Jesus and His Church
In this series we are endeavouring to catch a fresh glimpse of what Jesus had in mind when he said, “I will build my church” (Matt.16:17-19). The Book of Acts shows us that the church is: “a community of Christ-followers empowered by the Spirit to participate in God’s mission in the world.” Any time you have that happening, you have an expression of the church of Jesus Christ, imperfect though it may be. Today we want to talk about what it means to be “empowered by the Spirit”.Jesus and the Spirit
One of the most important keys to Jesus’ life and ministry was the fact that He began his ministry by being empowered by the Spirit and he continued to do so throughout his ministry. Everything he did and said was with the help and direction of the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:10; Luke 4:1, 14; 4:18-21). As we move on to the Book of Acts, which describes the birth and growth of the early church, we see the centrality of the Holy Spirit and his empowering of people’s lives. In reality, the Book of Acts should be called ‘The Acts of the Holy Spirit’ because that’s what it records – what the Holy Spirit did through the lives of Christ’s followers. The first chapter records the promise of the Spirit; the second chapter describes the descent of the Spirit, and the rest of the book the Spirit’s work in and through the church.
Jesus had given his disciples the promise of the gift of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The Greek word baptizo basically means to dip or to immerse. This infilling and empowerment of the Spirit was so important that Jesus commanded them not to launch out on the urgent mission for which they had been prepared until they received this power. More urgent than the mission at this time was having the right equipment to carry out the mission (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8). Through the empowerment of the Spirit, the believers in the book of Acts did some amazing things, including sharing their faith with great boldness, ministering with supernatural power, and receiving wisdom, guidance and direction for their lives.
The disciples learnt from Jesus for three and a half years in his travelling ministry training college. What an experience it was. Yet Jesus realised that they needed more than this wonderful environment. He was leaving and they couldn’t fulfil their mission without His ongoing help. So Jesus decided to send someone just like Himself to not just be with them but to live inside of them (John 14:15-17). His name was the Holy Spirit. God has revealed himself as one God existing in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) equal as persons yet different in their role and ministry.The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
We need to know each person of the Godhead in an intimate way so that the fullness of God can touch our lives. The Holy Spirit is a person, not just a force, power or influence. We are to be “born again” by the Spirit (John 3:1-21). We are then to live daily “in the Spirit”, being regularly filled with the Spirit and led by the Spirit, as well as demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Finally, we are to be empowered by the Spirit both to overcome the enemy and be witnesses to the life that is in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit lives INSIDE every follower of Christ (Rom.8:9; 2 Tim.1:14; 1 Cor.6:9). He is our Counsellor - the Comforter, Helper or Friend (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). You can’t live the Christian life by yourself. You and I need the help of the Holy Spirit. Paul further defines the ministry of the Holy Spirit, as our friend and helper (see 2 Tim. 1:7).
Our Relationship with the Holy Spirit
- The Spirit comes to break the power of FEAR in our life. The word ‘timidity’ means fear, reticence or cowardice (a lack of courage). Fear will limit you and hinder you from fulfilling your God-given destiny. That’s why whenever God turns up His first words are “Fear not! (Don’t panic!)” Fear, timidity, insecurity and inferiority have to be broken. God wants to put a confidence, an assurance and a faith inside of you. Believe that you are who God says you are and you can do what He says you can do. Step out and face your fear. Trust God. Courage is not the absence of fear but the conquering of it.
- The Spirit comes to give us the POWER and ability to do the will of God. The Greek word for “power” is dunamis and it means supernatural ability, might or strength. This power provides grace and strength in difficult times. For everything we go through, God’s grace is more than enough for us. This power releases spiritual gifts to help us minister to others. Spiritual gifts are supernatural abilities to take you beyond what you could do in the natural. This power anoints us to do the works of God – to make our service for God effective. Without him we can do nothing. Our works or human effort cannot build the kingdom of God. We need the anointing or the power of the Spirit to make what we do impacting and lasting. Talent and ability are great, but they only become spiritually effective under the touch of the Holy Spirit (Zech.4:6). This power helps us overcome temptation. The power of the Holy Spirit can help us say ‘No’ and then run from temptation. There is always a ‘way of escape’ but we also need strength to resist (1 Cor.10:12-13). This power imparts passion, fervency and enthusiasm into our spirits. Passion is a fire inside you that motivates you. Jesus came to fill us with the Holy Spirit and ‘fire’.
- The Spirit comes to fill our hearts with LOVE for God and others. The Greek word for “love” is agape which refers to a love of a different kind – God’s kind of love. It is not a feeling but a choice to do good to another person even if it means personal sacrifice. This love can bring about change in our lives so that we take on the character of Christ (Rom.8:29; 2 Cor.3:18). Being a Christian doesn’t automatically make you a nice person. Christians can be grumpy, negative and bitter. Receive God’s love and let it heal and restore your soul (Rom.5:5). Allow the Father to pour his love into your inner being through the Spirit. This love is for the people we are called to serve. Life and ministry are all above loving people. This love helps us reach out to those who don’t know Christ. People matter to God therefore they should matter to us. This love can help us relate to difficult people, the unlovely, and even those who offend us. True love forgives and builds bridges not walls. It’s easy to love our friends but what about those who mistreat us (Matt.5:43-48)? We need the Spirit’s help to do that.
- The Spirit comes to give us WISDOM for life. The Greek thought for “self discipline” (a ‘sound mind’ – NKJV) is a disciplined or controlled mind. It is the ability to think and choose what is right (sound judgment or good sense). The Spirit comes to help us make wise decisions in every area of our life. He comes to guide us into God’s will (Rom.8:14). He comes to teach us all the things we need to know. He has the answer to every problem and the key to every situation. He comes to change our thinking (new attitudes and ideals). We need to have our mind renewed (like re-programming a computer). We need to get rid of wrong thinking, wrong beliefs, and negative thought patterns. The Spirit comes to give us the mind and thoughts of God (1 Cor.2).
The Holy Spirit is a person who lives within us. We are to have fellowship with Him on a daily basis (2 Cor.13:14). Fellowship involves sharing, association, mutual participation and friendship. We are to live in the presence, company, help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We are to call on him in our time of need and seek to live by his power each day. When we think we can do it by ourselves, He lets us. When we come to a point when we recognise that we need His help, He then comes to our assistance. We need help to live the Christian life and thankfully we have a Helper – the Holy Spirit. Paul said, “I can do all things (that’s confidence) through Christ who strengthens me (that’s dependence) – who makes me equal to every task (Phil.4:13)!”Sample Discussion Questions
- When did you first hear about the Holy Spirit? What were your initial thoughts or impressions?
- Share about a time when you were very aware of the presence or power of the Spirit. What happened?
- What are some things we can do to live with a greater awareness and empowerment of the Spirit each day?
- What are some things we as a LifeGroup can do to experience more of the Spirit’s presence and power in our group?
- Paul tells followers of Christ to, “Be (continually) filled with the Spirit” (Eph.5:18). How can we do this?
- The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is very sensitive. He can be grieved (Eph.4:30; Acts 5:3), resisted (Acts 7:51), quenched (1 Thess.5:19), and even insulted (Heb.10:29). What could cause this to happen?
- Have a time of prayer, praying for each other for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we can become ‘dry’ spiritually. The Holy Spirit is described by a variety of symbols or metaphors, such as rain (refreshing), a river of living water (life and fruitfulness), as well as fire (passion and purifying).