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The Work of the Holy Spirit
By David A. DePra
The fundamental purpose of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is that we BECOME WITNESSES for Jesus Christ. (see Acts 1) But this means more than merely an, "ability to witness." It means that we are DEFINED by our relationship to Christ, and wear it for others to see. This means we are defined, not by our whiteness, but by our dependence upon Christ, and by our unconditional devotion to Him. It means that we are in the process of being conformed to HIS image and likeness – which speaks of Christian character.
Our witness to Christ is defined by our DEPENDENCE upon Him, and by our DEVOTION to Him. In this day and age, however, all of that has somehow become lost. Rather than focus on what Jesus has done FOR us, many of us think that our witness to Christ is defined by what we do for HIM. This is backwards, and until we get it right, we are going to be hampered in the work the Holy Spirit wants to do in and through us.
Don’t misunderstand. Service for God is valid, and the spiritual gifts are real. That is not in question. The question is the focus. But in order to sort this thing out, let’s look at what Jesus said would be the ministry of the Holy Spirit. As we do, note the theme which emerges: The centrality of the Person of Jesus Christ – and His life being worked IN us, and manifested THROUGH us. THAT is what being a witness for Christ is all about.
1. Comes to dwell IN us.
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but ye know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you. (Jn 14:16-17)
2. To give us comfort.
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:18)
3. Teach us all things.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things. (John 14:26)
4. Bring things into our remembrance – or to make us mindful of the Truth.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name he shall … bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
5. Shall testify – bear witness to and make real – Jesus Christ.
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me: (John 15:26)
6. Shall guide us into all Truth.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth (John 16:13)
7. Shall show us things to come – make real God’s eternal purposes.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come…for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. (John 16:13)
8. Shall glorify – make central – the Person of Jesus Christ.
He shall glorify me. (John 16:14)
9. Take everything of Jesus Christ and make them real and living.
For he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you. (John 16:15)
10. Convict the world of unbelief (the sin), and show His righteousness and judgment.
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. (John 16:8-11)
The Bible also adds to this list the following functions of the Holy Spirit:
11. Gives a living internal witness of our relationship with God.
The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (Rom 8:16)
12. Distributes supernatural gifts according to the will of God.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (1 Cor. 12:4-11)
13. Makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Rom 8:25-27)
14. IS a down payment and seal of everything God has for us in Jesus Christ.
In whom you also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Eph 1:13-14)
15. Carries power, love, and sound mindedness.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7)
16. Carries FRUITS – if we allow Him to become manifest.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23)
17. Always exalts Jesus as Lord.
Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. (1 Cor. 12:3)
18. Manifests Jesus through human beings, not just through theological precepts.
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:2-3)
19. Is the means by which all Christians have fellowship with each other, and with God Himself.
For through Him (Jesus) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. (Eph 2:18)
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Cor 12:13)
20. Makes us HOLY unto God.
For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despises, despises not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit. (1 Thes. 4:7-8)
But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (2 Thes. 2:13)
The Centrality of Christ
This list of functions and purposes of the Holy Spirit carry one theme: The centrality of Jesus Christ – being worked IN us, and manifested THROUGH us. Do you see that? The Holy Spirit takes everything of Jesus Christ and makes Him real and functional – both IN US and THROUGH us. Thus, included in that is the on-going redemptive work INWARDLY in each individual, as well as the results of that work, as the Holy Spirit flows OUTWARD to others.
But if you were to try to find one word that would describe this work of the Holy Spirit, you would not have to look far. Just look at the name of this Person: HOLY Spirit. There you have it. The HOLY Spirit does a HOLY work. HOLINESS is the goal of the Holy Spirit – holiness in us and through us. Jesus in and through us.
But what does it mean to be made HOLY? Well, the word, "holy," in the Bible is the Greek word, "hagios." In the Biblical context, "hagios," means, "to be set apart for God’s use." Therefore, in the vernacular, we might say that, "to be holy," means TO BELONG TO GOD. It means to BELONG TO GOD – and thus, to grow to LOOK like it, and ACT like it.
If you will notice, we are right back to the idea of BECOMING A WITNESS to Jesus Christ, aren’t we? Yep. People who are witnesses to Jesus Christ are people who manifest the fact that they belong to Him. Again – they are DEFINED by their relationship to Him. Defined by the fact that they are dependent upon Him.
Not us, But Him
All too often when we talk about being witnesses to Christ, we emphasis our works, and our service. We get the idea that WE…WE…WE…are supposed to be such specimens of whiteness, that others will fall on their knees before Jesus because of OUR whiteness. They will be so impressed by our obedience, faith, and righteousness, that they will turn to Christ. Well, there is a place for some of this, of course. We are to obey God, and let our lights shine. But somehow in the mix, we have lost sight of what it really means to be a witness to Jesus Christ. We have gotten out of focus as to what it means to be DEFINED by our relationship to Him. In the final analysis, a real witness has little to do with US, but everything to do with Him.
We may not realize it, but if we think that OUR whiteness is what stands as a witness to Christ, we may be betraying the fact that we still think our standing before Christ depends on that whiteness. Why else would we present it to others as the witness they need? But if we see that we stand only because of Jesus, and do so in DEPENDENCE upon Him, then we are going to present, not our whiteness as our witness, but our DEPENDENCE. We will point to Christ as the One who is our all.
A witness to Jesus Christ is someone who, as stated, is DEFINED by their relationship to Christ. So what is our relationship to Christ? Is it based on what we do for God? On our own whiteness? It better not be. Our relationship to Christ needs to be based on what He has done for us, and upon the fact that we are totally dependent upon Him for all things.
Note that this means that people should see, not so much my wonderful faith, but my utter dependence upon HIS faithfulness. They should see, not my righteousness, but my devotion to HIM. In other words, yes, we ought to have good works, a good attitude, and a great example to others. But in the end, a witness never testifies to himself. He points to another, and tells the Truth about Him – both in words and deeds.
I am telling the Truth about Jesus Christ, and therefore, am a faithful witness to Him, if I show how faithful HE IS. I don’t do this by denying my failings. I proclaim His faithfulness DESPITE my failings. Contrast this to the mistaken notion that I am a good witness only by impressing others with my whiteness – even if I present my whiteness in an attempt to show what Jesus can do for a person. No. Again -- a true witness for Christ never says, "Look how faithful I am." Rather, he says, "Look at how faithful Jesus is."
"Belonging to God," i.e., to be set apart for God’s use – holiness – always carries with it a DEPENDENCE and DEVOTION. Always. If I am not dependent upon God, I am probably still using myself for my own purposes. And that certainly isn’t devotion. It is independence.
The Holy Spirit, not surprisingly, wants to do HOLY things. Jesus spoke about many of those holy things: To guide us into all Truth, to make Jesus central in every way. But when everything is said and done, HOLINESS – belonging to God – is shown by my DEPENDENCE upon Christ, and by my unconditional DEVOTION to Him. The Holy Spirit, and the manifestation of the spiritual gifts always tend toward making us dependent and devoted to the Person of Jesus Christ. And when lots of people are having that work done in them, then you have – what? You have Christian unity.
Christian unity is the result of a group of people being both DEPENDENT upon, and DEVOTED to, the same Person, Jesus Christ. That is the ONE MIND which God wants – everyone unified in the same spirit of holiness. Everyone, "belonging to," God, in the same purpose – that Jesus Christ be seen and glorified. *
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