Last time we were introduced to the Person of the Trinity Who has been given a minor role in much of the church throughout the ages. It can be said of many well-known persons when they are introduced to an audience, “The man I am about to introduce to you really needs no introduction.” Tragic and unthinkable as it is, the God that I introduce to you, because of the distortion and discrimination He has undergone throughout church history, truly needs a proper introduction. I am overwhelmingly honored to introduce to you once again GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT.
I am sure you have heard or been told, “Now be sure that you don’t forget such and such!” Or words like, “Be sure not to leave anyone out!” Well, the reality is that history, and in fact, much of church history, did to a large degree leave Someone out – the Holy Spirit. After all, in the Trinity He is only third in line, and therefore has become sort of an add-on and an also-ran God.
Frankly, many churches have massively left Him out of their theology because He has been regarded as merely a post-Easter mirage, or at most a temporary apostolic treat. The real and complete Holy Spirit of the Bible gets about as much of a positive and celebrative reception in many churches as the reception that follows a bride or groom’s third wedding. He over the centuries, as in the 21st century, has caused more debate than delight. And these churches are shocked and troubled to be told this:
“THAT WITHOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE FATHER AND THE SON ARE
SEVERELY SHORTHANDED, AND WITHOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT THE
CHURCH IS PARALYZED, TOTALLY IMPOTENT, AND A
The bottom line is this, that God the Holy Spirit does need not only an introduction, but an in-depth and huge biographical tribute which we might well call – HOLY SPIRIT-THIS IS YOUR LIFE. And in fact in so doing, we are discovering – HOLY SPIRIT-YOU ARE OUR LIFE. To neglect You is to destroy ourselves.
So far we have met:
-THE HOLY SPIRIT-THE TRINITARIAN GOD
-THE HOLY SPIRIT-THE PERSONAL GOD
-THE HOLY SPIRIT-THE CREATOR GOD
-THE HOLY SPIRIT-THE RESTRAINER GOD
-THE HOLY SPIRIT-THE CONVICTOR GOD
Needless to say, we have only scratched the surface and will continue to only scratch the surface. But dear Friend, GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT, we will do our best to introduce You properly, profoundly, passionately, and powerfully. Nothing less will do!
THE HOLY SPIRIT – THE COMFORTER GOD
No grave could hold the Son of God in the grip of death. Jesus arose from the dead in power and glory, and just as the disciples were barely recovered from the resurrection, Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven. Raging and violent men had shown Jesus to their worst bloody seat – the cross, but God the Father made up for it at His right hand. Our blessed Savior Jesus Christ changed His crown of thorns for a crown of glory.
But before the conquering King of kings and Lord of lords ascended into Heaven, He made a promise to His disciples that they could not fully process at the time. We read that promise in John 14:16 KJV,
“And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another COMFORTER,
that He may abide with you forever.”
We read the fulfillment of that promise in Acts 2:1-4,
“And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were
all 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.”
The Comforter had come! More like a Conqueror than a Comforter. When the Holy Spirit made His entrance into the upper room, it was hardly a dull debut. He did not come upon the disciples passively or even properly like a good little god should. From that day on, the Holy Spirit blasted the church out of the shacks of fishermen to the farthest corners of the Roman Empire. The Holy Wind of Pentecost blew through streets patrolled by Hell’s opposition and overwhelmed the religious Jewish establishment.
When we read in John 14:16 that the Holy Spirit is called by Jesus the COMFORTER, we must not be misled, though we easily could be in our culture. When we think of a “Comforter,” we tend to have our minds immediately picture a soft, downy quilt to snuggle in. Nothing could misrepresent the Holy Spirit more than to characterize Him as “THE CUSHY COMFORTER.”
For you see, where we read the name COMFORTER, the Greek word is “PARAKLETOS” which literally means “ONE CALLED ALONGSIDE OF ANOTHER.” This means that the HOLY SPIRIT GOD comes to stand with us in a world where apart from Him it would not be possible to stand up for Christ and for His righteousness, for we would get blindsided and sideswiped off from our faith feet. A dacron, orlon, polyester “Comforter” stuffed with fluff isn’t what came upon the disciples in that ten day prayer meeting. Let’s get that mental image out of our minds.
The name “Comforter” comes from two Latin words. FIRST, “CUM” which means “WITH”, and second, “FORTIS” which means “Strength.” “Another Comforter” to take the place of Jesus’ physical presence therefore means “Another Almighty Strengthener.” From “Fortis” we get words such as “Fortification,” “Fortify,” and “Fortress.”
What came upon the disciples on that first Pentecost was not a blanket but rather a “Flying Fortress.” The Holy Spirit with us and in us is not a quilt over our souls but a ramrod down our spiritual spines. He enables the followers of Christ to stiffen their backs when others buckle under the pressures of this wicked generation.
Yes I know, life can be hard and painful. But God wants us to fight on! I like the line from Dylan Thomas,
“DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT.”
Why? Because we have the CUM FORTIS – HOLY SPIRIT with us. You can recover and stand again after that awful divorce – THE COMFORTER IS WITH YOU. You can heal and rise again after that business or school failure – THE COMFORTER IS WITH YOU. If the Holy Spirit in your life means anything, He means this:
“GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT IS HERE – FIGHT ON – THE COMFORTER WILL HELP
YOU AND STRENGTHEN YOU.”
Do you believe that because the Holy Spirit is with us, nothing can defeat or destroy us? Do you believe any of that? Do you believe all of that? If you do, then you have a joy and confidence that the world cannot take away or stand against.
The Holy Spirit makes all the difference! And He is with us in whatever or wherever we find ourselves. Jesus tells us in John 16:14 that He comes to ABIDE WITH US FOREVER. We read in Psalm 139:7,
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?”
A French bishop was questioning a young boy about religion, to which the boy gave very good and quick responses. Much impressed, the bishop told the boy, “I will give you an orange if you will tell me where God is.” “My Lord,” replied the boy, “I will give you two oranges if you will tell me where God is not.”
Thank God that the CUM FORTIS – HOLY SPIRIT is with us in these last days of coming persecution of Christians the likes of which we have never before seen in America.
David Green, CEO and founder of the nation-wide Hobby Lobby Company, has revealed that he will have to pay 1.3 million dollars in daily fines if he does not pay for types of contraceptives he and other evangelicals morally oppose, including the so-called MORNING AFTER – ABORTIFACIENTS. That of course is the pill that will kill a baby that has been conceived.
Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. has filed a lawsuit against the Obama Administration for its HHS mandate requiring that all employees provide birth control coverage to their employees, including the abortion pill. States David Green, “It is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. Therefore we seek to honor God by operating a company in a manner consistent with BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES.”
This is only the beginning of Hell unleashing its fury on Christians and Christian businessmen through Obamacare-snare. And Brother Green is taking his stand with THE HOLY SPIRIT – THE COMFORTER – THE CUM FORTIS fortifying his faith and commitment to the Lord of the Word and the Word of the Lord. Praise the Lord! Thank you Holy Spirit!
This is what we are talking about when it comes to THE COMFORTER – THE STEEL ROD UP AND DOWN OUR FAITH SPINES.
What was it that Martin Luther stated about the arch-enemy of our souls in “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God?” Speaking of Satan he said:
“His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.”
You better believe it! Satan is so strong and seductive, and his temptations and assaults are designed with such hellish art, craftiness, and opportunity (Satan is the master opportunist), that only the Holy Spirit’s CUM FORTIS can keep Satan from prevailing over us and keep us from denying our faith and our Godly commitments. Hear it clearly:
“NOTHING AND NO ONE BUT THE HOLY SPIRIT RAM-RODDING OUR SPIRITUAL
SPINES CAN REPEL AND BEAT BACK THE GREAT ADVERSARY
OF OUR SOULS.”
So it is that we read in Zechariah 4:6,
“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith The Lord of hosts.”
Christians are joined to and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Hear it:
“IT IS ONLY THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO CAN LIFT US ABOVE OUR ENEMIES
BY LIFTING US ABOVE OUR WEAKNESSES.
If our hearts had something in them to secure us against the assaults of sin and Satan, Christ would have saved Himself the effort of sending us the Holy Spirit.
It is only through the Holy Spirit that we are what Romans 8:37 KJV calls us:
“MORE THAN CONQUERORS.”
Without the Holy Spirit we all, including David Green, would all be:
“MORE THAN CONQUERED.”
But thank God that as disciples of Jesus Christ we can be more than conquerors through the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit. And we all are going to need Him more and more in these last days.
THE AWFUL DANGER OF BEING COMFORTERLESS
I must again return to a young man who we mentioned in our first teaching on “Meet My Friend – The Holy Spirit.” Adam Lanza, the mass murderer of 20 children and 8 adults, including his mother and himself, was indwelt and ruled by Hell’s original murderer. How did this happen? Video game programmers and secretaries of the Prince of Darkness produce these days notions and intrigues so unspeakably wicked that they go way beyond the wit and wickedness of man’s mind. These artisans of Hell not only rejoice in their darkest of works, but in the profits they produce. They make their bucks by the damnation of others’ souls and their own. They are all traders of Hell!
These satanic and murderous impulses were first awakened and implanted in Adam Lanza by video games of terror and blood-lust. Then Satan gained control in him as these gruesome and sadistic fantasies were finally carried out into hideous acts. Adam was satanically entertained by video game make-believe assassins until he became a for-real assassin himself.
In time, Adam Lanza worshipped and served Satan as his lord. Because:
“ADULTS AND TEENAGERS AND CHILDREN WHO PERSIST IN SIN WILL
EVENTUALLY SIN THEMSELVES INTO THE LOVE OF THE DEVIL.”
“ADAM LANZA WAS MORE THAN CONQUERED.”
Warning! No one knows at the first entrance of sin into the mind how far it will carry him or where it will stop. Then the first commission of that sin becomes like the pouring out of water, which when once poured out, knows no bounds but to run as far as it can.
So from being the Devil’s Spectator, Adam Lanza became the Devil’s Performer, and carried out the worst of Hell’s wrath and fury on the infamous stage of a primary school. This continues to unfold over and over again in various satanic venues of America.
In a land that has turned its back on and hardened its heart against God, Satan unmasked now walks and rages amongst us with a bare face and a brazen forehead looking with scorn upon human life of all ages, for it bears the mark of the God Who cast Lucifer out of Heaven. Satan indeed is prowling like a lion seeking whom he may devour, and the skeletons of the murdered are piling up higher and higher in these last days’ dangerous times.
Without the Holy Spirit’s CUM FORTIS with us and in us, all of us are targets of Satan who will to one degree or another corrupt us. Adam Lanza is another gruesome example of what can happen to those in this world who do not have Jesus Christ as their Savior and the Holy Spirit as their Comforter.
THE HOLY SPIRIT FORTRESS AND THE DEVIL’S AIR-FORCE
Still thinking about CUM-FORTIS:
“THE CHRISTIAN’S ALMIGHTY CUM-FORTIS – HOLY SPIRIT FORTRESS ENABLES THE
BELIEVER TO RESIST THE DEVIL, AND THE DEVIL CANNOT DEFEAT
US BY HIS FORCE AS LONG AS WE ARE IN THE FORTRESS.”
We must understand that only when a fortified believer is willing to be invaded and ruined can Satan invade and ruin him. No man succumbs to Satan, sin, and death but he who chooses Satan, sin, and death. Satan cannot force his way into the fortress, but he can lure us out of the fortress. The choice is ours everyday of our lives. But if we choose to remain in the fortress and resist the devil, the promise of the Holy Spirit is this in James 4:7,
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
We read about Satan our adversary in Ephesians 2:2, where we are reminded what it was like before we were fortified by the Holy Spirit:
“…In which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according
to the prince of the power of the air, of that spirit that is now working
in the sons of disobedience.”
Not a pretty picture! The dark prince of the air is working inside of every sinner apart from Christ. Ugly stuff! We are told that Satan is headquartered in the air, but comes to hang out around and inside of those who live in rebellion against and in disobedience to God. For everyone that comes to Christ, the Holy Spirit literally has to knock the devil out of them!
And again in Ephesians 6:12,
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
powers, against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
The Apostle Paul makes it clear, and he minces no words about it, that Satan and his demons are airborne. That is, they are headquartered in the upper atmosphere somewhere, and they dive bomb humanity every chance they get. Satan has a devilish and highly trained air force that is constantly sent down on bombing missions. Satan’s Zeros!
But only in the fortress of the Holy Spirit Who is with us and in us, in the name of Jesus, we can and must down Satan’s stealth bombers and they will bite the dust on every mission. More than conquerors! We can make hash of Satan’s air force, but he will never make hash of our fortress or of us in that fortress – THE CUM-FORTIS HOLY SPIRIT.
Listen, no matter what battle you are facing with the enemy that would cut your legs right out from under you and take you down, the Holy Spirit is just a prayer away. Let us right now put His phone number on the wall of your heart next to your prayer phone. The Number is – H-O-L-Y-S-P-I-R-I-T-H-E-L-P-M-E. I will pray to Him for you, but the awesome thing is that you can call Him yourself and you will be put immediately and directly through to Him in Jesus’ name.
And when you fall, ask Jesus to forgive you, and then Psalm 51:11 is your prayer,
“DO NOT CAST ME AWAY FROM YOUR PRESENCE, AND DO NOT
TAKE THY HOLY SPIRIT FROM ME.”
For without the Holy Spirit we are sitting ducks and dead pigeons. Am I being a black-eyed pessimist in saying that? No, not at all! I am being a realist! And I have plenty of scars to prove it! Do you? Without Jesus Christ as our Savior and the Holy Spirit as our intimate friend, we cannot defeat our spiritual enemies.
THE HOLY SPIRIT – THE EMPOWERER GOD
We remember the words of Jesus to His disciples in Acts 1:4, 5, 8–
“And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem,
but to wait for what the Father had Promised, ‘Which,’ He said,
‘you heard of from Me.’”
“for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit
not many days from now.”
“but you shall 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 parts of the earth.”
Jesus totally believed in the witness-power of the Holy Spirit Who would take the 1st century disciples to the remotest parts of the earth. When Jesus Christ was on earth, the Roman Empire boasted 57,000 miles of roadways. The power of the Holy Spirit would propel the followers of Christ like Paul to the Mediterranean world. The Gospel of Jesus Christ would be preached in the power of the Holy Spirit in Greece, Italy, Turkey, and Spain. The Holy Spirit knows no boundaries to this very day, as His power takes that same Gospel and Gospellers on the highways and sky-ways of the entire inhabited earth.
“THE PRIORITY OF CHRIST WOULD BE THE PRIORITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT,
AND THE PRIORITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WOULD BE THE MAIN
PRIORITY OF SPIRIT-FILLED BELIEVERS EVERYWHERE.”
A bit of history is in order here, so you can meet my awesome and most faithful friend, the Holy Spirit in context. After the death and resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, the 120 waited together in Jerusalem for something more. But what were they waiting for? What more for that matter could they ever want? Jesus had told them in Matthew 28:20,
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Well then, there you are! They had Jesus with them to the end of the world! They needed nothing more! Wrong! They had everything and yet apparently they had nothing without receiving what they were told by the Lord to wait for. For you see:
“THEY BELIEVED IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, BUT BELIEF IN CHRIST WITHOUT THE
HOLY SPIRIT- EMPOWERER SIMPLY WON’T WORK.”
“CHRISTIANITY AND CHRISTIANS ARE IMPOTENT AND PARALYZED WITH FEAR
AND WEAKNESS WITHOUT THE BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.”
Can you begin to imagine the feelings, the emotions, the anticipations in that upper room between Ascension and Pentecost? Peter, do you sense anything yet? How about you John, anything at all? How about you Thomas, you put your hand into His side, what is going on with you? Nobody was bluffing, for they simply had not been filled with, baptized with the Holy Spirit as yet. They were committed to waiting longer and praying more.
The point being and what they were inadvertently teaching us is this:
“NO PERSON IS EVER FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT AND NOT KNOW IT.”
I personally can be dogmatic about this, for the BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WITH HIS POWER is a definite experience. Jesus had told them that they would receive POWER to be His witnesses when the Holy Spirit came upon them. The Greek word for POWER in Acts 1:8 is DUNAMIS from which we get the word DYNAMITE. God the Holy Spirit’s dynamite power! When the POWER–DUNAMIS of the Holy Spirit comes upon you and fills you, it spiritually dynamites you into a new realm of powerful action and reaction that you have never known before. No one gets dynamited by the Holy Spirit and is oblivious to it.
More than that, no one gets filled, immersed in, baptized with the Holy Spirit and His power gradually. We read in Acts 2:2-4,
“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 upon 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.”
The Holy Spirit came upon them, fell upon them, and filled then instantly. There is no such thing as gradual immersion under Niagara Falls. If you are immersed-baptized under Niagara Falls, whether on the Canadian side, or the American side, or in the middle, you don’t get your head soaked on Monday, and then your feet wet on Tuesday. It is not gradual but totally now!
Suddenly the 1st century believers were empowered and blasted out of isolation. The Holy Spirit gave power to their words not only, but to their actions – words and actions of great dunamis. Peter and John did not move on the Capitol as soon as they were empowered by the Holy Spirit. They instead mounted the steps of the Temple. Their first miraculous power-surgery was not performed on Augustus Caesar, but upon a poor cripple. So typical of that same Spirit that was upon Christ. The last are always first. We remember the words of Peter in Acts 3:6-8,
“But Peter said, ‘I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to
you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!’”
“And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet
and his ankles were strengthened.”
“And with a leap, he stood upright and began to walk; and He entered the
temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.”
The Holy Spirit gave them His powerful words to witness to sinners about Jesus, and He gave them powerful deeds to authenticate their witness. Hear me:
“MIRACLES ARE SUPERNATURAL WORKS OF DIVINE OMNIPOTENCE DONE BY THE
POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE NAME OF JESUS TO GIVE VALIDITY AND
AUTHORITY TO THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST.”
“TO AFFIRM THE TRUTH OF THE DISCIPLES’ WORDS, THE HOLY SPIRIT THROUGH
THE DISCIPLES GAVE POWERFUL VOUCHERS (MIRACLES) TO THE
TRUTH OF THEIR WITNESS ABOUT CHRIST.”
If you will:
“THE SAME HOLY SPIRIT WHO GAVE CHRIST HIS CONCEPTION IS THE ONE
WHO GIVES CHRISTIANITY ITS CONFIRMATION.”
It was our Lord and Savior who said in John 4:48,
“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.”
In short, the Holy Spirit through Christ’s witnesses then, and through His witnesses now, in dunamis-powered words and dunamis–powered actions turned the world upside down, as men by the scores, thousands upon thousands, accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord, in many cases all at once.
That has always been God’s plan for the church. He did not intend for her to be a sedate and benign little farmstead on a prairie in Kansas occupied by harmless and passive Uncle Henrys and Aunt Ems. God intended the church of Jesus Christ to be a powerful army with mighty weapons. The Holy Spirit supplies both.
THE LOVE OF POWER – THE POWER OF LOVE
But I want to set something straight here about the power of the Holy Spirit. If you are thinking about the Holy Spirit as being known for primarily RAW POWER, you are so wrong. The Holy Spirit is not a star on Monday Night Raw. The Holy Spirit is not about RAW POWER, but He is all about LOVE POWER. That is why the Holy Spirit in the Bible is not pictured as a BULL, but as a DOVE. If you will:
“MY FRIEND THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NOT ABOUT THE LOVE OF POWER, BUT HE IS
ABOUT THE POWER OF LOVE.”
If you will:
“THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT DOES NOT GO TO THE HEAD, BUT RATHER
IT GOES TO THE HEART. IF DOES NOT GIVE US THE BIG HEAD BUT
A BIGGER HEART.”
In fact, you will find the powerful Holy Spirit to be the most loving, joyful, peaceable, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, self-controlled person you have ever met. (Galatians 5:22-23)
I have found the “Fellowship of the Holy Spirit” to be the the most loving and sweetest fellowship on earth, which is why the Apostle Paul desires for us what he expressed in II Corinthians 13:14,
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship
of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
I have found my friend the Holy Spirit to be the incurable and dominant fellowshipper of the Triune God. He is KOINONIA-FELLOWSHIP PERSONIFIED. It is through Him that we fellowship with the Father of love and the Son of grace, for He is the embrace of the Triune God. He would fellowship with us 24 hours a day if it were not for the fact that we need to sleep. Even then He waits for us to wake up, and He was there all the time.
Without the Holy Spirit’s warm and loving embrace, there would be no warmth at all in our world. Once you discover what real fellowship is in the Holy Spirit, you will find yourself huddling around Him like the homeless around a barrel of fire.
I have also found my friend the Holy Spirit to also be an incurable extrovert, a real people-person. He strongly loves people, all people! And wherever I go, His love power in me constantly wants to reach out through me to share the awesome redeeming love of Jesus Christ with everyone we meet. His love is overpowering, and no one remains a total stranger to me very long because He is always getting me involved in people’s lives. I wish sometimes that He would let up and become introverted for a day, but He never does.
“WITHOUT THE LOVE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE CHURCH ALWAYS
BECOMES A CLIQUE WHERE PARISHIONERS RETREAT FROM
For you see, we read in Romans 5:5,
“…because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through
the Holy Spirit Who was given to us.”
The LOVE in that text is AGAPE, God’s love which is totally selfless (I Corinthians 13:5). God does not ruin His children by overdoses of spoiling love which always makes children selfish, conceited, and arrogant. No! His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit is unselfish, not self-flattering, and humble. In short, it is always concerned about and take’s positive action for others.
His love is unconditional and shows no partiality. Even the vulgar and crude, I have noticed again and again, do not turn Him and His love off or away. He just continues to press Himself and me closer to each one we encounter. His love is huge for everyone! He in fact is the one of the most loving and friendly persons you could ever meet. And over and over I have found this to be true:
“WHEN WE DEMONSTRATE THE POWER OF HIS LOVE TO PEOPLE, HE THEN
DEMONSTRATES HIS LOVING POWER TO THE SOULS
AND BODIES OF MEN.”
And He will not back off from sharing His powerful love, even if He puts us in danger. I have found that His love makes each of us expendable for the sake of the Gospel of Christ, even as God’s love made Christ expendable for a world of lost sinners.
I want to share at this point the story of a man named Sheraz. He had been warned to stop preaching about Jesus to Muslims. He did not pay heed to their warning. He preached everywhere he went about the love of the Savior Who had died for his sins. He had preached to the workers in the factory where he worked, to His Bible school, and to his family.
Sheraz one day was working at the factory as he had done for quite some time to support his parents and three sisters. On that day, he got into a discussion with some Muslim coworkers. They became angry at Sheraz, and that was the last time they ever saw Sheraz alive.
Sheraz had known the risk. Many other Christians in Pakistan had been killed for sharing their faith. Others had been accused of blasphemy and locked away in prison. But the Gospel message was too good, Christ’s love to great, and Sheraz just could not keep it to himself.
The members of his church could not stop sharing the love of Jesus either. They too continued to preach to Muslims, offering Jesus’ love to those enslaved by the hatred and fear of Islam.
Then one day they received a letter which said, “Stop preaching to Muslims.” Its delivery method made the greater impact, as it was attached to the bloody body of Sheraz. The letter and Sheraz’s body were dumped at the front gate of his church near Lahore, Pakistan. They knew all too well now about the risks, but they have continued to share the love of Jesus, even if it meant being partakers of Sheraz’s death. (From Extreme Devotion – The Voice of the Martyrs.)
Some years ago, Congressman Stephen Largent was on his way to the Capitol, when he noticed a crowd of Secret Service people on the curb. When he asked what was going on, he was told that the King or Morocco was meeting with the President that day. They had to have special permission to enter the Capitol because the King of Morocco had a very large entourage that traveled with him wherever he went.
The King of Morocco brought 12 wives and also a personal heart donor. The personal heart donor, mind you, was a person who qualified as a perfect heart-donor match for the King. If anything happened to the King – heart failure, liver failure, kidney failure – this person was there ready to lay down his life and make the donation physiologically for the King.
You see, that is what the Holy Spirit empowers us to do, to lay down our life for Christ and for the lost, even as Christ laid down His life for us.
THE HOLY SPIRIT – THE GIFTER GOD
I would be terribly remiss if I failed to tell you that the Holy Spirit is the most gifted and giving friend that I have ever met in my whole life. In short:
“MY FRIEND THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE MOST GIFTED AND GRACIOUS GIVER
OF THE MOST INCREDIBLE GIFTS EVER GIVEN TO MEN.”
FIRST, these gifts of the Holy Spirit are not material gifts, but rather they are spiritual gifts of the greatest precision and performance that anyone could possibly receive on earth. These are not natural gifts, but rather they are supernatural gifts that cannot be inherited or honed or practiced.
SECOND, His gifts are not talents, like the way you have learned to play the flute, the clarinet, or the trumpet so nicely. They are not the abilities to do algebra, geometry, or calculus. With the Holy Spirit’s gifts, you don’t receive the Nobel or Pulitzer prize for spiritual gift creativity and development.
The Holy Spirit operates His gifts in us and through us requiring our cooperation but no special acumen. God can even speak through a jackass – just ask Baalim. They are supernatural in their essence, their entrance, and in their exercise. No, they are not natural talents or abilities but they are supernatural gifts. If you will:
“THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ARE DIVINE QUALITIES AND PERFECTIONS THAT
THE HOLY SPIRIT ENTRUSTS TO THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST.”
THIRD, my friend the Holy Spirit is not only infinitely gifted, but He loves to give the gifts of His own giftedness to those who are sold out to Jesus, and who passionately desire the Holy Spirit’s fullness and gifts in their lives. He is indeed THE GIFTER GOD.
This cannot be stated too often or too strongly. The early Christians prayed for 10 days to receive the promise of the Holy Spirit. Not 10 minutes or 10 hours, but 10 days. That is strong longing and yearning for the BAPTISM WITH AND THE FULNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. They were spiritually starving for the Holy Spirit, and they would not cease their praying or be denied. After Jesus ascended into Heaven, they knew that they were destitute and desolate without the promised Holy Spirit.
Nor is the reception of His gifts simply based on making a wish. We read in I Corinthians 14:1,
“Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts….”
The Greek word for “desire earnestly” there is ZELOO from which we get words such as ZEAL and ZEALOUS and ZEALOT. There are many professors and pastors who would like to write a paper or even a book about my friend the Holy Spirit and His gifts, but really have no personal zeal for either. I recall one such pastor’s article about the Holy Spirit and His gifts which he entitled “A Peek at Pentecost.” You know, like peeking through the window of the upper room. However, Pentecostal Window Peekers hardly qualify as zealously craving the Holy Spirit and His gifts. In fact:
“THE HOLY SPIRIT OF PENTECOST HAS CREATED MORE ECCLESIASTICAL WINDOW
PEEKERS THAN SEX WINDOW PEEEKERS.”
Nor is earnest desire/zeal merely curiosity. The Holy Spirit and His gifts are not a curio shop for those who like oddities. Remember, curiosity killed the cat. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for novelty seekers. That is when they will be counterfeited and do more harm than good.
When it comes to strong passion and burning zeal for the Holy Spirit and His gifts, this does not mean, “Why not, I’m game,” or “I’ll try anything once.” This means rather, “I must have His fullness and gifts in my life, for I am helpless without Him and His gifts, and so is the church.”
FOURTH, these gifts are clearly spoken of in I Corinthians 12:4,
“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.”
And where we read the word GIFTS, it is the Greek word CHARISMATA which comes from CHARIS which means GRACE. Therefore, CHARISMATA means:
“GIFTS OF DIVINE GRACE.”
So carrying this forward, the Holy Spirit’s CHARISMATA are:
“GIFTS WHICH THE HOLY SPIRIT FREELY AND UNMERITED BESTOWS
And that being interpreted means that:
“THOSE WHOM THE HOLY SPIRIT CONVEYS HIS GIFTS UPON DESERVE NONE
OF THEM, AND CONTRIBUTE NOTHING TO THE OBTAINING OF THEM
EXCEPT THE BELIEVING FOR THEM, THE EARNEST DESIRING OF
THEM, AND THE OPEN RECEPTION OF TO THEM.”
FIFTH, the Holy Spirit’s gifts are not toys or play things or means of entertainment. In fact, if you play with them like prizes from Cracker Jack Boxes, they will make you look like a fool and destroy you and others. They are not meant for sensations or titillations or vibrations. You will not find the Holy Spirit’s gifts in a mock holy spirit traveling thrill show. And there are plenty of those around today. The Holy Spirit is not a circus ring master of our senses, but He is the SPIRIT MASTER of our souls.
No, the Holy Spirit’s gifts are for MINISTRY to people who desperately need them temporally and eternally, and not for magic or mania or manipulation. So we read the Apostle Paul’s words in I Corinthians 12:7,
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Holy Spirit
for the common good.”
Did you notice the words – FOR THE COMMON GOOD? The CHARISMATA – GRACE GIFTS are intended for supernatural ministry for the common good of humanity. Without them, the common good will not be realized, and therefore the common bad will get worse. The devastating assaults of Satanic forces in our world can only be defeated in men’s lives on a global basis by the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit operating through the church in the world.
The Holy Spirit’s charismata are not intended for charismatics to come together and put on a stimulating display of their charismata every Sunday morning and then go home until next Sunday. Jesus’ gifts – healings and miracles and deliverances – were in the main done in society – the common good.
No, the common good is not referring to THE GOOD LIFE. The modern prosperity church is often more concerned about not missing one minute of THE GOOD LIFE, than they are about not missing any gift of the Holy Spirit for THE COMMON GOOD OF MAN.
Never forget that though many of Christ’s followers became just so many scarlet blood stains in the street, yet Christianity swiftly engulfed the world. How? It was done by nothing less than the Holy Spirit and His gifts in and through the 1st century Christians in the world. Nothing less will do today!
SIXTH, because they are the HOLY SPIRIT’S GRACIOUS GIFTS to believers, several points under this sixth point must be made:
*****Because they are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they are holy gifts and must be reverenced, valued, and esteemed as such. These are not cheap little white elephant gifts in a Christmas grab bag. They are the HOLY GIFTS from the HOLY SPIRIT which make their recipients HOLY CO-WORKERS with the HOLY SPIRIT in bringing the world to CHRIST. In short, THEY ARE SACRED GIFTS, in fact, the most sacred gifts that you and I could ever receive.
*****For a gift to be a gift, it has to be given, not loaned. That is to say, the giver surrenders his right to the gift, and gives it unconditionally and permanently. A recipient of a gift or gifts of the Holy Spirit is made forever responsible for it and them. Once a gift is given, the Holy Spirit will not take it back, for then it would cease to be a gift. What kind of friend would give a gift and then take it back? Once you have a gift or gifts of the Holy Spirit, you’ve got it/them. We are then made responsible as stewards of them for the rest of our lives. I know from first hand experience, that what the Holy Spirit gives will not be recalled.
That is why we read in Romans 11:29 NASV,
“For the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable (He will not
Or the KJV,
“For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (He
does not change His mind).”
*****For a gift to be a gift, as with the gift of salvation itself from Christ, it must be received by faith. That is to say, there must be a spirit of total receptivity and acceptance in the would-be receiver. As in all gifts, there are two correlating actions – giving and receiving. What kind of friend is this who would refuse a friend/s gift and thereby belittle his friend and his friend’s gift to him?
SEVENTH, the noun MANIFESTATION in I Corinthians 12:7 is another word used here for GIFTS, and as we will now see, there are 9 gifts/9 manifestations of the Holy Spirit. These gifts are called MANIFESTATIONS because they are very audible and visual in their demonstrativeness and effects. And the 9 gifts/9 manifestations of the Holy Spirit are as follows in I Corinthians 12:8-9 NASV,
-Word of Wisdom
-Word of Knowledge
-Gifts of Healings
-Effecting of Miracles
-Distinguishing of Spirits
-Various Kinds of Tongues
-Interpretation of Tongues
The explanation of the Holy Spirit’s gifts must come in another series. But let me illustrate briefly two of the gifts to help us understand how critically important and indispensable the Holy Spirit’s gifts are in the Body of Christ.
THE EFFECTING OF MIRACLES
The phone rang and Andrew found himself talking to the man who had come to kill him minutes earlier. “The Muslim leaders offered me a big reward to kill you,” the would-be assassin explained, “I rode across Bangladesh to come to your office. The reward was mine and I was ready to shoot, but I could not move my arm. I could not pull the trigger.”
The evangelist praised the Lord for protection, and it struck him as somewhat comical. “What can I do for you now?” Andrew asked. The would-be assassin said, “Sir, I still cannot move my arm, and it is because of you. Can you help me?”
Right on the phone Andrew prayed, and instantly the man regained full use of his arm. Astounded by the miracle, he returned to the evangelist’s office and began to ask questions about this Jesus of whom the Muslim leaders seemed to be afraid.
The evangelist patiently explained the good news of Jesus’ love, even offering tea to the man who had come to kill him. After forty five minutes, the man prayed to receive Jesus into his heart. The former hit man’s ministry now is to destroy the works of the devil. To this day, he is a Christian missionary in Bangladesh. (From Extreme Devotion – Voice of the Martyrs.)
THE DISTINGUISHING OF SPIRITS
It is estimated today that less than 5% of modern church goers are truly discerning/distinguishing when it comes to spiritual, moral, and political matters. Add to that pandemic ignorance of the Bible, as well as the minds of the modern religious being elsewhere rather than on the things of the Lord and His Word.
As a result of the aforesaid, the majority of church goers today trust without question what is being said over the pulpits, especially if the preachers are wordsmiths and can wow the audiences with their verbal barrage and seduction. This of course is a dangerous state to be in because a preacher/teacher/evangelist can mislead an entire congregation very easily in the midst of such ignorance, naivete, and spiritual dullness. But this is what is happening in the American Church as well as in churches across the world.
For instance, today we have words and phrases being used to replace Biblical words and phrases, and only those with the gift of discernment of spirits will sense that it is not the Holy Spirit but a lying spirit that is speaking.
We have those today who use the couplet CHRIST FOLLOWERS rather than the Biblical word CHRISTIANS. Also, these same people speak of CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS rather than the Biblical words – MIND OF CHRIST. The words CHRIST FOLLOWERS and CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS are now being used as referring to the OFFICE OF CHRIST, that is, SOMEONE CLAIMING TO BE CHRIST OR ANOTHER CHRIST.
Jesus warned us of false christs in the last days. And when we get around these false christs, the Holy Spirit through His gift of discernment of spirits will go off like an alarm clock in spirit-filled Christians who are gifted with this gift. This is not the gift of suspicion, but the supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit that enable believers to sniff out falsehood and lies like a police-canine dog sniffs out drugs.
Without the Holy Spirit’s gift of discerning or distinguishing of spirits, the modern church will be blown out to seas of deception by winds of false doctrine. We need the Holy Spirit’s gift of the discernment of spirits as never before in the history of the Church. This must be our earnest desire and prayer each new day!
Or again, we should be deeply concerned for the United States of America, but millions of religious people are not. The votes came in and the present direction of this country accelerated. The new boss is the same old MARXIST-MUSLIM BOSS.
There is a flagrant DECONSTITUTIONALIZING of America taking place right under our noses to make America more international. We are watching, the Congress is watching a totally different America being formed, one that joins with other nations to make globalization and one-world government a reality – an internationalist country that will have a new constitution with the world ultimately under the control of Antichrist.
Likewise, there is a DEDOCTRINALIZATION of the Church taking place right under our noses to make the church more socially and culturally compatible. We are watching, the Church is watching a totally different church being formed, one that joins with secularists and even other religions to make a one-world church a reality – a church that will have totally different standards ultimately under the control of Antichrist.
When it comes to seeing what is going on nationally and ecclesiastically, many, many church people have the discernment of rocks. This is an undiscerning generation that cannot see or sense both the national and ecclesiastical disaster in the making.
If you totally open yourself to the Holy Spirit and to the Bible which my friend the Holy Spirit inspired, you will find yourself spouting His teachings about these gifts as your own, and not the teachings of those churches that deny and reject His gifts from operating in Christians and through the Christian church. That openness to the Holy Spirit and His gifts will be the biggest milestone in the spiritual journey of many hearing this sermon.
Only if you are wide open to and earnestly desire what the Holy Spirit graciously wants to give can you experience Him as your intimate friend the Comforter, the Empowerer, and the Gifter. AMEN!
(Meet My Friend – The Holy Spirit Pt. 3 coming soon)