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God’s gospel is applied by the power of the Holy Spirit.
6. We believe that the Holy Spirit, in all that He does, glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. He convicts the world of its guilt. He regenerates sinners, and in Him they are baptized into union with Christ and adopted as heirs in the family of God. He also indwells, illuminates, guides, equips and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service.
In our churches, it is often the unsung volunteers in the background who are the backbone of everything that gets done; everything would fall apart without them. In the same way, the Holy Spirit is often the overlooked member of the Godhead, shifting focus onto the Son while quietly fulfilling essential ministries in the church. “The Spirit glorifies the Son,” Jesus says in John 16:14, and many Evangelicals are therefore wary of movements that overemphasize the spirit for his own sake, yet often go too far and almost exclude Holy Spirit. For this reason, Francis Chan calls his book on Holy Spirit, “The Forgotten God.”
Who is Holy Spirit? The Spirit is not merely a force or the radiant energy of God, but a divine person, who can be lied to, grieved, blasphemed, resisted, or yielded to. When Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit’s coming in John 14:16, he described the Spirit as another comforter, who would come to our aid after Jesus returned to the Father, using language suggestive of personhood. Indeed, Romans 8:26 records that Holy Spirit prays for us with groans inexpressible and directs us as to what we should pray. Holy Spirit speaks his wisdom and his will to the church, as especially evidenced at the conclusion of each of the seven letters of Revelation 2-3: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches!”
What Does Holy Spirit Do?
1. Regenerates Us in Faith: Holy Spirit convicts and regenerates sinners. While this statement in its ambiguous form is essential, it is also a point of controversy among Calvinists, who suppose that regeneration precedes faith and Arminians, who suppose that regeneration follows faith. Our statement of faith allows for both camps within our fellowship. Both camps agree that faith and regeneration are essential to our salvation; they disagree over the order. It may be that this controversy can be resolved by simply removing temporal language. Indeed, many Calvinists themselves point out that regeneration is logically prior to faith, but not temporally prior; that is, the faith-trusting and the regenerating occur simultaneously as God grants the gift of faith to the penitent person. Personally, I believe that God calls the unbeliever to himself through non-coercive means until that person reaches a point where a decision must be made of whether to respond in faith to God’s revelation or reject it. At that moment God grants the elect to respond in faith.
2. Baptizes us Into God’s Family: Our statement also speaks to two immediate works of the Spirit that are accomplished upon regeneration: baptism (signifying union with Christ) and adoption. Again, although temporal language is missing from our statement, I believe that both of these can be demonstrated to occur at the moment of salvation. Holy Spirit is called the “Spirit of adoption” in Romans 8:15, bearing witness with us that we indeed have become regenerated children of God. Similarly, Ephesians 1:13 teaches that the baptism of the Holy Spirit takes place at the moment of regeneration when having “heard the Word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation, and believed on him” the believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit. I would therefore reject a post-conversion, secondary act in which a believer “receives” or is “baptized” in the Spirit. What some believers refer to when they speak of the “baptism of the spirit” seems to me to be more akin to what Bible (particularly passages in Luke/Acts) refers to as being filled with the spirit, or even to receiving a spirit manifestation of the Spirit, to use the language of Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:7.
3. Bears Fruit: A person who has been baptized by the Spirit of adoption will ultimately grow in their dependence on the Spirit producing fruit of love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Galatians 5:16 urges believers to live by the spirit and so display such fruit. I believe the Holy Spirit is effectual, so that a true believer will in fact demonstrate some sort of maturation throughout their Christian life.
4. Empowers Us For Ministry: To be filled with the spirit is to be completely yielded to the Spirit, resulting in boldness and supernatural empowerment for ministry. One of the constant refrains in Luke/Acts is “they were filled with the Spirit and they spoke”. In regards to the spirit’s empowerment for ministry, there is a lot of confusion over spiritual gifts in today’s church. People are often confused with the difference between natural abilities, cultivated talents, opportunities of service, and spiritual gifts. A careful study of the key passages referring to spiritual gifts (charismata) reveals a broad perspective of the Spirit’s giftings. In Ephesians 4:11-12, the gifts are the people called to specific roles in building up the church. In Romans 12:6-8, the gifts listed (with the exception of prophecy) are all natural abilities or cultivated talents that the believers are being enjoined to use in the building up of the church. In I Corinthians 12:4-6, Paul refers to gifts, service, and activities as all together constituting the charismata of the Holy Spirit. In short, the believer is to view everything they have as a gracious gift from the Lord to build up the church, every natural ability, cultivated skill, personality trait, opportunity for service, and roles assumed.
At times, however, the Holy Spirit does empower or enable a Christian in a supernatural way, so that he is able to meet a ministry need that could not be otherwise met. I believe this is what Paul is referring to in I Corinthians 12:7 when he speaks of manifestations (phanerosis) of the Spirit. The word “manifestations” means, “making something clear for everyone to see”. These are “wow” manifestations – the Holy Spirit showing up in a way that everyone can see, to meet a ministry need that couldn’t be otherwise met. The manifestations of the spirit listed in I Corinthians 12 include things like healings, prophetic utterances, working of miracles, discernment of spirits, and words of wisdom and knowledge, the speaking and interpretation of unknown languages, and supernatural faith. These supernatural manifestations are for meeting ministry needs that cannot otherwise be met and are therefore still necessary for today.
What does this look like? Acts 3-4.
3:1: Peter and John are involved in ministry – using their gifts to serve the body. They are going to up to pray, and we know from earlier in Acts that they often taught at the temple grounds. This is their “normal ministry”. We know them as men of character – evidencing the fruit of the Spirit. We know them as men of boldness exercising their gifts while being filled with the Spirit.
3:7: What boldness! This is what I’m talking about when I say a manifestation of the Spirit. Holy Spirit meets a ministry need that couldn’t otherwise be met, working in concert with the believers faith to the glory of Jesus.
3:12: Peter uses the opportunity to preach the gospel of Jesus: God sent Jesus, you killed him, repent and believe on him for the forgiveness of your sins.
Couple thousand people believe, but the religious leaders have Peter and John arrested.
Acts 4:18: What will they do.
How do I experience the filling of the Holy Spirit?
• Believe in Jesus to receive the Baptism of the Spirit
• Live the day-to-day walk to grow in the fruit of the Spirit.
• Step out in faith and boldness to be filled with the Spirit.
We are not filled, for we do not take risks with our faith.
“Moneyball” illustration: Do you believe enough to take risks?
• Prayer walk.
• Campus Ministry.
• Workplace Bible Study.
• Open up your home for your neighbors.
• We can support you as a church, but be spontaneous!