Who or what is the Holy Spirit? Growing up in my particular denomination we didn’t talk about the Holy Spirit much. When we did we called him a ghost! I never learned my spiritual gifts until much later in life, nor how the Holy Spirit prayed in and through us as believers. I knew He was part of the Trinity, but I did not understand the Holy Spirit is a gift to me as a believer in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I rarely spoke to Him and mostly forgot He was part of my life.
In this article, we will uncover the person and work of the Holy Spirit. How we engage the Holy Spirit in prayer. How to discover our spiritual gifts. What are the fruits or the fruit of the Spirit. What people mean when they say Holy Spirit baptism or ask if you have been baptized by the Holy Spirit. And most importantly what it means to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead: Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. To welcome the Holy Spirit is to invite more of the presence of God into your life. But what is the purpose of the Holy Spirit? God’s plan to instill the Holy Spirit within His children first became mentioned back in Ezekiel. The remnant of Israel had become exiled from their land and taken captive to Babylon. Their temple, where the Shekinah Glory, or the Spirit of God dwelt permanently among them had been destroyed. So they felt they lacked the presence of God. Ezekiel 11:14-20 includes God’s promise to return His people to their land but His Spirit would indwell within them. Never again would God’s people need to feel separated from Him. His intimacy would remain forever close and certain.
The Holy Spirit is a gift.
He is the certainty of God’s presence with us and for us. God also explains in Ezekiel 11 how the Holy Spirit’s purpose included aiding us in remaining obedient to God’s statutes for our lives. Those statutes offered protection from the destructive nature of sin and the Holy Spirit offers the wisdom to understand their benefits. He also promises the power to overcome our sinful and rebellious flesh that tempts us to disregard them.
The Holy Spirit is also a gift because as Paul teaches, “He is a deposit guaranteeing what is to come,” (2 Corinthians 5:5). His presence serves as the promise that we have a home in heaven when our time on earth is over. When we reach our heavenly dwelling we will no longer be clothed in corrupted flesh. We will be fully free to be in complete unity and obedience to God. The Holy Spirit’s presence is the gift that reminds us that we are still in the process of fully experiencing God’s redemptive plan for us. He is still perfecting us by His power.
The Holy Spirit Is A Promise
In those hard moments when we believe our doubts and doubt our beliefs, when we wonder if heaven is real, our habits will ever stop swallowing us in defeat or if we will ever experience victory, the Holy Spirit is the gift we unwrap within our hearts reminding us of God’s power and promises. He renews our mind, reminding us of the faithfulness of God to keep every promise He has made to us. Jesus is coming back for us and preparing a home in heaven for us. He is finishing the work He started within us through His death and resurrection and He will not leave us alone. The Holy Spirit is the reminder of all of these things and the very nature and power of God within us.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Not only is the Holy Spirit a gift to us as believers, He is also the Spirit of gifts. He gives every follower of Jesus
Christ at least one spiritual gift. Jesus explained to His disciples before He went to the cross that the Holy Spirit would give them the words to speak when questioned by worldly systems who attempted to silence them. (See Luke 12:10-12.) He also promised that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth and bring understanding to the Scriptures and God’s plan and purposes. (See John 16:12-15.)
After Jesus’ death and resurrection but prior to His ascension, Jesus informed His followers that they would be His witnesses. (See Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit is mentioned 42 times alone in the Book of Acts. This implies that our power to become witnesses of the reality of Christ comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit within us.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit
You may hear the term “baptism of the Holy Spirit” and wonder what that means. The Book of Acts first mentions this term. The Samaritans believed in Christ but did not immediately receive the Holy Spirit. We only see this in Acts 8, when Philip, willingly went to Samaria and preached the gospel to them. The Samaritans believed the message but did not receive the Holy Spirit until Peter and John arrived later. Why did the Holy Spirit wait?
Jesus made it clear to His disciples back in Acts 1:8 that He expected them to take the Good News to the Samaritans but thus far they remained in Jerusalem. In order for the disciples to see for themselves that the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection needed to be shared outside of the confines of Israel, the Holy Spirit purposefully waited until these disobedient disciples arrived. This is the only incidence in which the full message of the gospel was preached and the Spirit waited to fall upon believers. Every other conversion story in Acts involves an immediate dispensation of the Spirit. Because the conversion of the Samaritans proved so unlikely and unique, the disciples needed to see it with their own eyes. Therefore, I do not believe this passage serves as a proof text that a separate baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs after conversion.
The Holy Spirit’s Gifts
In my study An Unexplainable Life, the presence of the Holy Spirit transforms us so that our lives defy natural abilities. People must concede that there is no way we could be living the way we do apart from God’s power. There is too much faith, generosity and joy. Our lives can only be explained by the power of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit. Throughout the book of Acts we see people performing radical acts of faith due to the power of the Holy Spirit within their lives. Bold shifts from fear to faith. But the gifts of the Holy Spirit do not merely serve the evangelistic purpose of sharing Jesus with the world, they also exist to build up and serve the body.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church he offers an in depth explanation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts of the Spirit serve to embolden, equip and strengthen all believers. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul devotes a large portion of his letter outlining the variety of gifts, their purpose, and dispensation. According to Paul, no one receives all of the spiritual gifts, rather each believer receives their own manifestation. God’s purpose behind this includes intimacy with Him and dependence upon Him, but also interdependence with one another as the family of God. No believer can do all things, we are in need of one another’s gifts for the kingdom to grow. While we all have a gift, no one has all the gifts.
Examples of Spiritual Gifts
Some examples of spiritual gifts include wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues. (See 1 Corinthians 12.) You can find free spiritual gifts tests online. These can help you understand spiritual gifts and what they mean. The study of the Book of Acts through An Unexplainable Life shows all of the gifts in living color. Paul implored the Corinthians not to be ignorant regarding their spiritual gifts. We ought to know and understand which manifestation of the Holy Spirit we have been given. Only believers in Jesus Christ receive spiritual gifts.
Salvation is Personal, Calling is Communal
We often talk about discovering our calling or the call of God upon our lives. A calling forever remains empowered by one’s spiritual gift. The Holy Spirit seals us with His presence at salvation, giving us our spiritual gift(s). However the call of God upon our lives may come to fullness at a later time. Paul provides an example of this. In Acts 9, Jesus appears to Paul on the road to Damascus and Paul puts his faith in Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Jesus reveals to Ananias Paul’s call to become a missionary to the Gentiles.
Immediately Paul begins serving the saints. However, it is not until Acts 13 that we see this call on Paul’s life begin to be fulfilled when the Holy Spirit sweeps in and sets Paul and Barnabas apart to head out on the mission field to take the gospel to the Greeks. The Holy Spirit speaks through other believers to make known God’s unique call upon each of us.
Because our call is communal, we most likely will not recognize our spiritual gifts within ourselves. Even if we take a spiritual gifts test, we still might be confused over what our gifts are. But when we are serving in community with other believers, they will recognize and call out our gifts. The Holy Spirit will reveal our gifts to us through them. If we are not in community or serving anywhere, our gifts remain unnoticed and their power untapped. Largely because the gifts are for the equipping and encouraging the body. When we are isolated or uninterested in investing in our churches, our gifts remain hidden.
The Holy Spirit Prayer
Not only does the Spirit give us gifts, He also intercedes for us and in us. The Scriptures mention several transformative works of the Holy Spirit in prayer. Many Christians love to quote Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” We take great comfort in this verse. But we cannot separate this verse from the prayer of the Holy Spirit in the verses prior.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself interceded for us with groaning too deep for words.” Paul goes on to say in v. 27 that “The Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” So how do all things work together for good? When the saints posture themselves in prayer and allow the Holy Spirit to pray through them. We pray. The Holy Spirit prays. God works. We have work to do for God to work all things together for good. And that is to make ourselves available for the spirit to intercede for the saints through us.
The Holy Spirit in Prayer
Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians: And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18 NIV). All occasions, all kinds of prayers, always. This command is the capstone to being fully clothed in the armor of God. Prayer. Not rote or ritualistic prayers, but conversations in which we allow the Holy Spirit to bring saints to mind as we bow our heads and wait for Him to whisper into our heart and then we intercede for them.
The Holy Spirit’s job is to pray for the saints through us. Our job is to be still and allow Him to guide us in our prayers. A large part of what the Holy Spirit prays is the Word of God. Here are free Revival Prayers filled with Scripture, opening your heart to the Holy Spirit to intercede through you.
The Fruit of the Spirit
Sometimes people confuse spiritual gifts with the fruit of the spirit. Or because Paul lists multiple types of fruit, people mistakenly say “fruits of the Spirit”. Paul uses the singular in Galatians 5:22-23 because when the Holy Spirit indwells a believer and they invite the Holy Spirit to transform them, all of the fruit begins to be exhibited. You do not love but lack patience. Joy and Peace do not become automatic while self-control is nowhere to be found.
The presence of the Spirit provides the opportunity for the believer to exhibit all characteristics of the Spirit as they learn to respond to His stirring in their heart. When Paul wrote about the fruit of the Spirit in his letter to the Galatians, he made an important argument. The Galatian church thought holiness occurred through ritual and legalism. Paul states that holiness occurs through greater surrender to the Holy Spirit allowing His fruit to become visible in a believer’s life. Rote prayers and ritualistic sacrifices would not bear fruit. The Spirit Himself does that as we invite Him to take greater control of our mind, heart and desires.
Jesus emphasized that the Holy Spirit would be both our Counselor and Guide to help us understand the Scripture. (See John 16:13-15.) In order to surrender more fully to the Spirit, we must spend ample time in the Word of God. As we listen to the Word, we will more readily recognize the Spirit speaking to us. He brings conviction, discernment and understanding. He speaks the Word, so to hear Him involves immersing ourselves in the Word of God. The believer who struggles to hear the Spirit will benefit greatly from spending more time reading their Bible!
Beyond Bearing Fruit
Scripture tells us that we must use our spiritual gifts to serve other believers. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace,” I Peter 4:10 ESV. We each have different spiritual gifts and that elevates the importance of using them! Paul tells us, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them,” Romans 12:6 ESV. God uniquely prepared a purpose for the use of our gifts. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,” Ephesians 2:10 ESV.
When every believer grows in their relationship with God exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit and intentionally pursues opportunities to use their spirituals gift(s), we see marvelous effects. “We are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint from which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love,” Ephesians 4:15-16. Discovering your spiritual gifts, committing to daily time in the Word of God and in prayer, and regularly meeting with other believers will transform you.(See Acts 2:42-43.) This is God’s plan for you to experience abundant life!