Spirit

The last of the five things I am going to preach about is the Spirit: God the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is a Person (Acts 1:16; 15:28; Romans 8:14; 1 Corinthians 2:11; 12:11; Ephesians 4:30). The Spirit is God (Luke 12:10; Acts 5:3,4; 1 Corinthians 6:19). He is the Spirit of God (2 Chronicles 24:20; Matthew 3:16; 1 Peter 4:14) and the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7; Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6). The Spirit is worshipped by Christians with the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19; John 4:24). But the Spirit does not just accept worship: he acts for our good with the Father and the Son (Romans 15:18,19; 1 Peter 1:2). I want to talk about three aspects of the Spirit’s activity today.

The Spirit opens our eyes and ears: he illuminates us, a Spirit lamp. He convicts us of sin so that we understand our need for God (John 16:8; 1 John 1:10). He converts us so that we turn to Jesus and follow him (Romans 5:5; 7:6; 8:9). The Spirit makes the difference between people who can accept the good news and people who reject it (Matthew 13:13-17; Mark 4:11,12; Luke 8:10; John 12:37-40).

The Spirit also empowers us to follow Jesus: he gives us gifts for building up the church (1 Corinthians 14:12). Since he is so eager to give each of us gifts, we could call him the Christmas Spirit. The Spirit gives various gifts (Genesis 41:38; Numbers 24:2-9; 1 Samuel 10:10,11; 2 Chronicles 15:1,2; Acts 2:4; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11,29-31; 14:2; Ephesians 6:18; Hebrews 2:4) but the bible tells us to pray for them if we want them: he will not force his gifts on us (Luke 11:13; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 12:31; 14:1,12,31-33a).

The Spirit guides us (Matthew 4:1; Luke 2:27; Acts 19:21; Galatians 5:16-26; 1 John 3:24) — if we let him (Romans 8:9,14). He helps our understanding of the bible and Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 3:15-18) and by the gifts of dreams, prophecy and visions (Ezekiel 11:24; 37:1; Joel 2:28,29; Acts 2:17,18; 11:28; Ephesians 3:5; Revelation 1:10,11; 4:2; 21:10). But we must test teaching that seems to come from the Spirit: not every dream or vision or pleasant feeling is from God. We need a tool to decide what is from the Holy Spirit and what is not — a Spirit level. There are some things the Spirit would never teach (1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 John 2:23; 4:1,2) but other ‘spiritual’ teaching must also be tested (2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).

The best way to test a ‘spiritual’ idea is with the bible: God the Spirit does not contradict the word of God (Mark 7:9-13). Wise Christians and those under whose authority we follow Jesus will also help. Pray for the Holy Spirit and his gifts (Luke 11:13).

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