Biblical Principles for Christian Maturity

John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D

Copyright 1996, John H. Stoll

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Chapter 13 - A Guide for Life - The Holy Spirit

At some point in the ministry of Christ, He began to instruct His Disciples concerning His death/burial/resurrection/ascension into heaven. He was their comforter, but now He would eventually leave them, and send "Another Comforter", whom He stated would be the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-26; 16:7-14).

The Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-17) to empower them to carry out Christ's commission that He had instructed them to do (Matt. 28:19,20; Mark 16:15). The work of the Holy Spirit would be to regenerate, baptize, fill, energize, empower, and give gifts & wisdom to all Christians. Thus, His ministry in the life of Christians today is to provide all these elements in order to bring eternal life to every Christian, and assist him to spiritual maturation. Then He helps every child of God to carry out the commission originally given to the Disciples to go into the world and let our light shine for Him.

I. The Personality and Work of the Holy Spirit - He is the third person of the Trinity, with all the distinctive marks of personality, and is called God (Acts 5:3,4). He is the author and interpreter of Scripture (II Peter 1:21; I Cor. 2:10-12).

In the Old Testament His ministry was not general on all Israelites, but on select people only (I Sam. 16:14), whereas in the New Testament the Holy Spirit indwells (i.e. baptizes) all believers at the moment of regeneration (Rom. 8:9; Eph. 1:13,4:30; I Cor. 6:19, 12:13).

His work is threefold in the life of the believer: 1) In the Past tense He has regenerated, baptized, indwelt, and sealed every Christian, when one has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Eph. 1:13). 2) Presently, He is infilling, imparting spiritual gifts, anoints, teaches, satisfies, witnesses, intercedes, protects, and produces fruit in the believer (I Cor. 6:19,20). 3) In the future He will raise and glorify the resurrected body of the saints (Rom. 8:11).

II. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit - The baptism of the Holy Spirit is God's divinely ordained way whereby the believer enters into that sphere of relationship to God, by the work of Christ through the Holy Spirit placing the believer into the family of God. The Christian is then said to be "In Christ" through the operation of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12:13). All believers who have exercised faith in the propitiatory work of Christ (Rom. 3:24,25) are baptized (i.e. placed into) by the Spirit at the moment of Salvation. The Greek word "Baptidzo" means to place into, so it is the operation of the Spirit placing the believer into the family of God. This is a once for all act, at the time of Salvation, and is common to every believer. One cannot become a Christian apart from the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The results are that: 1) It brings us into the family of God (II Cor. 5:17,21; Gal. 3:27); 2) It gives us access unto God Himself (Eph. 2:18); and 3) It identifies us with Christ in His death/resurrection (Rom. 6:2- 5).

III. The Infilling of the Holy Spirit - There is a Biblical command in Eph. 5:18 to be filled with the Spirit. The present tense in the Greek in this verse, shows that God wants us to be continually filled with the Spirit. This marks the difference between baptism, which is a once for all complete act (Eph. 2:22; 4:4-6,30; I Cor. 12:13; Rom. 8:9) and infilling, which is many acts (Eph.5:18)

Definition - to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to have Him fulfilling in us all that God intended Him to continually do in us, when God placed Him in us at salvation. It is not the Christian getting more of the Spirit, but the Spirit getting more of the Christian, by submission to His will for that one. In order for this to be accomplished, it is the Word filled life that contributes to the Spirit filled life. As the Christian meditates upon the truth of God's Word, and allows the Spirit to permeate that life, the person becomes more like Christ, which is what God desires. Compare Eph. 5:18 with Col. 3:16. In the Ephesian passage it commends to us to be filled with the Spirit. In the Colossian passage it substitutes, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly". The Spirit filled Christian is the Word filled Christian.

There are three scriptural conditions for the filling by the Holy Spirit.

1) I Thessalonians 5:19 - "Quench not the Spirit". That is, do not stifle or suppress the Spirit's will for us. We are constantly commended to yield to the Spirit's control (Rom. 6:13).

2) Ephesians 4:30 - "Grieve not the Spirit". That is by sinning. Quenching the Spirit will in turn lead to grieving the Spirit by sin, which in turn leads to loss of fellowship and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-24). The remedy for sin is confession (I John 1:9).

3) Galatians 5:16 - "Walk by the power of the Spirit". This means to continually walk by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which is a daily continuing act of the believer delivering one's self to the Holy Spirit's control. Failure to do so will result in the loss of spiritual power and failure in life.

The results of being filled with the Spirit are found in many passages of Scripture. Galatians 5:22-24 shows the fruit of the Spirit controlled life. This fruit is the evidence of a Holy Spirit re-characterized life. One does not have the fruit of the Spirit by wanting it, but by submission to the Spirit who changes the character, and the fruit is the result.

In John 16:12-15 and I Corinthians 2:9-14 we see that the Holy Spirit teaches the Spirit filled believer, to guide one into knowing the truth of God, and to give that one "Spiritual discernment", which the non- believer does not have. The Christian has God given insight to understand the Word of God. Though the non-believer is able to read the Bible, he is unable to comprehend it, due to the fact that it is "Spiritually discerned (I Cor. 2:14).

Romans 8:14 shows that the Holy Spirit gives guidance to the Christian. While the Bible provides the principles of the Christian life, it is the Holy Spirit who applies them specifically in the life of the Christian. Roman 8:16 shows the assurance one has of his salvation, through the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18-20 and Colossians 3:16 tells how the Christian is guided in true worship. Romans 8:26 directs one's prayer to God, in the proper way, by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 2:10 tells how the Spirit directs the believer's service to God. In I Corinthians 2:14-16 we note that only the Holy Spirit can give the Christian discernment between good and evil. All these elements work together to provide spiritual growth and fullness of life.

IV. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit - I Corinthians 12:4- 18 speaks of the "gifts" of the Holy Spirit to the Christian.

Though every believer possesses some divinely bestowed gift (Eph. 4:7), there is a diversity of gifts (Rom. 12:6). Christians are not all appointed to do the same thing. It is the Holy Spirit who distributes the talents/gifts to the Christian as He pleases, and this distribution is that which is best suited for every personality and character.

Each person has three basic gifts (Rom. 12;7,8). These are, helps that can be done to serve others, whatever they may be; giving, which may be services, not necessarily money; and thirdly, "showing mercy(i.e. to withhold judgment) with cheerfulness". Every child of God can commonly do these.

I Corinthians 12 outlines the gifts and how they are dispensed and utilized. The Apostle Paul uses the analogy of the physical body, like the body of believers. Just as the body is composed of many coordinated parts, each functioning as part of a unit, so the body of Christians, having diversity of talents, should function as one body of believers, coordinated together under the control of the Holy Spirit. In I Corinthians 12:31 we are exhorted to earnestly seek the best gifts that God has for us, and to exercise them well for His service (Note: I Tim.4:14).

Christian are not Spirit filled because they are active in service; they are active in service because they are Spirit filled (I Cor. 4:2).

In Ephesians 4:12-14 we note the purpose of the gifts. There are three: 1) For the maturing of the saints, 2) For the work of ministrations (i.e. helps), and 3) For the building up (edifying) of the body of Christ. In verses 13,14 we see the results: 1) To establish unity in the faith, 2) That Christians might become mature in Christ, 3) To be more Christ like, and 4) To become strong in the faith, not like naive children, so that the Christian is not carried away by false cults.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential to every Christian. For without Him, one could not become a believer, and only with His indwelling can one come to a full understanding and development as a Christian. This is God's ordained plan for each one of us.

How I praise thee precious Savior,
That thy love laid hold of me.
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me,
That I might thy channel be.

Jesus, fill now with thy Spirit,
Hearts that full surrender know;
That the streams of living water,
From our inner man may flow.

Channels only, blessed Master,
But with all thy wondrous power,
Flowing through us, though canst use us,
Every day and every hour.

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