Last night in my home church meeting there was much talk about the Holy Spirit. I spoke off the cuff a bit about the H.S. and spiritual gifting—things I’ve learned over the past 23 years from my diverse reading, studies I’ve attended and the sermons of Pastor Joel Hunter at Northland.
It did not occur to me or anyone else present that the following day 5-15-16 was Pentecost Sunday celebrating the imparting of the Holy Spirit to the 120 disciples present 50 days after the Resurrection. Pentecost was already an important Jewish holiday that marked the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai 50 days after Passover, and so it was no coincidence that the Lord picked Pentecost to impart the Holy Spirit.
So, here are some random thing I’ve learned about the Holy Spirit over the years:
The Holy Spirit was present in the Old Testament but did not reside in people. He just showed up from time to time. The H.S. came to live with us permanently at Pentecost–or at least that’s when believers among humanity are first given the opportunity to have the Divine living in them.
The Holy Spirit is given to believers just one time when we accept Jesus as our Savior. However, we need a constant filling of the H.S. as pastor Joel says, we are imperfect vessels and we leak. Therefor we need to be constantly refilled thru prayer, hearing the word and corporate worship. I also think the sacrament of Holy Communion is important.
In the Gospel of John chapters 14 thru 17 (sometimes called the final discourse), Jesus teaches about the H.S and the establishing of His church. He sometimes refers to the H.S. as the “Comforter” and sometimes as the “Spirit of Truth” and these designations give us insight into some of the Holy Spirit’s functions. He talks about Him leaving and the Holy Spirit coming. Why is this important? Jesus can only be at one place at a time. But His Holy Spirit is everywhere, all the time.
Paul’s teachings on the gifts of the Spirit are found in I Corinthians 12 and Romans 12: 6-8. The First Corinthians passages are about the gifts of ministry (v.28-31) and manifestation (v.7-10) and the Romans passage is about what is called the “motivational” gifts—what motivates and enlivens our participation in Christ’s Body.
The seven motivational gifts are: (1) prophecy, speaking the truth in love, telling others how you see Jesus in them (2) serving, being tangibly helpful (3) teaching (4) encouraging, exhorting (5) giving, managing resources (6) leadership (7)mercy, compassion. It is important to know what your spiritual gifts or gifts are—everyone has at least one and some have several. It will show where you fit in Christ’s Body. These gifts are of limited value outside of the Church but are majorly important inside the Church. These are the channels thru which the H.S. pours His energy.
I also believe it is no accident that immediately after I Cor 12 we have “the Love chapter”—chapter 13, in which Paul says if its not all bound together in love our gifts are pretty much meaningless, and likewise the passage in Romans is closely followed by v. 10: “be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” In a sense the greatest gift of all is being able to love God with all your heart and mind and then loving your neighbor as yourself.
Also, in a sense, we are God’s gift to one another. All the gifts of the Spirit were never meant just for us. They were given to be used and given away. They were given to benefit other believers, Christ’s Body. And to knit us all together as a Body.
How do we know when the Holy Spirit is active in us? That brings us to Galatians 5:22 and the nine Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faith, Gentleness and Self-Control.
They are all important, but once again I don’t think its an accident that Love is listed first.
Hopefully, we all see that fruit in us in abundance, but as for myself, many days not so much. We are all sinners–and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). As Pastor Joel says, “We leak.” We need to be constantly reminded of the fruit of the Spirit and constantly refilled with the Holy Spirit–and that’s no less than Jesus living in us.