Monday, February 16, 2009

Truth One: The Holy Spirit by Joshua Taylor

This is the second installment of a four part series. To fully grasp the intent please read the post directly preceding this one entitled "Three Truths: Introduction." This is a series by Joshua Taylor.

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Truth One: The Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-4, 6-8)

There are many misconceptions concerning the Holy Spirit’s role in believers’ lives. For some, He is missing in the Godhead, and for others He is interpreted as a supernatural force producing fanatic “worship.” In reality, the Holy Spirit’s role in believers’ lives is really simple. In John 16:14, Jesus says, “He will glorify Me.” The desire of the Holy Spirit is to make Jesus famous in and through lives. That’s it.

Look in Acts 1:2: “After He had by the Holy Spirit given orders…” Jesus was inspired to give some orders before He went to Heaven. What were those orders that He gave to the disciples? The “Great Commission!” Meditate on that. Jesus was inspired by the Holy Spirit to give the Great Commission. So naturally, what is the heartbeat of the Holy Spirit? The Great Commission! That’s what the Holy Spirit longs to see in our world today, the Great Commission fulfilled.

In his account of the Great Commission, Luke writes in the 24th chapter of his Gospel that Jesus commanded His displaces to proclaim in His name to all the nations repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus goes on to say, “You (speaking to His disciples) are My witnesses.” “And behold…” Pay close attention to the following: “I’m sending forth the promise of My Father.” When you look in the Gospels, the promise of the Father is clear; it’s the Holy Spirit. “I’m sending forth the promise of the Holy Spirit.” So, “stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." Isn’t that a contradiction? Go preach, but wait! Jesus ordered the disciples to wait on the Holy Spirit; He knew they would need the Holy Spirit to empower them to effectively share the gospel. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses…”

Why on earth is it necessary to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to effectively share the gospel? Can’t we just memorize and regurgitate Scriptures on people, and they be saved? Allow me to illustrate.

On weekends through my second, third, and fourth semester at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia, my sister and I traveled to and from Mulberry Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC where we ministered to the youth. Normally, we would finish around 7:30-8:00 on Sunday evenings and would head back to college. By that time, the night’s dark had fallen full to the earth; however, at precisely 7 miles before our exit a great light shone: two golden arches! It was a huge billboard sign for McDonald’s. It instantly incited an appetite. Next thing you know, we exited and were sitting in a McDonald’s drive-thru. But think about this: even if the golden arches were perfectly painted on the billboard, if there were not lights shining onto the billboard would McDonald’s message be effectively communicated to us? Furthermore, would we get an appetite? Certainly not!

God’s salvation plan is perfectly painted in the Bible just as the golden arches on the billboard, but you and I must realize as witnesses of God’s salvation plan that our audience, all of humanity, is fallen and dark like we once were. Apart from the Holy Spirit illuminating the message of Jesus Christ no one can hope to see it.

1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are God's fellow workers…” The Great Commission is a cooperative effort with the Holy Spirit. We can never see Jesus made famous in and through the lives by our efforts alone but only alongside the Holy Spirit. Uniquely, the chief title for the Holy Spirit is paraklēton, “one who is called to another's side to aid him” (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7).

God not only began salvation work by sending His Son but sustains and strengthens His work to completion by sending His spirit. God has the will and power to redeem; we are the means. God is looking for completely empty vessels in which He can fill and pour out for His purpose of saving men and women.

Instead of waiting in dependence on God, we grow impatient. Look at what the disciples retreated to when God chose not to work on their timeline. Acts 1:6 says, “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" Politics! The kingdom of Israel they were referring to was the immediate, earthly salvation of the state of Israel not God’s redemptive plan found in the advancement of the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). The church is notorious for taking God’s work into our human hands and doing it our way. Instead of radical obedience to Him, we jump out in front of God’s leadership through the Holy Spirit and begin to use our minds instead of Christ’s mind and our strength instead of God’s power.

And what is the result? Burn out! Frustration! God’s displeasure. It is time that we believers put our faith back into the Holy Spirit’s work to drag men and women to the cross and transform them into the one who hung on it. The Holy Spirit is responsible to dynamically connect the gospel with lives; we are responsible to be faithful to the gospel-message through verbal communication and lifestyle demonstration in our cultural context. We cannot overcome the world unless the Holy Spirit comes alongside of us and helps us, but when we wait on Him and began to walk in rhythm with Him the gospel comes alive in our homes, schools, workplaces, with the Samaritans (those “forbidden” people who you thought you couldn’t share your faith with), then to places that take you totally out of your comfort zone, and maybe even to our “Romes” (Acts 1:8).

...Joshua Taylor, College Student and Student Body Chaplain at Toccoa Falls College

4 comments:

Deborah Ross Ministries said...

Joshua: I enjoyed reading your articles posted on the "Three Truths" and "Truth One: The Holy Spirit". You are right on. It has always confused me as to why churches have so many "witnessing classes" when the Holy Spirit empowers the believer to witness with an anointing that is God inspired. If Christians will just learn to wait on power from on high, by seeking the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, our world would be shaken for Christ. I think many are afraid to "get real" with God and so they try to take short cuts to the blessings. That's not God's way.

Deborah Ross Ministries said...

Right On!

Joshua Taylor said...

DRM: Thanks so much for your affirmation. To clarify, I do believe we receive the entire essence of the Holy Spirit in our inner man upon conversion (Gal. 3:2). But as Gal. 3:3 goes onto say that we are born of the Spirit by faith, yet stubbornly we revert to accomplishing the work of sanctification and performing the work of conviction, which only the Spirit can do, by our fleshly powers. And, that is what ultimately concerns me. Instead, of remaining humble before God, which we don't mind for salvation, we think we have instantly been made into "sub-gods", if you will, totally capacitated to determine "God's will" by ourselves and with our power. We must learn to walk in step with the Spirit, and we will not live by the flesh. Allow me to conclude with this: Charles Spurgeon said, “Many preachers have had to confess the uselessness of mere moral preaching. There is no instance, I believe, on record, where the mere preaching of the law made a man love God, or where the heart ever was, or ever could be, renewed by doing good works.” I wish pastors in the pulpit would preach about how a passionate relationship with the Holy Spirit leads to our witness, not witnessing out of "obligation" necessarily although we are commanding, but the Spirit seizes witness as an "opportunity." As a dear friend of my put, Matthew 28:18-20 is our command, but Acts 1:8 makes it our CHARACTER!

Anna K. said...

This is great Josh! I like the McDonald's example, it makes sense and I've never thought about it like that before.