It’s hard for some people to believe in heaven because they can’t touch it or see it. It can feel too far to grasp onto and too distant to find assurance in. Other people hope in heaven but go through life uncertain that they’ll ever get there. The doubts are too strong and the promises too abstract. Wouldn’t it be great if God gave us a down payment on heaven, here and now? Wouldn’t it help if heaven came with a guarantee for those who had truly put their faith in Jesus? Amazing at it sounds, the Bible says that, in the Holy Spirit, God has done exactly that.
Christians have been taught some strange things about the Holy Spirit over the years. There were some who taught you had to “tarry” to receive the power of the Holy Spirit, based on the King James rendering of Luke 24:49. By tarry, they meant that people have to wait, often in hours-long prayer meetings, for a sign of the Holy Spirit. Many people found the wait exhausting and never experienced what they were told to wait for. There are others who have so tied speaking in tongues with the Holy Spirit that the Holy Spirit can take a backseat to speaking in tongues and God’s power is missing in people’s lives as a result. Others have been so freaked out by horror stories of “tarrying” and fiascos related to tongues that they want nothing to do with the Holy Spirit altogether. None of this is helpful. Over the last several weeks we’ve been looking at who the Holy Spirit is, why He’s just what we need, and what He seeks to do in people’s lives. Today, let’s consider three basic ways Scripture gives to connect to His power in our lives.
Last week, we considered Jesus’ amazing claim that the disciples were actually better off that He was leaving them because it meant that they would receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is just what we need but misunderstanding about what He actually does in a person’s life can cause confusion and frustration. There are at least four things that the Holy Spirit does in a person’s life.
It was Jesus’ final night with the disciples. How could He prepare them for all that would come? How could they face losing Him? How could they go on without Him? I think of times when I’ve had to leave my family because of work. The separation will be difficult, but you try to reassure each other. I’ve been with many families as a loved one faced their final hours. There are affirmations of love and gratefulness. But I’ve never heard anything like what Jesus told His disciples. He didn’t just tell them that His departure would be hard, but they should try and make the best of it. He said that it was better for them that He was leaving. Let’s consider why.
For many people who are introduced to Christianity, the Bible’s teaching about the Holy Spirit can be one of the most bewildering topics they face. Jesus is entirely relatable. The idea of an all-powerful, heavenly Father we get. But the Holy Spirit is tougher to get your head around. And the older translations that called Him the Holy Ghost only made things harder. Until we understand who He is, it’s difficult to relate to Him. It’s like when you get a call from someone. They may have your best interest at heart. They may have called to help you. But until you understand who it is on the other end of the line, it’s hard to trust them or really hear what they’re saying. There are three things you should know about the Holy Spirit.
The church wasn’t born until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. And as it was being established, it was clear that the Holy Spirit was the One building and expanding it. His presence is obvious and prominent in the biblical record. Is His presence obvious in your church? Is His presence obvious in your life? Here are four signs that you don’t think you need the Holy Spirit.