On the Importance of the Ministry of the Holy Spirit

Pastor John's picture

1 Corinthians 3:12,13 “Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.”

1 Peter 1:20,21 “…no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Galations 5:16 “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

Acts 1:4,5 2:2-4 “He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father…you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now……suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

1 John 3:8 “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

One of my quirks is that I am a history buff. I especially love learning about the history of God's people and seeing how He has made history work for Him. One striking feature of the Church's early centuries is that when you read the writings of the early Church fathers you see that, after the apostles died, the church leaders very quickly gave up the things of the Holy Spirit. It is one of the saddest chapters in the history of God's people. This neglectful failure is also the root of most of the corruption and troubles that have plagued the church in the millennia that followed. It is evident in three areas: 1) The Christian leaders in the major cities began carping at each other as to who was the greatest. 2) The working of miracles, healings, signs and wonders faded away except for small pockets here and there. 3) As you read the writings of these ancient Christians you become aware that, in their interpretation of Scripture, they were relying on the power of their own intellects rather than on the Holy Spirit.

I’m not saying that using our intellect in interpreting the scripture is bad. God gave us minds and expects us to use them, but every area of our lives must be submitted to and guided by God. That’s why Peter, in 1 Peter 1:20, emphasized that the men who wrote the scriptures were guided by the Holy Spirit. It follows, then, that if the scripture was written under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, it must also be interpreted by His revelation. That’s why, when the church fathers stopped relying on the Holy Spirit to guide their interpretation of the word, the church entered into a steady spiritual decline and slowly slid into Christ-less corruption. By the time the Middle Ages rolled around it was difficult to find a church leader who was a true Christian and the church had become just one more power-broker alongside selfish, power-hungry feudal lords, kings, and emperors.

What should they have done instead?

Jesus told his disciples that it was good that He was leaving because then He could send the Holy Spirit Who would "lead them into all truth" (John 16:13). What if…the Church fathers had approached the scriptures from the conviction that since the scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit, they must interpret those scriptures by the revelation of the Holy Spirit (as opposed to turning it into an operation of their fallen, human intellects)? Would they not have been better able to avoid the many acrimonious theological disputes that still tear the body of Christ apart today? Suppose…that when there were points of disagreement between church leaders, they humbled themselves, recognized that they were men of flesh who could make mistakes, and together sought the truth as it was revealed by the Holy Spirit? What if…the church fathers had learned to walk in the Spirit when dealing amongst themselves? Surely they would have sought to build up each other’s ministries instead of fighting over who was the most preeminent or who had the best doctrine. Consider the possibilities…for what the world could have looked like today if they had kept alive the gifts of the Spirit and been careful to nurture the work of the Holy Spirit in the people they pastored. How much evil would the healing of the sick, the working of miracles and the operation of the other gifts of the Holy Spirit have undone? (See 1 Corinthians 12 & 1 John 3:8)

My point is this: Jesus had a reason for telling the disciples to "wait in Jerusalem" for the Holy Spirit to come. He knows that we cannot do the work of the Kingdom apart from His power. Neither can we rightly find the truth of the Scriptures except by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. We cannot even succeed in standing against sin and temptation without the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.

All Christians have old and new natures (see Colossians 3) and it is easy for us to slip into "the flesh" when we attempt to do the work of the Ministry. We try to interpret Scripture in our own strength using our own natural intellectual abilities. We try to solve the ills of the world with our good works, and forget that for anything to be effective it must be worked out as the Spirit leads. No matter how talented we are, no matter how smart we are, no matter how good the work we are doing is—even when that work seems to be successful and is resulting in good effects—if that work is undertaken apart from the agency and revelation of the Holy Spirit, it is nothing more than "wood, hay or stubble". (See 1 Cor 3:12,13 above.) In the end all our efforts will turn to ashes to be blown away by the wind.

I said all that so that you can understand why it is so vital that the ministry of Living Water Fellowship be unreservedly reliant on the work of the Holy Spirit. No step, no program, no strategy should ever be undertaken or implemented without His motivation and direction. The gifts of the Holy Spirit should be welcome in all our meetings and activities. As pastor this is my goal for all of the church's efforts. It is my desire that all our congregants learn to walk in the Spirit and operate in the spiritual gifting He has given each of them, for it is by His Spirit that we will do the work of the Kingdom of God and fulfill the purpose He has for Living Water Fellowship. ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.

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