The Holy Spirit does not get enough study or conversation in most churches today. Many Christians do not possess adequate knowledge of the Spirit who lives and dwells in each of us that have expressed our belief in Christ. The Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity, was promised to all believers by Jesus. An interesting fact is that Jesus said the Spirit could not come until Jesus had returned to heaven. John 16:5-7: “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
I can remember three distinct times in my life when I have felt the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit. My first experience is one that I will share with you and it is the first encounter that I had with the Spirit. It was spring of 1976, and I was sitting with my mother in worship at Harmony Baptist Church in Banks County, Georgia. I had been wrestling with the decision to give my life to Christ. For several weeks I had felt the urge to be saved and to declare my belief in Christ. My mother was unaware of this decision that I was struggling with. I remember being afraid to tell her what was going on inside me.
That morning, when the pastor gave the call to come forward and the congregation began singing the hymn of invitation, I suddenly felt this “burning in my heart”. I imagine that it was very much like that of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus that encountered the risen Christ. And then very suddenly this still, small voice told me to go forward and profess my faith and belief in Jesus Christ. It was not an audible voice, but rather a voice that somehow “spoke” to my heart. It was indeed real and I remember immediately leaving my seat and going forward to the front of the church. That memory is still very vivid and clear, as the day that it occurred some 37 years ago. There are many things that I forget more often than I would care to admit. However, this moment, when the Spirit led me to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior, remains etched in my memory very distinctly.
Jesus promised the disciples that the Holy Spirit would teach them certain things and would also remind them of his teachings and even his words. John 14:25-26: “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Those who do not know or believe in Christ will find this teaching of the Holy Spirit strange and difficult to relate to. Jesus said in John 14: 17: “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”
The Apostle Paul teaches us in Romans 8:5-6: “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” And then Paul in Romans 8:9: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”
As followers of Christ, we are faced with many difficult and challenging situations in life. However, we must remember that we have the great power of the Holy Spirit available to us at all times if we will only call and rely upon the Spirit to guide us. Paul teaches us that the Spirit intercedes for us through prayer to help us in our times of difficulty or uncertainty. Romans 8:26-27: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
As followers of the risen Christ we must remember that the Holy Spirit lives and dwells inside of us. The Spirit is available to guide you through the maze of life and will assist you in making those decisions that set you apart as a follower of Christ. And the Spirit can give you a peace that the world cannot even begin to understand. Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).