Teaching About the Holy Spirit
Let’s have a time of prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to make us receptive to His teaching (not mine). Let’s ask Him to open our hearts and our spirits as well as our minds.
Key verse: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.“1
Notice per the purpose of this study that we are “strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”
Furthermore see that it is “His Spirit in the inner man” but “Christ dwelling in our hearts.” Apparently these are the same thing. We also saw in the first Chapter that the Holy Spirit is also called “the Spirit of Christ.” 2 3 Apparently these are synonymous [a hard word to pronounce!].
Quick review: In the previous Chapter #1 we:
- Listed many reasons why we really need this study.
- Recommended the book “The Forgotten God” [What do you think of this book?]
- Had a time of prayer to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us.
- Talked about needing to know what the Scriptures say rather than just our opinions.
- Summarized what we already knew about the Holy Spirit.
- Shared some personal encounters with the Holy Spirit [thank you].
One of the main reasons we decided we needed this study is that we lack accurate teaching on the Holy Spirit:
a. Some of us are ignorant:
- Years ago a friend of mine was in a Bible study and she was assigned to report on the Holy Spirit. She replied: “I don’t know anything about this subject. I didn’t even know there was a Holy Spirit.” So the Bible study leader said: “That’s why you need to do this report!”
- Likewise when Paul came to Ephesus he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.“ 4 5 Apparently the Ephesians had been led to faith in Jesus by Apollos6 but he was uninformed about the Holy Spirit.7
b. Some of us are afraid:
- Ghosts [the “Holy Ghost” in the KJV].
- Don’t want to be fanatical.
- We are comfortable where we are.
- He might urge us to do something beyond our comfort zone.
c. Some people have misused the gift [and the gifts] of the Holy Spirit:
- Telling someone that they are not saved since they don’t speak in tongues.
- Telling someone they aren’t healed because they don’t have enough faith.
- False healings.
- Predatory evangelists.
d. Well meaning pastors that we have respected have inadvertently taught inaccurately, not checking the Scriptures themselves.
e. Denominational teaching.
f. Deliberate false teaching by Satan’s minions.
g. Some people think that just believing in Jesus is enough:
- If that were true, then why did Jesus say: “But 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.“8
Summarizing why we lack accurate teaching on the Holy Spirit: Ignorance of His existence, fear, misuse of gifts, inaccurate teaching, denominations, false teaching, Jesus is enough.
So, what are the solutions to these problems?
- Ignorance of His existence–>accurate preaching, classes like ours.
- Fear–>realizing He is love personified.
- Misuse of gift–>gentle rebuke, then leave if that doesn’t work.
- Inaccurate teaching–>self study of the Scriptures.
- Denominations–>gently refute, then leave if that doesn’t work.
- False teaching–>teach the truth from Scriptures.
- Jesus is enough–>show that the Holy Spirit is the same as the Spirit of Christ.
Why is the Holy Spirit necessary?
1. The Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary in order for us to understand the Scriptures:
- “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”9
- “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.“10
- “Turn to my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.“11 [This is from the Old Testament]
2. The Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary in order to apply Scripture:
- “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.“12
- “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”13
- “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”14
3. The Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary in order to remember Scripture:
- “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 said to you.“15
- “So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.“16
- “These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.”17
4. The Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary in order to know Jesus:
- He gives us faith: “…to another faith [is given] by the same Spirit…”18
- He convicts us: “And when He [the Holy Spirit], comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;”19
5. The Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary in order to have the power to do God’s will:
- “…it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”20
- We will explore this verse more thoroughly below.
Summarizing why the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary in our lives: to understand the Scriptures, to apply Scripture, to remember Scripture, to know Jesus, and to have the power to do God’s will.
Quick review: In the previous paragraphs:
- We saw why people are ignorant about the Holy Spirit.
- We saw how to correct that.
- We saw why the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary for us to live the Christian life.
- We saw some of God’s promises to us about the Holy Spirit.
To will and to do
Open your Bibles to Philippians 2:12.
Key Verse: “…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13 NASB)
Let’s look carefully at this verse. This is one of the first verses I ever discovered early in my Christian walk fifty years ago. It gives me so much hope.
- Who is at work in you? God the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is inseparable although we sometimes see different aspects of God. The very first of the ten commandments says: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” If we are indwelt by one member of the Godhead, then we are indwelt by all three.21 22 For example, sometimes the Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of Christ”23 24 or even “the Spirit of the Father.”25
- Did you notice that the verse says: “who is at work in you”—not “it”? The Holy Spirit is a personality—not just a force—not just a ghost. The King James translation and the Catholic church have done us a severe disfavor by referring to the Holy Spirit as “the Holy Ghost.” People are terrified of ghosts and don’t want to have anything to do with them. But the Holy Spirit is attractive and personifies love.26 27 Furthermore, it is hard to relate to a spirit. Jesus had a body just like us, and He has a name: “Jesus.” God the Father has a name: “Abba.” But the Holy Spirit doesn’t have a body or a name. How about “Pneuma?” [Breeze, breath, a current of air] Also we refer to Him as the Holy Spirit. The word “the” is impersonal and usually refers to “things”—not persons. So it can be hard to love Him 28 as He deserves. He is the One who loves us.29 His list of gifts start with “love.” Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
- So back to our key verse. What is He doing? Working in you. Literally “powering” in you (Greek “energo” from which we get the English “energy” or “energizing”). He is giving us the power to do that which brings Him delight. Literally: “For God is powering in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
- Where is He working? In you. (not through you)
- What is He doing? He is giving to us. It’s free. It’s not something we earn or deserve.
- What is He giving to us? Desire. The will, the urge, the impetus, the drive, the passion, the “round tuit!” This is incredibly personal. He is actually working us over—affecting our will—changing us from the inside out if we want Him to and ask Him to.
- Why is He doing it? So we will work. Notice the NASB translation got it right when it uses the word “work” twice—it is the same Greek root word in both cases. He works in us so we will work. As we said above, this could be translate literally as: “For God is powering in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
- So, what kind of work does He produce? That which causes Him delight. Can you imagine a better goal in life than to please the infinite God of the universe and eternity?
- Who is pleased? He is. It’s His pleasure. Throughout the Scriptures the Holy Spirit is referred to as “He”—in the masculine gender. This isn’t just a convenience for the translators but if you look at the original languages it is clear that the pronouns are consistently masculine.
- Sometimes I wonder if the Holy Spirit has feminine qualities like in the book “The Shack.” After all, in Gen 1:27 it says: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” The Holy Spirit has the delightful feminine qualities of compassion, love, empathy, encouragement, nurturing, helping, teaching, beauty, etc. Just a fun digression…
As we saw, the Holy Spirit gives us both the desire and the power. If we had the desire only, we would be like most Christians who know what to do but lack the ability to do it. If we had the power only, we wouldn’t want to do anything. But He gives us both the desire and the power, so we can do that which brings Him delight.
Otherwise, we just procrastinate—like when I bought the book about procrastination but never read it!
The Parable of the Sower
We can learn a lot by looking at the Parable of the Sower. Remember that when the seed of God’s word was sown, people responded in four ways:
- The first seed never had a chance to sprout since Satan’s “birds” snatched it away.
- The second seed sprouted but had no root into God’s Word so they wilted.
- The third seed sprang up eagerly but got choked out by the cares of the world.
- The fourth seed sprouted and flourished and brought forth an abundance of fruit (30/60/100 times).
Notice that in every case, except the first one where the birds of the air ate it, the seed did indeed sprout; it did become alive. However, it did not produce fruit except in the last case. The second and third ones became Christians, but they are fruitless Christians, lacking the power of the Holy Spirit. Since we don’t want to be like them, that’s why we are studying how to be empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.
If you personally had been leading this study, what other important points would you have brought out?
Pray about the goal of being filled with “all the fullness of God.”30 [The key verse at the beginning of this Chapter]
These papers are based on a six-week adult Sunday School study at Sisters Community Church in Sisters, Oregon, January 2020, led by Drew Berding. The title of the study was ‘The Holy Spirit Empowering the Life of the Believer.’
Photo Attribution: Morning Brew – unsplash.com
- Eph 3:14-19
- Rom 8:9, “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”
- 1 Peter 1:10-11, “…the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.”
- Acts 19:1-7, ‘It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men.’
- 1 Cor 12:1, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.”
- Acts 18:25, “This man [Apollos] had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John;”
- Acts 18:26, “But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”
- John 16:7
- 1 Cor 2:14-15
- 1 Cor 1:18
- Prov 1:23
- John 16:13-15
- 1 Cor 2:10-13
- Ezek 36:26-27
- John 14:26
- John 2:22
- John 12:16
- 1 Cor 12:4-11, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”
- John 16:8
- Phil 2:13
- John 14:16, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”
- John 14:15, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”
- Rom 8:9, “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”
- 1 Peter 1:10-11, “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.”
- Matt 10:20, “For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”
- 1 John 4:8, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
- 1 John 4:16, “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
- Matt 22:37-38, “And He said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.”
- 1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.”
- Eph 3:17, “…to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.