On the Holy Spirit
Do You Know the Holy Spirit?
By Bruce Ball
A man who was raised in the city bought a farm and moved to the country. He soon bought a cow. When he went to buy the feed for the cow, he was told the best way to use it for maximum milk.
Several weeks later, the man came back to the store and said there was something wrong with the feed because the cow had gone dry. The salesman asked him if he were milking the cow every day.
The man said he only took enough milk for breakfast; that he never drank milk the rest of the day. The salesman told him that wasn’t how it works. When you milk a cow, he said, you have to take it all, or the cow will quickly go dry.
That is the same way with the Holy Spirit. We take all that is available, or we end up without any at all. You just cannot take “a little” of what God has to offer.
Today, we are going to talk about the two types of walk we have with God. We have a physical walk that deals with our desires, and we have a spiritual walk that deals with God’s desires.
They are two entirely different types of walks, and they produce two entirely different fruits. One focuses on how God can bless us physically and one focuses on how God can bless us spiritually. One is born of the flesh and the other is born of the Spirit. One seeks to come to God on our terms; the other seeks to come to God on His terms.
Both may recognize the will of God, but one seeks to make it happen through the way we think it should happen, while the other seeks the way God wants it to happen. If we seek worldly answers to spiritual problems we will not reap the fruit of the Spirit.
In MATTHEW 7:16, Jesus asked, “Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”
You cannot plant wheat and expect to grow tomatoes. And neither can you walk and live in the world, yet expect to reap spiritual blessings.
God promised Abraham a son. That son, Isaac, was a long time in coming. Abraham thought it was too long; so Sarah and Abraham decided to make God’s plan happen through their ways.
Both Abraham and Sarah were too old to have children in the natural way, so to try and make God’s promise happen, Abraham would try to have that son through Hagar. It was a worldly solution to a spiritual problem, and it didn’t work. It brought disaster.
In GALATIANS 4:28-29, ”Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way [talking about Ishmael] persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. [talking about Isaac]. It is the same now.”
Paul is writing to those who are trying to be Godly, but doing so through physical decisions. They were finding it difficult to completely step out of the world and rely totally on God.
They had too many friends in the world and they had many things they did in the world – just like many of today’s Christians. But they found that they could not have it both ways. They could either walk in the world or they could walk in the Spirit, but you cannot walk in the world and be full of the Holy Spirit.
Just like Abraham and Sarah. They were trying to figure out how God’s promise could be brought about by natural means.
Have you come to a place in your life where you know that if you were to die tonight, that you KNOW you would spend all of eternity in Heaven with God? If not, we invite you to please review all of this program – (The Essentials of Eternal Life).
Don’t we do the same in our lives? For instance, when something bad happens in our lives, we know that God wants us to immediately go to Him for help. We know that we are supposed to fully rely on God. But even knowing that, what do we do?
Don’t we rush in and try to fix the problem by our own means, while praying all the while for God to take care of it? The dilemma we find ourselves in is that we try to pray in the Spirit, but act in the flesh: Just like Abraham and Sarah did.
Abraham believed that God’s promises were real, but he thought it was up to him to make it happen. And we have that same struggle in our lives today. We go to church; we sing the songs of praise; we pray for guidance and direction; we talk about faith; and then we leave church and try to handle everything ourselves while praying that God handles it for us.
We must not only believe in God’s promises, but we must trust Him to bring them to about in His own timing and way.
A famous actor was an after dinner speaker at a big function and when he stood up to speak, he invited his audience to choose a poem for him to recite. A pastor, sitting in the audience, raised his hand and asked him to recite the 23rd PSALM. The actor agreed providing the pastor would recite it after him.
The actor recited the PSALM and received a standing ovation, but when the pastor recited it, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The actor asked the pastor what caused the totally different reactions. The pastor said, “You knew the PSALM, but I know the Shepherd.” The pastor could only really know the Shepherd if he were filled with the Spirit of God.
We find a great disparity between people who have the faith to walk in the Spirit, trusting God’s power to see His will, and those who walk in the world, trusting in their own power to accomplish God’s will.
Those who try to walk with God, but ignore the Holy Spirit have always been at conflict with those who walk in the Spirit to do God’s will. Ishmael did not rely upon the Holy Spirit and he persecuted Isaac. The Pharisees did not walk in the Spirit, and they persecuted Jesus.
And it happens today as those who believe in God but act in their own power, fight against those who believe in God and act in the Spirit to bring about the gospel of Christ.
1. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY OF BEING BORN OF THE SPIRIT ?
We may decide to believe in God, but it is God that brings about our spiritual birth through the power of the Holy Spirit.
JOHN 1:10-13 tells us, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
God’s Holy Spirit is present in the rebirth of each Christian, just as he was present in Christ’s conception. Without God’s Holy Spirit, there can be no Spiritual birth.
JOHN 3:5-6 – “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
Let me interrupt myself for a moment and point out that this verse tells us two things that are crucial to the tenants of our Christian faith. One – we must be born of the water. Those that say they do not need to be baptized need to read this particular verse. And two, we must be born of the Spirit.
If we are not baptized, we will not see heaven from the inside. If we do not walk with the Holy Spirit, we will not see it either. Jesus said it, I believe it, and that settles it.
The New Testament Christians recognized that it was the Holy Spirit who was leading Jesus as He gave God’s word to the apostles.
JOHN 3:34 – “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.”
Jesus depended upon the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s will. And, as with everything else Jesus did, He did this to set an example of how we should depend upon the Spirit, too.
MATTHEW 12:28 Jesus said, “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
The church has withdrawn from even talking a lot about the Spirit. Too many times, a preacher will preach about the Holy Spirit, and the people don’t want to hear it. I want to warn all of us today.
We had better start hearing it. We had better start listening to it. And, if we want to get to heaven, we had better start opening our hearts and acknowledging the Holy Spirit in our Christian lives.
In MARK 3:29, we are told – “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”
Could it be that by being so stiff and starchy; so formal and so conservative in our worship, that we have closed our hearts to the Holy Spirit? And could that, in itself, be a form of blasphemy?
We skirt around a lot of things in life, and try to avoid many more, but I suggest to you today that we had better start making room for God’s Holy Spirit to come in and occupy our hearts, our souls, and our minds.
Just like that cow – we take it all, or we end up with nothing.
We tend to think of Christ on earth being equal to God in Heaven, but He gave up his equality with God when he became one of us. When he became one with us He also became dependent upon the power of the Holy Spirit. Just like we are supposed to.
ACTS 10:36-38 – “… how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”
By being conscious of the need to stop living in the world and to start living under the Holy Spirit’s power is the only way we will ever have victory as Christians.
GALATIANS 5:16 – “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
2. THE WORK OF GOD IS DONE IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT
Placing your trust in God is much different than placing your trust in your faith. Trusting in your faith is nothing more than trusting in yourself. Where does this leave the person who knows that their faith is too weak to carry them through?
First century Christians trusted God despite their weak faith. The book of Acts tells about the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit.
ACTS 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
And, it is in ACTS that we find that the Spirit has immeasurable power to do God’s work.
ACTS 2:4 – “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. The apostles continued to speak as they were filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Many Christians bemoan the fact that their walk does not show much fruit. They wring their hands and wonder what they have done wrong. They are like the old saying, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”
When we refuse the Spirit of God an active place in our lives, we rob ourselves of the power of God.
Before the Apostle Paul came to know Jesus, he tried to carry on the work of God, but since He didn’t know the Holy Spirit, he was actually working against God because he was trying to do God’s work through man’s reasoning.
What do you think God feels about how we try to be good Christians but are too stiff to let His Holy Spirit into our lives?
ACTS 7:51-53 – “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him – you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it. The powerful Holy Spirit was directing their efforts in evangelism.”
I think Peter was much like we are today. Not the brightest, but certainly among the willing. Peter preached to the Gentiles under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit practically had to drag him into the presence of the Gentiles. But when Peter walked in the Spirit, powerful things happened.
ACTS 10:19-20 – “While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
Paul’s journeys showed a definite leaning on the Holy Spirit as he traveled those many miles sharing the Gospel of Jesus.
ACTS 20:22-23 – “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.”
In the first century church, growth occurred as they were directed and filled by God’s Holy Spirit. We have talked about this church growing. In fact, one of the things they wanted me to do when I was hired as the pastor here was to try and grow this church.
I will let you in on a secret. If we want this church to grow, we had better make sure that each of us are walking with the Holy Spirit. That doesn’t mean we change our name from Christian Church to any other name. We do not have to change denominations. It does mean, however, that we become sensitive to the groanings of the Spirit of God. It means we start pursuing the Spirit of God.
The Spirit is about our trusting Him to lead us – in every single thing we do. The Spirit is about our understanding that He is the source of power and it is He who gives us everything we need to walk with Christ in a Godly way rather than in an earthly way.
You want this church to grow? Make sure the Holy Spirit is as much a part of your speech, prayers, thoughts, actions, and beliefs, as Jesus Christ is. And through the Spirit, we will find that we have a closer walk with Christ.
When we do that, we will see this church blossom like a rare and beautiful flower. It will be the power of the Holy Spirit that takes this church to new heights in the Lord; it will not be by anything we do without the Spirit.
Being a Christian without walking in the Spirit is like working without being paid. There is simply no fruits involved.
The beautiful thing about the first century church was that they were focused on what God was doing through them as they committed themselves to the Spirit of God’s grace. They were focused on the Spirit, not on their own ambitions.
There is the story of a man who visited one of the largest churches in America. As he was being guided through the enormous building, the guide told him that it was built in honor of Thomas Mann, a very famous author.
The man asked what he had written, and the guide said, “The check that built this church.”
I am not saying it is wrong to accept money to build a church, because a church does need money, but what I am saying is that we must watch our focus. There have been too many churches built where the focus was on the building, not on the Spirit. Too many churches look inward at what they have accomplished, and not outward at what the Holy Spirit can accomplish through them.
In the simplest terms, what is the church? If it is a church that belongs to Jesus, it is made up of those who are filled with the Spirit of God in direct proportion to their faith in God.
Many people who belong to the non-denominational Christian Church do not like to hear the term ’Spirit filled church’, but that is something we should all strive to have! If our church is not filled with the Spirit of God, we don’t have a church – we have a business or a club.
If we invited people to come down this morning and get on their knees to pray in front, or if we knelt and prayed at our pews, how many of us would be so uncomfortable we might not come back?
Whatever it takes to pursue the Spirit of God is what we should be willing to do – nothing more and certainly nothing less.
We are Christians because we have been born again; renewed in a new life through the baptism of water and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – God’s Spirit.
COLOSSIANS 2:12 – “… having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”
As we tread through this harsh and sinful world, we must do it physically, but we can only get through it safe if we walk in the Spirit. And to walk in the Spirit, we must make one very calculated and bold decision.
We must choose to start trusting in the Holy Spirit, as many of us have never done before. The days are dwindling and nobody knows the hour. It has come down to the time when decisions for the future must be made – and must be kept.
Have you made a decision yet that you plan on seeing through? Have you made the choice to walk fully in God’s Spirit? If you choose that today, you will be walking away from the world … but in so doing, you will be walking into eternal safety.
Will you choose today to surrender fully to Jesus Christ so that He can lead you home?