So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. (Ephesians 2:19–21)
When the Holy Spirit came upon those first disciples of Jesus Christ, their lives changed. They went from fearful hiding to great boldness. As they preached, those who heard them “were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’”
While this does happen during some evangelistic crusades, most of today’s preachers struggle to keep the congregation from dozing off. Even then, no matter how dynamic the sermon, the Holy Spirit’s voice is not cutting anyone to the heart. Why is that?
Peter’s response might give a clue. He told them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:37–39)
As wonderful as the Gospel is, even Christians don’t like the idea of repentance. They want eternal life, but not a radical change. Life is too good the way it is. People also want forgiveness, but not the radical and unpredictable power of the Holy Spirit. He might ask them to move out of their comfort zone, and that would never do. They want their children saved too, but this idea of being called is not as appealing as teaching the kids to ‘be a good person’ and go to the right church.
However, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to shake up those ideas and more. From John 14 and 16, here are some things that the Holy Spirit does . . .
· Another helper as a gift from the Father, here for the disciples since Jesus is not physically present (14:15).
· His eternal presence, living within (14:15-17)
· Teaching truth and bringing to mind all things Jesus taught (14:17, 26)
· Puts peace in our hearts (14:27)
· Convicting sinners of sin, especially the sin of unbelief (16:8-9)
· Conviction of righteousness because Jesus is no longer visible (16:8, 10)
· Conviction about judgment because Satan has been judged (16:8, 11)
· Guiding the people of God into all truth and telling them what is to come (16:13)
· Glorifying Jesus Christ above all else (16:14)
While this is a partial list, it is easy to see that without the Holy Spirit, all who follow Jesus Christ need this Comforter sent from God to live rightly and to carry out the work that God gives us to do.
Today, ideas about the Holy Spirit can be somewhat skewed. The range of thought is everything from ignoring the Spirit to giving the Spirit far more ‘press’ than He desires. (After all, He came to glorify Christ, not Himself.)
I try not to over-focus on the Spirit, but also try to remember that He has incredible power. He convicts sinners; I cannot do that. He reveals the righteousness of Christ and while I try, my life is not that glorious. The Spirit also convicts of judgment. I could rant “turn or burn” all day long, but draw only laughter, not cut people to the heart as Peter did under the Spirit’s power.
The proof of the work and power of the Holy Spirit was in the results of what Peter did . . .
With many other words (Peter) bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:40–41)
Again, the church today cannot be effective using only marketing and business plans, human techniques or any other appeals. We need the Holy Spirit to fill us, but also do what only He can do.