The work of the Holy Spirit in us
The supreme goal of the work of the Holy Spirit is to bring glory to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus. The Holy Spirit directs our attention to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit leads us to Jesus. He says to us, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.”
The Apostle Paul stresses the vital connection between the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ: “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God, ever says, ‘Jesus be cursed’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).
Every one who has truly come to faith in Jesus Christ is able to say, with conviction, “This is the work of the Holy Spirit.”
Read the Acts of the Apostles. Many people come to faith in Jesus Christ. What is the explanation? – The Holy Spirit.
In Acts 2:41, we read of three thousand souls being added to the Church on one day. What is the explanation? Go back to Acts 2:4 – “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit … the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Read Acts 2:16-18 – “this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel … I will pour out My Spirit … I will pour out My Spirit.”
In Acts 4:33, we see the apostles, “with great power, giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” What is the explanation? Acts 4:31 gives us the answer – “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God with boldness.”
Look at the men of God in the Acts of the Apostles. They are men filled with the Holy Spirit.
First, there is Stephen. Immediately before he was stoned, Stephen preached the Gospel of Christ. After he had finished speaking, we see Stephen – about to be stoned – facing death as a man full of the Holy Spirit, a man looking to Jesus Christ – “Now when they heard these things they were enraged and they ground their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:54-55).
In Acts 8, we see Philip, a man in step with the Spirit. The Ethiopian eunuch is reading the Old Testament Scriptures, but he does not understand what they mean. The Spirit of God is at work – “And the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and join this chariot” (Acts 8:29). Philip led the Ethiopian eunuch to faith in Christ. Philip, then, continued in the way of the Spirit – “the Spirit of the Lord caught up Philip” (Acts 8:39). The Spirit continued to use Philip in the preaching of the Gospel of Christ – “he preached the Gospel to all the towns till he came to Caesarea” (Acts 8:40).
In Acts 10, we read of Peter, bringing the Good News of Christ to Cornelius, the centurion. Peter preached the message of forgiveness – “every one who believes in Him (Jesus Christ) receives forgiveness of sins through His Name” (Acts 10:43). As Peter spoke, something wonderful happened – “While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the Word” (Acts 10:44).
Later, in Acts, we read of the ministry of Paul. In his message to the elders at Ephesus, Paul describes his ministry in this way – “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying to both Jews and to Greeks of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:20-21).
As he speaks of this Christ-centred ministry, Paul makes it clear that he does not carry out this ministry in his own strength. He speaks of the next step in his missionary journey – “now … I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the Spirit” (Acts 20:22).
In this brief survey of Acts, we have drawn attention to four men, filled with the Holy Spirit – Stephen, Philip, Peter and Paul. These men were not only filled with the Holy Spirit. Their lives were centred on Jesus Christ. Filled with the Holy Spirit. Centred on Jesus Christ. The two belong together. You can’t have one without the other.
What can we learn from these four men? Here are four lessons we can learn from them.
(a) From Stephen, we learn this. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we look away from ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ. Looking to Christ, we catch a glimpse of the glory of God. Our lives are filled with the glory of the Lord.
(b) From Philip, we learn this – the importance of going where the Spirit leads us. If we are to lead others, we must follow the leading of the Spirit. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Philip had been transformed/In John 6, where Jesus fed the 5,000, Philip knew nothing of the power of God to do mighty things. At that time, Philip said, ‘It can’t be done. We cannot feed this great multitude.’ In Acts 8, we see a very different Philip, a new Philip. No longer does he say, ‘It can’t be done.’ Now, he says, ‘It shall be done.’ When Philip saw what Christ could do for the hungry multitude, he caught a glimpse of what Christ could do in his own life. Now, Philip – a man led by the Spirit of God – was leading others to Jesus, the Son of God. The Spirit leads us to Christ that we, in turn, might lead others to Christ. This, we can only do through the power of the Holy Spirit. With His power, we dare not say, ‘It can’t be done.’ With His power, we dare to say, ‘It shall be done.’
(c) What do we learn from Peter? we learn of the way in which the Holy Spirit can take control of our words and use them yo bring blessing to others. The Peter of the Gospels was a bit of a loudmouth. He was always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. The lowest point in Peter’s life came when he denied his Lord three times. Peter denied Jesus Christ, when he should have been confessing Him as Lord. In Acts, we see a new Peter. No longer do we see the Peter to whom the Lord had to say, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). Now, we see Peter speaking the right words at the right time. Peter is now speaking words which the Holy Spirit carries home powerfully to the hearts of his hearers. When the Holy Spirit takes control of our lives, He will also take control of our words, that they may truly become “wonderful words of life”, words which bring life to people who need Jesus.
(d) We learn from Paul that the Holy Spirit is leading us on to greater things – in the service of Christ. Paul was not content with what he had achieved in the service of Christ. led by the Holy Spirit, Paul was moving on to greater things. This is the way the Holy Spirit is leading us today. We must not rest content. We must go on.
From these four men of God, we learn that the Holy Spirit does not only lead us to the beginning of faith in Christ. He leads us into a whole new life, a life with Christ at its centre, a life spent in the service of Christ, speaking His Word, doing His will and living His way