. You can prove any doctrine if you do what I am doing tonight, selecting verses from here and there and putting them all together into a montage that agrees with what you are trying to put across but isn’t necessarily representative of all the Bible has to say about it. Yet this doctrine is so vast, and so important that you can’t cover it in any other fashion. So you’ll trust me, I hope, to not give you something partial in the doctrine of the Spirit. We can’t cover it all, but I will try to at least give you what I feel utterly convinced is what you would find if you looked at all the passages of the Bible about the Holy Spirit.

I am going to spend a lot of time in John’s gospel, chapters 14 through 16, because here the Lord Jesus himself teaches us about the Holy Spirit. In John 14:16 he says to the disciples in the upper room: “And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, (or Helper, or Strengthener)” (the word is Paraclete, one who comes alongside to strengthen or encourage.) “He will give you another one.” Who is the first one? Jesus himself has been their Paraclete. He has been their comforter, strengthener and their corrector; their illuminator and teacher.

Now he says, “I will pray the Father and he will give you another Counselor (like me), to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth,  whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.” (RSV) Who is it that is going to give the Spirit? The Father. Now look at John 15:26: Jesus says, “But when the Counselor (Helper, Comforter) comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father…” Who is going to do it now? The Son. “even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father.

Now this precipitated a tremendous argument in the early days of the Church, from the second century on. This was debated and hammered out on the anvil of controversy, and Christians got upset with one another over this. Some said he comes from the Father, some from Jesus, and it took a long time to work this all out. But eventually, the major creed recognized that both are true. This is part of the Trinity where all three persons are engaged in anything and everything that any one of them does. Therefore, it is perfectly correct to say the Father sends the Spirit, the Son sends the Spirit, or even (although Scripture doesn’t say this) the Spirit sends himself as part of the work of the Trinity.

What is the work of the Spirit when he comes? There are many passages that deal with this and I will try to summarize them for you under four major headings. I believe that the primary work of the Holy Spirit, without question, is to glorify Christ, to focus on the Son. The Lord Jesus came to reveal the Father, and all his words are in some sense the revelation of the being of God the Father. He said to his disciples in this very passage, “if you have known me, you have known my Father also.” He came to show us who the Father is and what he is like, so when you see Jesus and understand who he is and what he is like you are also seeing the Father. They are not the same in person, but the same in essence. Jesus also says it is the Spirit’s task to glorify him. Jesus unveils the Father and the Spirit, but the Spirit’s task is to focus on the Son. So we see the self disclosure of God at work. All three persons are engaged in letting us know something about the others. It’s true that Jesus teaches us about the Father by means of the Spirit.

Let’s look now at John 16:13-14. Jesus said: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (RSV) He is going to take the mind of God uttered by the Son and reveal it to us. We’ll come back to this passage. Another important passage is John 14:26. Jesus says: “But the Counselor (Helper, Comforter), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Now this was directed primarily to the Apostles. When the Spirit of God is at work, everything he is doing ultimately is aimed at that one objective: to glorify the Son of God, to make him clearly known to the world.

Now that is more than just the teaching of doctrine. For instance, it is the work of the Spirit in Creation. The second verse of the Bible tells us that the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, so that he was involved in the work of creation. Other passages substantiate that. Why did he create the universe? For the glory of the Son. Everything the Spirit does glorifies the Son. Jesus is the one for whom all things are made (Colossians 1:16). So the Spirit is involved in Creation, in the maintenance of the universe, in providence, in God’s dealings with the entire race of mankind through the ages, in the circumstances of earth, the governing of nations, the rise and fall of governmental authorities, kings and princes, congresses, etc. All of this is part of the work of the Spirit.

But we are primarily concerned about his work in Redemption. (Question from class). Apparently, we would judge from the Scriptures, that the Father’s purpose in creating the world was in order that he might “bring many sons to glory”. Therefore, the world was created for its inhabitants, whether angels, man, or whoever. The universe exists because of people. God determined to make man a tri-partite being with (to use the biblical phrasing) spirit, soul and body.

In the work of Redemption, I think all of the Spirit’s work can be summarized under four major headings. First, he teaches us about Jesus. Jesus says so in some of the passages we have read to you. He instructs the Prophets even before the coming of Christ, and the Apostles during the time our Lord was on earth and afterward. There are statements to that effect in the Scriptures. II Peter 1:20-21, where Peter looks back upon the past and says, (NIV) “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation (actually the word there is origination). For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

So even the Old Testament is the work of the Spirit in anticipation of Christ. We have already seen that Jesus is the focus and center of the Old Testament as much as in the New Testament. So the Holy Spirit gave us the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, in order that we might know Christ. You find another statement of this in I Corinthians 2, where Paul is speaking about the New Testament. This is one of my favorite sections of Scripture because it is so full. Paul is teaching about how we learned about the wisdom of God. He says (v. 10) “But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

God is the ultimate Realist. He is the Author of all things. It is hopeless to try to understand the world, the universe, or the people of the world without understanding what the Spirit has revealed about them. Paul’s following argument is (v.11-14) “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him?” If you want to know about human life you need to be a human being. Dogs don’t understand us well. “In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” That’s a clear statement of the divine origin of the Scriptures.

But now he goes on and tells us the method: “This is what we (Apostles) speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, (Jesus said that too) for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” So the Spirit is behind both the Old and New Testaments.

Now the second thing the Spirit does in his teaching ministry is to illuminatethis Word, to make it come alive, to make us understand what the Word says.  How many of you before you were Christians had the experience of reading the Bible and not having the faintest idea what it was all about? (Class raises hands) It’s almost universal isn’t it. Then after you came to Christ it suddenly opened up to you, didn’t it? It began to make sense, and become clear and interesting. This is the work of the Spirit, teaching and illuminating for us.

Do you recall many times in our Lord’s teaching of the disciples when after teaching them he said, “Do you understand this?” With a totally blasé attitude they would just say oh yes. Then it says, “but he opened their minds” and then they began to understand. That is the work of a Comforter. He was one, and so will be the Spirit, to open the minds to understand the truth. He doesn’t do this automatically every time you flip open the Bible. He encourages us to dig, to search and compare, and to pray and meditate. Sometimes it comes as a flash of illumination as the Spirit reveals what is there.

There is a great verse in I John 2:27 where John says this to the new Christians to whom he was writing: (RSV) “but the anointing which you received from him (the indwelling of the Holy Spirit) abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him. Now is that saying you don’t need any human teaching? No, it’s just saying that you won’t learn from anybody—they can’t teach you—unless the Spirit illuminates what they say. So as you listen to teaching, be aware you need the Spirit to open your mind. I can tell who is being taught by the Spirit by whether or not they go to sleep. So I’m watching from here all the time, as Paul exhorts preachers to do. He says, “Brethren, I would not have you ignorant concerning those that have fallen asleep.”

The third way the Spirit teaches us is by predicting the future, and much of the teaching of Scripture is in this direction. There are great passages of prophetic declaration. They not only explain the future, but predict it in wide, broadly painted terms. I could spend the entire evening going over such passages. One passage that states this for us is I Timothy 4:1-3 (RSV) “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” You see, the Spirit has said that, and this is just a sample of passages of the Spirit’s predictions.

The second way in which the Spirit glorifies Jesus is in drawing people to Christ and making them part of his life. This is, of course, the primary work of redemption. We have certain stages of this given to us in Scripture. First he does this by convincing them. Again, in the Upper Room discourse, Jesus himself taught this. In John 16:8-11, he says, “And when he comes, he will convince the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment; of sin because they do not believe in me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

I think those are often misunderstood verses. Most people seem to take it as a ministry of the Spirit that goes out to the world in general, quite apart from the Church. But if you read it that way you have lost the context, which is about the Spirit coming to the Church.
Go back to verse 7: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor (Helper) will not come to you;(to you believers) but if I go, I will send him to you.” And when he comes (to you, the Church) he will convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment…” How? By the changes in the Church. The process of drawing men and women to Christ comes about when the world sees the difference Christ makes in his people. When they begin to be different, with changed attitudes, then the world is convicted of righteousness and judgment and of sin. That’s one of my favorite texts, so I had better not get started on it.

The second way he draws men to Christ is by awakening their desire for something different. To illustrate, the other night I spoke at a dinner held in a restaurant here in Palo Alto by the couples’ class that meets here on Sunday mornings. Ron Ritchie and Ed Woodhall was hosting it. The restaurant owner is not a believer, also many of the people who were serving, The Christians in the class were told to invite non-Christians to this dinner. We had a wonderful evening together, with a lot of fun, and since it was a Valentine Day dinner I spoke on themes of love and marriage.

The next day I heard that the restaurant owner went home and told his wife everything I had said, and said he had never seen people like this before. His wife immediately called Kathy Woodhall, who came over and talked at length with her about the Lord.  Now this man is very interested and wants to learn more. Why? Because there was a quality of life that made him hungry for it. That’s the way the Spirit draws people to Christ.

The second step in that process is by regenerating them. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” It is the Spirit that makes our spirits come alive, that regenerates the believer. This is a very important theme in the Scriptures. It is by the Spirit that we are given life. There are so many Scriptures it is easy to establish that by means of the Spirit, when we believe the Word and invite the Lord to be Lord, that we are regenerated, made alive in Christ.

The third step is by baptizing the believers into Christ. This is very important. It is what the Scriptures teach is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is a very confused area, and you find the phrase “baptism of the Spirit” used very unbiblically. People use it to refer to an experience in which they either speak in tongues or praise God with great emotion, feel a tremendous overflowing of the love of God. Unfortunately even some of the great teachers of the past were confused about this. D. L. Moody and R. A. Torrey, for instance, some of the early leaders of this century and the latter part of the nineteenth century, were confused in this area.

But what do the Scriptures say? In I Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul in the only didactic passage about the Spirit’s work in baptizing, says this (v. 13) “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—” That’s a definitive statement, and the word is all. All believers in Jesus, even the carnal believers in Corinth who are described in chapter three as spiritual infants who need milk, and are not grown up but chortling like babies and talking baby talk, playing with their toes, etc. All of these are baptized in the Spirit into the Body of Christ. He goes on: “Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” Twice the word all is used and covers everybody regardless of racial origin or gender, and covers all believers.

That is an expansion on what Paul has said in Romans 6:3-5, where again he refers to the baptizing work of the Spirit: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” This is not water baptism. It is spiritual baptism, of which water baptism is a symbol or picture. “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

So when we were placed into Christ by believing in him, we were regenerated, made alive in him. Christ’s life was given to us and we were made partakers of his death and his burial and his resurrection. All of this is explained to us in this great section of Romans as in other places in Scripture. The Holy Spirit draws them by convincing them of sin, righteousness and judgment, by regenerating and baptizing them, uniting them with the life of Jesus.

The fourth step is by indwelling them. The Spirit, as we have already seen, comes to abide in them. Jesus made that very clear too in John 14:17, “…you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.” He comes to indwell the believer. This is also called in Scripture the sealing of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9, “But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you. “ That’s what makes a believer a believer. “Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”

In Ephesians 4:30 this same ministry is referred to as the sealing of the Holy Spirit: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” His very presence in us is God’s down payment, as it were, on eternal life. It is the seal of God’s guarantee to us that we will be with him in glory. That is the way he draws us to himself.

The third ministry of the Spirit is to change believers into Christ-likeness, to transform us. He does this in a threefold way, according to the Scriptures. First, by praying for us. Romans 8:26, 27: “Likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weakness; for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

That’s a wonderfully poetic description of the feelings and yearnings and longings that we cannot put into words. Have you ever had that feeling? You want something, but you don’t know what it is. This is universal. You often find drama on television is built around that theme; a restlessness which cannot be satisfied. Believers have it as well. We don’t even know what to ask for or what we are looking for. But the Spirit does. It is he who is awakening the longings to be better, more Christ-like, moving forward in our Christian lives. These are being born of the Spirit. We don’t know the words to use to express them, but he prays for us. “And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

Most people stop with those two verses, but you mustn’t stop there. The next verse says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to his purpose.” What is that? It’s what happens to you, isn’t it. What it’s saying is, God is reading the mind of the Spirit who is awakening a longing for improvement in your life, and so God sends some circumstance or environment into your life, either to awaken you, correct you, or encourage you, or whatever it is. But whatever it is, it’s from God. He sent it in answer to the Spirit’s prayer. That’s why you know that all things work together for good. So if you have an accident driving home tonight, thank God for it. He sent it, and it will work together for good. You can trust him in that.
That’s the work of the Spirit, by praying for us.

And then the Spirit disciplines us. Perhaps a better words is, he trains us. In Hebrews 12:5-6, the writer quotes an Old Testament verse: “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’” (NIV) What is that telling us? That you cannot grow up as a Christian without some trials and tribulations, difficulties and hard times. These are necessary. He goes on: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline)” If all your life is rose blossoms and blue skies, “then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.” Therefore, God is dealing with us in love. God is the Spirit.

This process produces a wonderful transformation. This is what is declared in II Corinthians 3:18: “And we all (all believers), with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror (who is the mirror? We see the glory of Christ by the illumination of the Spirit.) “the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” It’s clear that this is the work of the Holy Spirit.

In another place Paul calls it producing the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  And what is that? The likeness of Christ. We are being transformed, and bearing the fruit of the Spirit. John 15 is a wonderful teaching in this connection. The Lord says I am the Vine and you are the branches. In me you bear much fruit, the fruit of the Spirit.

The fourth general ministry of the Spirit is empowerment, or anointing, or filling for service. He uses and empowers us, and thus glorifies Christ, by calling us to a ministry.
An example of that is in Acts 13, where Luke records that in the church at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger, Lucus of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, (v. 2) “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” That was very clear cut.

We are not told how the Spirit told that to the church, but somehow he imparted to the leaders of the church that they were to recognize that he had called Barnabas and Saul. Barnabas and Saul knew it too. We are not told how, but you see the Spirit’s calling is personal and individualized, and it will come in various ways. It may be suddenly, dramatically, or it can come gradually, slowly in a deep-seated awareness that God wants you involved in something or to move in a certain direction, and you can’t get away from it. That is the calling of the Spirit.

Then he not only calls us, but he fills us. This is what is often confused with the baptizing of the Spirit. The filling of the Spirit can be gradual or dramatic. It can come with a rush of joy and ecstasy and a sense of power, or it can come quietly and even at times when you are convinced that you are acting in weakness and uncertainty. Nevertheless, the Spirit of God can use that. This is the filling or anointing of the Spirit.

You will find it several times in the book of Acts. Peter was filled with the Spirit when he stood and preached on the Day of Pentecost. Later, in chapter four, Paul stood before the proconsul, and “being filled with the Holy Spirit” he answered with wisdom. There were no tongues of fire, or mighty rushing wind on that occasion, but it was nevertheless a filling of the Spirit. This experience comes in various forms, but it all comes from the Holy Spirit. In Galatians chapter five, the Apostle urges us to keep being filled with the Spirit.

There is the final point regarding the ministry of the Spirit empowering us for service. It is resurrection! It is the Spirit who raises us from the dead. Why? That we might be fit for service, in a greater way than we ever dreamed of before, with tremendous opportunities and a body that is responsive to the demands of the spirit.

Have you ever said, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak?” Or “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is ready for the weekend?” We all feel that way, because our spirits are being vitalized by the Holy Spirit and we want to do wonderful things and be greatly used, but our flesh is still under the domain of sin, and we are failing, faltering and weak, growing older and weaker, etc. and so we cannot do what the spirit would want to do. But our resurrected bodies will be equivalent to the demands of the spirit. You can want to do something and you can do it, to whatever extent you want. That is the work of the Holy Spirit within us.

Title: Concerning the Holy Spirit Author: Ray C. Stedman
   Date:1989
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