Reading the Bible, we need to bring to mind the words of Numbers 23:10 which were written many thousands of years before even Jesus walked the earth as a man:
“God is not a man that He should lie, neither the son of man that He should repent. Has He said, and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken, and shall He not make it good?”
Jesus was and is God the Son and the same scripture holds true for Him, whether it be in that which He spoke, or that which He allowed to be written in the Holy Bible about him. This being true, we can look to the words and promises of Jesus and know that we can trust them and have faith in them. That which Jesus has promised will come to pass – though the circumstances may not be exactly as we expect or predict, for the ways of the Lord are not our ways.
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus gives us many promises, in particular regarding the Holy Spirit. Let us look at three verses of scripture which Jesus spoke and clarify for ourselves the promises for us which He gave (emphasis added throughout):
John 14:26 “But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.”
John 15:26 “And when the Comforter has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me.”
John 16:13 “However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth. For He shall not speak of Himself, but whatever He hears, He shall speak. And He will announce to you things to come.”
The promises of Jesus to His disciples and therefore to us, are clear; the Holy Spirit will:
Teach us all things,
Remind us of the words of Jesus,
Testify about Jesus,
Guide us into all truth,
Announce the things to come.
Teaching, Reminding, Testifying, Guiding and Announcing are all standards parts of the works which the Holy Spirit does for Christians. Such things ought to be the norm, therefore in all churches too.
The Book of Acts provides three simple demonstrations of this in action:
Acts 2:14-21 “But Peter, standing up with the Eleven, lifted up his voice and said to them, Men, Jews, and all who dwell at Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to my words. For these are not drunk as you suppose, for it is the third hour of the day.
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel:
“And it shall be in the last days, says God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And in those days I will pour out My Spirit upon My slaves and My slave women, and they shall prophesy. And I will give wonders in the heaven above, and miracles on the earth below, blood and fire and vapour of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before that great and glorious Day of the Lord. And it shall be that everyone who shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Here in Acts 2:14-21 we find the Holy Spirit teaching Peter by revealing to him that the words of Joel the Prophet from Joel 2:28-32 had been fulfilled as predicted. Interestingly, these verses are not quoted literally, either from the Hebrew or the Septuagint, but the substance of the original, however, as one would expect, is perfectly preserved.
Acts 11:16 “And I remembered the Word of the Lord, how He said, John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
In Acts 11:16 we find the Holy Spirit reminding Peter of the words Jesus had spoken earlier. This allowed Peter could be brought into the truth and a correct understanding about the events in the house of Cornelius which were confusing him.
Acts 4:8-11 “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, Rulers of the people and elders of Israel, if we are examined today on a good work for an infirm man, by what this one has been healed, be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, in this name does this man stand before you whole.
This is the Stone which you builders have counted worthless, and He has become the Head of the Corner. And there is salvation in no other One; for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Here we find Peter, whom the Sanhedrin, or Great Council of the nation priests saw as unlearned and ignorant by comparison, standing before them to defend himself. In the process the words of John 15:26 (above) became fulfilled as the Holy Spirit eloquently spoke for and through Peter, testifying about Jesus.
Acts 5:1-11 “And a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the price, his wife also knowing, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart for you to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own authority? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God.
And hearing these words, Ananias fell down and expired. And great fear came on all those who heard these things. And the younger ones arose, wound him up, and carrying him out, they buried him.
And it was about the space of three hours afterward, when his wife (not knowing what was done) came in. And Peter answered her, Tell me whether you sold the land for so much? And she said, Yes, for so much.
Then Peter said to her, How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door and they will carry you out.
Then at once she fell down at his feet and expired. And the younger ones found her dead, and, carrying her out, buried her beside her husband. And great fear came on all the church and on as many as heard these things.”
In Acts 5:1-11 we find Peter before Ananias and Sapphira as the Holy Spirit reveals to him that they had lied to God and would die as a consequence. Note, it was not that Ananias and Sapphira had withheld some money from the sale of their land, which was the issue, for as land owners it was their right to sell the land and donate whatever portion they deemed appropriate. What they had done was to hold back a portion, while at the same time letting all others assume that they had donated 100% for the sale, thus lying.
Though these examples relate to the Apostle Peter, the Book of Acts reveals to us examples which are related to non-apostles and non-disciples, indeed, to those whose names are not even recorded.
In Acts 6:8-7:60 we find Stephen, Christendom’s first martyr, “full of faith and power” doing “great wonders and signs” (Acts 8:6). When Stephen spoke and debated Jesus in the synagogues “they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke” (Acts 8:10). “And looking intently at him. all those sitting in the Sanhedrin saw his face as if it were the face of an angel” Acts 8:15), after which in Acts 7, the Holy Spirit spoke through him, as he argued his innocence, their guilt and Jesus Christ, not from a earthly perspective, but a Godly perspective. Finally, Acts 7:56 Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit said “Behold, I see Heaven opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.”
In Acts 8:5-13 and vv26-40 we find Philip preaching Christ in Samaria, performing miracles, driving out demons and bringing many to Christ, even those who were previously working powerfully in the demonic. God also spoke to Philip through an Angel in v26 telling his to relocate to a new location so he might minister to a seeker and bring him to Christ, “a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasure and had come to Jerusalem to worship.” This man, it is believed, took the Christian Church home to Ethiopia and established it there.
Finally we come to one of the most amazing passages of scripture as Philip baptised the eunuch: “And when they had come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more. And he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached the gospel in all the cities until he came to Caesarea” (vv39-40). The distance from Gaza to Azotus is about 34 miles.
In Acts 11:27-30 and 21:11 we read about Agabus:
“And in these days prophets from Jerusalem came to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and signified by the Spirit that there should be great famine over the world (which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar). And the disciples, as any were prospered, determined each of them to send for ministry to those brothers who lived in Judea, which they also did, sending to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.”
However, perhaps the most remembered works of Agabus is found in Act 21:11
“And coming to us, and taking Paul’s belt, and binding his hands and feet, he said, The Holy Spirit says these things: So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man whose belt this is, and will deliver him into the hands of the nations.”
Here, as in the previous scripture, we see Agabus both speaking and acting as directed by the Holy Spirit and here in v11, he correctly predicts Paul’s future condition.
In Acts 9:10-19 we find Ananias being mightily used by the Holy Spirit as the Lord spoke to him in a vision concerning Paul of Tarsus, who later became the Apostle Paul.
In Acts 4:29-31, Acts 13:2 and Acts 19:6 we find the Holy Spirit falling upon and empowering many unnamed Christians.
The Bible confirms beyond any reasonable doubt that the Holy Spirit can and will continue to do His work even today in willing Christian vessels. But this is the nub of the point, we need to be willing vessels. If we are not willing, the Holy Spirit will not act. If we have unbelief, the Holy Spirit will not act.
As we saw with Peter, the Holy Spirit brought to his memory both the past teachings of Jesus and the teachings of his local synagogue, where he had heard the Old Testament preached and taught. Similarly, if we have a background of biblical knowledge, the Holy Spirit can bring it out and explain it to us; but if we have none, the Holy Spirit must take a new and different approach; for the Holy Spirit cannot build on what is not there.
Brothers and Sisters, I pray that you will seek to become well grounded in the Word of the Lord, such that when the Holy Spirit wishes to use you, He can draw that scripture up from inside you and use you mightily for the Kingdom.
Amen and Amen.