(I asked Cheryl to help me with my ideas on the Holy Spirit. She was so clear about it, and her ideas so well thought out, it didn’t make any sense to not let her tell you herself – the following is from my wonderful, beautiful wife, and some thoughts of my own added in a few places – Rich)
John the Baptist says “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matt 3:11)
Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with your forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18)
When we came to Gateway church a few years ago, there was something different. You could feel God’s presence. His spirit was there and present among His people. I noticed in the bulletin where you take notes, it says, “What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?”
I thought, “I don’t know.” I talk to God. I talk to Jesus. But do I really talk to the Holy Spirit? Does the Spirit of God speak to me? How do I know if I’m filled with the Spirit or that I’ve been baptized into the Holy Spirit.
It just so happened that same year I read the bible through in 90 days twice! And what I read about was men and women of the bible living in power. Not their power, but power beyond themselves. The ability to do things they could never do on their own. They had supernatural wisdom and knowledge, the power to comfort, heal, prophesy things to come, cast out demons, to speak in other languages. This was normal to the early church experience. It was also true of many greats of the Old Testament like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David. The Holy Spirit worked in and through them.
When I would ask questions about this growing up the answer was always, “people don’t do that anymore. The spirit doesn’t work like that today.” When I asked this question at a Christian college Rich and I both went to, I got the same answer.
The bible says that God doesn’t change. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. So if God empowered people by the Holy Spirit before Christ and then during the early church, why on earth would I think that He wouldn’t do the same for His people now?
So I began to read and study the word. Here are few scriptures you must read – John chapters 14 and 15, The entire book of Acts, 1 Corinthians chapter 2, 12-14 and Romans 8 for starters.
It seems that when you talk about Baptism of the Holy Spirit, people immediately think about speaking in tongues. That when you are baptized in the Holy Spirit you are going to get all crazy and people will think you are weird. Although that is one gift of the spirit there’s so much more to it than that. The enemy is using lies (and possibly the misuse of the spirit’s gifts) to prevent so many Christians from knowing and experiencing the Holy Spirit.
So I began to study. I read God’s word. I read our pastor’s book, The God I Never Knew (by Pastor Robert Morris). I read Jack Hayford’s book, The Beauty of Spiritual Language. All books I recommend!
What I learned is the Holy Spirit is my advocate, my life line to the Father. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and teaches me truth about the Father, not just through His Word, but by speaking directly to me. God speaks to me through the Holy Spirit. I never knew prayer could really be a two-way conversation. That the God of the universe speaks to me. The Holy Spirit is my helper, comfort, friend, and intercedes on my behalf, even praying for me when I don’t know what to pray.
When you explain it like that – I WANT that! Don’t you?
I went to a class offered by Gateway on Baptism in the Holy Spirit. They went through a lot of the scriptures that I referenced. I knew that this was the one thing I had been missing my whole Christian life. At one point in the class, there was an invitation. It’s just that simple. The word says Jesus is the baptizer into the Holy Spirit. It’s His gift and all you have to do is ask. And I did.
For those of you wondering did I break out in tongues at that moment – No. Does it happen for some – yes.
All of a sudden I was able to read the Word with clear understanding. Scriptures that I never really understood became clear. I would be reminded of certain scriptures at the right time. When I was discouraged, I could feel the spirit comforting me. I began to hear the Spirit of God. Not like I’m crazy and now hearing voices. But words, phrases would come to mind. I would wake up before my alarm and feel happy, content, at peace, literally surrounded by His presence. Where the Presence of the Lord is there is JOY!
I had only felt that a few times during my 20+ years being a Christian. I had felt the Spirit, but only in small doses because I was quenching the Spirit.
Holding to the beliefs and doctrines of my youth, I wouldn’t allow His work in my life for so long. It’s even harder when our experience matches our doctrine. If I believe the Spirit doesn’t empower anymore, and my experience matches that well then it must be true. But what if it’s not true?What if I framed my entire Christian life on the lie that the Spirit doesn’t move in power anymore? Then what I end up with is a performance doctrine. Working out my own salvation on my own accord and my own strength. That’s in effect saying the cross wasn’t enough. And for years I said no to a free gift from Jesus! That was His promise to me – being empowered by the Spirit of God. Living and walking in absolute freedom.
Cheryl will post part 2 tomorrow – in the meantime, what is the Holy Spirit saying to you? What preconceived ideas about how God works and the presence of the Spirit in our lives do you need to let go of? If you ask God, the Holy Spirit will show his presence and his power in you!