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The Spirit of Life

by Winfield Bevins

The reason many churches are empty, dry, and void of spiritual life is because they have lost touch with the dynamic presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit played an important role in the life and ministry of the early church. It is impossible to understand the explosive growth of the New Testament church without understanding the important role of the Holy Spirit in the church. Sadly, for most of church history the Holy Spirit has been virtually overlooked. However, today many people are hungry to experience the Holy Spirit in their personal life.

God has given the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit to everyone who would believe. After 200 years, the Spirit continues to play an important role in the Christian life. Without Him, it is impossible for individuals or the church to experience personal renewal. The Holy Spirit has a distinct contribution to make in the postmodern world and the contemporary church. The following chapter is designed to reintroduce you to the Holy Spirit by looking at what the bible says about person and work of the Spirit.

Who is the Holy Spirit?

"Who is the Holy Spirit?" Christians have asked this question throughout the ages. There have been many different opinions as to the personal nature of the Holy Spirit. Some have wondered if the Spirit was a created being, while others believed that the Spirit was an energy force.

Most religions and cults deny the deity and existence of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, even some Christians believe that the Spirit is not fully divine. The writers of the Bible clearly emphasized the deity of the Holy Spirit. The Bible also shows that there is a unique relationship between the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. This interrelationship is often called the Trinity, which refers to three distinct divine Personalities, each wholly God, yet they are one essence. The doctrine of the Trinity has been defended by the Christian church for nearly two thousand years. It cannot be overestimated that the Holy Spirit is divine.

Many Christians also find it hard to understand the personal aspect of the Holy Spirit. Too often we think of the Him in a symbolic and impersonal manner. What we will find, however, is that the Holy Spirit is also a person. The personhood of the Spirit is not merely an abstract idea; rather it carries importance for our personal faith because the Spirit is the One who unites us with Christ.1 Jesus has many times referred to the personal nature of the Holy Spirit. Jesus called the Holy Spirit the "Paraclete," which means one called alongside. It is one who is an advocate, comforter, or counselor. The word Paraclete implies a distinct personality.

The Bible ascribes Him personal characteristics such as a will (Acts 13:1, 1 Cor. 12:11), mind (1 Cor. 2:10-11, Romans 8:27), and emotions (Eph. 4:30). The Bible also uses many different names, titles, and symbols to paint a portrait of the Holy Spirit, each representing what He does and who He is. For example, The Bible uses symbols such as Fire, Wind, Water, Wine, and a Dove.

The Holy Spirit Today

As we have seen, the Spirit has been moving in the lives of individuals since the world began. Great men and women of the faith have done extraordinary things when they where anointed by the power of the Holy Ghost. This leads us to the question, is the Holy Spirit still active today? Does He still anoint people who seek Him? The answer is yes! He wants to bring you into a deeper more intimate relationship with Him. He wants to use you more than you'll ever know. You can experience His fullness in your everyday life. Surrender your heart and your life to Him today. We will examine several ways that you can receive the Spirit to your everyday life.

He Will Guide You

Jesus said, "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit wants to give us wisdom, guidance, and direction in everything that we do. The Spirit becomes our guide, leading us in the way that we should go. You should never make a major decision in your life without asking for Him to lead you. I am confident that it is God's deepest desire that we seek Him in every area of our lives. The Spirit will lead you into the place that you should be. Are you facing an important life changing decision? Do you need to make a major financial investment? Don't be afraid to ask the Lord to show you what the best decision is. He will speak if we will ask for His help.

How do we know when He is speaking to us? There are several ways that we can hear the voice of God. The Spirit speaks through the Word of God. He uses the Bible to reveal His will. He also speaks through our circumstances. Be aware of what God is trying to tell you in your everyday life. Sometimes it's through the ordinary. Sometimes He speaks through a still small voice in prayer. If we will be quiet long enough to listen, he will speak. The Spirit might use somebody else to speak to you. It is not uncommon for the Lord to speak through somebody when you least expect it. Finally, God speaks through dreams, visions, and other gifts of the Spirit.

He Will Help Your Prayer Life

The Holy Spirit assists our prayer life. Many Christians find it difficult to pray for any extended period of time. We don't know exactly what to pray for or how to pray. We must begin to understand that He helps us when we pray. The Bible says that He helps us with our weakness and intercedes for us according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27). No longer do we have the excuse that we don't know what to pray because He helps us to pray according to God's will. There is no one better to teach us how to pray than the Holy Spirit because He knows what to pray for.

The Holy Spirit actually frees us to pray. Where He is there is liberty because He is the great Liberator. The Spirit also provides the weapons that we need to do spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:18). If we are going to win our spiritual battles we must have the Holy Spirit on our side. He is the weapon that we need to defeat the enemy. Lastly, He builds us up when we pray (Jude 20). Praying in the Holy Ghost will lift your heart and soul to heaven and give you the strength that you need to go on.

He Will Help You Read the Bible

The Holy Spirit is the Author of Scripture; therefore, the Word of God is inseparable from the Spirit of God. The Scriptures introduce the reader to the Holy Spirit and the Spirit applies the truths of the Word to the hearts of the reader. Scripture must be interpreted in the immediate context of personal prayer. Prayer is the medium that brings individuals into contact with the same Spirit who inspired the writers of the Bible. To hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying through the Word you must encounter God through prayer. Prayer is the means that we must use to understand the Word of God. Without the assistance of the Holy Spirit in prayer, our Bible study will be in vain. Let us ask for the Spirit to speak to us through the Word.

He will Empower You

The Bible promises over and over that if we seek God He will be found. The same is true if we seek His power. Paul said earnestly desire the gifts! Don't be ashamed to ask for the Holy Spirit to give you power to witness because it's a Bible promise. In Acts, the church prayed, "grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word." When they finished praying "they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness." (Acts 4:29-31). Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, "It is always right to seek the fullness of the Spirit--we are exhorted to do so."2 Ask the Lord for boldness, open your heart, and receive it. The Holy Spirit will give you power to be a witness for Him if you will ask.

To be empowered by the Spirit is synonymous with being filled with the Spirit, which is an experience in God where our spirit is totally immersed with and in the Holy Spirit. This is an on going experience throughout our life of faith. It is a radical transformation that takes place in the heart and soul of a believer. To be full of the Spirit is not that we have more of God; rather God has more of us! To be Spirit-filled is an empowerment to live the Christian life and to be witness for Jesus Christ. Craig Keener reminds us, "this power flows from an intimate and personal relationship with the Creator of the universe, who has come to live in us by the Holy Spirit."3

Jesus promises that we, "shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me" (Acts 1:8). He has promised the power all we have to do is ask for it. We are told in Luke 24:49 that we should tarry until we are endued with power from on high.

There are several direct results of being filled with the Spirit. It gives a Christian power to be a witness (Acts 1:8). It enhances a Christian's prayer life (1 Cor. 13:1; 14:2; Rom. 8). It prepares believers for gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12). The Spirit also produces holy living (Acts 2:41-47; Galatians 5:22,23). The Holy Spirit creates a greater hunger for God (Rom. 8:26). He also edifies and builds up the believer (1 Cor. 14:14, Jude 20). The Holy Spirit is a vital part of the Christian experience that every believer needs to grow in our relationship with God.

1 Stanley Grenz, Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994. 375.

2 David Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The Sovereign Spirit. Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1985. 48.

3 Craig Keener, Gift & Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001. 205.

Winfield Bevins, M.Div. (Church of God Theological Seminary), is lead pastor of Church of the Outer Banks, which he helped launch in 2005. Before coming to the Outer Banks he was a college instructor at Lee University in Tennessee for four years. He has published several books and bible studies as well as more than a dozen articles, which have appeared in magazines, newspapers, and academic journals. His church website is www.churchobx.com.

Prepared for the Pneuma Foundation website by KenJ