Biblestudy: What the Holy Spirit Does
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 29-Dec-18; 66 minutes
The Bible study I am going to give today is actually an old sermon that I have kind of revamped for this particular purpose. Because I find that among the questions that people have about, let us just call it deity, the divine nature, and whatnot, one of the things that most often confuses people what they do not quite have a grasp on, is the Holy Spirit. Obviously you know that out there they believe in the trinity and other people believe that there is just the one Being, and so they have trouble with the Holy Spirit and how it fits in, what it is.
I am not going to give a Bible study here on what the Holy Spirit is, per se, but I want to show what the Holy Spirit does and by doing that we can get a better grasp on the Holy Spirit itself.
Now, we have all heard of the very weird and disturbing and strange and actually sometimes pretty hilarious accounts of Pentecostals and other charismatics as they are "touched by the Spirit." You know, they do all kinds of things like fall back and are in a catatonic trance on the floor and they call that being "slain in the Spirit" or something like that. Speaking in tongues, obviously, handling snakes. By the way, did you hear about the guy about a month ago? One of the Pentecostal preachers who did snake handling in his performance and he ended up getting bitten quite badly and they just barely saved his life with some antivenom. But they do things like laughing hysterically for a long time, just peals of laughter. What I think is most amusing (I could sit there and watch it for days, I guess), is when they start doing animal sounds, honking like geese or clucking like a chicken or barking like a dog. Or even I have heard of roaring like lions.
Of course, you have the faith healers too that believe that spirits come upon them and they, like Ernest Angley or those types, that say, "Be healed!" and they fall back and supposedly are healed. Another one I really like are the ones who are "drunk in the spirit" and they stagger about and they slur their words and they say that all of this has come upon because of the Holy Spirit, all at the instigation of this divine power.
My question is this: Are these actions what God inspires in us through His Holy Spirit? According to Scripture, what will the Holy Spirit do for us? How will it act in us? Now, once we understand, by example in God's Word, how the Holy Spirit works, then we can have a better understanding of what it will inspire in us. Once we see from the Bible and all the examples there of what the Holy Spirit did in the past, we can have a pretty good understanding of what it will do for us now. And then if we do have the Spirit come upon us in a way that is inspiring us to do something, we can respond properly, or if it is an inspiration from another spirit, we can resist it.
Like I said, our surest and safest course is to follow what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit, what God Himself has inspired the writers of Scripture to include in the Bible what the Holy Spirit will do for us and in us. And from the examples we see in God's Word, we can then derive a few principles to guide us in our daily lives and working with the Holy Spirit.
Most of what we are going to study today is from the Old Testament. Hebrew, and the way that the Old Testament is put together, is much more descriptive in a way in its language and how it is conveyed rather than Greek. Greek tends to be a language of the mind, whereas Hebrew tends to be a very concrete language of the soil, of real actions and real activities, and it makes a difference. We get most of our theology and the philosophy of our religion, if you will, out of the New Testament, because it is there in Greek and Paul wrote in Greek, and we can see it in Greek because that is the way the language is structured for that sort of thing. Most of the great philosophers of the world spoke Greek (supposedly they are the greats), but Hebrew is a very natural, common, concrete language. And so we can see from those examples back in the Old Testament much more clearly by seeing it in action, as it were.
We are going to start at the very beginning because the first mention of the Holy Spirit actually is in the second verse of the whole Bible. So let us go back to Genesis 1. We are going to see some things about the Holy Spirit as God introduces this concept to us. You know that I am one of the ones who really like the principle of first mention or the law of first mention. (Charles uses it quite a bit as well when he speaks and writes.) But basically the law of first mention is that when the Bible first mentions, first uses a term, it colors how the term is used throughout the rest of Scripture. It provides a base or foundation for how we should understand it throughout the rest of Scripture. So here we have the first mention of the Holy Spirit and it is a good idea to see how it is used here.
Genesis 1:1-3 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God [here is the first mention] was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
What can we take from these half a verse or one and a half verses here, depending on how you want to split it up, about the Holy Spirit? I found that I could come up with three different things that we need as foundational understandings of the Holy Spirit and how it works.
The first thing that we find here is the actual wording that is used to describe God's Spirit, and it is simply "the Spirit of God." That is how the Holy Spirit is first introduced—the Spirit of God. Now notice it is not God the Spirit. That is how Catholics and Protestants and other Christians out there in the world think of it—God the Spirit. Now, it does not say that anywhere. In one place in John 4, it says God is a Spirit, but it does not call it God the Spirit. The one in I Corinthians 3 is the Spirit is Christ, or something along that line.
But here it is very precisely and grammatically stated. It is the Spirit of God. It is possessive, the possessive pronoun "of" is used. So it is not saying that this Spirit is God. It is saying this Spirit is possessed by God, it is owned by God. We use 'apostrophe s' in showing possession, we can say, translating this from the Hebrew, "and God's Spirit" because it says the same thing, that 'apostrophe s' means "is possessed by God" or whichever the subject of the sentence is. So the first thing that we need to understand is that God addresses this idea of person immediately. The Holy Spirit is not a person. It is part of, something possessed by God Himself. It is a part of God, but it is not its own person or personage, but it is possessed by Him. So that is the first point: He possesses it and He uses it.
The second thing is the description of the Spirit as hovering over the water, or the face of the waters. This is a very picturesque description, an illustration of the Spirit and its work. The word "hovering" in Hebrew is in itself a word picture of a bird hovering, a hovering bird. You could think of like a seagull hovering over the water at the ocean, where it just seems to to be there gently moving in the breeze to make sure it maintains its altitude and it is just hovering there over the waters. That is the idea you are supposed to get from it.
I think for us, most of us are landlubbers and we are from North America and other places where they have such things as hummingbirds. Hummingbirds, to me, is even a more picturesque idea because the word could also mean "fluttering" or "flitting" and that is exactly what a hummingbird does. You put a hummingbird at a feeder and it just flies there in place, beating its wings furiously, and darts here and there. And that is the idea you are supposed to get. This is not a static thing we are talking about.
The Spirit is active. It is always moving, always ready to move here, there, wherever. But the idea that God wants us to get out of this first mention of the Spirit is that His Spirit is poised to act, and it can act in a split second. It is powerful and ready to work. So the image it creates for us then is of constant activity and readiness to do whatever it is, readiness to act.
The third thing is what we can infer from verse 3. It is right after the description and mention of the Holy Spirit. It says, "God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light." These two verses go together, meaning you are supposed to infer from this that the Spirit was there. It is God's tool, it was waiting, ready to act, and then God spoke and it acted. And you see the immediate effect of the speaking. God said, "Let there be light" and the Spirit acted immediately and there was light. So what we understand from this little bit of a description, a little bit of action, is that the Spirit does not act, does not do any sort of creation, does not cause whatever it is to happen, until God speaks. It is totally under God's command and it will do only God's will. When God speaks, it goes into action. We understand, that as a possession of God, the Spirit is directed by Him and only by Him. We understand that it is a tool that is ready to be used and it only works on the juice that God supplies to it, if you will, if you want to know another kind of metaphor.
That is a lot to get out of just a couple verses, but it is important and foundational that that is how we understand the Holy Spirit. If we start there, any kind of idea of some sort of personality or whatever, never should come up. That it is a thing, if you will, that God uses. It is a part of God, yes, but it is not God itself, if you know what I mean, the distinction I am trying to make here. It is what God uses, and of course, He can give it to us for the very same things, to do the same things, to do God's will at His command.
We are going to slowly progress through a good bit of the Old Testament and start picking up examples here of God's Spirit. So, we are going to go to the end of Genesis, chapter 41, in the story of Joseph. The background here is that Joseph has been in prison. The butler and the baker of the Pharaoh have been in there and Joseph told the butler, "Hey, remember me when you come before Pharaoh, maybe I can get out of here." And of course the butler forgets, but Pharaoh does eventually have a dream, and ding! the light bulb goes off in the butler's head and he brings, then, Joseph before Pharaoh and of course he interprets the dream. Remember the dream was of the fat cows and lean cows, and the fat heads of corn and the lean heads, and nobody could make heads or tail of it. But hey, Joseph can, and so he interprets the dream and tells Pharaoh what he needs to do. He gives him a plan. I mean, that is going above and beyond. Not only does he do what was asked of him in interpreting the dream, but he says, "Hey, take this step, and this step, and this step, and you will make it through." And so what we have here is the aftermath of that Pharaoh's reaction.
Genesis 41:37-39 So the advice was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, "Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?" [notice again, it is the Spirit of God] Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you."
Pharaoh, whoever he was, whichever Pharaoh, it was an Egyptian, perhaps an Egyptian. We do not know about all the history there. He might have been a Hyksos or something like that, which was a Semitic Pharaoh, but he recognized God's Spirit in Joseph. He was astute enough to figure that out, that it was God's Spirit that was doing this. It was the divine hand working with Joseph and he sees that there is a difference between Joseph and other men, especially Joseph and his soothsayers that could not figure this out. There was obviously a difference there between Joseph and all his servants. He was just an outstanding individual and he attributes all of this to God's Spirit being in him. That that was what made the difference. And he particularly focuses on Joseph's discernment and wisdom. That Joseph made himself different and separate because his discernment and wisdom stood out as being clearly superior to other men. He also realized that it was the Holy Spirit that made him so discerning and wise. He saw the connection—God and Spirit and Joseph, and what he said.
Just so we are clear, discernment is the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. He was able to take all the clues and put them together and make something clear. So it tends to stress accuracy. Wisdom, on the other hand, is the quality of deep understanding and sound judgment leading to proper actions. And here it was shown in his advice to Pharaoh about what should be done in order to save the nation. The Bible throughout looks at wisdom, or emphasizes wisdom, as the ability to make right and good decisions and then carry them through for following a godly and prudent course of action.
So from this example of Joseph, we can see two things: that the Holy Spirit sets a person apart from his fellows, from anybody else. A person who has God's Spirit is different from other people. The second thing is that it promotes deep understanding and wise action. It does not create simpletons and fools. That is anathema to God and to the power of God. He is looking for wise, prudent, discerning people, and He will make them, if they start out as fools and base and low, like we see in at the end of I Corinthians 1.
Who was the epitome of this? Not Joseph, who was just the type, but Jesus Christ. Let us go to Isaiah the 11th chapter and we will see some of the same qualities or characteristics in a prophecy of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 11:1-2 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 [Again notice how it is called there.] 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.
It not only talks about the same things that Pharaoh saw in Joseph, but it also adds a few more like counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord. These are all things that the Holy Spirit in a person will work to produce. So if you want these qualities, if you want to be known as a wise and knowledgeable and God-fearing person, then you work with the Holy Spirit and it will produce these things through God's guidance and direction, just as it did with Christ, who was the wisest, most discerning, most knowledgeable, most mighty, most God-fearing person that has ever lived. If you want to be like Christ, be like Joseph, and many other examples of course in the New and Old Testaments where the Spirit of God worked with them to produce these same things.
Let us go back to Exodus the 31st chapter. We will see another example of how the Holy Spirit works. This is in the time when Moses has been instructed to construct the Tabernacle and Moses of course could not do this himself. There were a couple million people that he could rely on to do this, but there were certain ones that were picked out to help him with this, to kind of be the ramrod, the foreman on all of this. So here we have the example of Bezalel.
Exodus 31:1-5 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship [Why?], to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship."
Here we have another example of the Spirit of God coming upon a person and it endowed him with all kinds of skills and talents and character traits that were necessary in order to do the work. The work of God at this particular time was to build a tabernacle for the worship of God. And so God gave the Spirit to Bezalel. It was not just a thing where he grew in character traits, but he grew in skills and talents and abilities too. It was not just mental or emotional or character, it was also in doing actual physical things. Using physical talents and skills.
Now, God's work as a whole is a very broad subject. If you go through the Bible, you will find God's work being very different things depending on the individual and the time and whatnot. For Noah, it was building an ark. That was the work of God at the time. For Moses, it was bringing them out of Egypt and many other things. For Joshua, it was taking them into the Land of Promise. For the prophets, it was warning, and for the apostles, it was preaching the gospel. For a minister, it is teaching and serving and being an example. For all of us, no matter what the time, it is growing in grace and knowledge and preparing for the Kingdom of God. We could go through I Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 and a lot of other passages that speak about the spiritual gifts that God gives the church for a particular work, for a particular service.
That is what is happening here with Bezalel. He was given specific talents and traits that he would need to do the work of God.
So it is very easy to see that God will do this for us as well, whatever the work He has given us to do. It could be as simple as praying for one another, but He will give you the Spirit and help to make your prayers work, to make your prayers good. It could be sending cards to people. He will help you with that. It does not matter how small or how big the work is. God's Spirit, given to us by Him, will give us what we need to do it, and we do not need to doubt that. I mean, if you are making your encouragement cards by hand, He will give you the skills to do good ones that would be praiseworthy and helpful. Whatever it is, it does not matter. Whatever the work is that you have been given to do, He will give you the gifts and the abilities to accomplish it and finish it totally.
We are going to look at another one in Numbers the 24th chapter. This is in the section of the story of Balaam and Balak. You remember Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel and Balaam was a sorcerer. He was not a true prophet of God, but God used him. Just as well as He used the donkey to warn Balaam, He used Balaam to give a prophecy, and they are right here in God's Word for us to read.
Numbers 24:1 Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times, to seek to use sorcery, but he set his face toward the wilderness.
The idea here is something finally went through this thick skull of Balaam and he decided he was not going to resist God like he had before, and he was going to allow God to use him, if you will. And so when it says that he set his face toward the wilderness, what it means is he turned toward Israel, because Israel was in the wilderness. So he turned to address them, if you will, rather than turning his back on them like Balak wanted him to do. He was, in a sense, cooperating, starting to cooperate with God here in a minor way.
Numbers 24:2-5 And Balaam raised his eyes, and saw Israel encamped according to their tribes; and the Spirit of God came upon him [it is at that point, when he saw Israel, that the Spirit of God came upon him]. Then he took up his oracle and said: "The utterance of Balaam, the son of Beor, the utterance of the man whose eyes are opened, the utterance of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, who falls down with eyes wide open: How lovely are your tents, O Jacob! Your dwellings, O Israel!"
God is doing something really strange here by giving His Spirit to this pagan sorcerer to give a prophecy. Now, what did the Holy Spirit do in him? Well, he mentions it actually twice or three times here, at least in two different ways. But what it did, what he says here: It opened his eyes. He says that twice. It also says that he hears the word of the Lord. So it also opened his ears. But what did it open his ears to? What did it open his eyes to? Well, we would say, the truth. It opened his eyes to the truth. I like to look at a little bit differently. It opened his eyes to reality, which is slightly different, along the same lines, but slightly different.
We need to see this in context here. See, his idea of Israel was what Balak had told him. Balak had told him that Israel was this terrible nation that was coming to kill all the Moabites, and he needed Balaam to curse Israel so they would not be able to do this. Israel was the enemy. Israel was terrible. Israel was ugly. Israel was doing all these things that were against the Canaanite peoples (and here, the Moabite people), and he turned toward Israel. God gave him the Spirit and what did he see? He saw Israel as beautiful.
Now, who saw Israel as beautiful? God did, they were His children. It says here, "How lovely are your tents and your dwellings, O Israel!" He, by the Spirit of God, looked through God's eyes at these terrible Israelites and realized that they were a blessed and wonderful people. He saw reality by the Spirit of God.
So, we can understand that what the Holy Spirit does is it reveals the truth to a person. It gives them a vision of reality. It helps them to see things as God sees them rather than as we, as enemies of God, would normally see them. If you want to use another metaphor, the Holy Spirit removes the blinders that Satan's deceptions, his influence has clamped on the whole world. In another place the metaphor is in Paul's conversion—it took the scales off his eyes and he was able to see. That is what the Holy Spirit does. It opens our eyes, opens our minds to things beyond what we were able to see before.
To show you just one example of that, let us go to II Kings 6. I will give you the background here as well because we are just going to take a few verses out of here. But the background here is this is about the northern tribes of Israel and at the time Elisha was the prophet, he was the man of God, and the king of Syria was trying his hardest to conquer Israel. But what would happen was, he would come up with this great secret plan with his generals, and they said, "We will go to this place and we will ambush the Israelites and we will win a great victory." And whenever they arrived at that place, the army of Israel was already there and they were ready for the trap, and the Syrians would lose. This happened time and time again and the Syrian king was getting quite upset about this and it was told to him that it was Elisha the prophet that kept telling the Israelites and the kings and his general where the Syrians were going to be. And so he said, "Ah ha, we need to capture and get rid of this prophet. If we get rid of the prophet with all his foresight about what is going to happen, then we will be able to surprise the Israelites and take them over."
II Kings 6:13-17 So he said [this is the Syrian king], "Go and see where he is [that is the prophet of God, Elisha], that I may send and get him." [So he wants at least to capture him, if not kill him.] And it was told him, saying, "Surely he is in Dothan." Therefore he [the Syrian king] sent horses and chariots and a great army there [trying to get one guy, but he sends a very major force to do this], and they came by night and surrounded the city [of Dothan]. And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" [You can see him kind of running around. "We're going to be captured, we are going to be killed. This is the end."] So he [Elisha] answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." [The servant of the man of God could not see this. He needed something to help him see more clearly so he could understand what the man of God, Elisha, was saying.] And Elisha prayed, and said, "Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
The young man, the servant of Elisha, finally could perceive things as God saw them, as Elisha the man of God saw them. It is interesting to think that Elisha may not have seen them either, but he knew they were there. He knew because he had faith in God and His protective abilities, and he said, "God, let him have the same kind of faith I do. Let him see these things actually with his eyes." And that is what God did—He opened his eyes and he saw that there were many "more with us" than those who are against us. And we could go back and see a wonderful story here about what happened after this. But if you know, they blinded actually the whole Syrian army and led them into Samaria, where the Israelite king and his army captured the Syrian army and Israel had peace for a while.
But this is this is what the Holy Spirit does. It opens our minds, opens our eyes, opens our ears to what is really going on and we are able then to pursue what is good and do what we need to do because we see clearly what God wants to do.
Let us go back to Deuteronomy. We are making our way through these things. This is chapter 34. We will just read one verse. The background here is that Moses has died and Joshua has been chosen to succeed him.
Deuteronomy 34:9 Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.
So we see here that the Holy Spirit is instrumental in ordination or in setting apart for special use. This is not just in the case of somebody's ordination to like being a judge as a leader of Israel like Joshua was. It is also used in, obviously, an ordination to ministry. If you want a verse for that, Acts 2:28 talks about how the people, the elders there at Ephesus, were appointed, and through the Holy Spirit they were chosen for the job of being an elder. But one that a lot of people do not think about is that you are ordained at baptism. You have hands laid on you and the Holy Spirit given you to separate you from the world, to make you a child of God.
Let us go to Acts the 8th chapter and we will see this plainly shown there. This is in that section about Simon Magus and him wanting to buy the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:14-17 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He [it] had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
And then of course is the story about Simon seeing this and wanting to buy it.
We have here an ordination to eternal life. That phrase is used in other places in Scripture. We could also go to Romans 8:14-17 where it says something very similar about our being ordained, set apart, and shown to be different. Made very sons and daughters of God, and heirs of all things, by His Spirit. That is what makes us Christians. It is the Spirit of God in us that is a determining factor. Some people may know certain things, but if they do not have the Spirit of God, they are not His, they are not Christ's. They have got to have the same Spirit and have the relationship that that Spirit allows with Jesus Christ. If you want to jot this down, I Corinthians 6:11, where it says that we are washed, we are sanctified, and we are justified in the name of Jesus and by God's Spirit being given to us. So this is all part of the ordination process—baptism and then laying on of hands together.
Here is another picturesque one. It is always neat to go to the back to the judges. Judges 14 in the life of Samson. We will see another way the Holy Spirit works. We will just read verses 5 and 6. The background here is that Samson wants to marry a Philistine girl living in Timnah. And so he takes things into his own hands.
Judges 14:5-6 So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah. Now to his surprise [and I bet it was], a young lion came roaring against him. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. [Maybe a couple of you have torn apart a young goat. I do not know if you have or not, but for Samson it was just like shredding paper or something. But he did this, not to a young goat, he did it to a young lion and in the prime of its strength.] But he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.
Just a picture here. We have Samson walking through the vineyards of Timnah and suddenly out of the blue, without any warning, this lion comes and starts attacking him and immediately the Spirit of God came on him and he kills the lion. No problem. I am not saying that if you go out in the mean streets of Chicago or someplace like that, that if some gangster comes out at you that you are going to be able to do something like this. That is not what it means. But it is a good illustration of what will happen. God's Spirit energizes and strengthens us so that we can meet the attack and overcome the enemy.
Now it will do this spiritually for us. This is a physical illustration that we can understand. It is something that is visceral. We can understand the fear and all that that Samson must have gone through seeing this. But we can also understand how he was given strength and ability to meet the attack. So this illustration in Judges 14 has a spiritual counterpart in the New Covenant, in our life as Christians. As the Holy Spirit strengthens us in our struggles, in our sudden trials that come upon us, and then we can meet the attack and continue to put on the new man to develop and overcome as needed.
Ephesians 3:14-17 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love. . .
But one of the things that the Holy Spirit supplies is strength. Inner strength, the ability to endure, the ability to move forward, the ability to resist what is not good. And we know from I Peter 5, we probably all know this scripture,
I Peter 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. [That sounds exactly like the young lion in Judges 14. But we are instructed here,] Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
So we know that we can have the strength of God to resist those things that Satan throws against us. You know, he often attacks us out of the vineyard, as it were, from the blind side, from cover, and God's Spirit empowers us to withstand and resist him, and even repel him. We have that ability through the Spirit. If we lacked God's Spirit in us, we would be goners. He is much stronger than we are. He has got much more experience, far more intelligence, far more nimble than we are. We could never face him one-on-one without the Spirit of God helping us.
Notice what Jesus did with the Spirit that was given to Him. Let us go back to Acts the 10th chapter. This is one of my favorite scriptures. It is kind of a touchstone for me whenever I think about what I should be doing as a Christian, as a minister.
Acts 10:38 [Peter is talking to the the family of Cornelius about Jesus. He is preaching the gospel to them and trying to describe what Jesus did.] How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power [like he did with Samson], who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
Jesus turned all that power and strength and ability outward toward helping people. Of course Jesus was special, obviously. He had the power to heal and to do all these things, but the example was there that He did not internalize all this stuff and use it all for Himself. He went about doing good. As much as the power was within Him to do, He helped. I mean, how many times do you go through the gospels and they are talking about thousands of people waiting to be to be healed of something or a demon cast out, and He would have compassion on them and be there till the last person, it seems like. He would do all those kinds of things and in principle, that is what we are supposed to do to with the Spirit of God in us. Not just to keep it for ourselves, but to use that strength that has been given to us to go on to perfection, true, but also to do good, to help others.
And Paul did the same thing. You might want to jot down Romans 15:18-19. It says that he used the Spirit of God in him both to perform signs and wonders, as well as to preach.
Let us go back and find another way that the Holy Spirit works in us. Back to II Chronicles 20. This is in the life and reign of Jehoshaphat and this is one of the times in his life where he and Judah were about to be totally overrun. It was a very bad time in Judah. It looked like they were goners for sure.
II Chronicles 20:1 It happened after this that the people of Moab [Moab keeps coming up.] with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat.
II Chronicles 20:3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
Now this tells you quite a bit about Jehoshaphat. He hears this bad news and immediately he seeks God and he sets up a fast. He gets everybody, the whole country, into it, all Judah, and between verses 4 and 12 is Judah getting together and Jehoshaphat's prayer asking for God's help.
II Chronicles 20:13-14 Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord. [That is uh the best place to be.] Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly.
We have just been given pretty much a full genealogy of this man. This is the only time in Scripture that he was ever mentioned. So, it gives you an indication of how God looked upon him. He was very pleased with this man Jahaziel.
II Chronicles 20:15-17 And he said, "Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's. Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you." And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.
When they got down to the Ascent of Ziz they saw that the armies had fought each other to the death and there was this great, massive plunder and Jehoshaphat sent his people in there and they gathered everything up and took it back to Jerusalem and had a big feast and sacrifice because of what God had done for them.
What had the Holy Spirit done when it came upon Jahaziel? That is the important part for this Bible study. He said just the right thing. When the Holy Spirit came upon Jahaziel, it gave him words of hope and encouragement to say to all of Judah and to Jehoshaphat in particular. Now we can maybe summarize what this particular point is by referring to Proverbs 25:11, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." The Holy Spirit, when it comes upon a person to speak God's Word, says good things, appropriate things, right things, helpful things.
Now we find that in prophecy, this is promised to us should we have any of these kind of difficulties and persecutions in our lives. Let us go to Matthew the 10th chapter. This is actually repeated four different times in the gospels by Jesus. It is something we need to remember. Something we need to have in our quiver, as it were, that we do not need to worry. God will give us the words when the time comes.
Matthew 1:19-20 "But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."
Just like as in Jahaziel.
Mark 13:11 [This is in the Olivet prophecy. Jesus says there] "But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak, but whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit."
Luke 12:11-12 "Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."
Luke 21:12-15 "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name's sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist."
So a mighty promise there that you do not need to worry about it. Keep your relationship strong with God. Make that link between you and him buzz with a relationship, with prayer and study and listening to God, and meditating and all those things, and when the time comes, He will give you the right words. Those apples of gold in settings of silver.
I could go back to Ezekiel 11:5 which I will just read it to you. It is kind of showing what God did here with with the prophets.
Ezekiel 11:5 Then the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me [this is Ezekiel], and said to me, "Speak!"
And he did. He spoke whatever word came to him. It was like he was a blank slate. God wrote upon him and he spoke what was written, if you will.
One more. This one is in the New Testament in II Corinthians 13. It is the last verse in that epistle. This is a verse that Trinitarians often go to, to say, "Ah ha! This proves the trinity." But it just shows you they do not understand the Holy Spirit.
II Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
If you have a New King James like mine (other versions may have something similar), my margin says that that word communion could also be translated as fellowship. So what we are being told here at the end of II Corinthians are very important things for us to remember. The grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God—those are very important things that we need to have always in the forefront of our minds. You know that we are here by grace and we are supposed to have the love of God and be showing it to all. And what makes all of this possible but the fellowship of the Holy Spirit— particularly, most importantly, the fellowship that we have with God the Father and Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. That is the link, the connection, that allows any kind of relationship to happen between the Father and us.
Subordinate to this, but pretty much as important, is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit between brethren. We heard often in the past about people going elsewhere for the Feast. They would go to Fiji or they go to some far-flung place, and they would find people with God's Spirit, and immediately feel welcome and a friendship with them. There was something about them that was the same, a commonality, and we could get along with those people without ever having known each other in the past because there is a fellowship through the Holy Spirit.
That is the commonality among all of us. It is, you know the old spiritual, "The Tie That Binds"? 'Blessed be the tie that binds.' Well, it is true. The Holy Spirit is the tie that binds, binds us to the Father, binds us to the Son, binds us to each other. If you will, we will just read I John 1, where John brings this out in his epistle because he wanted them to understand this idea here that we do have fellowship with God and with each other. And he had just gone over trying to prove to them that Jesus Christ was real. They had heard Him, they touched Him, they have been with Him. That He was not some phantom, He was a real person. And he repeats part of it here.
I John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us [Meaning so that we are all on the same page and we are all going forward together. But then he adds]; and truly our first fellowship [as it were] is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
And all of this has been made possible by that common link, the Holy Spirit.
We could go back to John 14 and talk about where Jesus talks about that I am not going to leave you orphans, I am going to come to you. My Father will also come to you and We will dwell in you and you in Us. And that is all this fellowship that the Holy Spirit allows, that Spirit of truth that is in us. It has so many functions and helps us tremendously in every facet of life.
I do not know if you were counting. I was. I have just given you eight points about what the Holy Spirit does and I want to reiterate them. I will try not to go too fast if you want to jot them down. But these are eight principles, or eight facts, if you will, about what the Holy Spirit does that we can recognize.
1) The Holy Spirit is constantly at work doing God's will.
2) The Holy Spirit gives wisdom and discernment, as well as, as we saw in Jesus, knowledge, counsel, and the fear of the Lord.
3) The Holy Spirit endows us with the strengths and abilities to do God's work, whatever it happens to be.
4) The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the truth, or helps us to see reality as God sees it.
5) The Holy Spirit sets us apart as holy to God. Special, justifying, and sanctifying us as His children.
6) The Holy Spirit gives us power to overcome our enemies, Satan, and even ourselves, especially ourselves.
7) The Holy Spirit inspires us to speak fitting words to provide encouragement, hope, truth, and a godly witness.
8) The Holy Spirit allows us to have fellowship with God with Christ and with fellow believers.
Now, before we close, I want to give a couple of overall principles in determining whether we are being inspired by God's Spirit or another spirit. I want to go back to Romans 5. Mr. Armstrong used to use this scripture quite a bit.
Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit [which] was given to us.
The idea here as an important overall principle is that the Holy Spirit pours out God's love in our hearts. We can cross reference if you want to with I Corinthians 13, the love chapter, which tells us how love is, how love works, what love does. And by putting these two ideas together, we can understand that God's Spirit will never inspire us to do something that is not an act of love. It will always inspire us to do something that is loving toward someone else. So this means we need to have a pretty good handle about love—agape love—so that we can understand that if we get inspired to do something, we can do it properly with our knowledge of what God's love is.
Also II Timothy 1:6-7, "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." So Paul expands out some of these basic points about the Holy Spirit. It is powerful, its acts are based in love, and it imparts a sound mind. Any act or words or whatever that the Holy Spirit inspires us to do, will not fall outside these bounds. It will be powerful, it will be loving, it will be sound minded, it will not promote fear.
In other words, the Spirit of God will not urge us to do anything stupid, crazy, foolish, or ultimately harmful to someone, but instead it will do things like give courage, strength, and sound reason, and it will act in love to do something helpful and good. And if you are being inspired to do something different than that, you better think again. Because it is probably not God's Spirit. I know it is not God's Spirit telling you to do that, but another spirit.
Hopefully now we understand a whole lot better how the Holy Spirit works, what the Holy Spirit does. And with that, we can not only do better, be better, but also, from the negative point of view, we can understand when an alien spirit is trying to tell us something else that we should not do.