Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I'm going to assume before we start that you are aware that the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity that make up the Godhead, along with the Father and the Son (Jesus). For some verses to think over with regard to this look at:
Genesis 1:26 and Matthew 28:19
As with my other short question and answer sessions, this is by no means a complete work. The Holy Spirit is such a huge topic I feel a bit out of my depth even at the start, but if I can convey a little of what He does here, that is my goal.
1: Why do we need to be baptised in the Spirit?
First, it's a command of Jesus:
4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, you heard from me;
5 for John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.
Second, without Jesus walking the Earth, after His resurrection and ascension into Heaven, there would be no Jesus on Earth in the flesh. God had a great plan for this though, it was to have multi Jesus's on Earth, this would be accomplished through the Spirit:
7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.
We will see later just how the Spirit accomplishes this 'Jesus making' process. The point is Christians were never intended to live without the Spirit.
In Acts 19, Paul finds some followers who have never even heard of the Spirit:
2 And he said to them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? And they said, No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.
There is only one outcome for these believers; to be baptised in the Spirit.
If you are coming at this question from the view of 'I've given my life to Jesus, don't I already have the Spirit?'
I believe that when you are born again, the Spirit does enter into you, and will have an influence on you, speaking to your conscience, leading you to Jesus, but until you are baptised in the Spirit, you are missing a dynamic of power.
In Romans 15 Paul talks about being used by God in a powerful way:
19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God
This is a level of life in God not experienced outside of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Another example is to look at the disciples before and after Pentecost, and what a transformation took place in them all from that day.
2: What does He do in you?
Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as a Helper:
26 But 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 that I have said to you.
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
So, the Spirit first is a Helper to teach you about Jesus and help you remember the Word. He is then a Helper to witness for Jesus.
It's important to note quickly that the Spirit also makes His home inside you.
1 Corinthians 6 says:
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,.
What does He do in you? He lives in you, and He has not come to be silent or timid. He has come for war!
17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
He has come to wage war in you against the flesh. Flesh is everything opposed to His will. Every natural desire, both good and bad, because they are not Supernatural and of Him. The Spirit wants you to do only what He tells you to do. nothing more, nothing less, and to be just as Jesus, who said in John 5:
19 So Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
It's not that Jesus had no will, and was like a robot, performing functions programmed into Him by the Father, rather Jesus made a decision of will. He would do nothing but what the Father was doing. And this He did by the power of the Spirit.
3: How does he communicate with you?
I recently heard a preacher talking about how much God shouts and only once the word talks about God whispering:
From 1 Kings 19:
11 And he said, Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD. And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, What are you doing here, Elijah?
My opinion, and you can disagree if you want to, is that the Spirit does indeed whisper to us. He whispers for us to come after God, to come into His presence. Unfortunately we are pretty dull and miss these promptings far too often.
David in Psalm 27 said:
8 You have said, Seek my face.
My heart says to you,
Your face, LORD, do I seek.
This is pretty much how I think of the Spirits workings in us regarding speaking. He calls to us, 'seek My face', and if we hear, and if we're not too busy or are not missing our favourite TV show, we may just reply 'Your face, lord, do I seek'.
Realistically, how do we hear this voice, is it audible?
Again, in my experience, it is a conscience voice, a voice of the conscience, and as we learn to listen and respond, the path of listening will become trod over time into a well worn path that is no longer like a whisper but the loud command that it is.
I will just add 'the Word' here too. The Spirit will communicate through the Bible, for it was He who inspired the writers. It is Him who will lead us into ALL truth, and so He can open the Bible's truth's to us.
4: What else is the Spirit called/likened too?
I don't think I'll get them all but here are some, and when you see them mentioned in the Bible take note:
Oil. Also a symbol for healing.
Fire. Remember the tongues of fire?
And names! There's tones:
The Spirit of God, The Spirit of the Lord, The Spirit of Christ, Spirit of Fire, Spirit of Judgment, Spirit of Holiness, Spirit of Truth, Spirit of Life, Spirit of Wisdom, Spirit of Understanding, Spirit of Counsel, Spirit of Power, Spirit of Knowledge, Spirit of the Fear of the Lord, Eternal Spirit.
Why are all these names important? You will learn something about His character, and His dealings with people from these names.
5: What are tongues?
The Holy Spirit doesn't come into your life empty handed. He has brought gifts with Him. Some gifts are for everybody, some are more selective. Some gifts are occasional, some are permanent. For instance, someone may have a gift of prophecy without being a Prophet.
Tounges is mentioned as a gift received via baptism in the Spirit:
Acts 2. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 19. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.
Can everyone filled by the Spirit speak in tongues? Yes.
Does everyone? No.
Why is Tongues so important?
Paul described it as one of the lesser gifts and yet it is very powerful for day to day living.
First it is a means to build yourself up. (1 Corinthians 14v4), it is because of this first attribute that I believe it is for everyone. God would not let such a gift be for a special few.
There does seem to be some contradiction in the Word regarding tongues, Paul asks in I Corinthians 12:30, Do all speak in tongues, implying that perhaps all don't, but again in I Corinthians 14:5 he urges us ALL to speak in tongues.
The gift of tongues is also a means for the Spirit to communicate in a pure way to God. What I mean by that is He is not limited by our language and understanding of anything, but can commune only as the Godhead can. This means that the Spirit can pray on our behalf or intercede for others in a way we just can't do.
Tongues is also a gift to be used in Christian gatherings of the Church, though only with an accompanying interpretation, which is another gift of the Spirit.
Over the years I've seen the gift of tongues cause problems with Christians. They just don't get it. They don't know why it wont work with them? Why is it just not happening?
I've come to a conclusion the answer is a simple one.
The gateway to tongues, as with any gift of the Spirit, is to step out and do it. God will not physically take hold of your jaw and start making you speak. You do it in faith. And as you start speaking in tongues your mind will immediately start to rebel.
This is actually very encouraging if you just see this simple truth now.
You are speaking in a Heavenly language and thinking at the same time 'this is me, this is daft, is this it?' YES!
And the simple truth is you just can't do that yourself. Have you ever tried to speak to someone and be thinking something completely different? I'm sure you could with practice, but the fact you are doing it now with tongues is a good proof that it is God.
At this point it is a good idea to move on and accept you are speaking in tongues and enjoy it. You should do it every day. It will refresh you, it will act as a river of water to your mind, washing and washing it with heavenly words. It will change your prayer life and will give you new dimensions in worship as you now find another language ready to take over when your natural one has become lost for words to express your heart towards God.
It is a very encouraging practice to start to ask God for interpretations to your tongues as well.
I will just make a few more points on tongues. Over the years I have heard people saying what you can and can't do with tongues.
Can you think in tongues? Well, I've done it, so I will say yes.
Can you write in tongues? I've heard of at least one person doing this in a powerful way, and I know of a few people who have tried it, myself included, so again, I'd have to say Yes but it's not very common in my experience and has not much point to it.
Can you have more than one tongue? Yes, definitely. I have recognised over the years tongues that sound quite different coming from me. I have known people speak in tongues and actually be speaking Italian or Hebrew.
What is the difference between speaking in tongues and giving a tongue in Church?
Again, over the years I have known times when I can speak and speak in tongues and it is an uplifting experience and of great benefit. I have also known times when it has felt supercharged, and a level of passion and purpose is there that is not normal. I believe it is these supercharged times that the gift is to be shared in a gathering along with the interpretation. And remember, if no one brings that interpretation it is your job to.
6: What other gifts are there?
The other gifts mentioned in I Corinthians 12 are:
utterance of wisdom
utterance of knowledge
distinguishing between spirits
interpretation of tongues.
Now the Bible commends us to seek the gifts of the Spirit, especially Prophecy (I Corinthians 14:39), but I will just add one thing, over the years I have seen in myself desires to seek gifts to the extent where it was more a heavy burden. I am now at a point in life where I do not seek these gifts. I seek the Giver. What this means is, that I do not turn my nose up at the gifts, I just have a view that if I am in fellowship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, any thing He wants to do through me is just a command away, and the nearer I am to him the louder I will hear that command. As said earlier, this is my view, and it's for you to use or ignore as you wish.
And let's not forget Fruit:
From Galatians 5:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control;
These are not gifts, but rather 'effects' that the Spirit will have in you. All these fruits you can start to see being developed the moment you are baptised.
Have you been a stressful person? Expect to see Peace being developed in you more and more.
Have you had problems with addictions? Expect to see the fruit of self control being developed in you. These fruit will grow and grow killing off fleshly desires and fruit if you nurture them in obedience.
7: What do I do now?
I added this question for a few reasons.
First, if you have not been baptised in the Holy Spirit, then He is just a prayer away. You can seek Him yourself or ask for some one to lay hands on you.
Acts 8 shows us
18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands,.
The Baptism of the Spirit can be given in such a way. But remember it is a gift and must be received with faith in the same way you received salvation. When you have been baptised that is the time to open your mouth and speak your first words in your new language.
Second, if you have been filled with the Spirit, and have become complacent and dry, do not delay. Start to speak in tongues again. Allow the Spirit to flow freely through your life again, sweeping away through repentance everything that would hinder His flow.
Third, I would say be obedient. The Spirit is alive and active. He will want to work through you. He has no interest in helping you with your life and projects but every interest in helping you become like Jesus. When he whispers to you, determine now that you will treat it as the command it is. When he calls you to come aside and sit and listen, be obedient, do as your told.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
It's getting cold now. Christmas is approaching and most of us are waiting for the time we can stop work for the year, put our feet up and enjoy a well earned break before next year.
But, how many of us take a break from God at that time. How many Bible's go unread, how many prayers unsaid?
I'm no super saint, I want to be a normal Christian. One tip I want to give, is that to help you keep going when you want to take a break, is to have a daily devotional. They are books that have a short message based on Bible verses for you to read every day. Some have one reading for the morning and one for the evening. They are a great habit to start. And remember a habit is hard to get rid of.
Habit: Take away the H and you have a-bit
Take away the a and you still have bit
Take away the b and you still have it!
I read the one at the top, Oswald Chambers: My Utmost For His Highest.
There are loads out there, find a good one and give it a go.