Three Key Works of the Holy Spirit

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Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 28, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (v. 19). He also tells them in Acts 1:4, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised . . . in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” “Go” and “do not leave” are not contradictory here since Jesus tells them that they should stay only until they are empowered by the Holy Spirit, then they should go and be his witnesses. Like the disciples, we receive the Holy Spirit to be powerful witnesses for Jesus. Today I want to share three key works of the Spirit which give us exactly what we need to be good witnesses.

First, the Holy Spirit assures us that we are sons and daughters of God. As Jesus received the Holy Spirit at his baptism, he immediately heard the Father proclaim, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). As far as we know, Jesus had done nothing in terms of ministry to earn God’s pleasure; God was simply pleased to love his Son. We read in Romans 8 that the Holy Spirit speaks to our spirits telling us we are his beloved children (like Jesus at his baptism); the Spirit allows us to call the Creator of the universe Abba, or “Daddy.” This helps us fully receive God’s empowering love.

Second, the Holy Spirit works to change our character as we surrender to him, making us more like Jesus. As our character is transformed, we become empowered to love the Father more. No one loves the Father like the Son, and as we become more and more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful, and self-controlled, we can love the Father more and more.

Third, the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual gifts to us. There are lists of these gifts in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4, but we find the purpose for the spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians. The end of chapter 12 commands us to eagerly desire these spiritual gifts (v. 31) and the beginning of chapter 14 tells us again to eagerly desire these gifts (v. 1). What chapter is between 12 and 14? Chapter 13, where Paul tells us that we are out to lunch if we desire or use these gifts for anything other than loving people with God’s love. These spiritual gifts empower us to do just that, to love others with divine power.

It is amazing that these three key works of the Holy Spirit give us the power necessary to fulfill the Greatest Commandment: to love God and to love others (see Matthew 22:37–38). Next week we will learn how to further cooperate with the Holy Spirit.

Closing Exercise

People sometimes find the Holy Spirit to be a difficult concept because it’s easier to grasp God as Father and Jesus as Son, and because peoples’ experience of the Holy Spirit can be quite different. Which of the key works mentioned have you most and least experienced?

Do you hunger for more—more from life, more from yourself, more from God? So many people in our churches have not regularly experienced good news, comfort, wholeness, freedom, joyous energy, or beauty. So many have stalled in becoming who God intends them to be. Perhaps you, those you love, or those you lead feel this way. The Experience: Breaking Through the Barriers That Block Spiritual Growth is a short tool that provides a clear map of the abundant living journey, the obstacles that prevent progress, and offers fresh fuel for moving forward once again. Get it from our store here.

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After more than a decade in engineering and business—and running from a call to ministry he received in high school—Rob Mehner was hired as an associate by a local church to help with their exponential growth. While working in that church, he received his master of divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary and was ordained in the United Methodist Church. But it was the work of God through the Holy Spirit, after years of spiritual stagnation, that changed his life, empowered his call, and inspired the class that God has used to change many lives and from which this study is born. Rob and his wife, Kristy, have two adult children, Stefan and Casey. After twenty years of pastoral ministry in local churches, he is serving as a missionary in Guatemala.

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