BE RE-FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
WE NEED THE HOLY SPIRIT – WE WILL NEVER AGAIN BE LIMITED
When I was thinking about the question “Why do I need the Holy Spirit?” I felt very strongly the following come to me…and I’m going to risk saying that it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me…and maybe what He said to me might be helpful to you…
There are 2 reasons why I need the Holy Spirit present in my life:
Without Him I am – LONELY
Without Him I am – LIMITED
In this second of 2 linked sessions, I am going to focus on the second reason:
Without the Holy Spirit in my life, I will always be limited…
With the Holy Spirit I will never be limited again in what I can do for Him.
WITHOUT HIM I AM – LIMITED:
Chris sent me a message from one of his colleagues in MAF that directed me towards Exodus 31: 1-4. The context of this is that Moses was called up Mount Sinai to meet with God for 40 days. During that time God gave Moses specific instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle in which worship of the LORD would be offered…
Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 ‘See I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills – 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.
Right from the beginning we have been limited in what we can do. We are, after all, only human. Moses was given a humanly-impossible task to do – the construction of a Tabernacle in just the way that God wanted it. But God showed that there was no need for anxiety over this, because He was filling Bezalel with the Holy Spirit to ENABLE and EQUIP him to do the work that he was called to do.
Two points can be gained from this:
- Humanly speaking I must assume that Bezalel was gifted in all kinds of artistic creative ways (well…that’s certainly not my gifting!), but this was not enough – he needed the Holy Spirit to enable him to do what he had been called to do. Or…maybe his gifting in artistic “things” was given from the Holy Spirit from the very beginning – from within the womb. I just don’t know how this works…but this I do understand from this passage – Bezalel would have been limited in what he was able to do on the Tabernacle if it had not been for the filling of the Holy Spirit which enabled him – not just to make “stuff”, but with the wisdom and knowledge to do that “stuff”. It might be helpful to remember that old saying: “God does not call the equipped, He equips the called”…we need the Holy Spirit!
- The Holy Spirit enabled him to do practical, artistic, hands-on, works in a way that transcended his natural abilities. Too often we limit the Holy Spirit to only do “spiritual” works through us (prophecy, healings and miracles) – we see here that we need to widen our expectations of the Holy Spirit Power in our lives to a very practical level.
LIMITED BY THE “NATURAL” ORDER OF THINGS
The Enlightenment introduced the terms “natural” and “supernatural” – understanding was growing that conception, weather, health etc had scientifically explainable causes, natural “laws” – that God had set into motion = NATURAL; other events – such as healing and miracles – could not be explained by natural laws and were seen to be SUPERNATURAL occurrences directly brought about by God reaching down to man from Heaven.
There are things that I cannot do or know with my natural abilities. Without the Power of the Holy Spirit, I am limited as to the difference that I can make. God seeks to work through us SUPERNATURALLY by His Holy Spirit in us – and we call these the GIFTS of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12: 1-11 gives us a list of these Spiritual “Gifts” – some see these are exhaustive, others that these are representative and therefore could include many other things. Let’s have a look at them (and like in our first session we will be looking at the “broad strokes” here, rather than an “in-depth” study):
Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to dumb idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
VERSES 1-7: THE “STUFF” THAT THE SPIRIT DOES
- Paul does not want the Corinthians to be “uniformed” about the work of the Spirit. So, he explains in very simple terms this work…amazing it is to therefore think that 2000 years later it may be that the vast majority of Christians are still uninformed…this is the “weird stuff” that the “weird Christians” get involved in…you know, those “crazy charismatics” who raise their arms and shout out in strange languages. And what’s all this freaky prophecy stuff about anyway?
- And, of course, one problem is that so many have shelved this passage as being of no relevance today – “oh that was just stuff for the Early Church before the New Testament was written down…we don’t need it any more and it kinda stopped at the end of the 1st Century”. Did it? Every Christian century is filled with stories of miracles and healings and prophecies and – yes – even speaking in Tongues. Today millions of Christians round the world move in this “stuff” of the Holy Spirit. And where does it say that this “stuff” will stop? Those who think that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have ended cite reasons that really come from the next chapter – 1 Corinthians 13 – and particularly verse 10 which says:
but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
I’m sorry. I don’t buy it. What is “completeness”? Some say it is the “New Testament”…why?
“Teleios” the Greek word used here is seen by many scholars to point to man’s final destination in Heaven – when clearly we won’t need any of the supernatural “stuff” any more. It’s really a little much to take this one passage and say, “it’s all gone now!”. I believe we need the spiritual “stuff” as much now as ever. Without the Holy Spirit we are limited in what we can do.
- Now…why do I keep calling the work of the Spirit “the stuff that the Spirit does”? Well, it’s a phrase (not my phrase) that I find very helpful to ensure that I don’t make a mistake about what is going on here…
You see the passage starts off with Paul saying he wants to talk to the Corinthian church about the “gifts of the Spirit”. However, the Greek doesn’t use the word “gifts” here. It simply uses the word “pneumatikos”. Now this is a difficult word to translate because it is actually an adjective (a describing word) rather than a noun (a “thing”). It’s possible that the best translation of it would be “spirituals” or, to put it another way “now about the stuff that the Spirit does…I do not want you to be uninformed”.
Does this matter? Yes, it does! Too often we see this “stuff” as the things that WE do. WE heal; WE perform miracles; WE have been given these “gifts” – and then WE do it. So ingrained is this in the thinking of many that you can even go online and do a “spiritual gifts quiz” at the end of which the computer tells you what gift it is that you have got (believe me! I’ve tried it! And was told that I have been given the gift of discernment…well those who really know me will laugh at that one!).
No! This “stuff” is supernatural. It is what the Spirit does. Yes – through me – but it is the Holy Spirit who distributes them (verse 4); and they are the “manifestation” of the Holy Spirit (verse 7) – we see Him through them and not us; and they are the “work” of the Spirit (verse 11) and not us. So, prophecy, for example, is the Holy Spirit speaking through us.
Rather, maybe (as a very wise Bible teacher has said) we should see ourselves more as Amazon delivery men – we are delivering the “stuff” of the Holy Spirit to those who need it. We are the conduits through which the Holy Spirit chooses to pour out His “stuff”.
- Oh…just one more thing here…and although just an aside for our thoughts today, it’s pretty wonderful…take a look at verses 4-6. We have another picture of the Trinity here: The Holy Spirit allots “gifts” (Greek “charisma”), the Lord Jesus allots “service” (Greek “diakonia”) and God the Father (Greek “Theos”) is at work in it all.
VERSES 8-11: THE “STUFF” THAT THE SPIRIT DOES
In these verses we get a breakdown of 9 ways in which the Power of the Presence of the Person of the Holy Spirit is manifested. Is this an exhaustive list? Many say “no” – citing other, unmentioned, works and gifts such as intercessory prayer and casting out of demons. Whether exhaustive or not this list is really helpful as we seek to see that we need the Holy Spirit so that we are no longer limited by our natural giftings and abilities.
- A MESSAGE OF WISDOM
This is from the Spirit, through us, to (and for the benefit of) someone else. God knows, as a Pastor, I NEED wisdom! Situations arise and I wonder, “what should I do here?” And I weigh up pros and cons of dealing with it this way or that way – using my natural wisdom – but I’m not sure what is the right way forward. Then a person will come to me and say that this-or-that is happening in their lives and they do not know what they should do…and, I’ve got to be honest, much of the time I am thinking “I haven’t got a clue what to do!”…while showing them a sympathetic face. Sometimes the Bible is REALLY clear on things: if a person comes to me and says, “I really think that God is saying it’s OK to sleep with this woman even though we’re not yet married” then I need to know the Bible – I don’t need any special wisdom. But, God knows, I NEED wisdom that is supernatural – that comes straight from the Holy Spirit who is with me and in me when I’m faced with that: “I don’t know what is best in this situation”. He knows what to do…let me never stop asking Him! And let me not be afraid to say to the person in need, “let me just go away and pray about this for a while and then I’ll get back to you”.
A message of wisdom can change lives. I need the Holy Spirit!
- A MESSAGE OF KNOWLEDGE
Again, this is from the Holy Spirit, through us, to (and for the benefit of) someone else. Jesus is our clear example here. Full of the Holy Spirit, He sat at the well at Sychar in Samaria and a woman came to draw water. Jesus, with a message of knowledge, said to this woman “the fact is that you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband” (John 4: 18). For the woman this message was the “game changer” and when she ran to her town and declared “He told me everything I have ever done” (verse 39) many sought to hear what Jesus had to say and became believers.
A message of knowledge can change lives. I need the Holy Spirit!
- FAITH BY THE SAME SPIRIT
It is by Grace that we are saved – through faith. We have not only come to believe in God, but have put our trust in Him. This is all true – but what Paul is talking about here is supernatural faith that come from the Holy Spirit. John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard movement of churches said that “faith” should be spelt “R.I.S.K” because the Holy Spirit enables us to risk all through the certainty that God is telling us to do something. It is said that God told him to pray for the healing of the sick in his services. With the faith of the Holy Spirit he did so for about 9 months…and nothing happened week after week…and people began to leave the church, fed-up with the same thing being said week after week. But, with faith from the Holy Spirit he continued until he got the breakthrough – a person was healed…and the rest is history.
Faith can change lives. I need the Holy Spirit!
- GIFTS OF HEALING
No problem here…we all understand that a person can receive a divine healing. Notice that healing comes “by that one Spirit” (verse 9) and not by my natural powers It is not ME who heals someone – it is the Power of the Spirit flowing through me (remember the woman with the issue of blood? When she touched Jesus, He felt power going out of Him – Luke 8: 42-48). Notice too that the word “gifts” is plural…this might be because we have to widen our understanding of what “healing” is: it’s not just physical, but can be emotional, relational, spiritual. When Jesus healed (and He did this all the time!), people turned to Him and followed Him – their physical healing and eternal, spiritual benefits. But, this didn’t happen all the time: remember the 10 lepers whom Jesus healed (Luke 17: 11-19)? Only 1 returned to thank Him and benefited eternally from this experience. Healing is a very necessary sign and wonder that is for the benefit of the one who receives it
Healing can change lives. I need the Holy Spirit!
- MIRACULOUS POWERS
This is where, by the Power of the Holy Spirit within us, we see things happening that are just not natural. And this is always for a purpose. We believe that Jesus fed the 5000 with just 5 loaves and 2 fishes – so why are we so sceptical about miracles happening today and through us? Or is it another case of “we can sort all these problems out ourselves through science, technology, money and our own intelligence”?
Miracles are needed today to change situations and so change lives. I need the Holy Spirit!
Ok! This is where for many people it gets REALLY weird! People saying that “this is what the LORD says”. Come on! But think about it…do you believe that God wants to speak to us today? Or is it that once John put the finishing touches to the Book of Revelation, God said, “that’s it; I’ve said all I’ve got to say, I’m going silent now”. Do you REALLY believe this? I believe that the God who loves us like a Father, longs to talk to us His children. Yes, He does this through His Word but I believe He wants to speak to us directly and clearly now, by and through His Holy Spirit. He wants to talk to us about the here-and-now (forth-telling) and about things that are yet to happen (fore-telling). And He will speak to us through words, through pictures, through music, through dreams and through visions. And, yes, there is always the danger that what is being proclaimed as prophecy is the result of too much cheese last night, but that is why we are called to weigh each prophecy that is given – is it in line with Scripture? Does it resonate with our spirits?
We need to hear what God is saying today. Prophecy is needed to change lives. I need the Holy Spirit!
- DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN SPIRITS
So much is happening in our world today. So much is being said. So much is being proclaimed that “this is from God” or “Allah” or “Krishna” – we should do this, we should give that. Cults are proliferating – even to the point of deceiving the Elect (Matthew 24: 24). People are being healed by the Power of the Holy Spirit. But who is behind the healings in Africa performed by witch doctors? We need to know what is from God and what is a counterfeit from our enemy, the devil. The truth is that sometimes I just don’t know! But God knows. And He has given us His Holy Spirit so that we can distinguish between good and bad spirits – between what is from God and what is from the devil. We need to know where people are ill and when their depression, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts etc are from the evil one.
We need to supernaturally know what is going on. I need the Holy Spirit!
8 and 9. TONGUES AND THE INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES
I put these two together – though they are separate gifts – because they are linked. “Tongues” = “glossa” = “different languages” – which might be human languages (I have heard these myself – as did the Jews in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost – Acts 2: 7) or angelic languages (1 Corinthians 13: 1). When I don’t know how to worship or praise God or what to say, then Tongues can take over. But how much better it is for others when there is someone present who can interpret those Tongues – putting them into English so that we can all understand and hear what God is saying to us or through us. So many people find it impossible to believe that Tongues are “real”…they will accept divine healing but not Tongues…that is illogical. Paul clearly says “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues” (1 Corinthians 14: 5) and declares that “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you” (verse 18)…but he states that “I would rather speak 5 intelligible words to instruct others than 10 000 words in a tongue” (verse 19).
We need tongues and interpretation of tongues to instruct and inspire. I need the Holy Spirit!
THE CONCLUSION OF THE MATTER
What more can I say?
Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. He began this work and commands that we continue it – and to do so we need the Power of the Presence of the Person of the Holy Spirit. We need “all the stuff that the Spirit does” – so that we can now be His hands and His feet to bring the Good News of the Kingdom of God to His world (1 Corinthians 12: 12-20).