Recap Unit(2) and being a part of the Body of Christ. [Please note: there is much more material in this unit than can be completed in one hour.]


The Holy Spirit is a person with a mission

The Holy Spirit is a person with profound involvement in all of existence as well as in our personal lives. He was involved in creation, in the conception of Jesus and in our new birth! He was the one who made Jesus mission possible (see Luke_3:16,_3:22,_4:1,_4:14 and Luke_4:18). The Holy Spirit is known as the third person of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). If it were not for the Holy Spirit, we would be alone and not have a personal relationship with God and Jesus in this world (John_14:16-19).

We find Him at creation

    "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." (Genesis_1:1).

Just as God moved creatively over the earth bringing order and beauty to creation, so God also moves over the lives of those who invite Him into their experience, with the same kind of loving, creative work.

We find Him in new birth

    "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, "You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (John_3:5-8)

Just as we were born physically, we need to be born of the Spirit - that is to be re-born at the very core of our being by the Spirit of God. In this passage from John, water represents forgiveness - the washing away of our sin. Our baptism is a sign of this.

We find Him in the renewing of the Christian (Colossians_3:10) picture

The presence of the Holy Spirit within is the very presence of God in the heart of the believer.

"You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ". (Romans_8:9).

Check out Colossians_3:10, Ephesians_1:13-14 and Ephesians_3:16-19. How may Jesus live within us?

How do I Recognise the presence of the Holy Spirit
in my life and in the Body of Christ?

Jesus uses the analogy of the wind in the above passage (John_3:5-8). Consider a field of wheat: as the wind blows across the wheat we can see the stalks moving in unison - indicating the presence of a powerful yet invisible force. In the same way, the evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit may be observed and recognised. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would have a marked and recognisable effect on our lives:

    "Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit..." (John_7:37-39).

    "If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the father and he will give you another counsellor to be with you for ever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." (John_14:15).

As we see these promises work out in our lives and in the life of the body - such as is evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians_5:22), we can recognise that the Spirit is at work like observing the wind blowing over a field of wheat.

In John_20:22 Jesus breathed on the disciples and said - "receive the Holy Spirit". After He physically left the disciples at the ascension, the Spirit descended upon the Church to launch and empower it for the mission of Jesus (Acts_2:1-4).

For us the Holy Spirit broods over our lives, bringing us to faith in Jesus. Then, at our new birth, there is a transition from His external influence on our lives - to His taking up residence in our lives. But He does not force Himself where He is not wanted. So He is wanting us to invite Him to become resident in our lives. This is our free will decision!

From here on in this course, we will overview some of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit. In our personal study section, His attributes will be further considered.

Steps for waiting on the Holy Spirit (Acts_13:1-3)

Come with a quietness of spirit. We are taking time out to listen for the "still small voice" of the Spirit (1_Kings_19:11-13). First we seek to open our lives to Jesus. We take time to pray for forgiveness for any sin in our lives. We listen for any inner conviction of unforgiveness held towards others - and put that right (Mark_11:25). We ask for the cleansing of the blood of Jesus. Now we are coming into His presence "with boldness" (Hebrews_10:19). We invite the Holy Spirit to come and have control of the agenda at this time. All things are conducted decently and with order (1_Corinthians_14:32,33 and 40). Now relax and seek to sense His presence. Allow Him to lift our hearts towards God, and then "verbalise" what we are experiencing, one at a time, (such communication may be in pictures, words, convictions, impressions, Bible verses, hymns or songs etc.) Unless a major concern or problem is dominating our thoughts and feelings, peace, joy and a glorifying of God and Jesus should be evidence of the Holy Spirit's presence.

The nature and work of the Holy Spirit

Jesus and the Holy Spirit were always one. At Jesus' public baptism by John, the Holy Spirit came upon Him to equip Him for His mission and to demonstrate to all that He is the Messiah - the one anointed by God as King and Lord of all.


Now that He is ascended, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the truth about Himself, the truth about our own lives and to equip us for ministry.

    "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you." (John_16:13-14).

    "When the counsellor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me." (John_15:26).

The Greek word used for the Holy Spirit is `Parakletos' and is translated "counsellor". Literally this means `someone called to one's side', and sometimes this is translated `advocate', `comforter', `intercessor', or `consoler'.

The Holy Spirit as communicator

The Holy Spirit is our means of communication with God. He can speak to us in a way we can recognise. For example:

    "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John_10:27).

    "While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, set apart for me Barnabus and Saul for the work to which I have called them..." (Acts_13:2).

We need to develop new listening skills, to put aside the noise of the world, and hear the Holy Spirit. If He is received with grace and humility, with a teachable spirit (openness on our part), then we can receive God's blessing - His support, protection, strength, guidance and companionship. Our daily prayer is one way to listen to the Holy Spirit.

On the other hand, if the Holy Spirit encounters hardness of heart, insensitivity, indifference, resistance or rebelliousness, we are in difficulty. The Bible warns us about this explicitly:

And the ultimate sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This is not just a swear word or a stray loose word uttered in ignorance - but a deliberate, wilful and knowledgeable insult against the Holy Spirit, attributing the works of the Holy Spirit as evil. It is a settled rejection of Him (Matthew_12:22-32_and Luke_12:10).

Testing the "leading" of the Spirit

It is very important to test what we perceive to be the leading of the Holy Spirit, to see if it is really of God. All of us can be misled through circumstances such as:

  • Reading into a scripture something we want to be there.
  • Bad advice or improper guidance from another. (Don't assume that someone who seems to have power must 'have it right'. Power of itself is no indicator of Godliness).
  • Mis-hearing, or partial hearing from God.

The Bible says to "test the spirits" (1_John_4:1). Here are some tests you can use:

  • Take your leading back to God in prayer - is this from you Lord?
  • Is the 'word to you' in unity with God's 'written word', the Bible?
  • Does it glorify Jesus?
  • What are its characteristics - does it bring liberty, love, peace (Colossians_3:15) and goodwill - or is it bringing pressure, worry and condemnation?
  • Test your 'leading' in fellowship with one or more mature Christian(s) you trust;
  • Is it being affirmed by practical circumstances in your life?
  • Is it coming to your attention through a variety of different channels and timings - all with the same basic idea? God normally confirms His will to you.
  • If you are not seeing it the same way as someone else, ask yourself - what is the 'spirit' they are coming from? Are they expressing a position of faith and the 'fruit of the Spirit', or are the expressing fears, doubts, negativity and dark clouds?

When God speaks to us, not just one of the above tests will ring true, they probably all will. Test your leading by running it through this grid. If it's from God, it should come through such tests with a clear inner conviction and peace. Once we have a 'word' / 'vision' / 'leading' from God, we must be faithful to see it through.

The Fullness of the Holy Spirit

When we become Christians we are spiritually reborn, through the work of the Holy Spirit. Our Baptism with water is the sign and seal of our rebirth and the Spirit becoming resident in our lives. (Romans_8:9, Ephesians_1:13-14)

One of the roles of the Holy Spirit in our Christian life is to empower us for mission and ministry. Every Christian needs the fullness of the Spirit in their life if they are to be joyful and effective in their life and witness. We should seek and pray that the Holy Spirit be in every part of our being. The New Testament exhorts us to "be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians_5:18). In the original Greek this is in the present continuous tense. Hence the full meaning is "Go on being filled with the Spirit". As Christians we are sometimes like a leaky bucket which has holes to be plugged, so that we need to be constantly filled with the living water that comes from Christ. Jesus encourages us to seek the Holy Spirit from God:

    "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke_11:13).

In the early Church we have recorded a number of occasions when the disciples were filled with the Spirit, such as Acts_4:31:

    "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly".

Sometimes in Acts water baptism preceded Spirit baptism, and on other occasions it was the other way around. From this we see that we can't put God in a box, or reduce His activities to neat equations in life! We will be studying this further in a later Unit.

The Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ

The following guide may help us search out some of the ways the Holy Spirit operates in the Church:

  • The signs of the Holy Spirit

    His presence brings joy (Acts_13:52); a sense of God's presence; a love of Christ and of others; a desire to worship; a desire to read the Bible; a desire for fellowship; a love of the truth; and strength to handle testing and faith stretching situations.

  • The fruit of the Holy Spirit

    These are listed in Galatians_5:16-26. Note that Jesus said: "By their fruit you will recognise them." (Matthew_7:16). This means that the reality of a person's walk with Christ should be tested by the fruit of the person's life, not by power or gifting etc. It is vital to recognise this distinction. Compare the positive fruits of the Spirit and the negative acts of sinful nature (see the table in the Personal Study section).

  • The gifts of the Holy Spirit

    As we have already noted the sign of the Spirit's presence in our life is the fruits of the Spirit - "love, joy, peace ...". But gifts may also accompany the filling and empowering of the Holy Spirit in your life. There is a wide variety of gifts as we have seen. One of the gifts is "speaking in tongues" (1_Corinthians_12:10). This is not the sign of the Spirit's presence, but a sign. Some Christians experience this gift, others do not. It is definitely not the test of whether you are a Christian.

    The gifts are specific outworkings of the Spirit. They are 'equipment for service'. Some of these are listed in 1_Corinthians_12 and Romans_12:6-8. Take time to review these summaries and make a list by combining these scriptures.

    There are several things we may say about the gifts at this point:

    1. They are vital if the church is to be equipped and empowered;
    2. They are to be sought (1_Corinthians_12:31);
    3. They are given for the common good, not just to bless the individual (1_Corinthians_12:7);
    4. They are the work of the Spirit, given as He determines (1_Corinthians_12:11); and they are intended to be used as a part of team work - not one person having all the gifts, (1_Corinthians_12:29);
    5. They are not an indicator of a Christian's maturity;
    6. They are not to be a cause of division in the Church (1_Corinthians_12:25), but always to be exercised in love for the building up of the Body. The principal tests for the use of the gifts are:
      • Do they glorify Christ, and
      • Are they being used in love?
    7. They are to be encouraged, matured and developed through use and testing.

  • The greatest gift of all

    More important than any ability or achievement, is love. In 1 Corinthians we have Chapters 12 and 14 about the gifts, and sandwiched in between is chapter 13 on love.

    There are four words for love in the classical Greek language, which include the following ideas:


We can see from this brief study, that the Holy Spirit is a wonderful, creative, kind, gentle, powerful and loving person who reveals Jesus to us - and links us and our prayers to the Father. Coming to know the Holy Spirit is a lifetime experience, which is ever growing, ever surprising and ever enjoying His mystery and delight. Let us then seek more of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. This subject continues in a later Unit.

    If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke_11:13).

Let's conclude this study by spending a few minutes silently asking God's forgiveness, so that there may be no unrepented sin - and then ask Jesus to fill us with the Holy Spirit, or top us up, as may be appropriate (taking the above verse at face value - doing it!).

Unit 3: Learning About The Bible [Next Section]

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Created on: 28 August 1997 Last updated: 28 August 1997