Holy Spirit – Part Three
This week, I’m continuing to consider the question “How can I know I have the Holy Spirit?”
One way to know we have the Spirit is that we experience new supernatural abilities we did not have before. These abilities are often called the gifts of the Holy Spirit. New abilities may include praying in tongues, spontaneous praise, prophecy, passion to share the Gospel with non-believers, a word of wisdom, or words of knowledge only God could know about people. Joel also said that we would have dreams and visions. All these are gifts of the Spirit.
Another way is to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. It is described in Acts 1:8 and 1 Corinthians 4:20 by the same word from which we get the English word “dynamite”. Power to pray, power to be a witness for Jesus, power to defeat the sin patterns in our lives. Power to read and understand the Bible, power to teach clearly, lead well, and power to pray for others and watch them be healed.
Another reliable test is the transformation of our character over time. Jesus said you can tell the tree by its fruit. What kind of fruit is there in your life? Are you experiencing more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Are you overcoming sin patterns in your life? Are you growing in wisdom from above? If you are stuck in neutral, with little fruit or bad fruit, this is a sign that you may not have the Spirit in your life.
We believe that salvation (justification, sanctification, glorification) is a process and that God does not always work in the same way and with the same order of events for each person. People in the book of Acts experienced a wide variety of “on-boarding” experiences at the hands of a creative God. We can test and base our experiences against the standard of the Word of God.
Look at the story of Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8. He believed the Gospel of Jesus presented by Philip and he was baptized. (8:13) yet he did not receive the Spirit. He was still full of bitterness and captive to sin (8:23). He had wrong motives. We don’t know what happened to him, but I hope he repented. In any case, the giving of the Spirit was not “automatic” – it requires pure motives and a heart changed from above.
Look at the story of Cornelius in Acts 10. he and his household were hungry for God and they received the Spirit before they were baptized in water. We can see God’s purpose in that event, but its not always clear. In Luke 11, Jesus simply says “keep on asking”!
If we follow Peter’s advice, we are to make our calling sure (2 Peter 1:3-11). Paul agrees and asks us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
By the way, one more test of the Spirit’s presence in your life is your appetite for God’s Word. As you consider the tests I have offered, you may have further questions. Any of our elders are available to counsel with you to help you to that place of assurance.
But in the meantime, know that God knows your heart and rewards those who earnestly seek him! May we always seek more of God’s Holy Spirit!
In Jesus, Denis