The Gospel of John records many of Jesus’ last words spoken not long before his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. During this time, Jesus spoke frequently about the fact that he would be leaving his disciples but that another One just like him, the Holy Spirit, would come in his place (see John 14:15-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7). Instead of simply being with them, the Holy Spirit would live within them, filling them and empowering them to live as disciples of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is a person, not just a force, power or influence. God has revealed himself as one God existing in three persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - equal as persons yet different in their role and ministry. We need to know each person of the Godhead in an intimate way so that the fullness of God can touch our lives.
Jesus called the Holy Spirit the parakletos, a Greek word that is very rich and complex. It essentially means “one who is called to stand alongside in order to help or assist”. In English, this name is translated into words such as Advocate, Comforter, Helper or Friend. We can’t live the Christian life by ourselves. We need the help of the Holy Spirit. We are “born again” through the Spirit (John 3:5-8). But this is just the beginning. There is now a new life to be lived “in the Spirit”. We are to be filled with the Spirit and led by the Spirit. We are to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit - His nature and character. We are to be empowered by the Spirit both to overcome the enemy and be witnesses to the life that is in Jesus Christ. So there is much to learn as we begin to grow from “babies” to become mature “sons and daughters of God”.
The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
Later on, the apostle Paul further defined the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When writing to Timothy he said, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:6-7. NIV).” Here we see that the Holy Spirit comes into our lives to do four things for us:
1. Break the power of fear in our life. Fear will limit us and hinder us from fulfilling our God-given destiny. That’s why whenever God shows up his first words are often “Fear not!” Fear, timidity, insecurity and inferiority have to be broken. God wants to put a confidence, an assurance and a faith inside of us. Believe that you are who God says you are and you can do what He says you can do.
2. Give us the power and ability to do the will of God. The Greek word for “power” is dunamis and it means supernatural ability or strength. It is a power that equips us to do the works of God – to make our service effective; a power that provides grace and strength in difficult times; a power that releases gifts to help us minister to others; and a power that imparts passion, fervency and enthusiasm into our spirits.
3. 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. This love is not a feeling but a choice to do good to another person even if it means personal sacrifice. The Holy Spirit gives us love to bring about change in our own lives first - to conform us to the image or character of Christ (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 3:10); then love for the people we are called to serve; love for those who don’t yet know Christ; and love for the difficult people, the unlovely and those who may offend us. True love forgives and builds bridges not walls.
4. Give us wisdom for life. The Greek thought for “self-discipline” (or a “sound mind”) is a disciplined or controlled mind. It is the ability to think and choose what is right. The Holy Spirit wants to give us the mind and thoughts of God (1 Corinthians 2:6-16); to change our thinking (new attitudes and ideals); to guide us into God’s will; to help us make wise decisions; and to teach us all the things we need to know.
Our Relationship to the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is a person who lives within us (John 14:16-17; Romans 8:9; 2 Timothy 1:14; 1 Corinthians 6:9). We are to have fellowship with Him on a daily basis (2 Corinthians 13:14). Fellowship involves sharing, association, partnership and friendship. We are to live in the presence, company, help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit only helps us when we ask Him to. He comes to our assistance … when we call on Him. When we think we can do it by ourselves, He lets us. Surrender daily to God and allow the Holy Spirit to be your Lord (boss, manager, master). Live in dependence upon Him as your “Senior Partner”.
Sample Discussion Questions
1. Share about the time you first heard of the “Holy Spirit.” What were your first impressions?
2. Discuss the difference between Jesus being with the disciples and the Holy Spirit living within them. Compare their life before and after the coming of the Spirit.
3. Share about a time when the Holy Spirit helped you to overcome some sort of fear.
4. Share about a time when you felt an unusual impartation of power, love or wisdom.
5. Prayer is often directed to the Father, through the Spirit and in Jesus’ name (Ephesians 2:18). Does this mean we can’t communicate directly to either Jesus or the Spirit, even though they are fully God?
6. The Bible teaches us that He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30; Acts 5:3), resisted (Acts 7:51), quenched or stifled (1 Thessalonians 5:19), and insulted (Hebrews 10:29). Discuss the implications of this sensitive nature of the Holy Spirit.
7. Read 2 Corinthians 13:14 and discuss what it would look like to live a life in continual “fellowship” with the Holy Spirit.
8. What are some practical steps we can take to be more in tune and sensitive to the promptings or whispers of the Spirit on a daily basis, wherever we may be?