THE BIG IDEA: If we want to see the church become more glorious and powerful, then we need to experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
“But the Spirit-filled life Christ calls us to is one of divine fullness and powerful ability to spread the love of God. He wants us to receive His power and then touch the world around us as we can only do when we have the might of the Spirit in us.” (Jack Hayford, Spirit-Filled).
The Most Shocking Thing That Jesus Ever Said:
When Jesus walked the earth two thousand years ago, He made many shocking statements. He said, “Before Abraham was, I am,” claiming to be God. He said, “Destroy this temple (His body), and in three days I will raise it up,” claiming power over death. He said, “Love your enemies! The last shall be first! Whoever desires to be great shall be your servant! Whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it!” But the most shocking statement Jesus ever made is found in John 16:7: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away.” It is interesting that Jesus, the Truth Himself, felt the need to preface this statement by saying, “I’m telling you the truth.” Why? Because He knew that His disciples wouldn’t believe Him!
This declaration must have caused the disciples to shake their heads saying, “Jesus, what are you talking about? How can it be better for us if you go away when you’ve been so good to us? You have been our helper and our comforter; you’ve healed the sick, raised the dead and cast out devils. You’ve brought people hope, and you’ve shown them love, acceptance and forgiveness like they’ve never seen before. Jesus, that makes no sense at all!” Perhaps the disciple Peter was the most vocal one at this point and said, “Jesus, for the first time, you’ve finally said something that isn’t true. It can’t possibly be to our advantage if you leave us.” Not too many years after this, Peter would preach a sermon about Jesus and talk about “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38). So how would it be to the disciples’ advantage if Jesus left them?
The only way we can get this Scripture to make sense is to read the second half of this verse. “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7). Who is this Helper that Jesus is talking about? He is the Holy Spirit. Jesus was telling His disciples that it was to their advantage that He went away so that He could send His other self, another Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18).
Jesus had a very strategic plan when He came to the Earth. For three and a half years, He went around changing lives, healing the broken hearted, comforting those who mourn, and setting the captives free. Then He called His twelve disciples together and said, “This is good, but it’s not good enough. I can only be in one place at one time, and there are so many lost and broken people in the world. I want you, my disciples, to go out and do the same things that I did.” So first He sent the twelve out two by two. Jesus “called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.” (Matthew 10:1). After that, Jesus said, “This still isn’t good enough. There are too many people who are hurting and sick.” Then Jesus “appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Luke 10:1-2). Then He said, “That’s still not good enough. There is a whole world that needs to hear the Good News. There’s a world that needs my healing touch. There’s a world that needs to know the love of God.” Then Jesus gave the Great Commission to all of His disciples:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18).
Doing What Jesus Did:
What did Jesus mean when He said, “It is to your advantage if I go away?” When Jesus walked the Earth as a man, He was limited to being in one place at one time. Jesus said, “It is better if I go, because if I return to Heaven, then I will send the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will not be confined to being in one place at one time.” Today, the Holy Spirit lives inside of all believers. Everywhere we go as disciples of Jesus, the same Spirit that was on Jesus is on us to go and do the same things that Jesus did. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, 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 My Father.” (John 14:12). Wow! Jesus said that we would be able to do all of the same things that He did, and even greater things. I wish we believed that Scripture in the church today. If we did, we would pray more, lay hands on the sick more, and we would see more lives changed.
We do the same things that Jesus did – and greater things – in the power of the Holy Spirit. Every miracle that Jesus performed, He performed as a human being empowered by the Holy Spirit. Jesus didn’t do the miracles He did as God. It’s true. For the first thirty years of Jesus’ life, He never performed a miracle. He didn’t heal one stubbed toe, and he didn’t cure one tiny little hangnail. Jesus didn’t heal anyone until the Holy Spirit came upon Him at His baptism. “Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.” (Luke 4:14). Some of you might wonder why this is an important distinction. Is it not true that Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, and part of the Godhead? Absolutely. But when Jesus left the glories of Heaven, the Bible tells us that Jesus “made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form.” (Philippians 2:7, nlt). The Message Bible paraphrase says “When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!”
Although Jesus was totally and completely divine, He was also totally and completely human. As a human being, Jesus got hungry. He got thirsty. He got tired. He experienced all of the things that we experience as human beings. But at the age of thirty, the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, empowering Him to do all of the miracles that He did. Why is this distinction important? If Jesus did all of the miracles that He did as the Divine Son of God, then we wouldn’t be able to do the same things that He did. But if Jesus performed all of the miracles that He did as a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered man, then we can do the same things that Jesus did if we are filled with that same Holy Spirit. God wants us to be anointed with the Holy Spirit so we can go around doing good and healing all who are oppressed of the devil.
There is one thing we need to realize if we want to be world shakers and history makers: it’s not by might, it’s not by power, but it’s by the Spirit of the Lord. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, He supernaturally enables us to do something that would be impossible for us to do in the natural.
So many churches today have neglected and forgotten about the Holy Spirit. There was a time when Paul was preaching in Ephesus and found some disciples and he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” (Acts 19:2). There are many Christians today who are ignorant of who the Holy Spirit is, as well as His gifts and fruit.
I am reminded of a humorous story about a children’s catechism class that was learning the Apostle’s Creed. Each child had been assigned a sentence to repeat. The first one said, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” The second child said, “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord…” When he had completed his sentence, there was an embarrassing silence. Finally, one child piped up, “Teacher, the boy who believes in the Holy Spirit isn’t here.” I wonder if that isn’t a picture of the church today.
We can relate to God as Father, because most of us have had earthly fathers, and we know something about the father-son relationship. We can relate to Jesus as the Son of God, the human being who walked on the Earth, our Savior, and our best friend. But many Christians have a hard time relating to the Holy Spirit. Therefore, let us take the time to consider who the Holy Spirit is, and what He does.
Understanding the Holy Spirit:
- The Holy Spirit is a Person – the third member of the Trinity.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19).
“For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.” (1 John 5:7).
When we are talking about the Holy Spirit, we are talking about a person. He is not a force or a power, but a person. The Holy Spirit is not a bird! When Jesus was baptized, Matthew tells us that the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus like a dove. Notice that word like – it is not saying that the Holy Spirit is a dove; it is merely saying that He descended, perhaps gracefully, like a dove. Another reason why many think of the Holy Spirit more of a force than a person is because of some of the word pictures the Bible uses to describe Him. He is referred to as a mighty wind, a consuming fire, and refreshing rain. But the Holy Spirit is not any of those things – those are just words used to describe His nature. If you use the good old King James Version of 1611, you will notice that he is referred to as the Holy Ghost. This was a poor translation, because He is not a ghost. He is a person. Because He is a person, we can have a relationship with Him, just like we do with the Father and the Son.
- He Helps and Comforts us.
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.” (John 14:16).
When Jesus walked on the Earth as a human being two thousand years ago, He was a Helper. He helped people, blessed people, and encouraged people. Then when Jesus got ready to return to Heaven, He promised to send another Helper, who would come alongside of us as we journey through our lives on Planet Earth. The Holy Spirit is always with us, to comfort us when we go through difficult times. In one of the most beloved Psalms of all time, King David writes, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4).
- He reveals God’s Love to us.
“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5).
Do you know how much God loves you? If you do, then you should say, “Thank you, Holy Spirit.” He is the one who reveals God’s love to us. Not only does He share with us the information that God loves us, He actually pours out that love into our hearts so that we can experience it personally. “See what love the Father has lavished on us in letting us be called God’s children!” (1 John 3:1, cjb).
- He makes us more like Jesus.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” (Galatians 5:22-23).
The Holy Spirit helps us to become more like Jesus. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives when we become more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. When we walk in the Spirit, we become more Christ-like.
- He leads and guides us.
Jesus said, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-14).
There are two parts of the will of God for every person’s life. There is the general will of God, and the specific will of God. The general will of God for our lives is in the Bible. It is the same for you as it is for me. God wants us to be kind and loving and forgiving. That’s the general will of God for everyone’s life. But there is also a specific will of God for every individual’s life. Who does God want you to marry? Where does He want you to work? Where does He want you to live? What gifts has He given you, and how does He want you to serve Him? The specific will of God for everyone’s life is different, and we need to learn how to tap into the Holy Spirit to discover God’s wonderful plans and purposes for our lives.
Thank God for the wonderful person of the Holy Spirit, God in us, who helps us, reveals God’s love to us, makes us more like Jesus, and guides our lives.
- “The Fullness of the Spirit” is one of the chapters from my book: “Supernatural: Contending for Signs and Wonders Today.” Contact me today if you would like a free copy of the e-book version of this study in the Book of Acts!