The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
I was saved in the midst of the Charismatic Movement. There was a lot of good in that movement and it was definitely of move of the Holy Spirit. There were, however, a lot of extremes that rose out of that movement. There are two extremes regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit resulting from it. One over emphasizes manifestations, while the other denies their existence altogether. Both extremes are equally wrong.
What typically happens is there’s a move of the Holy Spirit in the church. People then get excited and take the truth to a far extreme, which becomes error. When attempting to correct the error, people take it to the other extreme, which is also error. Biblical balance is usually found somewhere in the middle.
There were two voices I know of that seemed to find a balance in the extremes of that era – Pastor Chuck Smith and Dr. Paul E. Paino. Both their ministries experienced revival during this movement yet found the Biblical balance in the extremes of that time.
Let’s be careful to take full advantage of all that the Spirit of God desires to do within the church and our lives personally. The following teaching, is a very balanced and theologically sound teaching regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The Fivefold Ministry of the Holy Spirit
- The Holy Spirit with us. “If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, neither knows Him: but you know Him; for He dwells with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:15-17).
The Holy Spirit is with us prior to salvation drawing us to Jesus. Jesus said the Holy Spirit was with the disciples, but He would soon “dwell in” them. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was with the people of God. He didn’t indwell believers until after the day of Pentecost. Before you came to Jesus the Holy Spirit was with you, not in you. He was with you drawing you to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “No man can come to me except the Father which sent me draw him” (John 6:44). The word “draw” literally means to drag. How many of us had to be dragged to a relationship with Jesus Christ? I know we have free will, but I also know we tend to take the path of least resistance. If you are not saved and someone is praying for you, GIVE UP! The Holy Spirit will win in the end.
- The Holy Spirit in us. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you” (1 Corinthians 3:16)?
The Holy Spirit dwelling in us has to do with regeneration or the “new birth.” Your human spirit was dead in trespasses and sins prior to coming to Jesus (Ephesians 2:1). The moment you trust Jesus as your only hope of salvation the Holy Spirit comes into your heart, brings your spirit to life, and you are born again (John 3:3-16), literally, a birth from above. This is the Holy Spirit’s ministry of regeneration.
- Filled with the Holy Spirit. “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:18-21).
The process of “being filled” with the Holy Spirit has to do with character and fruit. No one is constantly filled with the Spirit because we have so many leaks. Any time we sin we are no longer filled with His Spirit at that moment. We must confess our sin (1 John 1:9) and ask God to refill us. As a result, praise flows out of us. For example, when we complain we’ve sprung another leak and must be refilled (Philippians 2:14).
The main way to be filled with God’s Spirit is communion with Him and His Word (compare Ephesians 5:18-19 with Colossians 3:16). One tells us to be filled with the Spirit while the other tells us to allow the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly. Both have nearly the same exact context. One of the ways to be filled with the Spirit of God is to saturate ourselves with His Word and spend time with Him in prayer, seated at His feet (Acts 4:13, Luke 10:38-42, John 7:37-39).
- The Holy Spirit upon us. “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Power here is dunamis and means strength, power, ability; dynamite (explosive power) and dynamic. Let’s ask God for an overflow of His strength, power, ability, dynamite and dynamic in our lives.
The Holy Spirit coming “upon us” has to do with the anointing of the Holy Ghost for acts of service. There is no anointing without service. For example, as you share the gospel by witnessing to someone, or serve Jesus through acts of selfless service, the Holy Spirit will empower – overflow you with His strength, power, ability, dynamite (explosive power) and dynamic for the task you embark upon. Find some way to serve Him and you will experience an overflow of power upon your life. This is His anointing for service.
Elisha received a double portion of the anointing Elijah had because he was willing to serve. He first served behind twelve pair of oxen and then in faithful service to Elijah (1 Kings 19:19-21, 2 Kings 2:1-14). If you want to be used by God you must first be a faithful servant under another person’s ministry (Luke 16:12).
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit. “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matthew 3:11). “Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, Which, He said, you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5).
The Baptism of or in the Spirit has to do with the gifts (spirituals or manifestations) of the Holy Spirit. Baptism in the Holy Spirit means to be immersed in God’s Spirit. Many say this is when the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ at conversion, but there is a clear distinction between the two.
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). In this verse the Holy Spirit is doing the baptizing and is placing us into the body of Christ. The distinction is clear. In the one, Jesus is immersing us into the Holy Spirit and in the other we are being immersed into the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13 takes place at conversion whereas Matthew 3:11-12 and Acts 1:4-5 is an experience we can have in the Holy Spirit subsequent to that of salvation.
This experience opens us up to the manifestations of the Spirit found in 1 Corinthians 12:1-7. The initial evidence of this experience is speaking in tongues which has nothing to do with salvation (Acts 2:1-4, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 19:1-6). We receive all of the Holy Spirit at conversion (Romans 8:9). Baptism in the Spirit is an experience separate from and subsequent to salvation. It’s an experience we can enjoy in the Holy Spirit Who already dwells within us as believers.
These experiences in our relationship with the Holy Spirit often happen at separate and distinctly different times. There are also times in which they all appear to happen simultaneously. You can take a glass and pour water into it. The water is in the glass. You can also continue pouring water into the glass until it overflows. In which case, the water is in the glass but is also filling it to overflowing.
If you take the glass and immerse it into a bucket filled with water, the glass will simultaneously have water in it, be filled with and immersed in water and water could be said to be upon it as well. Water is with it and in it. The glass is both immersed in and filled with water and has water all around and over it.
Jesus said, “Whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
“If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believes on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly (innermost being) shall flow rivers (torrents) of living water” (John 7:37-38).
Let’s cry out for more and more of God and allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in our lives. Let’s be open to and ask for all He has to offer of His Spirit until we have to ask Him to stay His hand.