- Can I Live A Holy Life?
- What is Christian Maturity?
- What is the Indwelling Spirit?
- What is the Fruit of the Spirit?
- What is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
- Does A Person Have to Speak in Tongues in Order to be Saved?
- Could You Explain the Gifts of the Spirit?
- How Do I Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
Can I Live A Holy Life?
If it were not possible to live a holy life, God would not have commanded it. He said, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). To be holy means to be separated to God. Something about God’s nature itself speaks of holiness. Being set apart to God makes us holy.
We are not made holy by doing good things. We are made holy by faith in Christ, just as we are saved by faith. Little by little, as we grow and live with the Lord, we will become more like Him. Paul said, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18).
As we look at Jesus, think about Jesus, study about Jesus, pray to Jesus, and seek to follow His example, we become like Him. We begin to think like Him and act like Him. We become like Him because we are set apart to Him. This is true holiness.
If you are a Christian, ten years from now your life should be considerably different from what it is now. Your motives and desires, as you get closer to Him, should be continuously more holy.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). We can achieve a degree of purity in this life. It comes from God, as we grow closer to Him and are more like Him. Although perfection is not totally attainable in this life, it is something we should strive toward and aim for.
What is Christian Maturity?
Christian maturity is being a responsible son or daughter of God. I think the mature in Christ are people who have stopped being concerned about their own needs and pursuits and have entered into the global vision of their Father so that they may transform a hurting world. The mature go out as His agents in order to accomplish the aims of the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). It’s like a son who is being brought into the family business. Instead of racing fast cars and running around with girls, he finally buckles down and says, “Dad, I’m part of it. It’s my business, too, and I’m going to work hard and undertake the burden of this work.” That is real maturity. We undertake the burden of God in the way Jesus Christ would do it. Not in the energy and heat of our own flesh, striving to do something ourselves, but in the anointing of the Spirit of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
What is the Indwelling Spirit?
When you come to Jesus Christ, you receive Christ into your heart. Jesus does not physically enter into your chest cavity and live there, but the Spirit of God comes and joins with the spirit of the believer. This is what is meant by the term “the indwelling Spirit.” His function is to reproduce the life of Jesus in the believer. He will manifest the fruit of the Spirit in the believer’s life. The nine attributes of Jesus that develop in the life of someone who has been born again and who has been indwelt by the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
In Romans 8:14 the apostle Paul tells us that those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. We could transpose those words and say that the sons and daughters of God can expect the leading of the blessed Holy Spirit.
You might ask then, where does the constant struggle in the life of some Christians come from? Many Christians run into problems when they do not cooperate with the Spirit. We have a choice. The Spirit does not force Himself on us. For example, in the first century the apostles and elders in Jerusalem were debating a matter of doctrine. After they heard much discussion, they responded to the believers in Antioch, saying, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things” (Acts 15:28). That was an awesome statement for those men to make. They were saying, in effect, that their opinion was equal to the opinion of the Holy Spirit. They said, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us.” You might ask yourself, if it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, who cares what the apostles thought about it? They were acknowledging a God-given partnership. They could choose whether or not to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. They can hold back and fail to acknowledge Him, or they can accept His leading to do what He wants them to do. They have that freedom, but they eventually have to deal with the blessings or problems resulting from their free decisions.
John the Baptist can be our role model. He said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Our wills and our egocentric natures have to decrease, whereas the Spirit of Jesus within us has to increase. This is a continuing process. Little by little, Christ is being made bigger, and we are being made smaller. If you fight that process and say, “I am going to assert myself and have my own way, but I will go to church on Sunday, acknowledge Christ, and take His benefits,” you are going to be a defeated, immature Christian. The struggle will go on as long as you give your flesh, the world, and the devil a place in your life.
What is the Fruit of the Spirit?
The fruit of the Spirit consists of nine characteristics of Jesus mentioned in Galatians. Remember, fruit takes time to grow as it develops on a healthy plant. This fruit grows in spiritually healthy Christians and centers around the three major virtues of faith, hope, and love. As noted in Galatians 5:22-23, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Those who belong to Jesus and who live for Him become more like Him. It is as if Jesus were sitting for a portrait and the Holy Spirit were painting that portrait inside us. The manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is the tangible evidence that we are being changed into the nature of Jesus Christ.
Contrasted with the fruit of the Spirit are the works of sinful, uncrucified flesh: Immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, envy, and the like. These evils war against the Spirit and must be put to death in the life of each believer (see Galatians 5:17-21).
What is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the empowering for service that takes place in the life of the Christian. It can take place at the moment of faith in Christ as in the case of the first Gentile convert, Cornelius; but traditionally and experientially it follows repentance, saving faith, and baptism (see Hebrews 6:1-2). It enables a believer to witness to the Lord’s salvation and to demonstrate one or more of the nine gifts, or manifestations, of the Holy Spirit (see I Corinthians 12:7-10). Just as the indwelling Spirit reproduces the life of Jesus, the outpoured, or baptizing, Spirit reproduces the ministry of Jesus.
To illustrate, if I had a glass of water and took a swallow, then the water would be inside me. If, on the other hand, I went down to the beach and stepped into the ocean, then I would be in the water. We receive, as it were, a drink of the Spirit when we are saved, but when we are baptized in the Spirit, it is as if that initial drink becomes an ocean that completely surrounds us.
When we give ourselves to Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us. The Holy Spirit places us into Jesus. In turn Jesus immerses us in the power of the Holy Spirit, and from the experience comes the ability to reproduce the works of Jesus, including miracles and healings (see John 14:12-16, Acts 1:5,8). Just as there are nine attributes of the fruit of the Spirit, there are nine gifts of the Spirit. Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus said, “John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). He also said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: And you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8). When the day of Pentecost came, Jesus’ apostles were all together in the same house. There was the sound of a mighty wind, and then tongues of fire sat upon them. They “began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
In subsequent instances, when this experience came upon the people, it seemed as if the Spirit of God activated their speech. First of all, this showed that they had been empowered to witness for the Lord. Second, their higher speech centers had been brought under the control of Jesus Christ. As James said, “If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man” (James 3:2). The tongues of these people had been brought under the Lord’s control. Finally, by the words they spoke, they were able to do miracles. That is because the spoken word brings about healings, miracles, and the works of power that Jesus did. All of this is encompassed in the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Does A Person Have to Speak in Tongues in Order to be Saved?
The work of the Lord Jesus Christ and the mercy of God bring salvation and the indwelling Spirit, and that does not involve speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues, from all indications in the New Testament, is the consequence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It happened to Cornelius. It happened on the day of Pentecost and in other recorded instances (see Acts 2:4, 10:44-46). There was an initial utterance in tongues, bearing witness that the tongue had been sanctified and empowered by God for His use. But speaking in tongues was not necessary for the salvation of those people.
Could You Explain the Gifts of the Spirit?
In I Corinthians 12, Paul speaks of nine charismata, which we call gifts, or enablements, of the Spirit. All of these come about by the Holy Spirit, who manifests Himself in the lives of those who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
An analogy would be a house wired for 200 amps of electricity, which could run an iron, a stove, a heater, a hot water heater, a woodworking shop, and any number of other electrical appliances. They all draw from the same power source. In the believer, the Holy Spirit is the source of power, and He can manifest Himself in healings, miracles, revelations, or utterances.
There are nine manifestations, or gifts, of the Spirit, which can be divided into three groups of three.
The first group consists of the manifestations of revelation. The word of wisdom has to do with knowing about the future or have supernatural wisdom regarding a present situation, such as in Luke 12:11-12 and Acts 6:8-10. The word of knowledge is discerning something that is not available to the senses. The third gift in the group is the discerning of spirits, which has to do with seeing the invisible world of human spirits, angels, devils, and the appearance of Jesus Himself.
The second group involves works of power, including miracles, gifts of healing, and the working of faith. The gift of miracles includes doing such things as stilling storms, restoring limbs, and raising the dead. The gifts of healing are for the healing of various diseases. The working of faith is essentially for defense and protection or for the accomplishment of some extraordinary task far beyond the ability of an individual.
The third group has to do with utterance, which includes bringing messages in tongues in an assembly, being able to interpret those messages, and proclaiming prophecy. Prophecy is for exhortation, edification, and comfort; people speak a direct word from God, such as, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I am in your midst to help you and encourage you.'”
These, then, are the nine gifts of the Spirit, and they are all available to those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit.
How Do I Receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
You need to do a number of things in order to receive this blessing.
First, you need to be born again. The person who is going to be filled with the Spirit must have the indwelling Spirit and must belong to Jesus.
The second thing you have to do is to ask. The Bible says, “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Luke 11:9).
The third thing you have to do is surrender. The apostle Paul made this need clear in the book of Romans when he said, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice.” (Romans 12:1)
Fourth, you must be willing to obey the Spirit. God does not give this power to someone and then say, “You can take the part you like and leave the part you do not like.” If you want to be immersed in the Spirit, you need to be prepared to obey the Spirit.
Fifth, you need to believe. The apostle Paul, speaking to the Galatians, said, “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith” (Galatians 3:2)? The answer, obviously, is faith. You have to believe that if you ask, you will receive.
Finally, you have to exercise what God has given you. Having asked, having received, having been willing to obey, and having believed, you need to respond in a biblical fashion. The Bible says those baptized with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost “began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). This means they spoke the words that the Spirit gave them. The Holy Spirit gave the words, but the apostles and disciples voluntarily responded. There was action based on faith, not merely passive acceptance of the blessing.
For example, suppose someone came to me and asked, “Could you let me have a dollar?” and I said, “Certainly.” Then I reached into my pocket and handed him a dollar. What if he just looked at me and said, “You don’t understand. I’m terribly desperate. May I please have a dollar?” I would offer the dollar again and say, “Here’s the dollar.” But what if, instead of taking it, he said, “Oh, please, don’t you see I’m starving? Let me have a dollar.” We could keep that up forever! The person would go without, and my arm would grow tired of handing him the dollar. He would never receive it, and I would never give it. But the minute he said, “Thank you,” took the dollar, and put it in his pocket, that would be the moment the blessing was received.
That is the way it is with God. God is offering the baptism in the Holy Spirit to people who need only to reach out and take it and then enjoy the blessing.