OUR VISION AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
Our Vision 2022 is to wake up, open our eyes and see, and mourn, that the walls of the Church have been breached and the gates of the Church have been broken down. Our Vision 2022 is to seek God – be renewed in our thinking, restored in our position in God, so that we have the passion to rebuild the Church in this land to be all that God means it to be. Our Vision 2022 calls us to risk our all and resist the subtle temptations of the world to compromise, and so rebuild the walls of the Church in this land.
However, and I believe that Scripture cries this out from Genesis to Revelation, we need to be refilled with the Power of the Holy Spirit to equip us and enable us to fight the spiritual battles that we are going to be embroiled in as we set about our God-given task of rebuilding the walls of the Church in this land.
The Holy Spirit within us, and empowering us, is who we need to be able to answer the call of God. Without a re-filling of His Spirit – on a daily basis – our Vision 2022 will never be achieved. With the Holy Spirit we can do all things!
Right…let’s get into it!
BE RE-FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
WE NEED THE POWER!
LET’S START WITH THE BASICS: WHAT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT?
In the magnificent film saga “Star Wars” (which I personally love…who doesn’t?!?), the strength, the power, behind all that the “good guys” do is called “The Force”. This is an inanimate power that can be acquired, practiced, honed and then used at the will of the initiate. The use of “The Force” demands great personal determination and self-control. Once mastered it can be used to fight “baddies” (light sabres and all), throw objects across the room (by the simple raising of the hand), lift star fighters out of swamps, and place thoughts in the minds of the weak. Sounds great doesn’t it! In surveys conducted in the USA the majority of Christians see the Holy Spirit as the same as “The Force” – a kind-of power coming from God and given to us. Soooo, what is the Holy Spirit???
This is soooo the wrong question!
The Holy Spirit is NOT a “what” (a thing, an object); the Holy Spirit is a “who”. The Holy Spirit is seen as the “third Person of the Trinity” – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – “three in one”. This is literally mind-blowing and none of us can really understand it – this concept of there being One God but in three forms…but there it is. And that’s why the personal pronoun “He” is always used in the New Testament when the Holy Spirit is spoken of.
So, the right question is “WHO is the Holy Spirit?”
THE HOLY SPIRIT – “GOD’S EMPOWERING PRESENCE”
A better man than me (Gordon Fee) has described the Holy Spirit thus: “God’s empowering presence”.
The Holy Spirit is God, present with us, His power upon us.
His summary (of a 1000 page tome!) says that the Holy Spirit is therefore explained as: Person, Power, Presence.
Again: He (a person), is here with us – right now (Presence), and equips us with all we need to be the disciples and servants of God (Power).
In this first session we will be studying the Word to see how the Power of the Holy Spirit is fundamentally necessary for us to live out our Vision 2022. And we are going to see how Spirit and Power go hand-in-hand in the life of Jesus…and so in our lives
JESUS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
Turn to Luke 1 and verses 26 to 35. Mary is visited by the Archangel Gabriel who tells her that, although a virgin, she will conceive the Messiah – the Saviour of the world. When she pointed out that this was physically impossible, the angel informed her (verse 35) that:
‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you’
There you are! Job done! Spirit and Power go hand-in-hand. When you have the Spirit you have power.
Now, we all know how the story progresses. Jesus is born in Bethlehem, He is brought up by Mary and Joseph in their hometown of Nazareth…and then, when He is 30 years old (Luke 3: 23), His public ministry finally begins. And when does it begin? When He went to John the Baptist in the River Jordan and was baptised. At that very moment we are told that:
as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ (Luke 3: 21-22)
Here we have it – that physical moment when we hear the voice of Father God, see Jesus in the water and witness the Holy Spirit descend on Him there – the Trinity (mindblowing!).
But the important point here is that Jesus was not ready – equipped – to start His public ministry UNTIL the Holy Spirit came down on Him. There’s a big message for us here…
Really!? Was the “Presence” of the Holy Spirit really so crucial to His starting His ministry? Well, listen to what Luke then tells us in chapter 4 and verses 1 and 2:
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil
Sounds to me like it was pretty important that He was full of the Holy Spirit. Sounds like His ministry opened straight away with a spiritual battle, and He needed to be equipped to fight it – and this was by the Holy Spirit.
Well, full of the Holy Spirit, Jesus won that battle, and we are told in verse 14 that:
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit
There we have it again – this link between “power” and “Spirit”…seems clear to me that “Power” comes from the “Presence” of the Holy Spirit.
JESUS, THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT, AND MINISTRY
Jesus always said that He came to do the “Will of God” (eg John 4: 34) – that was His calling, His ministry. In verses 15 to 19 Luke tells us what Jesus achieved through the “power of the Spirit”:
15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
- Teaching the truths and Will of God (v 15)
- Anointed to proclaim the Good News (v 18)
- Freeing people from the devil’s chains (v 18)
- Miracles and healings (v 18)
This powerful passage declares that Jesus has been “anointed” to do all this. We know Jesus as the “Christ” (Greek) or the “Messiah” (Hebrew) – words that mean “the anointed One” – a title that harked back to the Old Testament and reflected the Priestly pattern of being anointed with oil (poured over their heads and running down their beards – eg Leviticus 8: 12, and Psalm 133: 2), which itself was symbolic of the Holy Spirit being poured out on them (olive oil being seen as a picture of the Spirit throughout Scripture): Jesus was anointed with the Spirit and in this way was able to do His ministry of teaching and miracles and healings, ushering in the Kingdom of God.
Here’s a powerful statement: Jesus did all His teaching, miracles and healings THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO WAS RESTING ON HIM!!!
SURELY JESUS DID ALL HIS MIRACLES BECAUSE HE WAS GOD?
Hmmmm….I’m afraid that a commonly held belief was that Jesus walked on water, fed the 5000 and raised Lazarus from the dead because He was God and so could do whatever He wanted…
Well, if Jesus did all this because He was God…then does this mean that Elijah – who parted water and walked through it; who fed those who were hungry; who raised the dead – was also God? Of course not! Does this mean that the Apostle Peter – who raised up the cripple at the Gate Beautiful; whose handkerchiefs were used to bring healing to the sick – was also God? Of course not!
NO! Jesus did all He did because the Power of the Spirit was upon Him.
Remember that Jesus – although He truly was “God made flesh”, was also “fully man” – who chose to come to Earth to dwell amongst us and so “put off” the power of God (see Philippians 2: 6-8 and Hebrews 2: 14-18).
- God is Omnipotent (all powerful) – but Jesus became man and experienced tiredness and thirst and in Nazareth was not able to do many miracles because of their unbelief (Matthew 13: 57-58). He put off omnipotence.
- God is Omnipresent (He can be in all places at once) – but Jesus became a man and could only be present in one place (Judea) at any one time. He put off Omnipresence.
- God is Omniscient (He knows everything) – but Jesus became a man and clearly didn’t know everything – when asked when His Second Coming would be and the End of the Age, He replied that He did not know – that only God in Heaven knows (Mark 13: 32).
Now, it is true that having returned to Heaven, He has returned to the Godhead and is all of these things again. But the fact remains that when He walked this earth, all He did He did by the anointing Power of the Holy Spirit that rested on Him.
WE ARE CALLED TO BE LIKE JESUS
He, therefore, is the prototype of what WE should look like.
He did what God had called Him to do through and with the Power of the Holy Spirit.
And this is what Jesus says about us:
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14: 12)
- When Jesus uses the words “very truly” it means that this is really important, and we need to take notice of it.
- The “works” that Jesus says we will be doing too include the teaching, evangelising, healing, miracle-working, demon-casting out, that He was doing while on earth.
- The “they will do even greater things than these” needs to be teased out a bit. How can we do “greater” – as in better – things than raising the dead??? Some understand the Greek word used (“mega”) to imply quantity, rather than quality – ie that we will do MORE of these signs and wonders than Jesus did.
And here’s where it all links up (remember the Spirit and the Power link???). Jesus goes on to tell us HOW we are going to do the things He did:
- We going to ask in His Name – so we are going to “SEEK His will in all we do, and He will direct our paths” (Proverbs 3: 6) – verse 13.
- We are going to keep His commands – so we are going to REMAIN IN His will – verse 15.
- And (here’s where it should make the hairs stand up on your arms) He’s going to send us the Person and the Presence and the Power of the Holy Spirit so that we can DO His will – verses 16-17.
There we have it…we will do the things that God has called us to do when we are refilled with the Person, Presence and Power of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit we can do nothing (except make a great big mess of everything…as I so well know!).
Now you might say: “I’ve already received the Holy Spirit”…well, yes you have, when you were “saved” but the quintessential passage in Scripture on this matter (Ephesians 5: 18) uses the present continuous tense which literally means “be being filled”. Imagine telling your wife “I told you I loved you when I married you 30 years ago – I don’t need to keep on telling you!” She’s going to be pretty “miffed”! In the same way, we need to keep on renewing our relationship with the Person of the Holy Spirit, so that His Presence is continually with us, and His Power remains upon us. Simple!
Or is it???? Next session we continue the story…