Knowing and Experiencing the Holy Spirit
By Joe Keim
January 1, 2014
As church goers and claimers of the Christian faith, I'm sure we have heard of the Holy Spirit. But how many of us can really claim to know the Holy Spirit? Even if we claim to know Him, how many of us are experiencing Him in our day to day lives? Is the Holy Spirit real to you? Have you ever sat and talked with Him like you might talk to a spouse or very dear friend? Does He speak to you?
Sadly, many who walk the earth and claim to be part of God's family know little to nothing about the Holy Spirit. To many, He may seem like someone who is way out there: a ghost, untouchable, hard to understand, maybe even a mystery.
The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. His work is very noticeable and obvious throughout the Bible. In fact, it is quite clear that He is the One who inspired men like you and me to write the Holy Scriptures. 2 Peter 1:20-21 says:
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
Peter is making it clear that no part of the Bible ever came from the prophet's own understanding or human viewpoint. Every single Bible writer - Peter, Jude, Paul, John, Mathew, Jeremiah, Moses, King David and Isaiah - was moved by the Holy Spirit. As God through the Holy Spirit spoke to them, these men wrote it down. So the truth is, when you and I read the Bible in a language we can understand, we are reading the very words of the Holy Spirit.
Appreciating the place of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian is very important! That is, if you want to grow in your knowledge and understanding of Him. Only the Holy Spirit can grant such knowledge to man.
In this study we will seek to improve on whatever knowledge we may have of the Holy Spirit. For those who are unfamiliar with Him, let me introduce you to a whole new world of spiritual reality.
THE HOLY SPIRIT, THIRD PERSON IN THE GODHEAD
1. The Holy Spirit was present and active during creation - see Genesis 1:1-3.
If you go to the very beginning of the Bible and start reading in Genesis, you will find that by the time you get to the second verse, the Holy Spirit shows up as being present and active in the work of creation. The truth is, He played a very important part in all of creation.
2. The Holy Spirit has feelings.
Quench not the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19).
3. The Holy Spirit can be grieved or made sad.
"And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30)."
4. The Holy Spirit speaks.
At times I have heard well-meaning people refer to the Holy Spirit as an "it," as if He were an object or thing rather than a Person. The truth is, the Holy Spirit is a Person and should be referred to as He and Him. When we read the Bible, it is quite clear that He, the Holy Spirit, is able to speak like a human being. When He speaks, the Bible commands us to listen to His voice, as He is constantly speaking to those who are willing to listen.
Consider the following instances in scripture when the Holy Spirit shows up and speaks:
Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot (Acts 8:29).
As they (the church) ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Spirit. . . (Acts 13:2-4).
...take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Spirit (Mark 13:11).
5. The Holy Spirit took over where Jesus left off.
Two thousand years ago, God the Father sent His only Son into the world. He came to our planet and put on flesh and human form, and for thirty-three years, God's Son, Jesus, walked and talked as a human. He experienced hurt and even hungered as a human. At age thirty, He went into full-time ministry. People began to follow Him and listen to His teachings. Many of His followers thought Jesus was the one who would deliver them from the Roman government and be their next king. What a surprise, when Jesus said in John 14:28:
"Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away. . . because I said, I go unto the Father. . . ." (John 14:28).
Jesus' disciples were absolutely dumbfounded. In a moment, their whole world turned upside down. They had given up everything and followed Jesus. He had taught them for three years. They knew no other master. They struggled so much that Peter said he would give his life for Him. Thomas asked Jesus to let them go with Him.
I share all this to bring you to John 16, verses 6 and 7. Here Jesus makes a powerful statement. The first time I understood these verses, it caused me to sit straight up in my chair and read it over and over. Jesus said:
"Because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you (meaning: to your advantage or own gain) that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter (Holy Spirit) will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.
Jesus is telling these men: "Hey, it is highly important that I leave, because as soon as I leave, I'll send you another person to walk with you just like I did - the Holy Spirit; He will move inside of you and live there."
Jesus was human and could only be at one place at a time; however, the Spirit could be everywhere at the same time. The truth of the matter is, as long as Jesus was on earth, the Spirit was blocked from coming. As we will see further into our study, when the Spirit finally did arrive on earth, more happened in a few hours than happened in all of Jesus' three years of ministry. Yes! It was to our advantage and gain that Jesus would leave, so the Holy Spirit could come and take over where Jesus left off.
Today, the Son sits on the right hand of the Father in heaven, but the Holy Spirit lives in the heart of God's children here on earth.
THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE NEW BIRTH
The Holy Spirit moves into a person's body the moment he experiences the new birth. That's really what the new birth is all about. When the Apostle Paul was writing to the church at Rome, he said:
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Romans 8:9).
What is meant by the new birth, and at what stage is it experienced?
1. First, there has to be conviction.
What is conviction, and what is the role of the Holy Spirit in this process? Conviction is what happens when a person begins to realize that he is guilty of sin and is in need of salvation. Consider what happened in the early church when Peter told the people that what they had done to Jesus was against the heart of God.
"Now when they heard this, they were pricked (convicted) in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do (Acts 2:37)?"
Being convicted of our sin against God is the first step toward experiencing the new birth and receiving the Holy Spirit.
2. Born of the Spirit
The new birth is a hundred percent spiritual experience; it is the Spirit of God regenerating (restoring) the spirit of man to perfection. When the inner spirit of man is born, his sin-stained, lifeless, hell-bound, and fallen nature is transformed and is covered with God's righteousness.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water (first birth - flesh) and of the Spirit (second birth - spiritual), he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:3-6).
Being born again, not of corruptible seed (man-made laws), but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever (1 Peter 1:23).
Just as we can't give physical birth to ourselves, we cannot give spiritual birth to ourselves or others. The second birth is fully a work and gift from God.
"Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13).
Because God is the One who gives our inner man (spirit) new birth, we can have assurance of where we stand with Him. That's why Christianity is so exciting. We don't have to struggle and beg for our salvation, wondering whether we have said enough prayers or done enough good works in life. God did it for us; and it, it was complete. All we have to do is believe (accept) the payment that Jesus made for our sin when He died on the cross. The very moment you and I do that, God places His righteousness (perfection and holiness) on us. From that point on, whenever God looks at you and me, He sees His own righteousness; not ours.
For He (God) hath made Him (Jesus) to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21).
And be found in Him (Jesus), not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (Philippians 3:9)
For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:3)
Why is the spiritual birth experience necessary?
3. The New Man
The moment you and I are born again, the Bible says we immediately experience change within.
(God) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:13).
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
With our new nature comes an intense desire and longing for Jesus Christ and the things of God. For the first time, we can fully appreciate Jesus' statement:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).
Jesus is the only doorway into heaven: not the church, not the culture we were born into, not the clothes we wear or type of transportation we use. Not even baptism is a requirement for salvation and entrance into heaven. If it were, Jesus would not have said to the thief on the cross, "Today you will be with me in Paradise (Luke 23:43)."
The moment we are born again, we know with all our being that Jesus is the truth we have been seeking all along. The more we get of Him, the more we want of Him. Our desire for Him feels right. It feels natural. As we pursue an intimate and living relationship with Jesus, we experience a love unlike any other.
As Christians, our outer man (the flesh) still sins and wars against the inner man (the new-born spirit) - please read Romans 7:18-25.
With our new life, we develop new desires. We want to please God out of love and not out of fear. As members of his family, we want to fit in with our Heavenly Father and our Brother Jesus.
When we become a new person in Christ, we also leave behind that choking burden of trying to earn our way to God and heaven. We finally grasp what Jesus has done for us and accept the fact that He did all that God required for the sin of mankind.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).
We must and will appreciate the change that the new birth brings. Whoever you were before your new birth experience, you no longer are that same person.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).
LIFE IN THE SPIRIT
A believer has a totally different lifestyle than the world offers. Those who have never experienced the new birth have only one nature - the flesh nature. These people make decisions and choices based on their own flesh and desires. However, those who have experienced the new birth have two natures - flesh and Spirit. These people wake up in the morning and have to choose which nature they want to walk in. If they chose to walk in the flesh nature, they will often appear to others as ones who have never been born again. If they chose to walk in the Spirit, they will appear as ones who have experienced the new birth.
One of the greatest downfalls of Christians is the failure to understand the great importance of living life in the Spirit.
The Bible says: Now that you have been spiritually born, walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:16-25).
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1).
The central quality of life in the spirit is walking in the Spirit. This involves a decisive effort to make the fruit of the Spirit evident in our lifestyle.
How does the fruit of the Spirit come into operation? Grab hold of who you are in Christ. Understand that you are a spirit who has a soul and lives in a body. The Bible says that we are children of God, meaning that you have an everlasting Father who cares for you. He is on your side and is cheering you on in righteous living.
Have you ever talked to someone who controlled the conversation and never let you say one word? This is what it's like when we pray "at" God and do not take time to listen to Him. Think of prayer as sitting next to Jesus on the couch; spend as much time listening as you do talking.
Walking in the Spirit means walking in harmony with God and others. Guard your heart and tongue from bickering, bitterness, and conflict. Learn to rest in Him, and He will fight your battles. You need only to be still.
You must discover your weaknesses, because the enemy knows them better than you do. Understanding your weaknesses and yielding them to the Holy Spirit will strengthen you and help you discern and avoid temptations and pressures. To the Christian, Paul writes:
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would (Galatians 5:16-17).
The Bible says we are led by the Spirit.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (family) of God (Romans 8:14).
The believer is expected to live his life constantly under the power and leading of the Holy Spirit. The believer must also understand the mindset of one who walks in the Spirit and know how to be led by the Spirit of God. Look around you and find someone who is led by the Spirit. Learn from him or her. Ask questions. Seek God for understanding. Learn to wait on the Spirit for direction and wisdom. He wants to lead you.
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).
How often do you wait to hear from Him before you act?
The Bible says we are to grow in spiritual things. See 1 Cor. 2:6-3:3. Before you can begin to grow, you have to be born (in the Spirit). If you have never asked the Lord Jesus to save you from your sin and give you everlasting life, if you have never asked the Lord to put the Holy Spirit in you, if you have never accepted what Jesus did on the cross for you was enough - you cannot add anything - then you are still dead and lost. The new birth happens in a moment. It happens when you give up trying to get to God on your own, and you let God do it for you. Just give it up, friend! Give it up. It's freeing and beyond anything you have ever experienced in your life. Let God do the work. He already has, whether you have accepted it or not.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His (God's) mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5).
The new birth is the beginning of a process; the Christian goes through several stages and learns many things on the way. He is supposed to go all out for God by ensuring that he maintains life in the Spirit.
Are you conscious of the role of the Spirit in your day-to-day life? Jesus says to you:
And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter (Holy Spirit), that He may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you (John 14:16-17).
Verse 26: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Jesus promised that when the Holy Spirit comes he will lead you and me into all truths and remind us what Jesus has taught us in the Bible. This is an ongoing process.
THE INFILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Just like batteries in a flashlight, the Holy Spirit will empower us to shine brightly in our hometown, home state and all over the world. Are you a flashlight...
- Without batteries?
- With batteries that have grown dim?
- With batteries that are fully lit up?
Jesus is clear; His followers will be witnesses of the cross, meaning they are ones who shine forth the light in a dark and lost world.
THE HOLY SPIRIT AT WORK IN THE CHURCH
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul...with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all (Acts 4:31-33).
Many people in churches today have given up the thought that anything like this could ever happen in their church, let alone in their generation. Really?! Maybe that is the very reason it's not happening. We do not believe!
Here is what I believe:
1. The Holy Spirit has not changed.
2. His passion to reach the world for Jesus Christ has not changed.
Maybe we are the ones who changed!
My honest belief is that churches in America have tried to do church without the Holy Spirit. In fact, few of us even know much about the Holy Spirit. Hardly anybody mentions His name in sermon or conversation. He's looked at as one who worked in lives 2,000 years ago, but not today. We fear that if we get too spiritually minded, someone will notice and avoid us, or worse yet, talk behind our backs.
In 1 Corinthians 12, we are told by the Apostle Paul that the Holy Spirit distributes His gifts to members of His family, such as He feels necessary.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will (1 Corinthians 12:8-11).
What would a working, breathing, living church look like with all of these gifts in operation? The answer that comes to mind is POWER! Not our power, but Holy Spirit Power. Power that overcomes! Power that changes the world! If this Holy Spirit power is only available in believers, and believers bottle Him up and don't let Him out, what is that going to do for our generation?
OTHER MINISTRY GIFTS IN THE CHURCH
Paul writes in Ephesians 4:11-14:
And He (God) gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Ephesians 4:11-14).
First, the Holy Spirit gives you a specific gift; He equips you for what He is calling you to do. Once He has placed His gift in you, He calls you to do something in the body of Christ. Do you know what your gift is? Are you obeying your call? Can it be said of you what Jesus said about the centurion?
When Jesus heard these things, He marvelled at him (the Gentile centurion), and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel (Luke 7:9).
Who are you following? Another man? A man-made religion? A culture? Your parents? A certain church flavor? Or are you a sold - out follower of Jesus Christ? Are you willing to have your life changed to reflect God's agenda for you, or do you expect God to fit into your agenda? Today, you and I fit one of the following types of followers:
1. The rich young ruler who was not willing to give up all and follow.
Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto Him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich (Luke 18:22-23).
2. Peter who gave up all and followed immediately.
Then Peter said, "Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee" (Luke 18:28)."
THE HOLY SPIRIT AND YOU
The Holy Spirit in prayer
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:18).
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost... (Jude 20).
I know this will be a hard pill for some to swallow, but praying in the Sprit is not reading someone else's words from a book, even though the words might be powerful and were from the writer's heart. They are not mine or yours. Real prayer in the Spirit is getting with God and speaking from your heart and from the deepest parts of your soul.
We can never enjoy the fullness of what God has ordained for us as Christians without the help and power of the Holy Spirit. My utmost hope and desire is that this study has excited your interest in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Truly, one study is far from sufficient to give a full and detailed description of the ministry and person of the Holy Spirit. Do not stop here. Dig deep into the Scriptures to learn all there is to learn about the blessed Holy Spirit.
-- Joe Keim
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