Growth in Grace — Lesson 9
Pentecost In The Believer's Daily Life
Pentecost: The Promise Of The Holy Spirit In The Old Testament.
Theologically speaking, everything that has been said up to this point is purely theory. Only with the ministry of the Holy Spirit may one legitimately speak of daily practice. God the Holy Spirit has come to apply the provision the Lord Jesus Christ has obtained for the believer. Through His work of the New Birth, the Christian has been transformed; and through His work of anointing, the believer is enabled to live the Christian life successfully.
One of the most encouraging and impressive promises of the Old Testament has to do with the Holy Spirit. It is found in Joel 2:28, 29. There God promises that the day will come when He will pour out His Spirit equally upon all His people. In that day it will not make a difference if one is a man or a woman, old or young, master or servant. All will receive the Holy Spirit alike.
This does not mean that the Old Testament saints were without the ministry of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus Christ said to Nicodemus that a person must be born of the Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God, His stipulation applied equally well to all people in all of time (John 3:3, 5). It is evident that the Old Testament saints were recipients of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the New Birth, in that they are used as an illustration of salvation to New Testament saints. According to the writer of Hebrews, salvation by faith was true of Abel (Hebrews 11:4). David (Romans 4:6), Abraham (Romans 4:10-25; Galatians 3:6-14), and Rahab (James 2:25, 26) are similar examples. It must be recognized that there was also an anointing of certain individuals in the Old Testament by the Holy Spirit. Bezaleel and Aholiab were anointed to enable them to build the tabernacle (Exodus 35:30-35). And there was the anointing of Saul (1 Samuel 10:10) and David (1 Samuel 16:13) as kings over Israel. Moses (Numbers 11:25) and Joshua (Numbers 27:18) were anointed to lead the children of Israel. The various judges were anointed to deliver the people of God from their enemies (Judges 3:10; 6:34, etc.). The Holy Spirit came upon the prophets to inspire them to speak forth the message given to them by God (1 Chronicles 12:18; 2 Chronicles 15:1; 20: 14; 24:20). Even upon Balaam, a false prophet, God placed His Spirit so the demonic endeavors of Balak would be thwarted (Numbers 24:2).
Pentecost: The Promise Of The Holy Spirit In The New Testament.
As great as this ministry was in Old Testament times, God promised through Joel that a day would come when it would be transcended. This theme was taken up by the last of the Old Testament prophets and further explained. John the Baptist stated that the Holy Spirit would be given by the Messiah (John 1:33). This clarifying statement is of great importance. It determines the theological perspective for all that the New Testament states concerning the Holy Spirit, in that the ministry of the Spirit would always be inseparably related to the Person of the Lord Jesus and the carrying out of His purpose.
Additional clarification concerning the ministry of the Holy Spirit was given by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. There are five passages in the New Testament in which the coming of the Holy Spirit is further clarified.
The first is in John 7:37-39. Jesus Christ stated that all those who would thirst, who would come to Him and drink, believing on Him, would themselves become the source of living water. The Apostle John observed that this invitation and promise revolved around the coming of the Holy Spirit Who had not yet been given.
In this passage there are two factors of importance which have been pointed out previously. The first has to do with how one receives the Holy Spirit. This, we are told, is by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. The second has to do with the result of His ministry in our lives. We will become the means of life-giving help to other people. These words of the Lord Jesus boldly cut through the worry and uncertainty so characteristic of many Christians. Here is the answer to the doubt and uncertainty which revolve around the question of personal ability to live a meaningful life.
What is His answer to our weakness in life and service? He states that we must thirst for Him, come to Him, and drink of Him in faith. As always, the problem is not in the provision, but in the lack of appropriation. When we learn how to respond by faith and thereby give Jesus Christ His rightful place, there will be a spontaneous ministry of the Holy Spirit to us and through us. Faith and love must be more than verbal pronouncements; they must be activities of life. That which determines our relationship to the Holy Spirit is our relationship to Jesus Christ.
The second passage of clarification is found in John 14:16-20. Here the Lord Jesus characterizes the Person and work of the Holy Spirit in ascribing two titles to Him. The first is "Comforter" which means in the original language, "One called alongside." By this title we are taught that the Holy Spirit would be a constant help to the believer, as one called to his aid, by standing alongside. It is significant that the Lord Jesus also stated the Holy Spirit would be "another Comforter." He was, therefore, to take the place of Christ Himself with His disciples. The significance of this truth is almost beyond human comprehension. That God Himself, the Holy Spirit, would come to us to be our Helper, is overwhelming!
The second title of the Holy Spirit is that of "Spirit of Truth." This indicates the purpose of His coming. He is the divine Teacher of Truth." Because non-Christians reject the Truth and love darkness rather than light (John 3:19), they cannot receive nor will they receive this ministry of the Spirit. However, the Holy Spirit has come to every believer - to be his Teacher (1 John 2:20, 27).
In application of these two titles, the Lord Jesus explained how He would come to the disciples in the coming of the Holy Spirit (John 14:18); and that they would become the recipients of assurance and illumination ( John 14:19, 20). The same promise is summarized later in the chapter (John 14:25, 26).
A third passage of instruction in this Farewell Discourse is found in John 15:26, 27. The titles of the Holy Spirit are restated as well as the emphasis on the relationship of His ministry to that of the Lord Jesus and to God the Father. The additional element here is on the purpose of His coming. The Lord Jesus said, "He shall testify of me, and ye also shall bear witness ... " The Holy Spirit would comfort, instruct, and illuminate those who believe on the Lord Jesus so that they may be enabled, through His indwelling presence, to bear witness themselves.
The fourth section of importance concerning the ministry of the Holy Spirit is found in John 16:7-16. Here we are told that the Holy Spirit will convict the non-Christian of sin, righteousness, and of a future judgment. All mankind are the recipients of this reproof. In addition to what has been said in the previous passages, about the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer, this passage includes two further statements of great importance. The first is found in verse 13, " ... He shall not speak of Himself ... " This means that the Holy Spirit will not draw attention to Himself. This profound statement, expressed so simply, indicates that the entire ministry of the Spirit is away from Himself. All endeavors, whether by the individual Christian or by a church or denomination, to place the Holy Spirit at the center of their attention and instruction is, therefore, under divine censure.
The second statement clearly expresses the purpose of the Holy Spirit's ministry. It is found in verse 14. The Lord Jesus said, "He shall glorify Me ..." Instead of drawing attention to Himself, the Holy Spirit would magnify Jesus Christ. This is His goal in the life of the individual believer and in the ministry of the church. Jesus Christ is to be given His rightful place at the center of all things. When the believer or church chooses to do this, then there is a cooperation with the Holy Spirit and the result can only be spiritual success. When this is not done, weakness will inevitably follow. The importance of these truths can hardly be overemphasized.
The fifth passage of explanation is found in Acts 1:4, 5, 8. The Lord Jesus, after His Resurrection from the grave, instructed His followers to wait in Jerusalem for the fulfillment of the promises concerning the Holy Spirit. They were to be baptized with the Spirit and would thereby receive the power or ability to be witnesses for Jesus Christ throughout the whole world.
Pentecost: The Manifestation Of The Holy Spirit.
Fifty days after the Crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, the Old Testament promises regarding the coming of the Holy Spirit were fulfilled. In obedience to the instruction of the Lord Jesus (Acts 1:4, 5, 8), a group of His disciples were praying together when the Holy Spirit descended upon them. With the sound of a great wind and with the appearance of fire, the Holy Spirit filled all the disciples (Acts 2:1-4).
As a further demonstration of the presence of the Holy Spirit, all the disciples began to speak with tongues so that the many strangers in Jerusalem heard the gospel preached in their own language. As a result three thousand persons responded to the commands and promise of the gospel and were baptized (Acts 2:4-11, 37-47).
The Apostle Peter that same day explained the meaning of this great event. He quoted the promise concerning the Holy Spirit as given in Joel 2:28, 29 and indicated that it had now been fulfilled (Acts 2:14ff). The coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter expounded, was due to the activity of the ascended Lord Jesus Who had poured out the Spirit upon His people (Acts 2:33). Pentecost, therefore, was further and conclusive evidence of the Resurrection and Exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 2:29-36).
It is important to understand that Pentecost, like the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension, happened only once. It is also important to see that the Church, now called the Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22, 23), was brought into existence in this outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Before this time the Church is spoken of as yet in the future (Matthew 16:18). But now, on the Day of Pentecost, the Church is described as present (Acts 2:47), and continually referred to from this time forward.
The spiritual value of these two truths is of great significance to the believer. Today, when an individual repents of sin and receives Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, he is baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Church (1 Corinthians 12:13). By this great act, the believer becomes a member of the Church and receives all the benefits of the Day of Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit has come! The promises have been fulfilled. The Body of Christ has been brought into existence and is made up of people baptized with the Holy Spirit. To become a Christian means one is added to that baptized group and in turn receives all the spiritual benefits the first disciples received on the Day of Pentecost (1 Corinthians 12:13-27).
In order to avoid confusion, it is necessary to distinguish between the spiritual benefits of Pentecost and the public demonstration of that day. The public display of power in the wind, the fire, and the speaking with tongues were given by God to indicate the importance and significance of that great event. The wind and fire would immediately call to mind the supernatural activity of God with the prophets (1 Kings 18:38; 19:11, 12; Ezekiel 1:4; etc.), and the speaking in tongues was a public evidence that the promise of Joel concerning an anointing of all of God's people had indeed come to pass. Such a manifestation of power also characterized the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension.
The Christian now possesses the legal benefits of all of these great deeds of God. It would be as wrong for one to expect the wind, fire, and tongues of the Day of Pentecost to characterize his relationship with God today as to expect the darkness of the Crucifixion, the earthquake of the Resurrection, or the appearance of Angels of the Ascension. What are the benefits of the Day of Pentecost which all believers now possess? The Scripture describes this great provision of God under five headings. The first we have already considered. It is that of baptism with the Holy Spirit whereby one is brought into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and made a member of the Church which is His body (1 Corinthians 12:13). When does this happen? This important event happens the moment one believes on Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. In fact, all of these five benefits come to pass at exactly the same time.
The second benefit of the Day of Pentecost is described as the New Birth (John 3:3, 5). In this act of the Holy Spirit the repentant and believing sinner is given the spiritual life obtained for him by Jesus Christ in His atonement (John 10:10; 1 John 5:9-13).
The third benefit is that of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The believer thereby becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 6:10; 2 Corinthians 6:16).
The fourth benefit is described as being sealed with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13, 14; 4:30). The term "seal" is taken from the practice of "sealing" a legal document with a bit of wax into which an official "seal" or stamp was pressed. The emphasis here is upon the truth of ownership. The believer, by this act of the Holy Spirit, is shown to belong to God. This work of the Holy Spirit is further described as the "earnest" or pledge that all the future benefits of redemption will also be given the believer (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14).
The fifth benefit is the bestowal of gifts by the Holy Spirit. Every Christian has been given some ability or talent so that he can make a meaningful contribution to the furtherance of God's plan. In this regard it is important to see that the Apostle Paul described the Church by the analogy of the human body. As every member of the body must contribute to the full expression of the person, so every member of the Church has been given a gift and this gift must be utilized so that the Church may express itself fully (1 Corinthians 12:4-31; Ephesians 4:7-16). This is God's provision not only for the individual believer but also for the furtherance of the local church. When God's people are spiritually alert and exercising their divine gifts, the individual church will find itself adequately staffed with workers.
These five benefits appear to be subsumed in the Scripture under the term "anointing" (2 Corinthians 1:21; 1 John 2:20, 27). The Christian is, therefore spoken of as one who has been anointed by the Holy Spirit. This again points back to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. The New Testament emphasis is also indicated in that all the believers now receive this anointing alike. And all have received the five great benefits of Pentecost.
But now we must face a practical question of spiritual importance. If all believers possess these benefits of Pentecost, why are these benefits not more enjoyed and utilized? What a tremendous thing it is to be baptized, born again, indwelt, sealed, and gifted by the Holy Spirit! How dare we be filled with uncertainty and weakness?
The answer is clear and yet hard to confess. The fact of these great benefits depends on the work of God within us. The resultant assurance, power, and enjoyment of these benefits depends upon us. It is one thing to possess this provision of Pentecost — and quite another to know how to live, and then to so live, that this divine provision may be adequately manifested in our daily lives.
Pentecost: The Manifestation Of The Holy Spirit.
We have been commanded by God to "be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). The Christian has no vote in this matter. Living a Spirit-filled life is not optional. And to choose to disobey God condemns one to a life largely devoid of divine fellowship, grace, love, and purpose.
What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? It means, in all simplicity, to be surrendered to God (Romans 12:1, 2) so that the Holy Spirit can do in and through us what He was sent to do. Endless numbers of books have been written explaining this one profound truth. Have so many words confused us?
The Christian is seriously warned against hindering this ministry of the Holy Spirit in his life. Ananias and Sapphira are held up as an example of lying to (deceiving) or tempting the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3, 9). Stephen accused those who refused the truth of the Word of God of resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). The Apostle Paul stated that the believer who is unconcerned and slothful about putting the Word of God into daily practice, is grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). And those Christians who scorn and deride the expression of the Holy Spirit in their own lives and the lives of others are quenching the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
These four sins clearly and tragically describe what it means to practice a lack of surrender to God. They vividly indicate the anti-surrender which characterizes the lives of most Christians. How easy it is to practice these four sins by substituting pretense for honesty, doubt for faith, disobedience for obedience, and an attitude of scornful self-complacency for one of grateful desire for every manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
And now we know why we are not Spirit filled! We lie to, resist, grieve, and quench the Holy Spirit! The lethargic unconcern manifested by many Christians about this indisputable truth only proves the correctness of this accusation. What must we do to live a genuine Christian life and be filled with the Spirit? First of all, we must stop blaming God for being spiritually empty (Jeremiah 2:5, 13). In a close connection with this, we must stop contriving theological reasons for our lack and thereby turn our faults into virtues! God is not to blame. The Holy Spirit has come - there is no need to wait for Him. Ever since the Day of Pentecost, which happened only once, every believer has had all the value and provision of Pentecost given to him in his salvation (Romans 8:9). We are at fault.
Secondly, we must confess our sins and stop committing them. We must stop pretending - stop acting as though we hadn't sinned, acting as though we are right with God. We must stop grieving the Holy Spirit - stop being so unconcerned about putting the Word of God into practice. We must stop quenching the Holy Spirit - stop scoffing at those who are our examples in spirituality and start thirsting for God ourselves.
Thirdly, we must thoroughly understand why the Holy Spirit indwells us and learn how to cooperate with Him. He was sent to achieve clearly defined goals in our lives. These goals we must make our own by deliberate decisions of faith and practice.
The first goal the Holy Spirit has been commissioned to fulfill is that of glorifying Jesus Christ in the believer. Before the Christian can practice honesty he must become a holy person. Before he can practice love, joy, peace, etc., (the fruit of the spirit, Galatians 5:22, 23), he must experience love, joy, peace. The Holy Spirit has been sent to take the work of Jesus Christ in His Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension and make personal application of this cleansing, enablement, and deliverance in the very character of the believer. This is what sanctification is all about. This is how the Holy Spirit leads and teaches the believer to mortify (put to death) the sinful attitudes and practices of the old nature (Romans 8:1-13) and to experience the freedom of sonship (Romans 8:14-17).
We are, therefore, to "walk (live) in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16). When this is done there will be a freedom, a deliverance from the overpowering desires of the old nature (Galatians 5:16). Without this cooperation, a deadening, discouraging tension is set up in our lives (Galatians 5:17), and we live without a sense of purpose and progress and without love and joy and peace.
The Holy Spirit has thus been sent to enable us to give Jesus Christ His rightful place at the center of our lives. We must learn how to give Him that place as our Lord, our Sanctification, as the Head of the Church, as the Lord of the Harvest Field, and as the Living Word.
How tragically different is the Biblical description of the Spirit-filled life from what we often see in our own lives! Many Christians have earnestly tried to practice the Christian life without realizing that the real need was within. As a result the practice was partially a pretense and the vicious cycle started again.
The second goal the Holy Spirit has been sent to achieve is that of glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ through the believer (John 15:26, 27). The emphasis here is on daily practice and witnessing. The Lord Jesus often spoke of this as a spontaneous result of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39; 15:26, 27; Acts 1:8). When the believer cooperates with the Holy Spirit in regard to the first goal of personal sanctification, this second goal will be achieved automatically. The believer will then be, in character, a witness, and he will not find it difficult to speak up for His Lord. This is a self-condemning explanation of our lack of faithful witnessing. What determines our daily relationship to the Holy Spirit? What does it mean, and how are we to be filled? We must be taken up with the Lord Jesus Christ! We must respond to Him and His Word by faith and love and thereby give Him His rightful Place in our lives. We must learn to live in fellowship with God and in daily obedience. The Holy Spirit has been sent to glorify Jesus Christ in our lives, and when we give Him His rightful place, then we are filled with the Holy Spirit. This is why the Holy Spirit is called, "the Spirit of Christ" (Romans 8:9).
The enabling ministry of the Holy Spirit is set forth in Diagram 14.
The Key To Success: The Believer Must Learn To Cooperate Actively With The Ministry Of The Indwelling Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4:30).