The Holy Spirit Is Not “Advanced Christianity”

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For some readers, this will come as news: the Holy Spirit is not a course in advanced Christianity. He is not reserved for the few, the deep . . . the weird. Them. He is our inheritance as followers of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is a promise given by Jesus from the moment we believe.

What are we choosing when we choose to surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives? Paul gives us a great teaching on this in his letter to the Ephesian church:

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
—Ephesians 1:13–14 (ESV)

When we first believe, Paul says, we are marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. No caveat is in that statement. Contrary to what is sometimes implied in spiritual conversations, the Holy Spirit is the rightful inheritance of all who trust in Jesus. To access the power and fullness of this gift, however, is a choice.

Read Paul’s word to the Ephesians again, this time circling or underlining (or paying attention to) every word or phrase that stands out for you as a new thought. Now, rewrite this passage in your own words.

  • What is Paul really saying here? How does it change your understanding of God to know He is with you . . . now? Say something about that.
  • How does it change your sense of assurance to know you’ve been guaranteed this inheritance: His presence in your life? Write a sentence or two about the spiritual assurances you’ve received.

Now read Ephesians 1:17–21.

Paul shows us the wealth that is our inheritance when we claim Christ as our Savior and receive the Holy Spirit into our lives. We have the same resources available to us that first-century followers found when they claimed Jesus as Messiah. Like them, we can have the wisdom, revelation, riches, and power of God.

In your Bible, circle or underline all the things Paul tells us we receive when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Then, in your journal or on a separate page, make a list of these things.

  • Have you experienced these things in your life?
  • Can you say with assurance that the Holy Spirit is at work within you, given what you read here?

What does it say in Acts 1:8? “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” It is the same power the Israelites had, who fought with enemies twice their size and won, who found food enough to feed hundreds of thousands of people, who received miracle after miracle of God’s provision. We have those same resources.

  • What exactly are those resources? And what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?
  • What does it look like in your life to be led by the Spirit?

To help you get started on that journey, consider this basic definition: the Holy Spirit centers our lives on Christ. To be filled with the Him, then, is to actively experience the supernatural presence and power of Christ in daily life. It is to be influenced and led by His love, His truth, His guidance, His comfort, His teaching . . . in a word, His help.

When we accept the Holy Spirit into our lives, we are no longer victims, but people with power to move out of our bad circumstances and into better ones. And we have power to move people and resources across deserts and into the promises of God. Is there a flowing forth in your life? Are you ready to move when God moves?

Encounter the Spirit

The Holy Spirit is an inheritance for all followers of Jesus. His power and resources are available to all who claim them. So, why don’t we know more about Him?

Take a moment now to think about the church in which you were raised (if you were raised in a church).

  • What did you first learn about Jesus from your early spiritual formation experiences?
  • What did you learn about the Holy Spirit?
  • Would you say you were taught or you caught the Holy Spirit?
  • Was He discussed or experienced? Both? Neither?

Many of us have not developed a worldview or even the vocabulary to use when we talk about the Holy Spirit. You may have already encountered the Spirit but don’t even know how to process this or talk about your experience with others.

Which of these scenarios best describes where you are right now in your understanding of the Holy Spirit?

• I know He exists, but I haven’t felt anything yet.
• I think I’ve felt His work in my life, but I’m not sure how to describe it.
• I know He’s working in my life, but I’m afraid of what others might think if I start talking about it. He’s working in my life, and I’m hungry for more.
• Here’s what’s going on with me . . .

You might be tempted to move yourself ahead a category (or two) beyond where you know you are. Be encouraged to avoid that temptation. It is okay to begin where you are. And where you are is okay! We can only begin the journey when we are honest about where we actually begin. The key is the decision to get started and step forward.

  • What one thing are you hoping to learn about the Holy Spirit?
  • What do you think a fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit might look like for you?
  • Where do you suppose you might experience change if you had a new and deeper encounter with God?

This entry is one of the early sections in the study Encounter the Spirit by Carolyn C. Moore. In this book and video series, she encourages Christians to lay hold of their inheritance in Christ, which includes a personal, intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. “This has been a wonderful study for our women’s Bible study class. Carolyn is funny, relatable and deep. She is gifted at making Scripture understandable and applicable.” (Shelly S.) Get your copies from our store here.

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Carolyn Moore is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church. She was born and raised in Augusta, Georgia and graduated from the University of Georgia (B.A. – Religion, 1985) and Asbury Theological Seminary (Masters of Divinity, 1998). In June of 2003, she was appointed home again to the Augusta area, where she and her family were given the joy of birthing Mosaic United Methodist Church. Mosaic focuses on reaching people in the margins. In more than ten years of weekly worship, Mosaic has seen more than 130 baptisms and hundreds of professions of faith. A satellite ministry serves adults with disabilities in downtown Augusta.

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