NT part 7: The Holy Spirit

NT Part 7. Holy Spirit

Jesus gave his disciples certain tasks to do (see the last blog).  These tasks, recorded in the ancient pages of the New Testament are daunting.  To think that we can be a tool used by God to keep society from rotting away, or to be people who provide light to those whose lives have descended into darkness can lead some to arrogance and others to silence.  Yet, those are the tasks given to those who have been called to follower Jesus.

The New Testament tells of another important reality for we who live 2000 after the resurrection.  It was never God’s intention for us to follow Jesus and do the job he gave us under our own power.  Jesus told his disciples just prior to his death this incredible truth:

But I tell you the truth: it is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor (a term Jesus used for the Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  John 16:7

After Jesus rose from the dead he spent 40 days having resurrection moments with his disciples.  On the last of those moments his disciples pressed him as to his plan to “restore the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6).  They wanted to know if now was the time when God’s rule would return to earth and put an end to the foreign domination of Rome and all other nations that did not follow God’s rule.  Jesus’ response to them was

It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:7-8

It was this power (Greek is the word dynamite) that was to be the internal engine to drive the disciples to fulfill the mission they had been given.  It is that same power that we need today to fulfill the jobs Jesus gave us to do.

So, how does one go about receiving the Holy Spirit?  The key word in this question is ‘receive.’  Just a bit earlier in the passage from Acts Jesus told his disciples to

…wait for the gift my Father promised, which you heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.  (1:4-5)

The Holy Spirit is not a commodity to be purchased but a gift to be received.  We can certainly ask God for this gift (Luke 11:13), but ultimately God will give the Holy Spirit in God’s time for us. And what do we do in the mean time?  As with the early disciples we must wait.  And what do we do while we are waiting?  Thank God that the gift is coming and prepare the way in your own life for that gift by get rid of things God doesn’t want for you (sins).

How can I know that I have the Holy Spirit?  Sometimes receiving the Holy Spirit is accompanied by powerful experiences such as being healed or speaking in an unknown language.  At other times the experience is very quiet such as a deep sense of peace.  Sometimes people accept this gift in a simple act of faith.  Regardless of the experience, scripture says God will give the Holy Spirit so we are called upon to trust in God’s promise and start thanking God for the gift.

What will the Holy Spirit do in my life?  There are two specific works the New Testament tells us that the Holy Spirit does in the life of Jesus’ disciples.  The first work is the development of godly character in your life (Galatians 5:22, 23).  These qualities are called “The Fruit of the Spirit.”  The second work is the placing of special gifts in us that are to be used in Christian service (1 Corinthians 12).

The Holy Spirit is an essential gift given by God to those who are disciples of Jesus to empower us to fulfill our role in God’s work this side of eternity.  Don’t try to follow or serve Jesus alone.