The Holy Spirit Today
Posted on 04/06/2008 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** greeting ***
*** invitation to stand ***
*** prayer ***
John: I am asking you pray for my eyesight in my right eye be restored. According to the Dr., I have had a stroke in it. He only gave me hope of recovering to "functional vision." I know my Father can heal it to perfections. Please join with me in agreement for that to happen. Thank you and God bless you.
John316: Pray that God will help me as I am having problems with money. I am a Missionary in Costa Rica studying Spanish.
*** recurring requests ***
*** general prayer for unspokens and for service ***
*** prayer for blessing upon offering, that it bear much fruit ***
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates, and give as the Lord leads you.
*** invitation to click the pulpit for a notecard and to worship ***
I LOVE TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE
I love to be in Your presence
With Your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
Lift my hands and raise my voice
You set my feet to dancing
You fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice
TAKE ME IN
Take me past the outer courts
Into the Holy Place
Past the brazen altar
Lord I want to see your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
And the Priests who sing your praise
I hunger and thirst for your righteousness
And it's only found one place
Take me into the holy of holies
Take me in by the blood of the lamb
Take me into the holy of holies
Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am
I LOVE YOU LORD
I love you Lord
and I lift my voice
To worship you
O my soul, rejoice!
Take joy, my King
in what you hear
May it be a sweet, sweet sound
in your ear
*** transition from musical worship to worshiping through the Word ***
Every time we meet, every time we pray, every time we worship, and every time we open the Holy Scriptures, we mention the Holy Spirit.
This is the same Holy Spirit who hovered over the face of the waters in Genesis 1:2.
This is the same Holy Spirit who David beseached the Lord to not remove from him after he had sinned.
This is the same Holy Spirit who gave Sampson his great strength to defeat the enemies of God's people.
This is the same Holy Spirit who rested upon the seventy elders and caused them to prophecy.
This is the same Holy Spirit prophecied about in the coming Messiah in Isaiah 11:1-3, "There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD."
This is the same Holy Spirit who came to Mary and caused her, a virgin, to conceive.
This is the same Holy Spirit who filled John the Baptist in his mother's womb when the unborn Messiah was nigh.
This is the same Holy Spirit who descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove when he was baptised in water.
This is the same Holy Spirit who gave Jesus the words to speak and the power to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, to heal deaf ears, those eaten up with leperacy, to cause those who could not walk to leap up and dance, and to call those in the tomb to come back to life.
This is the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus back to life after he had been dead for three days.
This is the same Holy Spirit who, after rising from the dead, Jesus promised to send to those who believed in and sought after him.
And this is the same Holy Spirit who filled those waiting in the upper chamber so that they prophecied and sparked a great harvest, and who filled believers throughout the rest of the New Testament so that they prophecied, spoke in other and unknown tongues, healed the sick, and even raised the dead back to life.
And then the book of Revelation comes to an end. All truth necessary to find salvation through Jesus, to live a Godly life, to overcome sin, to please God in all things, and to bring the lost into the Kingdom of God, was recorded upon scrolls, accurately and meticulously copied, and miraculously preserved from deviation in content or meaning more than any other set of documents throughout history; and now it is available in thousands of languages and has made its way into the hands of people from almost every nation, tongue, and tribe.
And sometimes we seem to believe that just as the words of the poets, prophets, and apostles were solidified forever unchanging, so to the Holy Spirit was crystalized into patterns of ink on ancient scrolls.
But we know that the Holy Spirit is sent to comfort us, to guide us into truth, to bring to our rememberance the words of God, and to produce within us the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
And the question I'd like for us to address today is this: How does the Holy Spirit move today, are the gifts of the Spirit dead and gone, and how does the Holy Spirit wish to move in us today?
To determine how the Holy Spirit is active in the world today according to Scripture, it's important to ask and understand two things:
1. How was the Holy Spirit active when last mentioned in Scripture, and
2. Does Scripture say anything about that activity changing
Let's take these one at a time. First, let's look at how the Holy Spirit was active in the early church as recorded in the pages of Scripture.
In Acts, we read about the early days of the post-ascention Church. They are gearing up to move forward. They have chosen, after prayer, someone to replace Judas Iscariot.
They are gathered together obeying Jesus' words to wait for the promised Holy Spirit so they will be endued with power from on high, becoming witnesses for Jesus abroad.
And we pick up this story in Acts chapter two, beginning with verse one.
1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
So here they were, not knowing what to expect when the Holy Spirit came. Then they began to hear a sound from heaven like a mighty rushing wind. It wasn't a howling, wispy wind. It wasn't a lively wind. It wasn't even just a strong wind. It was a mighty rushing wind, powerful and alive, and it was coming down from heaven. And it filled the place where they were.
God got their attention. And as if the wind weren't enough, tongues of fire appeared, and sat upon each one of them. Now the introduction was complete. God not only got their attention, he made it clear that whatever preconceived notions they might have had about the Holy Spirit were useless, and they should expect the unexpected.
And it says they were "all filled with the Holy Spirit." Not some of them, not even most of them, but ALL of them were FILLED with the Holy Spirit. And they began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
So in the same sentence, all of them are filled with the Holy Spirit, and they (who? they who were filled with the Holy Spirit, all of them) began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now in this case, at least some of the tongues were actual human languages, for we see in the next few verses that people in the city, hearing the racket these crazy Pentecostals were making, came to see what the ruckus was all about. And it says they heard them speaking in their native tongues, those who should not have been (and indeed were not) able to speak those languages they were now fluently speaking. And they were speaking about the great works of God.
It's been said that the purpose for this was to quickly spread the Gospel in those early days. And yet this brings up two questions:
1. Has the urgency to save the lost decreased in God's mind since then? and
2. Why did Paul later write that when we pray in the Spirit, we are speaking mysteries to God?
And as if these two questions aren't enough to dismiss that Biblically unfounded claim, we go on in Acts chapter two to hear Peter quoting a prophecy from the book of Joel:
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
21 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.
So first God says, "And it shall come to pass in the last days." It's worth noting that he does not say, "And it shall come to pass in the early days of my New Covenant," or "And it shall come to pass in the beginning of the age to come." Rather, God says, "And it shall come to pass (when?) in the LAST DAYS."
Let's read on and see what is going to happen in the last days. He says, "I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy."
So when God pours out his Spirit in the last days, men, women, boys, and girls, from the youth to the aged, will prophesy, see visions, and dream spiritual dreams.
But that's not all. God goes on to say, "I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
Now this sounds an aweful lot like the book of Revelation. This is speaking of a time yet to come, when the sun is darkened and the moon appears as blood, things that are yet to take place before the second coming of Christ.
So this time of which God is speaking through the prophet stretches out to a time yet to come. And then we read these words: "And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
If prophecies and visions and dreams have passed away, then we could reason that the time when calling on the name of the Lord results in Salvation has also come to an end. And yet we are given a timeline here. It begins in the Last Days, and ends with the Great and Awesome Day of the Lord.
While this is the clearest timeline in Scripture concerning the duration of the manifest gifts of the Spirit, many of us have heard parts of Corinthians used to contend these things have already come to an end.
Let's look at the passage most often quoted for this purpose in what we call the Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.
1 Corinthians 13:8-12
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
Now, those who use this passage to support the claim that such workings of the Holy Spirit ceased with the apostles argue that "the perfect" mentioned here is the New Testament. When the New Testament writings had been completed, the Holy Spirit stopped working through these ways and now moved completely through the New Testament writings.
And yet this passage goes on to say this in verse twelve: "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known."
So when "the perfect" comes, our knowledge will be just as complete as God's knowledge of us is complete -- his knowledge of us which includes the number of hairs on our head, the intimate details of every breath, and the movement of every atom at every moment of time.
I don't know about you, but I rather suspect our knowledge is closer to a dim glass than that of the all-knowing and all-wise God.
Rather, "when the perfect comes" sounds more like "the great and awesome day of the Lord." And just as whoever calls upon the name of the Lord can still be saved, and just as the sun has not been darkened and the moon turned to blood, and just as the great and awesome day of the Lord is yet to appear, so the Holy Spirit of God is still being poured out upon all flesh; sons and daughters are still prophesying, young men are still seeing visions, old men are still dreaming dreams, and those who seek after God and accept his filling with the Holy Spirit are still prophecying and speaking in tongues, and will continue to do so until the great and awesome day of the Lord.
Just briefly, I'd like to mention the types of tongues mentioned in Scripture. I've seen a lot of confusion about this topic, and have heard people claim that tongues are only to be used when there is an interpretation, or other similar ideas based on incomplete truth.
Indeed, Paul does teach that there should be an interpretation for something spoken in tongues. However, if we read this in context, we see that he is speaking of something spoken in tongues to the church, something which is a different type of tongues than those used in prayer.
Let's read about this in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5:
1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.
3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
So Paul is encouraging the church to seek the gift of prophecy. However, he also says that he wishes they all spoke with tongues. And he mentions some important things concerning a believer's prayer language.
First he says this: "he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries."
This couples with the Scripture in Romans 8:26 and 27 which states that we do not always know how to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us, and that this intercession is in accordance with God's will.
I can't tell you how many first-hand accounts I've heard from people I personally knew who told of times they woke up in the middle of the night or felt the need to stop what they were doing in the middle of the day and felt strongly impressed to start praying in tongues. Later they would find out that at that very time, a loved one was in very serious trouble and was miraculously delivered from disaster. Those who prayed had no way of knowing what was happening, but the Holy Spirit knew, and he prayed through them, speaking mysteries to God which were in complete agreement with his will. And lives were saved as a result.
I remember one such account in which the person awoke in the middle of the night and began praying fervently in tongues. They later read in the paper that on that night, a car had driven into a lake. The driver, who could not swim, was able to stand on top of their car, with only their head above water. Around the same time our person woke up and began to pray in tongues, someone came by, happened to see the person's head in the water, and also happened to be an expert swimmer.
You can refuse to accept that the Holy Spirit still works in the way he began during the first of these Last Days, but you can't know what the cost might be.
So praying in tongues is a way to pray in the perfect will of God, mysteries to God, and about people and things about which we have no way of knowing.
Then in verse four, we read, "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself." While Paul compares this with prophecy which edifies the whole church, he points out another important role of tongues -- edification of the believer.
Meeting together with other believers is vitally important. We should do so every time we can possibly do so. But while most of us can't do so every single day, every single one of us needs daily edification. So if you have accepted and received the gift of tongues, you not only can pray according the perfect will of God about things you can't know, but you will also receive spiritual edification. And these two uses of the gift of tongues are outside of the explination that tongues was only used to quickly spread the Gospel in the early days of the Church to those who spoke other languages.
Later in that same chapter, Paul states this: "If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful." Then he goes on to say, "So I will pray in the Spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also." The prayer language isn't given to us to replace praying with our mind. God wants us to seek after him with ALL of us -- our mind, our spirit, our emotions, and our bodies.
And this brings up another argument against the manifest moving of the Holy Spirit. Some argue that speaking in tongues, falling under the power of the Spirit, dancing, jumping, running, and shouting, and uncontrolled laughing or crying, are all just displays of emotion. But nowhere in Scripture do we read that God moves only through our intellect. Quite the contrary.
You see, the Holy Spirit brings us to life. Scripture says that "if that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in you, it will bring to life your mortal body."
The Spirit of God brings life into everything it touches that is surrendered to him. If you surrender your intellect to him, he will bring it to life. If you surrender your body to him, he will bring it to life. And if you surrender your emotions to him, he will bring them to life as well.
It's much more comfortable to not surrender our emotions. We become vulnerable, for example, when others see us cry. We don't want to appear foolish or unbalanced. We want to remain in control. I'm sure you agree with me that it could easily seem unGodly to surrender to someone or something that would cause you to start crying like a baby in front of everyone, or shouting, leaping, and running around like a crazy person having a vision of dancing prairie dogs.
And so we invent stories to restrict God into the past, or minimize the personal damage he might do to us by placing limits on the activity of the Spirit which are either invented or are based on partial references to Scripture.
In closing, let's read the words of Jesus found in Luke chapter eleven, verses nine through thirteen.
9 So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?
12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!
First, Jesus tells us to ask, seek, and knock. These words, in the original Greek, are words of continuation -- persistence. We are to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking. And then he paints a picture of a child asking his father for good things, and points out that any loving father isn't going to give him something worthless or bad, or something that would hurt him. Then he points out that if a fallen human father won't give useless or harmful things to his child, certainly God will give good things, the Holy Spirit, to his children who ask.
First of all, He's not going to give you something worthless. The Holy Spirit and the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit aren't like rocks instead of bread. They aren't of lesser value than Scripture. How can such an intimate interaction with God be of lesser value in our minds than the words of God? We should seek after both. The moving of the Holy Spirit in us is very beneficial, and it can save lives. It gives us a boldness to reach more people for Jesus, can season our words so we are more effective when we witness, and radiates from us so those around us are convicted of sin and convinced of their need for Jesus. And the Holy Spirit can pray through us about things of which we're unaware, in perfect agreement with the will of God, and can prophecy through us to others to edify the whole Church.
And second of all, He's not going to give you something that will hurt you. If we're humbled, that's a good thing. But he's not going to give us something evil. I've heard stories of people who started seeking after whatever God had for them and received the infilling of the Holy Spirit not even knowing what that might be. None of them were given something bad, even though their churches may not have agreed. And their experiences all held things in common. For one thing, they all spoke in an unknown tongue, even if they had heard little or nothing about such a thing. This is a common thread among every single Holy Spirit filling of which I've heard. But whether they knew what to expect or they were completely in the dark, God gave them only good things, things which drew them closer to him and which, in many cases, broke addictions and freed them from things that had them bound.
The first step is to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Just tell him right now that you accept his gift of Salvation and you give your life to him, and agree to let him change you and direct your life.
Even if you've already done this, maybe even many years ago, that doesn't necessarily mean you've already received the filling with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 19:1-6 we see this.
1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples
2 he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"
So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit."
3 And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John’s baptism."
4 Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus."
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
So these early believers were baptised into repentance. Paul baptised them in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then he went a step further. He laid his hands on them. And something happened. The Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
Here's another example from Acts 18:14-17:
14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,
15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
So in this second example, they had accepted the Gospel and were baptised in the name of Jesus. And yet they had not received the filling with the Holy Spirit. This was clearly a separate event, something in addition to the new birth. And something important for living the life and doing the things God intends.
Now I can't lay my hands on you. But my hands are just hands -- it's the filling with the Holy Spirit that you're seeking, and that comes from God. The people I mentioned before who knew nothing about the filling with the Spirit were alone when they were filled.
The most important thing is that you ask. You seek. You knock. And receive from God whatever he wants to give you.
I'm going to ask everyone to stand to your feet, and I'd like the ministry team to come to the front.
And as they come, I'd like to ask you today, have you been filled with the Holy Spirit? When it happens, you'll know. According to Biblical example, something will happen that doesn't happen in the course of your average day. In fact, something will happen that you've never experienced before.
And if you want more of God, if you want this filling with his Holy Spirit, or if you want a fresh filling, step out of your seats and come to the altar, and let's seek after God together, opening up to receive everything he delights in giving us.
The Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit are not dead and gone, but have been sent to us in these last days, from the beginning of this age until the great and awesome day of the Lord. There is a new level to which God wants to take us, as we are transformed from glory to glory. He wants to give you more power to overcome. He wants your prayer life to take on new depths. He wants your times of worship to take you into new heights of intimacy as you are taken into the very throne room of God. And he wants you to have the supernatural power to break through those things which are holding you back from fully walking the path he has set before you.
And those who have come to the front, or those who wish to come and receive from the Lord, including those who are listening on the website or podcast, lift up your hands to God in an act of surrendering to him and receiving from him. And let's pray together.
Lord God, we repent of anything in our lives that displeases you. We surrender these things to you, and ask you to take them out of our lives and give us the strength and the boldness to break down every idol and cast far away anything that would displease you and would keep us away from you.
Forgive us for these things. We leave them nailed to the cross, and purpose to never take them back.
We surrender ourselves to you, Jehovah God. Our minds, our bodies, our emotions -- they all belong to you. Have your way with us, no matter what that might mean.
And we surrender our pride to you, and our insistance on being in control and keeping our composure. We give you permission to bring every part of us to life, and to do what you want in and through us.
And now, Lord, we are asking you to confirm your Word with signs following, as you pour out your Holy Spirit upon us! We lift up our hands and receive from you, as we ask you to fill us anew, and fill us afresh with your Holy Spirit!
Now just begin to worship him. Some of you are already experiencing something. You may have the urge to speak words you don't recognize. Just open your mouth and let them come out. Just let God's Holy Spirit flow into and through you, as you are filled to overflowing.
And as we switch to the music stream, we'll play worshipful music. Just worship God in your own words. Seek after him. Keep on seeking after him. And he will pour out his Spirit upon you as he promised in his Word.
If you want someone to talk or pray with you, please instant message someone on the ministry team. Please carry on any conversations elsewhere to not disrupt this time of ministry, and you're all invited to meet us after this time at the alter in the room to your left for fellowship.