4a The work of the Holy Spirit is essential! Luke 11:9-13

Over the years nearly 400 of my sermons have mentioned the Holy Spirit. I have preached 28 sermons just on the person and work of the Holy Spirit, 7 on spiritual gifts and another 13 on spiritual warfare. So no surprise at this morning’s topic: in the lives of believers and in the life of the church, the work of the Holy Spirit is essential!
Luke 11 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
How much more! Most Christians have hardly scraped the surface of the work which God the Holy Spirit could be doing in our lives. This morning I want to talk about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in believers and in the church and encourage us all to expect God to do much, much more than we have experienced so far. As Graham Kendrick puts it,
He longs to do much more than our faith has yet allowed
To thrill us and surprise us with His sovereign power
How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
We need to start by recognising that the Holy Spirit is not an optional extra for Christians. It is the Holy Spirit who brings us to new birth and gives us our new life in Christ. As Jesus said to Nicodemus,
John 3:5 … ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.” 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’
It is the Holy Spirit who makes us God’s children.
Romans 8: 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
It is the Holy Spirit Who gives each of us our eternal life and makes us God’s children. And it is the Holy Spirit who makes each one of us part of the Body of Christ, the church.
1 Corinthians 12: 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
It is the Holy Spirit living inside who takes the church beyond a human organisation and makes us into God’s new Temple.
Ephesians 2 21 In (Christ) the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
The Holy Spirit brings us new life and makes us part of the church, but that new birth is not the end of the Holy Spirit’s work but only the beginning. From then on, the Holy Spirit remains essential to our ongoing relationship with God and to every element of our Christian discipleship. So the first aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit I want us to think about this morning is the Holy Spirit as our Helper.
On the night before He died Jesus made some wonderful promises to His disciples, which are just as much for us to claim today.
“I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever” (John 14:16 GNB).
The underlying meaning of the word alternatively translated as Advocate, Counsellor, or Comforter is one who comes alongside to help and comfort and strengthen. The Helper who will come to the disciples is another one like Jesus Himself, continuing the work of Jesus from inside our lives. Jesus says more about this Helper. “He lives with you and will be in you … I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you … and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:17, 20, 23). The Holy Spirit the Helper is God living inside us.
These are God’s promises to every believer. We are even closer to God than Adam and Eve were when God walked beside them in the Garden of Eden. In our new life in Jesus Christ, we have gained even more than Adam ever lost by sinning. We are closer to God than the disciples were when they followed Jesus and listened to Him and ate with Him in Galilee, because God the Holy Spirit is living inside us to be our Helper. There are at least four areas in which the Holy Spirit comes to help us.
1. The Holy Spirit helps us to know Jesus
“I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit who reveals the truth about God.” (John 14:16-17 GNB). The Holy Spirit the Helper is the personal presence of Jesus in our lives. The Holy Spirit helps us in our relationship with God and helps us to know Jesus better by helping us to understand the Bible. We always need the help of the Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures to help us to understand the Scriptures. Then the Holy Spirit also helps us in our praying.
2. The Holy Spirit helps us to be like Jesus
God is at work inside every beliver, changing us to be like Jesus. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18).
The Holy Spirit is working in us to make us holy too, “metamorphosing” us into the image of Christ. The Spirit helps us to avoid doing wrong, helping us to turn away from sin and evil, giving us the strength and grace to repent and live new lives. And the Holy Spirit also helps us to do what is right, producing the fruit of the Spirit, the character of Christ in us.
3. The Holy Spirit helps us to serve Jesus
We thought at the beginning of this year about the different manifestations of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12. Every Christian is equipped with spiritual gifts to serve God as the need arises, whether by teaching or serving, by gifts of prophecy or even by working miracles. God is inside us to help us do His will and bring glory to Jesus.
4. The Holy Spirit helps us to tell others about Jesus
This is the remarkable promise Jesus made to His disciples: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit gives all Christians the power to be witnesses for Jesus. The Greek word for power is dunamis from which we get the English words dynamo and dynamite. The Holy Spirit is the dynamo and the dynamite in all Christian mission and witness. We can often feel so scared of speaking about God and telling our story. We need to remember that God is in us. It is not just us speaking – it is the Holy Spirit.
We believe in the Holy Spirit – the Helper. We all need help to know Jesus better, to become more like Him and serve Him and tell others about Him. In some ways the word Helper is too weak and wishy-washy to describe the amazing work the Holy Spirit does in every Christian. We have the Strengthener – God living inside us. When it comes to living our Christian lives in the power of the Helper,
How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
Next, we can expect God to speak into our lives through the Holy Spirit who inspires spiritual gifts of prophecy. We thought about prophecy in February. This was the Old Testament promise from the book of Joel which was fulfilled with the birth of the church on the Day of Pentecost.
Acts 2 17 ‘ “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

Throughout the Bible the most widely referred to and the most significant activity of Holy Spirit is in inspiring prophetic messages. Before the birth of the Church at Pentecost the Holy Spirit only came upon particular individuals for specific purposes or occasions. But even Moses said, “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” (Num 11:29). In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit who inspires prophecy is not just for special Christians, but for every Christian.
In February I introduced you to a simple phrase which sums this idea up very well: “the prophet-hood of all believers.” “The priesthood of all believers” reminds us that every Christian can come into God’s presence and pray, and we don’t need special priests as intermediaries. The prophet-hood of all believers implies the corollary. God will speak directly to all of us because the Spirit who lives in every Christian is the same Holy Spirit who inspired the prophets in the Old and New Testaments and in the Early Church.
When Jesus talked about the Holy Spirit as the Helper, He said the Helper would teach (John 14:26), testify (John 15:26) and guide into truth (John 16:13). The Helper will “speak what He hears … tell you what is yet to come … take from what is Mine and make it known to you” (John 16:13ff). These are all activities of the Spirit who inspires prophecy bringing believers into direct communication with their heavenly Father, mediating our relationship with our heavenly Father. Time after time in the Book of Acts we can see the first Christians receiving prophecies and specific revelations from God, giving guidance, assurance, solutions to problems and predictions about personal and national events. We also saw how a number of the spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 are expressions of prophecy: words of knowledge, words of wisdom and gifts of discerning of spirits. Paul explained the purpose of Christian prophecy like this. “The one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. … the one who prophesies edifies the church” (1 Cor 14:3-4). This is the nature of the Holy Spirit promised in the Old Testament which God has now poured out on all His children – the Spirit Who inspires prophecy, visions and dreams. In principle all Christians can experience the spiritual gift of prophecy and related gifts.
The Bible gives us the standard by which all other messages from God must be tested and judged. At the same time, sometimes God also speaks to Christians through specific Bible verses and passages which come to us as if they were God speaking personally just to us. But God can also speak to us through words of prophecy.
David Watson said this about Christian prophecy. “While the written word is God’s truth for all people at all times, the prophetic word is a particular word, inspired by God, given to a particular person or group of persons, at a particular moment for a particular purpose.” The Bible shows us God speaking to His people through dreams (Deut 13:1, Joel 2:28), visions (Dan 7:15, Acts 7:55-56; 16:9-10; 18:9-10), pictures (Jer 18:1-6), and voices (1 Sam 3:4, Acts 9:4).
The apostle Paul wrote: “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy” (1 Cor 14:1). The Good News Bible says, “Set your hearts on spiritual gifts.” Christians are not just allowed to want God to give us gifts of the Holy Spirit – we should passionately seek spiritual gifts. We are all encouraged to long for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and to give us spiritual gifts. We should all be eagerly desiring and passionately seeking God to use us in His service and to equip us with whichever of the gifts of the Holy Spirit He chooses at any time. Of all the spiritual gifts, the apostle Paul clearly considered prophecy to be the most important, after love.
Most Christians need more education about prophecy. We all need more experience of hearing God speak directly to us, learning to listen to God. But more than anything, we all need greater expectation. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 commands: “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt.” Samuel prayed, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:10). We can pray the same prayer, confident that God still wants to speak to us directly today. Christians should all eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially to prophesy. When it comes to expecting God to speak to us,
How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
The Holy Spirit is our Helper. He is the Spirit who Inspires Prophecy. Thirdly the Holy Spirit also comes into our lives to work miracles of healing and deliverance.
John 14 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
I am sure we would be happy just to be continuing to do the mighty works Jesus did, but He promises we will do even greater things than these! That was the experience of the Early Church. There are so many examples of miracles of healing and deliverance in the Book of Acts. They were “naturally supernatural.” Then we also read this at the end of Mark’s Gospel.
Mark 16 15 (Jesus) said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. …. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons; … 18 … they will place their hands on people who are ill, and they will get well.’ … 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
There isn’t time to say any more this morning about the work of the Holy Spirit in miracles of healing and deliverance, except this. Through the Holy Spirit, God raised Jesus from the dead. And every Christian shares in Christ’s resurrection life.
Ephesians 1 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know …. 19 …his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.
The Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, is now LIVING IN YOU! We can experience all the power of the resurrection in our own lives! The seemingly ordinary lives we live day to day can be lived in the resurrection power of Christ.
We just need to allow the Holy Spirit and the resurrection life of Christ to flow through us. Flow, Spirit, flow! Blaze, Spirit, blaze! Ask. Seek. Knock. When it comes to stepping out in faith, praying for signs and wonders,
How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
Paul encouraged Timothy like this. “Fan into flame the gift of God, ….. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7). We all need to fan the flame of the Spirit in our lives. There’s an old expression: to “put yourself in the way of blessing.” It means to make decisions to be in places where God can bless you! I have shared before the picture of the umbrella. When the rain of God’s blessing starts to fall we each have an umbrella – and we each have a choice. We can hold the umbrella over our heads so the rain of God’s blessing doesn’t land on us. Or we can hold the umbrella upside down to catch as much of the blessing as possible! Which way up is your umbrella?
How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

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