Saturday, December 17, 2011

International Impact of Pentecost

It’s amazing to consider the international reach that occurred on the day of Pentecost. 

The Scriptures state, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.” (Act 2:1-5)

God planned this perfectly.  Pentecost was a Jewish feast that brought Jews from around the world into Jerusalem.  And when the Spirit of God was poured out on the disciples of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, the people in the crowd declared their nationalities and places of origin. They included people from the far eastern border of the Roman Empire (Parthians, Medes and Elamites), westward through Mesopotamia and Judea, and the regions of Asia Minor, as well as Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia. They also included people from the southern regions of the empire--Egypt and, west of it, the parts of Libya near Cyrene, the capital of the Empire, Rome, the island of Crete, and the Arabs.  Here are the modern day names of these places:
  • Parthia was a region of modern-day northeastern Iran. 
  • Media was a region of modern-day northwestern Iran.
  • Elam was a region of modern-day southwest Iran.
  • Judea included the nation of Israel.
  • Mesopotamia was generally all the lands between the Euphrates and the Tigris, including modern-day Syria, almost all of Iraq and southeastern Turkey.
  • Asia Minor corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of modern-day Turkey.
  • Cappadocia corresponds to the center of what is now Turkey.
  • Pontus was located in modern-day northeastern Turkey.
  • Asia is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean and on the north by the Arctic Ocean.
  • Phrygia was the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey.
  • Pamphylia was modern day Antalya province, Turkey
  • Egypt was much the same as modern day Egypt.
  • The parts of Libya near Cyrene were located in North Africa.
  • Rome was, of course, in modern day Italy.
  • Crete was one of the islands of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The Arabs were the people living in Western Asia and North Africa.  These include the modern day nations of Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Mauritania, Qatar, and Bahrain. 
As you can see, there was a vast multinational group represented in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out.  They heard the disciples speaking in other tongues.  “And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?’” (Act 2:6-8)

The people were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished!  And they said, “We hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” (Act 2:11)

The people from these nations were both Jews and Gentile converts to Judaism.   They heard the mighty deeds of God declared in their own languages that day.  It was God’s plan that they should all see His Spirit poured out and hear the gospel preached, because it is a universal message for all nations.

After they heard Peter preach the gospel, they were convicted deeply by the Holy Spirit.  “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’” (Act 2:37)

Still Only One Way to be Saved Today
The answer that Peter gave to their question is the same for us today.  Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." (Act 2:38-39) When they asked what they must do to be saved, Peter told them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.   

About three thousand people were added to the church that day.  And presumably most of them later went back to their home countries with the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ for their people.  No matter what nation or race you are from, this is still the only way to be saved.

Still Only One Way to be Empowered as a Witness
Just as the gospel message hasn't changed, neither has God's way for disciples of Christ to be His witnesses.  We still need to be empowered and that can only happen by being baptized in the Holy Spirit. There is no place in Scripture where Jesus revoked His command to wait until you first receive the power of the Holy Spirit before being His witness.

Scholars say that Pentecostal and charismatic churches are the fastest growing form of Christianity today.  According to a report from Voice of America, regarding a new global study funded by the John Templeton Foundation, researchers state that Pentecostals and charismatics make up one quarter of the world's Christians, and the majority of them are in the developing world.  These congregations are thriving, because they believe God is powerful and is doing miracles in the present.  They are ministering to the sick and the poor, and meeting the needs of these people in their communities.

Putting it All Together
Before the disciples were baptized in the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they were afraid and hiding out in a locked room.  But when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they were clothed with supernatural power to be bold witnesses of the resurrected Christ. The gospel is for all nations, and perhaps as many as 25 nations received the gospel on that first day.  The international impact of Pentecost was vast and can still be seen today. In many countries the church has been in existence since that day.

Being baptized in the Holy Spirit is still essential in order to be a truly effective witness for Christ. Churches that teach and practice this are among the fastest multiplying churches in the world.

Ultimately there will one day be worshipers from every nation, tribe, and language before the throne of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. As the apostle John wrote in the Revelation he received, "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, 'Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.' " (Rev 7:9-10).  Have you been empowered to be a witness for the Lamb?

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Supernatural Power for All Disciples


Peter and John Healing the Lame Man
Have you ever noticed that some Scriptures seem to indicate that in the early church only the apostles functioned in the supernatural? And then there are other Scriptures that show that all believers can do so. Let’s examine those in order to determine whether they are limited to the apostles or for all.

First we will look at the ones that show how God’s supernatural power seemed to be limited. Then we will look at the ones that show us how all believers can function this way.  Let me encourage you to put aside all your existing ideas, as well as anything you have been taught, and just let the Word speak for itself.

Power limited to the apostles
Jesus told the apostles gathered with Him just before his ascension, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."  (Act 1:8)

Luke’s account of the early church reveals that the apostles were functioning in the supernatural.  “At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon's portico.” (Act 5:12)  However, we do not see any record that signs and wonders were taking place at the hands of the thousands of other disciples in the early church – just the apostles.  

Although at least 5,000 people believed in Christ in Jerusalem during the early days of the church, it was the apostles who were giving testimony with great power.  “And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.” (Act 4:33)

Peter Healing the Sick with his Shadow
In those days, there were constantly multitudes of people added to the church.  Yet did they bring their sick to any one of the thousands of disciples for prayer and healing?  No, they looked to Peter.  Luke states, “And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them.” (Act 5:14-15).  It was Peter’s shadow they were hoping would fall on one of the sick, so that they would be healed.  This seems like a unique sign that followed His apostolic ministry.

Luke states the general sense of awe in the church at that time.  “Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.” (Act 2:43).  Again, notice how there were many signs and wonders taking place specifically through the apostles. No mention is made that these were taking place through every member of the church. In fact, in this passage, no mention is made of signs and wonders taking place through anyone else but the apostles.

Paul Healing the Cripple at Lystra
In the accounts of the apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, we find that he performed many miraculous signs and wonders.  In addition to healings, miracles, and casting out demons, there was even miraculous power connected with articles that belonged to him. Luke write, “God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out.” (Act 19:11-12). It’s amazing what God did through Paul.  Yet throughout the biblical accounts of his ministry, we don’t find similar accounts about such things happening through his companions. We never read about the apostle Barnabas, nor Silas, nor Priscilla and Aquilla, nor Apollos, nor Timothy, nor Titus performing signs and wonders.

Paul taught the Corinthians about the gifts God has appointed in the church. He wrote: “And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.”(1Co 12:28)  It was obvious from the context that these gifts were given to individuals, and they are not all given to every believer.

In this same context, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?” (1Co 12:29-30). These were rhetorical questions, and the answer was obviously negative.  Everyone is obviously not an apostle, and neither is every believer a prophet, a teacher, or a miracle worker.  Not every member of the Body has gifts of healing, speaks in tongues, or interprets tongues either.

Luke records in his account how the baptism of the Holy Spirit was bestowed at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, and Simon the sorcerer’s response to seeing this.  Luke wrote: “Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’” (Act 8:17-19)

It was the apostles who laid hands on the servants chosen to distribute food to the widows in the early church community. “And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.” (Act 6:6)

The Lord initially spoke the message of salvation Himself.  But those, who heard Him speak, later confirmed the message to others by signs, wonders, various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit that God did through those people.  The writer of Hebrews stated, “For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” (Heb 2:2-4).  This passage could be used to show how the Lord gave signs and wonders to confirm His Word spoken by the apostles, the ones who initially heard Jesus.

Paul explained that all the members in the Body do not have the same function.  He wrote to the Romans, “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Rom 12:4-8).  He explained that each one has different gifts, and he mentions some of them given to the members of the Body, including prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, ruling, and showing mercy.  God did not paint us all one color. He did not make every member of the Body to have the same gifts. 

These signs will accompany those who have believed
Up to this point, if we had only read the Scriptures I cited above, we might believe that the supernatural power was limited to the first apostles.  But if the Lord had limited the spiritual gifts, signs and wonders to the first apostles, then the Great Commission would have also been limited to them.  When Jesus told them that they would be His witnesses, He also told them to first wait until they baptized with the Holy Spirit, so that they could be endued with all power they would need. Receiving power must precede being His witnesses.  

The apostles had already walked with Jesus for over three years, seen Him with their eyes perform miracles, and heard Him teach. They ate with Him and prayed with Him.  He had previously commissioned them along with the seventy disciples, while he was with them, to go and preach.  They had already cast out demons and healed the sick.  They even saw Him after He was resurrected from death!  So if those, who were privileged to have such prior experiences, needed to be endued with power to be His witnesses, you can be sure that every other disciple without such experiences must also receive the power of the Holy Spirit. If it was necessary for the first apostles to receive power in order to be His witnesses, then it is certainly necessary in order for anyone else to be His witness.   If Jesus limited that power to the first apostles, then how could He expect the successive generations of people in the church who came after them to fulfill the Great Commission?

We can be certain that there was no such limitation of power. Mark’s gospel ends with the following words of Jesus: “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’ So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. [And they promptly reported all these instructions to Peter and his companions. And after that, Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.] (Mar 16:15-20)

In this passage, Jesus said that those who have believed will be accompanied by signs that include the following:  in Jesus’ name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.  This shows us that it is the Lord’s will to confirm His word by signs that follow it whenever it is preached. It proves that signs and wonders are essential in order to fulfill the Great Commission, and those who have believed will perform these, not just apostles.

One Scriptural example of this is Philip.  He went to Samaria to preach Christ, when the church was scattered through Saul’s persecution.  “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them. The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing. For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. So there was much rejoicing in that city.” (Act 8:4-8).  The Bible tells us that he was a man full of the Holy Spirit.  The one connection we can make between Philip and the apostles is that they had laid their hands on him when they appointed him as one of the seven to distribute food to the widows.  However, he himself was not an apostle.  Yet when he preached, he also performed signs and wonders that included miracles, healings, and casting out demons. 

In one situation, Philip was even supernaturally transported through space.  After he had led the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ on the desert road to Gaza, and baptized him, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away and carried him to Azotus.  “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.” (Act 8:39-40).  So we can clearly see from Scripture that the Lord performed signs and wonders through others besides the apostles.

Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit after He went to the Father, and that the Spirit’s power would be given, so that believers could do the works that He did.  He said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” (Joh 14:12).  This promise is for those who believe in Jesus, just as Jesus said when He gave the great commission as recorded in Mark’s gospel.  It’s not limited to apostles only.

In Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians, he gave a more complete list of spiritual gifts that are given to the various members of the Body: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” (1Co 12:1-11) Paul referred to these supernatural signs and wonders as both gifts (Greek, charisma) and manifestations (Greek, phanerosis). It is very clear from this passage that the Lord has distributed these among the various members of the Body, and they are not all given to one person or even to a select few. 

After explaining the spiritual gifts in detail to the Corinthian church, and teaching that some gifts are greater than others, because they build others up, Paul exhorted them to earnest desire the greater gifts.  He wrote: “But earnestly desire the greater gifts.” (1Co 12:31a).  The words in the original language reflect that all believers should covet these greater gifts and should be very zealous to function in them, even with a white-hot passion in their hearts.  He repeats this exhortation again a second time, saying, “Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” (1Co 14:1).  Paul acknowledged that the members of the Corinthian church were all zealous for spiritual gifts, and he encouraged them in that pursuit.  Paul repeated his exhortation to them yet a third time, saying, “So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.” (1Co 14:12) Since this is repeated three times, we can assume it is important for us.  The Lord wants each disciple to passionately desire the spiritual gifts in our lives, especially prophecy, which is so important for edifying others.   Paul’s message to the Corinthians is still the same for us today.  We should seek to abound for the edification of the church, and ask the Lord for the specific gifts we would like to have in order to do so.  That’s a godly pursuit the Lord will surely honor!

Putting it All Together
It’s clear from Scripture that the Lord desires to confirm the message of salvation with signs and wonders, whenever it is preached.  These manifestations of power are essential, in order to be a witness for Christ to the ends of the earth and complete the Great Commission.  The Lord also desires to give gifts to members of the Body, so that they can build themselves up, but especially so they can build up the rest of the Body. 

Initially all one hundred twenty disciples in the upper room, which included the apostles, received the gift of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.  However, as I have explained more fully in my previous post, called “Baptized with the Spirit,” whenever disciples anywhere were baptized with the Holy Spirit, they received the same kind of power as the apostles and other disciples did initially in the upper room on the day of Pentecost.  They experienced manifestations of God’s power, such as speaking in tongues and prophecy. 

The gift of the Holy Spirit was clearly not limited to the apostles, although the early accounts highlight how they were the ones who primarily functioned in the supernatural. Jesus promised that he who believes in Him will do the works He did! While not all members of the Body have the same gifts, and not everyone functions in all the gifts, these gifts are available to all believers.  In fact, not only are they available to us all, but we are also exhorted to earnestly seek the greater spiritual gifts that lead to the edification of the Body. 

Let me encourage you today to do this.  First of all, if you have never been baptized with the Holy Spirit, then you have not yet received a very important gift that God wants to give you. Begin by praying to be baptized in the Spirit.  If you want to understand this gift better, you can read my above-mentioned blog on the topic.

Once you have been baptized with the Spirit, go before the Lord in prayer with a burning, passionate desire in your heart to edify the Body.  There may be specific gifts that you would really like to have in order to bless others.  Ask Him specifically to give you those gifts, and tell Him why you want them.  Then wait expectantly for the Holy Spirit to manifest them in you with all His omnipotent and enabling power.  And don’t forget to have faith.  When you ask, believe that you have received what you asked for, and it will be given to you. I assure you that you will not be disappointed. 

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The image of Peter and John Healing the Lame Man is an Oil on canvas painting done by Nicolas Poussin is France.  The picture was painted in 1655 for a Monseur Mercier of Lyons. This artwork is currently on display in Gallery 620 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The image of Peter Healing the Sick with his Shadow is a fresco painted in 1426-27 by Masaccio, who was originally named Tommaso Cassai and born in San Giovanni Valdarno.  The fresco is located at a chapel called Cappella Brancacci, in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence, Italy. The image of Paul Healing the Cripple at Lystra is an oil on canvas painted by Karel Dujardin around 1663. The artwork is on display at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. 

Author's note:
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar. I recommend reading The Name of Jesus.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Holy Spirit's Role in God's Kingdom

Take time with me today to consider the Holy Spirit's crucial role in God's Kingdom, as well as it's advancement. He is God, the third person of the Trinity. Without him the kingdom of God cannot function or even exist any more than a car can run without a battery or a ship can sail across the ocean without any sort of navigational equipment.

Unfortunately, in many churches, the Holy Spirit is not welcome.  The leaders have "programmed" Him completely out of the meetings and church life, and they don't realize what a dangerous place they are in.  While all their songs and activities for God continue unabated, they don't even realize that above the door is written the word "Ichabod," which means "the glory has departed."

When Jesus appeared to His disciples over a period of forty days following His resurrection, He spoke about the kingdom of God (Ac 1:3).  This is no surprise, since Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God all the time, from the beginning of His ministry until the end.  But then Luke states “On one occasion…” meaning “On one occasion when He spoke about the kingdom of God…” 

And he goes on to write that Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promised gift of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Ac 1:4-5).  This was definitely one of those occasions when Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God.  We know this not only from the context that precedes these verses, but also from what follows them.  When they met together with Jesus, after He had said this, they asked Him if He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel at that time (Ac 1:6).  This is because when they heard what He said about waiting in Jerusalem and being baptized with the Holy Spirit, they assumed He was talking about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel with them reigning in power on earth with Jesus. 

“So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Act 1:6-8)

His reply to their question was also very interesting.  He did not say that the event they referred to would never happen.  He simply told them that it was not for them to know when these things would happen, because they were among the times and dates the Father has set by His own authority. 

Then he told them that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, so that they could be His witnesses in Jerusalem and all over the earth.  So it’s clear from this passage that the power of the Holy Spirit is definitely essential to the kingdom of God.

As I mentioned, this was one of those occasions when Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God, and specifically He was speaking to them about the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  When we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, we receive power to be witnesses for Jesus, as well as live a holy life and do God’s will.  This is what the kingdom of God is about; it’s His reign in us spreading across the earth to the lives of other people!

Jesus did all of His miracles by the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit (Luk 4:14-21; Is 61:1; Jn 14:10b).  And He said, "If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." (Mat 12:28).  We know He did cast out demons by the Spirit of God, and He said that this meant the kingdom of God had come upon the people there in that place.

Likewise, Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with instructions to "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons." (Mat 10:8)  At that time, He also instructed them, "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" (Mat 10:7).  You see, the Spirit of God enabled them to do these supernatural things, and they were to proclaim to the people that the kingdom of heaven was at hand.

That was God's way then and it still is today.  It’s impossible for the kingdom of God to truly be advanced in any other way.  It happens only by the power of the Holy Spirit.

"'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts." (Zec 4:6)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Home page, such as The Role of the Trinity in Drawing People to GodBaptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, The Holy Spirit Speaks, The Holy Trinity, and The Spirit without Limit. I also recommend The Kingdom of God is Like This, The Secret Kingdom, and The Link Between Two Realms. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit -- What's the Difference?

We know from Scripture that there are nine gifts of the Spirit, which initially began to be given to the church on the day of Pentecost, and are initially given in the life of a believer when he or she is baptized in the Holy Spirit.   We also know there are nine fruit of the Spirit that are found in the life of a disciple who walks in the Spirit.  But what is the difference between the fruit and the gifts?

Gifts of the Spirit
The spiritual gifts are manifestations (1 Cor 12:7).  The Greek word for manifestations is phanerosis, which means a shining forth or showing forth. They are given for the common good (1 Cor 12:7). They can be divided into three types, which include: the speaking gifts (tongues, interpretation of tongues, and prophecy), the knowing gifts (word of knowledge, word of wisdom, and discerning of spirits) and the power gifts (faith, healing, miracles).  I'm not just listing these as if I only knew about them from a textbook, but I've been blessed to have seen them all in operation over the past nearly three decades. And to anyone who thinks that the gifts ceased after the first century, I've got news for you, my friend.  They are still genuinely in operation today, just as they were in the early church.

The spiritual gifts are the work of one Spirit and He gives them as He determines (1 Cor 12:11). Depending on which part of the body we are, we each have different gifts (1 Cor 12:27).  These include apostles, prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, those with gifts of healing, those who help others, those with gifts of administration, those speaking in different kinds of tongues.

Some gifts are greater than others (1 Cor 12:31), so they are not all equal.  Prophecy builds up the church (1 Cor 14:3).  Tongues will build up the person speaking in tongues (1 Cor 14:4).  You need to build yourself up, especially during your personal prayer time with the Lord.  But you should also fervently desire the greater gifts, so that you can build others up (1 Co 12:31).

The spiritual gifts are signs, which the Lord performs on the earth (Acts 2:17-19). They are evidence that the Holy Spirit has come upon us and given us power to be His witnesses (Ac 1:8).  They are evidence that we have been filled with the Spirit (Ac 2:4).

And the gifts are not revoked once they are given (Rom 11:29). Once the Lord gives you a gift, he doesn’t take it back.  But the Word tells us that the spiritual gifts are only temporary in that they will one day all cease and be stilled (1 Cor 13:8-12).   This is not true of the fruit, which we’ll examine next.


Culinary fruit. Picture by Bill Ebbesen
Fruit of the Spirit
First of all, the fruit of the Spirit are the Holy Spirit’s fruit found in the life of the believer.  They are not our own fruit or they would be called the "fruit of the disciple" instead of "fruit of the Spirit." 

We can do nothing without the Lord, and it is only as we remain in Him that we bear any fruit (Jn 15:5). The fruit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22,23).

If you’d like a way to summarize the fruit of the Spirit, here is how.  They are summed up in love, which sums up the whole law and the prophets (Gal 5:14). Love is the most excellent way (1 Cor 13:31). Love is proven true by its actions, not by feelings (1 Cor 13:4-7).

Jesus said we would know people by their fruits not their gifts (Mat 7:16-23). People will know we are Jesus’ disciples by our love (Jn 13:35). The fruit are evidence of godly character in a disciple’s life, because they can only grow out of a life that is dead to self and that lives by the Spirit (Gal 5:16, 24, 25).

Someone might mistakenly think that they need to produce the fruit of the Spirit in order to be saved, but that would not be correct.  The Scriptures say we are saved by grace and not by our works (Eph 2:8).  But once we are saved, we should produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

Ultimately at the judgment, the test that will determine whether we truly know the Lord will be the fruit found in our lives (Matt 25:31-46).  Those who merely function in the gifts, but do not obey the commands of Jesus Christ, will be eternally separated from God (Mt 7:21-23).  It's the ones who hear the Word of God and act on it that will be able to stand in the judgment.

There is an eternal aspect to the fruit.  It never fades away or fails.  The fruit of faith, hope, and love will remain long after the gifts like prophecy and tongues have ceased (1 Co 13:8, 13). 

Putting it All Together
The spiritual gifts include: tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, discerning of spirits, faith, healing, and miracles. Having the gifts manifested in our lives is not the ultimate test of discipleship  (1 Cor 12:31 – 1 Cor 13:1-3). 

So we know that a person has once been filled with the Holy Spirit by the gifts we see manifested in his life. But the way we know if someone is living his life by the Spirit is by observing the fruit in his life.  Those fruit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And while we should eagerly desire the greater gifts, so that we can build up the Body, we should be most concerned that we walk in the love of God.

The gifts are primarily tools that God has given us to stimulate faith in others and to minister to them.  However, in order to live your life in such a way that is pleasing to Him, you must bear fruit.

Without the fruit of love growing out of our hearts, everything else would be worthless. The fruit of faith, hope, and love will remain long after the gifts like prophecy, tongues and word of knowledge have ceased.

I'm thankful for the gifts of the Holy Spirit that He has manifested in my life, but even more thankful for the fruit.

Image credit: Culinary fruit. Picture by Bill Ebbesen. Courtesy Wikimedia.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading Fruit in Every Season, as well as the companion poem to that message written by my eighteen year old daughter Charity Lacroix, also called Fruit in Every Season (the poem). You are also invited to read my articles, The Wardrobe of the Saints, Baptized with the Spirit, The River of God, Obedience by the Spirit, Faith Works!, Ezekiel Moses' Testimony of Heaven and Hell, Multiplication, The Kingdom of God is Like This, Living a Life Worthy of the Lord, Aim for Perfection, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, Being a Witness for Christ, Testing the Spirits of False Prophets, and Covenant Prayer. You may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Main Directory for this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Laying on of Hands

God has ordained the laying on of hands as a mode of conferring blessings upon people.  This is one of the elementary teachings of the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the biblical book of Hebrews (Heb 6:1-2). There are several current biblical uses for the laying on of hands, which are found in the New Testament:

General Blessing
First of all, a general blessing can be given through the laying on of hands.  Jesus did this with the children who were brought to Him.  “After laying His hands on them, He [Jesus] departed from there.” (Mat 19:15); “And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.” (Mar 10:16)

I often lay hands on my children and bless them.  As I lay hands on them, I speak a blessing over them or pray for them. And any parent , who is a disciple of Christ, can do the same to bless a child or any other person. This is so basic to faith in Christ, and yet it's surprising to see how many churches and families do not practice it.  This is not a something that only religious clerics can do for you or your child.  This is a sacred privilege of every disciple.

Healing
We find many examples in the New Testament where healing and miracles occurred through the laying on of hands. Jesus often laid hands on the sick to heal them.  “Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, ‘Do you see anything?’” (Mar 8:23);

“While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them.” (Luk 4:40);

But not only Jesus practiced this.  Mark indicated this as a sign that would follow all those who believe: “They will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mar 16:18);

God commanded to Ananias to go and pray for Saul of Tarsus, saying, “And he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” (Act 9:12); “So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’"  (Act 9:17).

You might wonder why you can't just pray for the person long distance or speak healing over them from across the room. Well, the truth is that you can do that, and I'm sure many people have been healed that way.  But healing is closely connected with the faith of the person receiving the blessing.  And somehow the laying on of hands -- that holy and loving physical contact -- helps the faith of the recipient, so that they can believe and receive.

I've received healing this way many times when others have laid their hands on me and prayed.  And many times I have laid hands on others to release healing into them.   Both as a recipient and as the one laying on hands, I have often sensed the power of God flow through this practice.

One instance that comes to mind happened fairly recently when I was asked to pray for a young lady, who was around thirteen years old.  She had an obstruction in her chest that was interfering with her breathing.  I and another brother laid hands on her, as I prayed for her.  As I prayed, I felt the power of God released. It's much more powerful than electricity, but it doesn't hurt you.  She didn't fall down or jerk her body, but simply stood still.  Afterward, I asked how she felt and she was able to breath normally.  She said she felt something like heat passing through her body when the healing occurred.  The next day, it was definitely confirmed by her mother that she was completely healed.  And weeks later we heard that she was still completely well.

Praise the Lord.  This is just one of many experiences that I could give to show that it is still God's way of healing.

Conferring the Baptism in the Spirit 
Another purpose for laying on hands is to confer the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This was the experience of the early church and still is today.  “Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money.” (Act 8:17-18).  Notice that Simon the sorcerer saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of hands.  He was so fascinated by it that he mistakenly tried to buy the power to do so.

Then there was Ananias, the man the Lord sent to pray for Saul of Tarsus.  “So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’"  (Act 9:17);

That same Saul, who was later renamed Paul, wrote to Timothy, “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2Ti 1:6)

Once again, I have experienced this personally.  I still recall the evening in 1986 when I asked the Lord to baptize me in the Holy Spirit.  A young man named Alan, who led me to Christ, and some intercessors from our church laid hands on me and prayed for me.  As they did so, I received the Holy Spirit with power, just as the first disciples did on the day of Pentecost, with the evidence of speaking in tongues.  What a glorious experience it is to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  You can read more about this in my previous post on the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Conferring the gifts of the Spirit
The gifts of the Spirit (1 Co 12) are bestowed upon people through the laying on of hands of the elders.  Paul wrote to Timothy not to neglect the gifts that he received when the elders laid hands on him.  “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.” (1Ti 4:14);

Later Paul admonished Timothy to rekindle the gift of God that was deposited in him when Paul laid hands on him.  “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2Ti 1:6)

This is another thing I can personally verify through my own personal experience.  The gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12 are still active today.  They didn't cease during the first century!  I've seen them manifested authentically in my own life, as I have ministered to others.  And I have also seen them in the lives of others who have ministered to me.  I've witnessed all of the gifts in operation, and I'm here to tell you they are real.

There are many examples I could give, but one will suffice.  One time I was in a famous submarine sandwich shop in Pinardville, NH, called Bob Nadeu's.  I crossed paths with an old acquaintance, named Paul, whom I had previously worked with in high school several years earlier. As I waited for my steak and cheese sub, I prayed at my booth for the Lord to give me a word of knowledge for him, so that I could share the gospel with a demonstration of power.  The Lord showed me that his feet were bothering him. So when I joined him at his table, I was able to share that word of knowledge with him, which I could not have known, except that the Holy Spirit revealed it to me.  It turned out that he had worn some new snake skin boots to work the previous day, and now his feet were sore.  This led to an opportunity for me to share the gospel, and he prayed right there in the sub shop to give his life to Christ that day. Glory to God! It was not done by my power or my might, but by the Holy Spirit. 

Consecrating elders for service
The laying on of hands is used to consecrate people for service to the Lord.  In the Antioch church of the first century, they sent out an apostolic team this way – “Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Act 13:3)

It’s amazing to me that God chose this mode of operation.  It's personal, relational, and requires physical contact.  Blessings and gifts are actually released through the laying on of hands.

Maybe someone reading this would like start laying hands on everyone they meet.  But the apostle Paul warned Timothy not to lay hands on anyone too soon.  He wrote: “Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.” (1Ti 5:22)  Paul did not state specifically which kind of laying on of hands he was referring to in this passage, so it is possible that it could be applied generally to all five types that we have just listed.  However, since this same letter of Paul to Timothy outlined the qualifications for overseers, it is more likely that he was referring to the consecration of elders. 

Paul explicitly stated the reason he gave this warning.  He said that it was to avoid “sharing responsibility for the sins of others.”  It was so that Timothy could keep himself “free from sin.”  In saying this, Paul meant that Timothy should first build relationship with men, and allow them to be tested first, before he laid hands on them to appoint them as elders.  In doing so, this would give opportunity for any besetting sins in the lives of these men to become apparent before they were set in as elders.

Paul went on to say, “The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.” (1Ti 5:24).  In other words, with some men, it’s a "no-brainer" to determine that they are not qualified to be elders.  The reason is that their sins go before them and are readily evident to others.  But the ones Timothy needed to beware of were the men whose “sins followed after them” and were not immediately apparent to the general public. If Timothy were to lay hands on such men too hastily, he would bring trouble upon himself by sharing in their sins.

When I was sent out with my wife and children for service to the Lord in Eastern Europe in 2008, the elders of our home church laid hands on us and prayed for us.  We had walked with them as our overseers for many years, and we had served alongside them in the church.  They knew us well, and concurred that the Holy Spirit was sending us out.  So we went out with the blessing of the elders and other brethren there in Manchester, NH.  We waited many years for the Lord to do this, even though we knew all along He was calling us to an apostolic work overseas. Instead of trying to make something happen in our own strength, we let the Lord do it, and we've witnessed the blessing of God upon it through the good fruit it has born.

Historical Usage
The laying on of hands dates all the way back to the Old Testament in the early days of Israel’s history. 

This was how they consecrated men for service to the Lord in the Levitical priesthood.  Moses states: "So you shall present the Levites before the tent of meeting. You shall also assemble the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, and present the Levites before the LORD; and the sons of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites.” (Num 8:9-10)

The prophet Elisha laid himself upon a dead child and raised him back to life.  “And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm.” (2Ki 4:34)

When a person was sentenced to death by stoning, the witnesses of his sin would lay hands on his head.  The Law states: "Bring the one who has cursed outside the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then let all the congregation stone him. (Lev 24:14)

In the Old Testament, laying on of hands was even used to lay the sins of God’s people on the head of a sacrificial animal (Lev 16:21; Num 8:12).  When the priest laid his hands on the animal and confessed over it the sins of the sons of Israel, an actual transfer of those sins occurred. Afterward, the animal was killed. 

But since Jesus Christ has become our sacrificial Lamb, He Himself took all our sin upon himself in His body on the tree, and died in our place.  Therefore, this particular Old Testament practice is obsolete.  In the New Testament, laying hands on people is always beneficial to the recipient.  It's never used to pronounce a death sentence, to put a curse, or to lay sin on anyone.

Putting it All Together
As we can see from Scripture, this practice dates back thousands of years.  And its usage continues in the New Testament in a fresh, renewed way, according to the grace of Jesus Christ. 

Laying on of hands is still the way to confer general blessings, to release healing upon people, to confer the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as well as the gifts of the Spirit, and to consecrate people for service in equipping ministries to which God has called them.

While you may not understand it completely, every disciple should at least have a basic understanding of it, and practice it, since it is one of the elementary truths of the faith.  It’s God’s way of transferring blessing, and we need to follow it if we are disciples of Christ.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar. I recommend reading The Name of Jesus, The Power of God to Heal, and Healing is in the Atonement. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."
 
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Person of the Holy Spirit

Evidence of the Holy Spirit is found throughout Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. He is not simply a force, nor energy, nor is He merely the mind of God, nor the presence of God, but He is actually a Divine Person. So grab your Bible and let's have a look at this together today in God's Word.


Personal Attributes
The Holy Spirit has many personal attributes, as noted by "Got Questions". Consider the fact that He has insight (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). This means that He knows things. For example, He knows the thoughts of God. It requires intellect in order to know things. He has a will (1 Corinthians 12:11). He convicts of sin (John 16:8). He performs miracles (Acts 8:39). He guides (John 16:13). He intercedes between persons (Romans 8:26). He is to be obeyed (Acts 10:19-20). He can be lied to (Acts 5:3), resisted (Acts 7:51), grieved (Ephesians 4:30), blasphemed (Matthew 12:31), even insulted (Hebrews 10:29). He relates to the disciples of Christ (Acts 15:28), as well as to Jesus and the Heavenly Father (John 16:14; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). It's impossible to speak this way about an impersonal force. All of these attributes are evidence of His personal nature.

Names of the Holy Spirit
Amazingly, there are over a hundred names and emblems representing the Holy Spirit in the Bible. Here is a list of His names, titles and emblems, created by Elmer Towns:

The Anointing (1 John 2:27)
My Spirit and My Blessing (Isa. 44:3)
O Breath (Ezek. 37:9)
The Breath of the Almighty (Job 33:4)
The Breath of God (Job 27:3)
The Breath of Life (Rev. 11:11)
The Breath of the LORD (Isa. 40:7)
The Breath of Your Nostrils (Ps. 18:15)
A Deposit (2 Cor. 1:22)
Like the Dew to Israel (Hos. 14:5)
Divided Tongues, as of Fire (Acts 2:3)
The Eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14)
An Excellent Spirit (Dan. 5:12)
The Finger of God (Luke 11:20)
Floods on the Dry Ground (Isa. 44:3)
A Fountain of Water (John 4:14)
The Gift of God (John 4:10; Acts 8:20)
The Gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
God (Acts 5:4)
Your Good Spirit (Neh. 9:20)
The Guarantee of Our Inheritance (Eph. 1:14; cf. 2 Cor. 5:5)
The Hand of God (2 Chron. 30:12)
The Hand of the LORD (Job 12:9; Isa. 41:20)
The Hand of the Lord GOD (Ezek. 8:1)
He/Himself (John 14:16,26)
Another Helper (John 14:16)
The Helper (John 14:26)
The Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13)
His Holy Spirit (Isa. 63:10)
Your Holy Spirit (Ps. 51:11)
The Holy Spirit of God (Eph. 4:30)
The Holy Spirit of Promise (Eph. 1:13)
The Holy Spirit Sent from Heaven (1 Pet. 1:12)
The Holy Spirit Who Is in You (1 Cor. 6:19)
The Holy Spirit Who Dwells in Us (2 Tim. 1:14)
The Lord (2 Cor. 3:17)
The Oil of Gladness (Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1:9)
One Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 2:18; 4:4)
The Promise (Acts 2:39)
The Promise of My Father (Luke 24:49)
The Promise of the Father (Acts 1:4)
The Promise of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33)
The Promise of the Spirit (Gal. 3:14)
Rivers of Living Water (John 7:38)
The Same Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4,8,9,11)
The Same Spirit of Faith (2 Cor. 4:13)
The Seal of God (Rev. 9:4)
The Seal of the Living God (Rev. 7:2)
Seven Eyes (Zech. 3:9; 4:10; Rev. 5:6)
Seven Horns (Rev. 5:6)
Seven Lamps of Fire Burning Before the Throne (Rev. 4:5)
The Seven Spirits Who Are Before His Throne (Rev. 1:4)
The Seven Spirits of God (Rev. 3:1; 4:5)
The Seven Spirits of God Sent Out into All the Earth (Rev. 5:6)
A Sound from Heaven, as of a Rushing Mighty Wind (Acts 2:2)
The Spirit (Num. 27:18)
The Spirit like a Dove (Mark 1:10)
His Spirit (Num. 11:29)
My Spirit (Gen. 6:3; Joel 2:28,29)
Your Spirit (Ps. 104:30)
The Spirit of...
His Spirit Who Dwells in You (Rom. 8:11)
The Spirit Who Is from God (1 Cor. 2:12)
The Spirit Whom He Has Given Us (1 John 3:24)
My Witness (Job 16:19; cf. Heb. 10:15; 1 John 5:7-10; Rom 8:16)

I hope you will take time to look up these verses in the Bible. I realize that some of these are emblems, symbols, or metaphors that represent or describe the Holy Spirit, such as wind, water, and oil. But many of these are actually His names or titles, which are usually intended to refer to the nature or work of a person. These are Scriptural evidence of the Personal-hood of the Holy Spirit. Each one reveals to us something about His personality. For example, He is eternal and He is God.

I have already explained in my blog on the Deity of Christ that He is God. Now we see that the Holy Spirit is also God. Though God is One Divine Being, He exists in three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It's no wonder Jesus taught us, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." (Mat 28:18-19).

Putting it All Together
As we’ve seen, the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead. He is not an impersonal force. He has many personal attributes and emotions. And there are over a hundred names given to Him in Scripture, which help us to better understand His ministry and know Him. There are no recorded instances in Scripture where the Holy Spirit ever brought glory to Himself. He always glorifies Jesus Christ.

If you are already a disciple of Christ, I encourage you to take a few moments to ask the Heavenly Father to fill you with His Spirit. Then wait upon the Holy Spirit to come with all His omnipotent and enabling power.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  The "Holy Spirit" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.