Doug Batchelor - Our Crucial Need for the Holy Spirit
You know, I'd like to go to a familiar passage in John chapter 3, and it's the story where Nicodemus comes to Jesus, and I'll begin with verse 1. "There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, this man came to Jesus by night and he said, 'Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these things that you do unless God is with them.'" And Jesus, anticipating what was really on his heart, "He said to him, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God,'"
We've got to know what that means because he's pretty definite there. "Nicodemus said to Him, 'How can a man be born again when he's old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?' And, Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of the water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I say to you, "You must be born again," the wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it but you cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes; so is everyone who is born of the spirit.'"
So that's what we're talking about, what does it mean to be born of the spirit, and we want to discuss the importance of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, and the necessity for us to have the Holy Spirit. We not only want the initial refreshing that you get when you commit your life to the Lord, when you're baptized you should receive that gift of the spirit. It says there in Acts chapter 2, "Peter told the believers, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the promise is unto you and your children and many as the Lord God shall call.'"
So there's a promise, He gives us His spirit when we first come to Him but then the spirit can come in waves. Peter, James, John, they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, probably by John the Baptist, I mean when they got baptized by John the Baptist, but then they receive the Holy Spirit in Pentecostal power at Pentecost, Acts chapter 2. So we want that latter rain, baptism of the Holy Spirit, we need it in the last days. In the last days when sin abounds, God's grace does much more abound. When the spirit of the devil is come down with great wrath because he knows his time is short, God's people, through the power of God the Spirit, need to compensate and have a double portion, as Elisha prayed for, of the Holy Spirit. So we're going to talk now about the biblical priority of the Holy Spirit.
Some people are a little dismissive about the importance of the Holy Spirit, they don't talk about it, they don't preach about it, and the Bible makes a priority of it. In the beginning, you go to Genesis and it says, "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters," go to the end of the Bible where you see Revelation and it tells us, "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.'" The ministry of Jesus begins, he comes out of the water, he is anointed with the Holy Spirit and then, after Christ dies and ascends to heaven, his final words are, "Go ye therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." So you see this priority that God gives to the Holy spirit through the Bible.
Now, I should probably pause here and say, who, what is the Holy Spirit? Now, I mentioned that like that not because the Holy Spirit is a what, but some people talk about the Holy Spirit like it's electricity. Biblically, the Holy Spirit is a person, He has all of the characteristics of the person, He is the third person in the Godhead. Acts chapter 5, verse 3, "Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? You've not lied to men but to God.'" Peter was telling Ananias you didn't lie to some electrical force, some radiation or x-ray, you lied to God because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, it is a separate individual. In Acts chapter 7, verse 51, it says, "You do resist the Holy Spirit." Ephesians 4, verse 30, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit," grieving is an emotion of anguish, it says the Holy Spirit can be grieved. 1 Thessalonians 5:19, "Do not quench the Spirit," the Spirit of God burns within our hearts and we can quench his work by resisting him, that's how you lead on towards the sin against the Holy Spirit. Acts 13, verse 2, it says, "As they prayed and fasted, the Holy Spirit said,"
Holy Spirit's speaking as a person speaks. Notice here, the Holy Spirit speaks, He intercedes, Romans 8:26, I'm just going to give these to you quickly because I don't have time to read them all. He commands, Acts 16:6 and 7, He appoints, Acts 20, verse 28, He leads, Romans 8:14, He reproves, John 16:8. The Holy Spirit has intellect, emotions, will, He can be grieved, He has everything that a personality would have, He doesn't have a body.
Now this is where it gets a little complicated, people have a hard time as humans, that even Jesus said, "God is a spirit," we try to package God in our terms and it's so incomprehensible. Now God the Father and Son, evidently, have a form because it describes Their eyes and Their hands and Their feet and many other facets, but with the Holy Spirit, the spirit comes down like a dove on Jesus at His baptism; Holy Spirit comes down like tongues of fire at Pentecost; Holy Spirit comes like wind, and so sometimes the Holy Spirit's compared to water; it's more of these quintessential elements that we see that are figurative of the Holy Spirit.
And so there's something mysterious here, but keep in mind the Holy Spirit is a person, Jesus said, "It's expedient that I go away; if I go, I will send the comforter and He will be with you, He will be in you." So Christ is with us through God the Spirit, Christ comes from the Father to reveal God the Father, God the Father is a separate person revealed through Christ, and Jesus is revealed to us through the Holy Spirit.
So, second point here is a good relationship with the Holy Spirit is a life and death issue. John, 1 John 5:16, bible tells us, "There is a sin leading to death, and I do not say that you should pray about that." And people often wonder, why would it be considered more dangerous to sin against the Holy Spirit than to sin against the Father or the Son? And that's based on these verses, let me read this to you from Matthew chapter 12, verse 31. "Therefore I say unto you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come."
That's pretty serious, why is that? Well you see, the Holy Spirit is the person of the Godhead that brings us to conviction that leads us to repentance, when we reject the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives we are basically burning the bridge that God uses to bring us to salvation; and so that's why it's so important not to grieve, not to chase away the Holy Spirit when He's bringing conviction to us.
Now I need to stop right here and explain, if you're wondering if you've committed the unpardonable sin, probably not, because the very fact you're listening to this program shows you still have some spiritual appetite but don't continue to resist the conviction and the work of the Spirit in your life, that is a dangerous thing to do. For three and a half years, Judas wrestled with the idea that he should confess his sin to Jesus, that he should forsake his sin of stealing, he had been robbing money from the poor the whole time. And when Jesus knelt to wash his feet there in the upper room, I think Judas's heart nearly broke, he wanted to tell the Lord what he had done, he wanted to confess and come clean, but in his pride he kept putting it off and putting it off and the Holy Spirit left him for the last time. It says, "Satan entered him" at that point, that's why it's such a dangerous thing to continue to reject the work of the Holy Spirit; so we need to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews chapter 6, and this verse frightens people, Hebrews chapter 6, verse 4, "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, seeing they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put him to an open shame."
If, over the course of our life, we reject the best that God has to offer, which is what this is saying, what more is he going to do? He tells us, look, I gave my son, if that doesn't touch your heart what more can God do? And so be very careful about rejecting God's best because it can get where we don't appreciate the plan of salvation.
Three, we need the Holy Spirit for life, for eternal life. Romans 8, verse 6, "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Staying in Romans go to verse 9, Romans 8, verse 9, "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he is not his," and if you are not Jesus's, then Jesus said, "If you are not with Me you are against Me."
There's only two masters, there's only two roads, you're either with Christ, you might think, "Well I'm in some, you know, spiritual Switzerland, I'm neutral." No, if you're not with Christ, He said, "You're against Me," that means you're with the enemy, you're with the devil. Hate to say it that way but that's what Jesus said, he said, "If you do not have the Spirit of Christ then you are none of His." Romans 8:13, "For if you live after the flesh you will die, but if through the Spirit, you mortify the deeds of the body, you will live."
The Bible tells us that this is a life and death issue, it's not optional, it's not that you say, "Well I want to be a Christian, I'm not sure I'm going to be a spirit-filled Christian, I just want to be at a sorta okie dokie Christian." God is calling everybody to be Spirit-filled, if you're not Spirit-filled then what is it?
I remember Thomas Edison, he illustrated that one time he, he told his scientists to measure the volume in one of his light bulbs, and they went and got their calculators and started doing calculus formulas and geometry, he said, "What are you guys doing?" They said, "We're trying to figure out how to measure the volume in this bulb," and he said, he took the bulb, took the cap off the bottom, filled it with water, took it over, put it in a square pitcher, said, "Now measure it," they said, "Oh, so the way that you get the air out is by pouring the water in."
If we want to get the devil and the world out of our lives, we need to be filled with something else; you cannot be filled with the Spirit if you're full of other things. So the way to be ready to receive the Spirit is to empty yourself, to choose to let go, you come to the place where you take up your cross and you say, "Lord, not my will, Thy will be done." Jesus said, "If you seek to save your life you will lose it, but if for Christ's sake you let go, then you will find your life; and what profit is it if you gain the whole world and you lose your soul?" So beginning as a Christian really starts with emptying yourself so that God can fill you with what really lasts, and that's the Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, point number four, we need the Holy Spirit for obeying. Romans 8, verse 13 and 14, "For if you live after the flesh you will die, but if through the Spirit," now how do we do it? We touched on this already but I want to emphasize this point, "Through the Spirit you mortify," mortify means you kill, "Through the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit they are the sons of God." In Ezekiel 36, verse 27, "I will put My spirit within you and cause you," God says, "I will give you the Holy Spirit and I will cause you to walk in My ways, and to keep My commandments."
Now how does this all happen? You know, the power really comes, the Holy Spirit gives us the new heart, the new heart is a loving heart, it's a heart where you love God and you love your neighbor. Paul says, "Love is the fulfilling of the law," Jesus says, "All of the commandments are fulfilled in this: that we love one another," and it's all boiling down to loving the Lord. And Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy chapter 6, when He said, "Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength," and then Jesus quoted Leviticus chapter 19:18, when He said, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
The first four commandments deal with our love relationship with God; if we love God we're not going to worship other gods; if we love God we're not going to take His name in vain or miss our time with Him or insult Him by likening Him to idols. Likewise, if we love our neighbor, when God gives us this new heart and the gift of love in our heart for God and our fellow man, we're not going to steal from them or kill them or rob them or steal their spouse, and you can go through the litany of those last six commandments. And so love is the fulfilling of the law, that's why Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments, and I will pray the Father and he will give you another Helper, that He might abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him or knows Him, but you know Him for He dwells in you and He will be with you."
Now this is sort of a double-sided sword, God gives the Spirit to those that obey and God gives the Spirit so we can obey. Living the Christian life is frankly impossible without God, following Jesus and living like Jesus is attempting an impossibility without the Spirit of God.
I remember we were in Russia, 25 years ago, yeah, 1992, we went right after the iron curtain fell and I went to the city of Stavropol, and did some meetings there and we saw something interesting. The buses, the city busses were rather fall, and the busses actually used tires but they're attached to overhead electricity which means that the bus driver had the freedom to drive away from the electricity, he had to stay kind of on a line that was painted and he was relatively sure that this spring-loaded mechanism was touching the wires up above. Well this one bus driver went to turn a little wide and he got disconnected, and he gave out a shout and a bunch of people got out of the bus. I mean, the thing was just dead in the water stopping all the traffic, and we watched the people piled out of the bus, they got behind the bus, they started pushing the bus back into the right line. The driver had a pole, I guess this happened more than once, he reached up with his insulated pole, he pulled the spring-loaded mechanism back underneath the power, everything with back up again, they all climbed back on the bus and they took off.
Well, that's the key, you want to be connected to the power. Now what would you think if the driver told everybody to get out of the bus, and say, "We're going to push our way through the rest of our bus stops today?" That wouldn't make any sense but this is how so many Christians operate, they're trying in their own strength without the love of God, without the Spirit of God they're trying to push their way through living a victorious Christian experience, where what they have to do is connect with the power; and I'll tell you, there's a lot of power in the Holy Spirit that's available to us.
You read in the Bible, God gives us so many examples of extraordinary power. The Spirit of the Lord comes on Samson, and one man, you know he takes on 1,000. Not only did it happen with Samson, it happened with David's mighty men, it happened with David and Goliath, and the bear and the lion, so the Spirit can give you whatever strength you need for the task. "God is faithful, He will not suffer you to be tempted above what you're able, but will with the temptation provide a way of escape." Whatever temptation you face, you know, God told Paul, "My grace is sufficient," He will, through the Spirit, give you whatever you need.
So you never need to say, "It was too much, I couldn't handle it," through Christ you can do anything. You can't live the Christian life, you can't walk on water, but if you keep your eyes on Christ, you can walk on water just like Peter did, that's the key. It's impossible to live the Christian life unless God works a miracle and you keep your eyes on Christ, then you can do the impossible.
We need the Holy Spirit for instruction and for guidance. John 6:63, "It is the Spirit that quickens, the flesh profits nothing; the words that I speak to you they are spirit and they are life." John 14:26, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He," notice again the He, "He will teach you all things, and He will bring to your remembrance all things of what I have said."
You know, you have God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit connected with Jesus's baptism, when Christ began His life of ministry, all persons of the Godhead we're involved in that, and all the persons of the Godhead are involved in our conversion, but God then brings the Spirit into our lives. "When Christ came out of the water, He was led of the Spirit," the Bible says, and He began to perform His miracles at that time because a new power came into His life, so we need it for instruction.
Holy Spirit's never going to tell us anything to contradict what the holy Word says, he will bring the word to our remembrance. John 16, verse 13, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own authority but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will tell you things to come." You'll hear that still small voice and God will guide you, He'll say, "This is the way, walk ye in it." 1 Corinthians 2, verse 14, "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit, for they're foolishness to him, nor can he know them because they're spiritually discerned."
Even to understand the Bible we need the Holy Spirit, to understand the Book that was inspired by the Holy Spirit, Bible says, "Holy men were moved by the Holy Spirit," how much then do you need the Holy spirit to understand the holy Word? Pray before you read the Bible, God will speak to you. Not only does faith come by hearing the Word, I think the Holy Spirit comes through us as we read the Word and we pray for the Holy Spirit to better understand it. That's why Jesus said that prayer, "He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches," and the word here there means not just to audibly hear it but to be willing to obey and to listen.
I was reading a book about these men that were crossing Saudi Arabia and sometimes, the Arabs, you know, they pretty much saw their way around by the stars at night but sometimes they'd be in a sandstorm where they couldn't see the sun, moon, or stars. On occasions like this, some of the caravan leaders carried with them a homing pigeon, and to the homing pigeon's foot they tied a long strong thread, and when they were lost in a storm they would release the pigeon who would fly in a circle for just a moment, and he would tug in the perfect direction they needed to go; they had this built in GPS somehow that homing pigeons know exactly what direction to go, and that would guide them. So as we've got God's Spirit, that dove, He directs us, He helps us know which way to go.
We need the Holy Spirit for effective praying, we must pray for the Holy Spirit and yet we need the Spirit to pray. Luke 11:13, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those that ask?" So, start out and pray for the Holy Spirit. When I kneel in the morning to begin my devotions, I get down and pray right there and say, "Lord, please give me Your Spirit so I even know what I ought to pray for." And it's like you read in Romans 8:26, "Likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered."
You know, I like singing, like a lot of people I like singing but I may not have the best voice but I like singing surrounded by people that do sing, I sound so much better. I feel better about my singing when I've got them around me to help keep me on key and that's the way it is with the Holy Spirit. We pray with the Spirit to Christ, praying in the Spirit. In Ephesians chapter 6, verse 18, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints." Notice, all-all-all, Bible says, "Pray without ceasing." So you know a Christian should be praying for the Spirit, talking to someone about the Lord, you don't know what to say, send up a prayer; driving in your car, pray to stay connected to the Spirit.
You know when bats go out, now some bats fly at night and some bats fly in the day, but bats use sonar, and you can't hear it but they are constantly squeaking, with special instruments they can pick it up. And bats are constantly squeaking this very ultra-high-frequency that they can hear with their very sensitive ears and some of the bats that fly at night, and their eyes are virtual vestigial remnants, they can't even hardly see. They map everywhere they're going, they can spot bugs in the air from the sound but they have to constantly keep singing, they constantly keep making that noise so they can constantly calibrate where they are. As soon as they stop, they get lost and crash into things, and that's how it is. We don't want to lose our spiritual vocal cords because it's through our constantly calibrating where we are in God's will, through the Spirit, through connecting with prayer. It's the Spirit that helps us to pray and pray for all of the Spirit that you can possibly get.
This city-slicker moved to the country and he wanted to be a real country boy so he asked his neighbor if he could buy a milk cow, neighbor had several milk cows at his dairy, said sure, sold him a milk cow. Few weeks later, he said, "You know that milk cow you sold me, not putting out very much milk," he said, "At first, it seemed like there's plenty of milk," and he said, "Now I'm hardly get in any." He said, "Well you've been milking it twice a day, right?" "Well no," said, "Sometimes I don't need that much, so sometimes I just need a pitcher, sometimes we just need a cup or two." And the farmer said, "Man, if you want that cow to keep supplying milk, you gotta milk it for all you can get at least twice a day every day."
And don't be satisfied with a little Spirit, because you're going to get what you ask for, pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and pray for it every day. Bible tells us that, "We should ask the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain." How do we get that experience, friends? Ask. "If you are evil and you give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy spirit to those who ask?" Keep knocking, keep seeking, keep asking, every day plead for the Spirit, and I believe we'll receive the latter rain, friends. Make room in your heart and you can do that right now.