Christian Disciples are Empowered!
G'day and welcome to Partake and to our series "Easter Weekend 2010"! This is the seventh podcast of this series. Last time we looked at what is a Christian Disciple and what should be the goal of being a follower of Jesus Christ. Today we look at being empowered to be a committed disciple of Jesus Christ. The catalyst of this empowerment is the arrival of the Holy Spirit into the life of the new believer.
Throughout his ministry Jesus had talked about how after he departed, that the Holy Spirit would come (John 15v26). Jesus, Himself, said it would be better for him to go away and send the Holy Spirit to live in us (John 16v7). We know from the other writings in the New Testament who the Holy Spirit is and what his ministry is. The Holy Spirit's prime role is that he will glorify Jesus Christ the Son of God, who is to be praised and glorified (John 16v13-14). He will testify (John 15v26) and be a witness for , Jesus Christ (Acts 1v8). Another part of His role is to be the paraclete or comforter. He is one called to stand alongside those who are followers of Jesus Christ (John 14v16).
Holy Spirit empowerment!
The Holy Spirit ministers to the Christian Disciple, in the same Jesus would if he were here in person. The Holy Spirit interprets and illuminates God's Word to people (John 16v12-15; 1 Corinthians 2v10-16)! Moreover, He was sent to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16v8). The Holy Spirit lives inside all those who call themselves a follow of Jesus Christ (Romans 8v9; Gal 2v20; Colossians 1v25-27) and He is their seal of assurance that they are now God's possession (2 Corinthians 1v22; Ephesians 1v3). He enters the moment the person has been born again or become a follower/disciple of Jesus Christ.
All Christian Disciples are commanded to be filled with the Spirit and to keep on being filled with the Spirit! Being filled with the Spirit, in the biblical sense, means allowing the Holy Spirit's to have control or domination of our lives. The imperative here is that we are to be filled (Ephesians 5v18), and go on being filled. He gives power to enable Christian Disciples to evangelise (Acts 1v8; 4v8, 31). It is he who is transforming the Christian Disciple into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 7-18), as the Christian Disciples walks in, lives in, and are being led by the Spirit (Galatians. 5v16; Romans 8v13). It is he who equips us for service. God is working in you to will and to act accordingly to his purpose (Philippians 2v13) and to be His witnesses (Acts 1v8). It is He who equips Christian Disciples for service through the giving of spiritual gifts. Where people's lives become more holy and more like Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12v3; 2 Corinthians 13v7), which is the greatest evidence of the Spirit's work.
The greatest evidence for the power of the Holy Spirit is not by way of signs and wonders and tongues, healings or other miracles. The greatest evidence that you have the Holy Spirit living inside you, controlling you and of you being submitted to Him is by being continually transformed into the very image of Jesus Christ. Transformed by allowing yourself to be so intimate with Jesus Christ, that people will notice you have changed and will ask you why! Being filled with the Spirit is allowing yourself to be continually controlled by Him and exercising His will, power and authority. That is one of the reasons the early church grew phenomenally and why the church is still here 2000 years later. The Pharisees and Sadducees are long gone. The Roman Empire collapsed. But... But... But... Jesus' church still stands, is still growing, and will one day be joined with Jesus in eternity, to the praise, honour and glory of Him who will return!
How are Christians empowered by the Holy Spirit?
Paul writing in 1 Corinthians 12v1, 4-7 "Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. ... There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good."
When Jesus said to His apostles "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14v12), it was through the promised Holy Spirit (John 14v17), and impartation of Spiritual Gifts, that His words were fulfilled.
Part of the empowerment in the life of a Christian is to enable them to serve - serve God and serve others. In order to be enabled to serve, the Holy Spirit gives to all Christian disciples "spiritual gifts." The term "Spiritual Gift" derives from the Greek word ‘Charismata'. They are also called grace gifts, which may refer to any gift God gives out of the abundance of His grace and are given to all Christians as God sees fit (1 Corinthians 12v11). There are four main passages in the New Testament regarding Spiritual Gifts. These are Romans 12v3-8; 1 Corinthians 12v1-10, 28-31; Ephesians 4v11-12 and 1 Peter 4v10-11. The lists of gifts, given in the New Testament are representative of spiritual gifts and are not to be taken as a conclusive listing. The gifts quoted in various passages of the New Testament are: "administration, apostle, discernment, evangelism, exhortation giving, faith, healing, helps, knowledge, leadership, mercy, miracles, pastor, prophecy, service, teaching, tongues, tongues interpretation, wisdom." As Christian Disciples however, Paul commands that we "try to excel in gifts that build up the church." (1 Corinthians 14v12). When the church is built up, unity will inevitably prevail. The diversity of Spiritual gifts within each local church helps build unity.
All Christian Disciples have Spiritual Gifts, for "in his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well." (Romans 12v6) God the Holy Spirit, through His infinite wisdom, mercy and grace bestows these gifts that belong to Him, upon His servants, Christian Disciples, and these gifts are to be used primarily to bring glory to Jesus Christ! (1 Peter 4v11). They are opportunities for Christian Disciples to serve other people. Some gifts like teaching, helping or leadership quite possibly are enhancements of natural abilities whilst others like faith, healing and miracles are from the Spirit's empowerment alone.
The reason that the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual gifts to Christian Disciples is so that the body of Christ is built up (Ephesians 4v12), for the common good of the church (1 Corinthians 12v7, 14v12) and "so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 4v12). These three reasons signify that God wants Christian Disciples to be active in service and not still like stagnant water. That is why we have been given gifts. If these gifts are not used for God's purposes, then they are meaningless. So, what is an appropriate response by Christian Disciples in relation to these gifts?
As the Bible is primary to spiritual growth and understanding, the Christian Disciple needs to study God's word diligently, enhancing the relationship and building bonds. Then the Christian Disciple needs to pray and ask in deep prayer and cogitation. Thirdly by asking the advice and wisdom of the leaders in the church we attend or from friends who know you well. Lastly, it is also through asking questions of your self. What do I enjoy? What am I good at? If God blesses what you are doing and it is fruitful, you may have discovered an area where your gifting lies!
As Christian Disciples, we are dependent upon each other, just as one part of the human body has dependence on another part. That is why we serve each other and use the gifts generously given by God. As all Christian Disciples have gifts, we have a responsibility to discover and develop them (1 Timothy 4v14)! God has called Christian Disciples and equipped them with spiritual gifts, and they are not to be neglected! We are to discover, discern, develop and put into effect our spiritual gifts, so that God can be glorified and His church built up!
As we are not to neglect our gifts, or let other Christian Disciples neglect their gifts, we are to fan the gift into flame (2 Timothy1v6). Much like blowing on embers and stirring them up will restart the flames of a fire! To do this Christian Disciples are to employ the gift faithfully and by asking God to continue their development, strengthening and opportunities to use them! Seek gifts that build up others, commands Paul (1 Corinthians 14v1-12). Ask God faithfully for gifts that give opportunity for service to God and others!
The Holy Spirit can also be grieved or quenched! Mainly this is when the Holy Spirit is not allowed to do the work He wants to do within the life of a follower or disciple of Jesus Christ. But I am also persuaded, that it occurs a lot in churches today, where churches in a town seem to be almost in competition with each other. One church will say we do this and that's the Holy Spirit way, and your church can't possibly be a true church because you aren't doing things the same way as us. As we have seen, all Christians have spiritual gifts, or charismata, so therefore all Christians and churches are charismatic. That makes a mockery of the labels we place on churches: for example "we are a Charismatic Church" Oh how the Holy Spirit is limited in our generation and put into boxes and labelled, by those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit works in quiet ways as well as spectacular ways. We only have to look at the variety of churches in the New Testament letters. The Holy Spirit is working in every church in some capacity, because the Holy Spirit lives within each individual Christian! So to say a particular church is a Holy Spirit church and that others aren't, is surely grieving the Spirit and limiting His work. The Holy Spirit works in different people and different churches as the requirements change. The Holy Spirit manifests Himself in different ways, and the way He is working in you, may just be completely different to the way He is working in somebody else. The way the Holy Spirit is working in your church, may well not be the way He is working in another church. Each person and each church has differing needs, outlooks, personality, temperament and desires - the Holy Spirit knows best how to operate within each one. , So let us let Him get on with the job, and we get on with job of showing we can work together as a united body of believers to world that needs the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Be empowered. Be going for Jesus. Be telling others and showing others of the incredible love Jesus Christ has for all people. Remember, Jesus already has all the supremacy and authority - so let us, as His followers and disciples, avail ourselves of Him! Be empowered by the Holy Spirit who lives inside you, changing your heart from a house to a home fit for a king. . Thank you.
If you find these resources helpful to you, please do prayerfully consider making a donation. You can support via PayPal, the universal and most secure way to donate money online. You do not need to be a member of Paypal to use their facilities and all major credit cards are accepted. Thank you