The Power of the Holy Spirit

The following is an article I wrote for the Randolph Church of Christ where I serve as a Preacher and Minister.  I have changed a couple of things to be more palpable for this blog but the content of what I wrote is the same.

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In the Wednesday evening small church group we have started reading through the book of Acts.  The goal is to take notice of how the Holy Spirit empowers the church to live as witnesses of Jesus (cf. Acts 1.8).

What does it look like for a church to live by the power of the Holy Spirit, as opposed to its own human power?  That’s a great question without an easy answer.  One way to answer the question is to list things we see the church in Acts doing (e.g., prayer, preaching, ministry, etc…).  The problem is that churches can easily do such things without the power of the Spirit which is not only unbiblical but also spiritually unhealthy.  So we are back to the same question…what does it look like for a church to live by the power of the Holy Spirit?

Growing up, my father owned his own excavation company that contracted both residential and commercial work.  One day he received a call to see if he could finish digging a basement for someone who had already began the work himself.  As it turned out, the home-owner had spent a year digging a third of his basement by hand with a shovel.  With a small backhoe, it took my father about four hours to finish digging the basement.

So here was this man was trying to dig a basement on his own strength when a power greater than himself (a back-hoe) was readily available and could do what no human can do on their own.  I believe it is the same with the power of the Holy Spirit.  When a church relies on the Holy Spirit it discovers that it is capable of doing far more than it could ask or imagine, which was part of the Apostle Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (cf. Eph 3.20).

But here is the caveat.  When reading through the book of Acts, the empowerment of the church by Holy Spirit is accepted or rejected by the church.  The church can either be led by the Spirit or deny the Spirit and when the former happens, things can become a bit unpredictable and messy to say the least.  If you are wired like me, that is the scary part of seeking and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

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5 responses to “The Power of the Holy Spirit

  1. “When reading through the book of Acts, the empowerment of the church by Holy Spirit is accepted or rejected by the church. The church can either be led by the Spirit or deny the Spirit and when the former happens, things can become a bit unpredictable and messy to say the least. If you are wired like me, that is the scary part of seeking and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.”

    This leaves a lot to be said, or taught. Where do you draw the line, or how do you determine, when the Holy Spirit has been accepted or rejected? We do know that the Holy Spirit, although in us, can be grieved (Eph. 4:30). If we are God-Jesus-Spirit conscious in all things that we say and do, and praying unceasingly,–than I think that we can be pretty sure when we are grieving the Holy Spirit. I believe scriptually, and from my own personal experiences, and even by simply using plain common sense; that, when we are caught up in sin by our own free will, we are obviously grieving the Holy Spirit within us. How can the Holy Spirit help, empower, or inspire us if our line of communication is shut down? If He did manage to encourage or help us in our sin, would that not be a curse rather than a blessing? It is sin that separates us from God, and how empty and lonely it is to be left alone to one’s own fate and demise. I don’t know how people can get through this world without being a Christian.

    Yes, it is like that man working alone to his own devices. Jesus said to bring burdens that are heavy to him, and He will give us rest. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God,…” Certainly, a good preacher experiences the inspiration of God’s Word, through the Holy Spirit, in discovering and delivering his sermons. (Maybe a young preacher will rely, in the beginning, more heavily on his teachers or college professors to lead the way.) I believe the more we study God’s Word, and apply it, the more spiritual we become, and our love and understandings. God’s ways are not mans’ ways.

    I know that God’s Word talks to me, inspires and guides me, –through the Holy Spirit– if my heart is right and the line (vine) is open,(not clogged). Often helpful/good thoughts, and inspirations, come to me, not so much these days from books of men, but what just comes into to mind, or thoughts, by dwelling on God’s Word written down for us (me). (It really is ‘living word.’) I often find myself saying out loud, “Thank you Lord,” because I know that I am not that smart alone. In the past, such revelations seemed to come from books of men. It is quite a jolt when such things, understandings, wisdom, or whatever, just pop into your head! Then one realizes the true source from which those certain “good books” (of men) come from. With God’s help, I could write my own book! I have never seen anything “good” or “better” in the books of men, that I haven’t already come across in God’s Word. Often, the authors just don’t give God the credit. Of course, it is good to witness via such books, or sharing.

    Donald Cole, Dover NJ

    • You said, “This leaves a lot to be said, or taught. Where do you draw the line, or how do you determine, when the Holy Spirit has been accepted or rejected?”

      You are right, it does leave a lot to be taught and said. It was a bulletin article and not a book :-).

      Just kidding. You raise a great question about where to draw the line. I assume what you are asking is how do we determine if we are living by the power of the Holy Spirit or not. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any easy, black and white, answer to that question. It’s very similar to the question of determining whether we are living by faith or not. There is no easy answer.

      Obviously sinful living is contrary to the leading of the Holy Spirit and living by faith. So living in disobedience to God would certainly rule out being led by the power of the Holy Spirit and living by faith. It is noteworthy that the passage about grieving the Holy Spirit (Eph 4.30) comes right in the middle of a section where Paul is addressing Christian moral conduct. So I think it is suffice to say that if we are being led by the power of the Holy Spirit (as well as living by faith) then our lives will morally reflect God’s will.

      However, when we read through the book of Acts what seems fairly clear is that the Holy Spirit leads the disciples of Jesus in unexpected and surprising ways. For instance, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is a fulfillment of the Prophet Joel that sons and daughter’s will prophesy (Acts 2.17) and later in Acts we are told that Philips four daughter’s prophesied (Acts 21.9); in another instance, the church, having had Peter and John returned to them after being released from prison, prays to the point where the building they are meeting in is shaken before they are filled with more power from the Spirit to speak God’s word more boldly (Acts 4.31); Stephen is filled with the power of the Spirit to do great miraculous deeds (Acts 6.8) and preach the gospel in the face of a Jewish crowd so angered that they are reading to kill him…and do kill him (Acts 7.55) (what’s interesting about Stephen is that it shows the power of the Spirit to do miraculous deeds and preach with great power was not limited to just the “twelve” Apostles); in one of the most strangest instances, the Holy Spirit is credited the Apostle Paul and company from preaching (Acts 16.6).

      I am just citing these examples to show that the Holy Spirit works in ways that cannot be managed. Believers can be led by the Spirit or they can reject the Spirit but they will not manage or control the Spirit. And like I said, if you are wired like I am then that is a scary realization because I want to manage and control my life.

      Thanks for the comment and conversation!

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

  2. Add to those surprising (and uncomfortable!) directions the Spirit leads in Acts: to inspire preaching while being stoned to death … to lead an evangelist to baptize a traveling pilgrim from Africa … to accept Gentiles into fellowship … to close a door to Bithynia and open one to Macedonia … to lead Paul to Rome via imprisonment ….

    • Exactly Keith. It seems clear that the Holy Spirit does not lead in the same direction that human nature and conventional wisdom would (and perhaps, often do) leads us. Added to the scariness, for me personally, is trying to overcome a ‘functional-cessationist’ practice. I believe but need help in my unbelief.

  3. Receive much greetings in the Lord. We are happy to inform you that through
    internet we have come to know you and your Church which were so much
    interested about . After some days, we came together as a the church members
    and decided to contact you so that we can affiliate with you in spreading
    the word, and we wish you to come to Kenya to have meetings on matters
    related to the word of God so that we understand fully and grow up
    spiritually . Send us teaching materials if possible. We know God is able
    for you to extend.

    We are from Kenya in Western Kenya in Kisii region Gucha district. Our group
    is known as Kenya Christian Group Church which was started 3 years ago. We
    work among the widows and orphans who do not know what the future hold for
    them. We have 4 Christian groups within the region. We also keep 18
    orphans and needy children at our Center who needs your prayers.

    For this time we do not have much to say but we pray the Lord to open the
    doors for you to come to Kenya and share the ward.

    We await your response soon as the Lord allow.

    Be very much blessed with His love and warm kindness!

    In His love,
    Pst Jared.

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