Many people have a clear understanding of God the Father as Creator, and of God the Son, Jesus Christ, who came into the world to rescue us and restore us to heaven. However, when it comes tot eh third person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit, people know very little and tend not tor emember when they ever heard a sermon on the subject. It must be said to that the information on the Spirit often comes in hard to understand sections of the Bible.
The promise of Jesus John 14.16-17, 16. 5 – 15
Jesus promised his shocked disciples that he when he left them he would send someone else in his place. Jesus refered to his substitute as ‘the Holy Spirit’, and he refered to a person rather than a thing.Unlike even the risen Jesus (after that first Easter), the Spirit, being invisible, could be with Jesus’ friends all over the world at the same time. The Bible makes it clear that as soon as someone gives their lives to Jesus, then the Holy Spirit comes to take up residence inside that person. This often happens quietly, but it is sometimes accompanied by particular sensations or experiences e.g. calm, heat, joy, tingling. The Spirit enters us like a seed. It is up to us to allow that seed to grow i.e. to allow God’s Spirit room to work in us more and more. This is gradual and we may not see differences in our lives that others can. Here are some of the changes that take place in a person’s life under the influence of the Spirit.
(1) You will understand the Bible better
The Bible is God’s book. 2 Timothy 3.16 reminds us that God’s Spirit has been involved in the writing of the book, even though human authors were immediately responsible. The Spirit within a Christian tunes in to the Bible and makes the book come alive in a new way. It is like a light being switched on; not only does it become easier to understand, it also becomes a joy to read.
(2) You will know yourself better
The Holy Spirit lights up our lives so that we become conscious of many things in us that need change and attention. This can be uncomfortable, though it stops us having any ‘holier than thou’ attitude. In the long tern this is very good for our health and well-being.
(3) You will have a new confident relationship with God
The Holy Spirit gives us this because we are often reminded in the New Testament that it is the presence of the Spirit that makes us children of God. We can be as confident of love and forgiveness from God as from our earthly father as a child. It is the Holy Spirit who draws us to Jesus in the first place because his love for us comes before our love for him.
(4) You will find church comes alive.
The Holy Spirit stops us from seeing church simply as a human club with rotas, flowers, bells and books. Instead, church becomes a place of belonging, support and security. To go to church becomes a joy rather than a duty, It is not surprising, because if all Christians are children of God, we are all brothers and sisters. Families belong together and tolerate differences.
(5) Your character will change
The Spirit never makes someone into someone else, he refines our character. Tendencies in us which divide us from other people become replaced by tendencies that draw us together. Galatians 5 lists nine qualities that Christians develop with the help of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, humility, patience, kindness and self-control. This is of course a lifetime process because our selfish human nature is resistant to change.
(6) You will become more like Jesus
We shall not be surprised at this because the Spirit is Jesus’ substitute. Paul talks about Christians having ‘the mind of Christ’ i.e. developing his view on people and situations. If Jesus guides and prompts us then we will know what to do and say. The Spirit is refered to as the’ Spirit of truth’ because he reveals the world, people and situations as they really are.
(7) You will be equipped to serve God in a special way.
There are contributions to God’s work that only you can make and there will be a particular place in church life for you, whatever your feelings about yourself. We need the prayers, advice and encouragement of other Christians to help us find our place. We too can help others find theirs. This discerning process will take time if you are a young Christian, and it is good for you to receive from others, however keen you are to give out.
(8) You are assured of heaven
Ephesians 1 reminds us that the Spirit is our guarantee of heaven, just like a season ticket gets you straight through a barrier. We should not be smug but we can be confident and not to have to worry about whether the good we do outweighs the bad.
(9) Being filled with the Spirit
We need to keep our petrol tanks full. Having ‘experiences’ is not important; what is important is the Spirit being given room to work in us. This is done through the regular disciplines of prayer, Bible reading, church and obedience to God’s commands. Having someone to pray with can be a great help.
A note about ‘tongues’
This is the gift of being able to speak in languages generally unknown to the speaker (and an congregation), The speaker can control starting, stopping, speed and volume. Many use this gift in quiet prayer when ordinary words become inadequate. You can pray for this gift but don’t feel second class if you don’t receive it. Be patient, and remember that ’ tongues’ is not exclusive to Christianity. Utterances may be blasphemous and not from God at all. Hunger for Jesus, not experiences.