One of the tragic losses in modern Christianity is the near-elimination of the Holy Spirit from the life and activity of many believers. Religion that is learned and formalized can function without the Holy Spirit; true spirituality cannot. A prominent church leader once said of his denomination that “If the Holy Spirit were to disappear from the Church 90% of its work would go on as if nothing happened.” In many cases that is so. The loss is enormous.
While your church or denomination may not be like that, there are still no known Christians today experiencing the Holy Spirit in the same capacity as did first century believers. Nor are we getting the same results. Modern Christianity exerts a fading influence in Western culture.
In John 16:13, Jesus promised, “When 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.” And again, in John 15:26 He said, “When the Helper comes whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”
The word Jesus used for “Helper” has a rich and wonderful meaning in its Greek equivalent, parakletos, and was used in the ancient Olympic Games to identify those who accompanied a marathon runner by shouting encouragement to him. This example of the Holy Spirit and the Christian with the marathon-runner to his paraklete is an excellent illustration. Para = “alongside of;” kaleo = “to call.” Here are six scriptural ways the Holy Spirit wants to accompany our race and shout encouragement:
1. The Holy Spirit bears witness directly to our Spirit and leads us internally: Romans 8:16: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” 1 John 5:6-8: “And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”
2. The Holy Spirit will lead us externally: Acts 16:6-7: “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia but the Spirit did not permit them.” Genesis 24:27: “As for me, being on the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.”
1 Samuel 10:6: “Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.” Galatians 5:16-19: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
3. The Holy Spirit will speak to us in words and sentences: Acts 8:27-29: “And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet.
Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.’” Acts 10:19-21: “While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.’”
4. The Holy Spirit will speak to us prophetically through others: Acts 11:27-28: “And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.” Acts 6:8-11: “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen.
And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.” Acts 21:9-11: “Now Philip had four virgin daughters who prophesied. And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”
5. The Holy Spirit gives specific revelation knowledge: Ephesians 3:1-6: “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets …”
I Corinthians 12:8: “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit.” I Corinthians 2:9-10: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”
6. The Holy Spirit speaks through the written Word of Scripture: 2 Peter 1:19-2:1: “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that 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.”
2 Peter 1:20, 21: “Knowing this first, that 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.
7. The Holy Spirit speaks through visions and dreams: Acts 2:17: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.” 2 Corinthians 12:1-2: “It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.”
Acts 9:10-12: “Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision , ‘Ananias’. And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord’. So the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.’” Acts 16:9: “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’”