Bring up the topic of the Holy Spirit and many people are confused. Take up the task of discussing the Holy Spirit and many are intimidated. Why is this? Often because each person has their own understanding (or misunderstanding) and people hold onto their personal preferences, perspectives, the perspectives of a favorite teacher, or some personal experience that they may be unwilling to honestly examine through the lens of God’s word. Personal opinions, pet projects, hobby horses, prejudices, and children all have at least one thing in common. There are none so beautiful and attractive as our own.
Why don’t all people respond to the gospel the first time they hear it, or at all? Often people cite statistics that indicate the average convert hears the gospel 7 times before he or she is saved? Many people understand that it’s not so much how many times you hear the gospel that matters but how and why you respond to it. All of which brings us to the odd and not so little term: regeneration.
God rules and God’s rules. I know that seems like a strange opening sentence. But God rules the universe and God has rules. God doesn’t have rules in the humanly legalistic sense, but He has specifications for how the world operates. Think of it. The Sun rises and sets “on time.” We fall down but we never “fall up.” He’s got the law of gravity. He is a God of order, the God of order.
Confusion about spiritual gifts reigns, why? As we discussed in Chapter 1, the human race is a race of extremes. When it comes to the Holy Spirit (and spiritual gifts for that matter) there are two groups at opposite ends of the spectrum.
How did we get here? Let’s do a little review. We began our discussion of the Holy Spirit’s mission here on earth in the era in which we live: to convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment; to bring to mind the teachings of Jesus (which is where convicting the world comes from---the word of God); to guide us in all truth and to enable us to apply what we have learned. We also discussed how the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth—by bringing to mind, or illuminating, the Scriptures we have studied. For the original apostles, it was the face to face teachings of Jesus the Holy Spirit brought to mind. For us it’s the Scriptures we’ve read.
Many people misunderstand what the Holy Spirit does and who the Holy Spirit is. We’ve considered what Jesus says John’s Gospel. Looking to Jesus we asked and answered the question, ‘What does Jesus say about The Holy Spirit?’ Now we look to The Holy Spirit to reveal more about Himself to us through key passages in Acts.
What is the primary ministry and mission of The Holy Spirit? It seems that many good people sincerely disagree. Is there a final authority who can lead us and show us the path to the appropriate answer? Who can be relied upon to tell us the truth? Who is he? For the purposes of this study, we will look to Jesus Christ.
Any discussion of The Holy Spirit is bound to stir up strong opinions and reactions among God’s people. I do not have to tell you that much controversy and confusion surrounds this topic—too much. As a result, many people have an unbalanced perspective on The Holy Spirit. This ought not to be. But why is this?
One of my favorite parables (and perhaps one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted) is the parable of the “prodigal” son. The word prodigal means basically means ‘wasteful.’ Prodigal does not appear in the Bible. Jesus simply tells the story, or parable. Parables are illustrative stories that do not give us much detail, names, dates, or places—they simply illustrate a point. The story of the prodigal son is a story of two lost boys…
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9).
This earthly life we lead is fraught with misunderstanding, miscommunication, and hurt. There are times when people deliberately hurt us. There are times when people do so accidentally. And there are times when we do one or the other to other people. What comes next is important. It is important to Jesus Christ.