Robert Jeffress - What Every Christian Should Know About The Holy Spirit - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". In historic Christianity the Holy Spirit is most often depicted in the form of a dove, and while there's certainly biblical merit to that symbolism we shouldn't confuse the Holy Spirit for a docile bird. The Holy Spirit is a powerful force, a powerful person at work at this very moment; and today I'm going to show you how you can experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. My message is titled "What Every Christian Should Know About the Holy Spirit" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
You know, when you were born physically into the world, you were born with certain natural abilities and gifts. Some people have the gift of speaking, some people have the gift of working with their hands, and so forth. Well, when you were born again, the Bible says, the Holy Spirit brought into your life a spiritual gift. What is a spiritual gift? It's a unique desire and power God gives you to accomplish his purpose. We've done a series on spiritual gifts before. Every Christian has a spiritual gift. 1 Peter 4:10 says, "As each one has received a special gift," singular, "employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the grace of God".
The Greek word gift, charismatan, comes from the word charis, grace. When God extends his grace to you in salvation, he gives you a unique gift. And the root word char means joy. Joy, grace, and gift. True joy and fulfillment in your life comes when you discover and use that unique gift God has given you. What are the gifts? They're listed in Romans 12:6 through 8. Paul said, "Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given us, let us each exercise them: if prophecy, according to the proportion of faith; if service, in serving; if teaching, in teaching; exhortation, giving, leading, diligence, showing mercy, with cheerfulness". These are all gifts. And we don't have time to go into those gifts, but go to our website. Listen to the three-part series, "Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gift". It is a key to finding your real purpose in life.
Next, what does the Holy Spirit do? He fosters unity in the church. You know, when you think about it, the church is a miraculous organization. There's none other like it. Here you have people from all nationalities, people from all races, people from all economic backgrounds and educational achievements, people of different political affiliations all coming together to work together, to love one another. How is such a thing possible? The only thing comparable to that unity in the midst of diversity is the human body, and Paul writes about that in 1 Corinthians 12:12. He says, "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ". He goes on to say we're not all arms or noses or ears. We have different parts in our human body and yet they function together and they appreciate the contribution each part makes to the body. So should it be in the body of Christ.
How do you have that unity in the midst of diversity? Well, verse 13 of 1 Corinthians 12 answers that. "For with one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews, Greek, slaves, or free. We were all made to drink of one Spirit". The only explanation for the unity we have, our common denominator is we all have the same Holy Spirit of God who joins us together with one another. Unity in diversity. You know, back in the 1960s there was a popular chorus. It was in a minor key. Some of you may remember it. It was at a time in our nation's history when the country was being torn apart by Vietnam and assassinations and different views on civil rights. And remember how that song went? "We are one in the Spirit. We are one in the Lord. We are one in the Spirit and we are one in the Lord, and we pray that our unity may one day be restored. And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love; and they'll know we are Christians by our love".
You know, it always struck me that line: "And we pray that our unity will one day be restored". It seemed in the 1960s it would be impossible to ever experience unity this side of heaven, but that's not what the Bible says. We're not to pray that one day when we die unity would be restored. We are to be unified right now. Ephesians 4:3 says, "Be diligent to preserve the unity of Spirit in the bond of peace". It's the greatest proof that we are Christians, is by the love we have for one another. John 13:35 Jesus said, "By this all men," all people, "shall know you are My disciples, by your love for one another".
Ladies and gentlemen, we have never had a period since the civil war when our nation was as divided as it is right now. You know, speaking of civil war, you may remember a couple of years ago I spoke on a program about the possibility of a civil war-like fracture in our church. Media went crazy. I got banned from some TV shows 'cause I dared talk about a civil war. That was just 2 years ago. Today, the headline in the Washington Post, I think it said three out of ten Americans believe there'll be a civil war in their lifetime. Our country is divided, but we've got to make sure that division never infects the church of Jesus Christ. We are the proof that Christianity is true by our ability to love one another. That's the most powerful witness we have to an unbelieving world, and only through the Holy Spirit of God is such unity possible in the midst of diversity.
The Holy Spirit fosters unity in the church. Next, the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to trust in Christ. He gives us the ability to trust in Christ. You know, Revelation 22:17 makes it clear that everyone is free, everyone is invited to trust in Christ. "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes to take the water of life do so without cost". Who is it that is free to receive Christ as Savior? Is it just a little select few? No. Everybody is welcome to come and to take the water of life without cost. It is the Holy Spirit of God who invites every person to come.
Now, here's the thing. Everybody's invited to come, but only a few will come. Everybody's invited. Only a few will come. Only those who are motivated and enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God can come to a saving faith in Christ. Let me illustrate that for you. Dr. James Montgomery Boice used a great illustration. He said you can set a bale of hay in front of a lion and that lion is absolutely free to eat as much of that hay as he want to, but he will never eat that hay. Why? Because it's not in his nature. He's a carnivore, and a carnivore will never eat hay. He's free to, but he'll never choose to. It's the same way with humanity. Everybody is free to come to faith in Christ, but nobody will choose on his own to do so because it's not a part of his nature.
In Romans 3:10 and 11 Paul said, "There's not one righteous among us, not even one. There's no one who understands. There is no one who seeks for God". On our own nobody is seeking for the true God. They're just not doing that. They be searching for a god of their own imagination, a god of their own creation, but no man on his own seeks for God. Well then how can somebody be saved? Only by the Holy Spirit of God convicting them of sin and drawing them to Christ. Paul explained it this way in Ephesians 2:1. He said, "You were dead in your trespasses and sin". Dead people don't feel anything. An unsaved person is spiritually dead incapable of making any decision. "But God," verse 4, "being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, He has made us alive together with Christ, for by grace you have been saved".
No man comes to God the Father except the Spirit draws him. So whom does the Spirit draw? Does he draw just a select portion of people, or is he drawing every person? Would you like to know the answer to that? Come back in about 5 weeks when we talk about what every Christian should know about salvation. We'll answer that question then. But make it clear, nobody can come to God without the Holy Spirit's work in their life. Next, the Holy Spirit secures our future. Once you trust in Christ as your Savior, how do you know you're eternally secure? How do you know God will actually do what he's promised and save your soul and redeem your body? How do you know God won't change the terms of the deal he made with you? The answer, the Holy Spirit.
Listen to Ephesians 1:13 and 14. "In Him," Christ, "you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory". Paul uses two images here to show you what the Holy Spirit does to secure our salvation. First of all, he's a seal. He has sealed us. You know, in Paul's day if you wanted to seal a document, show it's authentic, you would put a piece of wax on it and a notary, so to speak, would press his ring with an insignia of the king or governor on that wax, and that impression of the emperor on that wax was proof that it was a legitimate document. He uses that imagery in saying when you were saved God sealed you. He put his stamp on you, and that stamp is the Holy Spirit of God. He is the guarantor of God's promise.
But not only is he a seal, he is the pledge of our inheritance. That word pledge could mean earnest or down payment. You understand that concept of a down payment? If you seek to buy a house and you enter into a contract, you're required to put down some earnest money to show that you're serious about completing the transaction. And let's say the requirement is you put 1% down as the purchase price, as the earnest money, that you're going to finish and close out that transaction in 30 days. One percent. Now, that's not an insignificant amount of money, but is there any circumstance which you might walk away from the deal and forfeit your 1%? Sure. Maybe you lose your job and you can't buy the house, or maybe you find a better deal.
You say, "It's worth giving up a few thousand dollars to get a better deal". One percent, you might or might not complete the transaction. But let's say your realtor said to you, you know, in this super hot real estate market they're not going to accept 1% earnest money, they want 100% of the purchase price. What are the chances you would walk away from that deal after putting down 100%? Is there anything that would cause you to walk away from it? Not on your life. The fact that you have put all of your money into that deal means you're going to fulfill the promise you made and complete the transaction.
Now listen to me. When you trust in Christ as your Savior, God doesn't give you 1% of himself or 10% of himself. He gives you all of himself, the Holy Spirit of God, God himself. And if he has poured all of himself into you, do you think he's going to renege on that deal? Not on your life. He is the guarantee that God is going to fulfill his promise to redeem your body one day and take you to be with him forever. Isn't that exciting? That's how you know you're saved. You have been sealed. You have as a pledge the Holy Spirit of God. That's what the Holy Spirit does for us.
"Well, pastor, you've talked about all the things the Holy Spirit does for us. And if the Holy Spirit indwells every believer, then why do I maintain the struggle with saying no to sin? Why do I find it difficult to pray? Why do I find it difficult to break this addiction in my life if I have the Holy Spirit"? It's because we don't understand the difference between the baptism with the Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit of God. The fact is the baptism with the Holy Spirit is something we all receive. It's something God does for us one time at the moment of our salvation. But the filling with the Spirit is something that happens continually in our life. Ephesians 5:18 says, "Don't get drunk with wine, for that's dissipation, but be filled with the Holy Spirit".
Now, I want you to notice two truths about being filled with the Holy Spirit. First of all, it's a command, not a promise. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to be baptized with the Spirit. There's not one command to be baptized with the Spirit. That's something God does for us. But there are 15 commands in the Bible to be filled with the Holy Spirit. That word filled in Greek, pliro, refers to the wind that fills up the sail of a ship and powers that ship and gives it direction. That's the filling of the Holy Spirit, and we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
Secondly, being filled with the Holy Spirit is a continual experience, not a one-time action like the baptism with the Spirit. When wind comes and fills up the sail of a ship, does that wind stay in there and powers the ship across the ocean? No. The wind comes and goes, and in the same way we have to continually work for the control of the Holy Spirit in our life. That's what being filled with the Spirit is. It's the same as saying being controlled with the Holy Spirit of God. You know, I was thinking all week about how to illustrate this for you. If we have the Holy Spirit of God, why don't we feel the power all the time? What's God's responsibility, and what is our responsibility?
And I thought this week about a hydroelectric dam. You've seen pictures of those dams. In fact, I put one on your outline and on the i-mag. You know, a dam creates an artificial reservoir of water behind it and the way it works is the water is released down these spillways, and there are four of them on your outline. And as the water releases over the spillway and begins to drop, it's an artificial waterfall; as it increases in velocity, when it hits maximum velocity it is channeled into a turbine, an electric generator. And the power of that falling water, the energy it creates is powerful enough to move the blades in that electric turbine. And when that generator begins to move, it generates electricity to thousands of households.
Now, I thought that's a good illustration of what God does for us. The moment we're saved God implants us with the spiritual generator who is the Holy Spirit of God, but there are conduits of energy we allow into our life that move the Holy Spirit into action to create that spiritual electricity, if you will. What are those conduits, those waterways, if you will, that come into our life and move the Holy Spirit to action?
Conduit number one is the Word of God, the Bible. God said in Jeremiah 23:29, "Is not My word like fire and like a hammer which shatters a rock"? The Word of God in our life moves the Holy Spirit into action.
Conduit number two is prayer. That's conversation with God. We saw a great illustration of that in 1 Kings 18, the story of Elijah, when with a simple 64-word prayer the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed that animal sacrifice. That's the power of prayer.
The third conduit, waterway that channels energy and causes the Holy Spirit to act is the church, the people of God. In Acts 2:42 we find these words: "And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer". And the next verse says, "And they kept experiencing a sense of awe and wonder as they marveled over what God was doing". And God was adding to their number daily, those who were being saved. Those disciples when they met together as a church, they felt spiritual energy. It created energy that caused the Spirit of God to work.
The Word of God, conversation with God, the people of God; and finally conduit number four that moves the Holy Spirit into action is obedience, submission to God. When the Holy Spirit begins working in our life and generating power, there are some things we can do to flip the circuit breakers to cut off the power. Or to use another imagery, to quench the fire of the Holy Spirit. That's why 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says, "Do not quench the Spirit". When he begins to work, don't extinguish his power by sin. Things like immorality, worry, bitterness, these are all spirit quenchers that stop the fire of the Holy Spirit.
One writer summarizes Paul's command this way: "If you're a follower of Christ, the Spirit is already at work in you. He's bigger than you, stronger than you, more patient with your failures and your inadequacies than you are. The Holy Spirit is committed to helping you 24/7". Paul says your only job is not getting in the way. As we go about life, either we do things to open ourselves up to the Spirit's influence or we do things to shut ourselves off to the Spirit. Isn't that a great thought? We're either doing things to open up the Spirit to working in our life or to close off the Spirit's working in our life. That's why Paul said in Galatians 5:25, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit".
I read a great thought this week from writer Anne Lamott. She said the mighty Gulf Stream that blows from east to west, or west to east, that mighty Gulf Stream that blows from west to east and is powerful enough to propel jetliners weighing hundreds of thousands of pounds to move more quickly, that same powerful Gulf Stream can blow through a single straw if the straw is properly aligned with the Gulf Stream. I'll tell you an even more amazing thought. The same Holy Spirit of God who flung every galaxy in this universe into existence, the same powerful Holy Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead, that same power can flow through your life and my life if we are properly aligned with him. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. That's what every Christian needs to know about the Holy Spirit of God.