Now we are beginning a journey today into a subject that is unchartered territory for so many believers. Today, we will begin talking about the Third Person of the Godhead—the mighty Holy Spirit.
Sadly, the Holy Spirit is not talked about in many churches today. You can talk to a lot of believers out there and when you ask them had they received the Holy Spirit since they believed, they would respond like the Ephesians did when Paul asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed, saying, “We have not heard whether there is a Holy Spirit” (See Acts chapter 19). Sure, He is mentioned casually here and there in some churches, but an emphasis is usually not placed on His everyday ministry in our lives. Now in some groups, He is talked about a lot, but their emphasis is usually more on what He does and He is usually referred to as some force or power. But what we are going to do in this series of teachings is emphasize His Person—learning who He is, while also learning what He is here to do in our lives.
We are going to teach on Him up one way and down another, learning how to fellowship and partner together with Him. We will also learn of the advantages He provides to us in our everyday lives. We will look at all of the ways in which He is typified in God’s Word. We will also wind up looking at the gifts that He provides to us, the fruit that He produces in us, and how we are to be led by Him on a daily basis. It is going to be a fun journey this year @ HPC!
However, my purpose and intent through this series of teachings is not to primarily make you know more about the Holy Spirit; it is to provoke in us a desire to know Him—that is, to know the Holy Spirit personally and in a more intimate way. If what I accomplish through these messages is to help you acknowledge Him more in your everyday lives, I have done my job. But if all we do is just file this information away in our memory bank and let it collect dust, then we are missing the point of why we are studying these truths.
So, my point is—we must want to learn these things not to just accumulate more knowledge about a subject, but to apply the truths we are hearing into our everyday lives. So, can we all commit to doing that? Can we agree together today to be doers of the Word we are hearing, and not just hearers only? Amen and so be it.
So, let’s begin over in Second Corinthians chapter 13 by looking at the last words that the apostle Paul likely ever uttered to the Church of Corinth, because this prayer Paul prayed contains three powerful truths that will usher us into the importance of the entire Godhead’s ministry in our lives. Amen?
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Second Corinthians 13:14
THE MINISTRY OF THE GODHEAD
So, in this verse, the Apostle Paul was concluding his second and last letter to the church of Corinth with this prayer for them. Now I want you to understand that this was the last verse of 29 chapters that Paul wrote to the Corinthians (when you combine both his first and second epistles to them), and again were most likely the last words that he ever spoke to their church. Why is that so significant, you ask? It is because it shows us how important the things contained in this prayer must have been to Paul!
For example, we have just recently looked at some of Jesus’ last words to His disciples in John 15:1-8, and I made a similar point that His words to them in John, chapters 14-16 were His last pieces of instruction before His Crucifixion. Therefore, those three chapters had to have contained some of Jesus’ most important sayings to His disciples.
Well likewise, in Paul’s mind, the things that he listed in this prayer must have been three of the most important things that you could pray for someone else or even yourself. On top of that, since all Scripture is inspired by God, we know that this prayer is the express will of God for all men. (This is further verified in that Paul ended his prayer with—“be with you all.”) So, since this prayer in Second Corinthians 13:14 reveals the perfect will of God for every believer for all time and was important enough to the apostle Paul for him to conclude his ministry to the Corinthians with this prayer, shouldn’t we pay close attention to these three things?
Now the first thing I want you to see about this prayer is notice that it refers to all three members of the Trinity. Now I know that there are some out there who do not believe in the Trinity—namely because this term is not used in the Bible. But what we need to understand is that even though the Bible might not use the term “Trinity”, the idea that God is made up of three distinct Persons is actually a very common principle throughout the Word of God. Let me give you a few examples where the idea of the Trinity is used together in one passage of Scripture:
So, we can see by all of these passages that the entire Godhead—the Three distinct Persons in the Trinity—are actively at work within us, providing different benefits to our Christian life. And Second Corinthians 13:14 is no different. And that is what the apostle Paul is looking to do here—praying that the Church of Corinth would walk in the benefits of the Trinity’s ministry in our lives.
The fact is, that most people do not see the Holy Spirit in the light of Him being the Third Person of the Godhead. But He is! But again, most believers do not see Him this way; rather, they see Him as a servant of God or something that God uses like a force or power. But the truth is that if He is the Third Person of the Godhead, He is both a Person and He is God.
And this false perception of Him has caused most in the church to not experience the full benefits of the Christian life that He is here to provide for us. For example, do you remember the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts Chapter 5—how they lied about the land that they sold and the money they kept back? Well, Peter said in verse 3 that they had lied to the Holy Spirit. Then in verse 4, Peter explained who the Holy Spirit is, and I quote, “You have not lied to men but to God”. Therefore, we can clearly see that the Holy Spirit is God and is, therefore, to be reverenced as God. And get this truth right here: Just as Ananias and Sapphira died because they did not reverence the Holy Spirit, many believers’ lives are dead today because they do not have reverence for the Holy Spirit. In other words, many believers do not experience the life of God today because they have not yet learned to honor the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Somebody say, “Not us!” Not this church! We are going to learn to both respect and esteem the Holy Spirit in our lives and walk in the benefits of His ministry.” Amen?
GRACE, LOVE, AND COMMUNION
Now, if you were going to pray for only three things for someone very near and dear to your heart, what would those three things be? I would venture to say that our “Top 3” might not mirror Paul’s list. We might ask for “the healing of the Lord Jesus Christ, the prosperity of God, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit be with me and my family. Amen.” But Paul, like in many of His prayers for the church, had different things in mind to pray for his churches. For example, in none of his prayers did he pray for these churches to increase in natural things. They contained requests only for spiritual perception (wisdom, understanding, discernment, and revelation) and for spiritual growth (power, strength, and fruit). And this prayer at the end of Second Corinthians was no different. Now even though our prayer requests might differ some from Paul’s, it is more likely that the first two items would be things we see as important.
For example, the first thing he listed was “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,” and I believe we could all agree that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is super important for all of us to understand, possess, and walk in, am I right? Yes, the reason most in the church would agree on this is because most churches and denominations agree on the fact that everything we have received from God—from the forgiveness of our sins to the power to live free from sin—is by the grace that was made available through Jesus. As the apostle John said, “the law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus” (see John 1:17).
Saints, this grace is a must for our everyday Christian life because everything we have and everything we are as believers is through the grace of God. It is by His grace that we are saved and it is by His grace that we live, and it is by His grace that we do everything in between! Yes, Grace is a must in the Christian life because you can’t be forgiven without grace, you can’t be holy without grace, neither can you do anything good and beneficial without His grace to do it. As Paul exhorted Pastor Timothy in Second Timothy 2:1, “…be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus”—showing each of us that if a pastor of what was likely the largest church in the First Century needed to be encourage to be strong in the grace that Jesus provides, then all of us likewise need to be strong in this grace. Amen?
You see, we all sing songs such as “Amazing Grace” because we know how awesome His unmerited favor is. However, it is my experience and observation that there is a very high percentage of Christians who have never moved beyond the “kiddy pool” of the depth of His amazing grace—meaning, they have come to the realization of just enough of His grace to get saved, but they have not moved on to seeing just how life-transforming His grace can be to our everyday walks.
So, yes, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ certainly is a necessity for us all, and the second thing Paul prayed is just as important— “the love of God…”
Now like the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, most in the church today could also agree that the love of God would be another item to include in our prayer because there are few things more important than understanding and experiencing God’s love in our lives. We know this because without the love of the Father we would not even have been able to be saved. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…” Ephesians 3:19 also teaches us (in a prayer, mind you) that it is also important to have the love of God with us in our everyday lives because it’s by experiencing the love of God that we are filled with the all the fullness of God.
Now I personally consider the love of the Father as being the single greatest revelation that we could ever receive in our hearts. It is because having a revelation of the love of God is a vital key that unlocks a life of freedom and faith. Even Jesus included this same request in His final prayer for His followers in John chapter 17 when He prayed that we would know that the Father loves us just as He loves Him (see John 17:23).
Church, I cannot express any more emphatically just how important “the love of God” is to our lives. It is life-transforming—changing our prayer life in how we approach the Father, changing how we love one another as we are commanded to, and changing how much we love God in our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. We love because He first loved us (First John 4:19). Amen.
However, like with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, very few know in their hearts the height, length, depth and width of the love of God the Father. Again, most have experienced it in a measure, but not the dimensionless love that He is, not just has (see First John 4:16).
So, these first two things mentioned by the Apostle Paul in his prayer are fairly obvious to most of us. Most churches would not object to these as being two out of the three final things that we were going to pray for someone, but the last thing probably wouldn’t even cross the minds of most of the church— the communion of the Holy Spirit.
So if the apostle Paul included the communion of the Holy Spirit in his “Top 3 things to pray for those we love” then it must be just as vital to our success in the Christian life as the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God is. Yes, they all three work together and are of equal importance. And can you understand why? It is because all three of these things represent the three predominant and present-day ministries of the Godhead in our lives! God the Father manifested and continues to manifest His love toward us! Jesus Christ provided all the grace we will ever need through His death, burial, and resurrection! And the Holy Spirit’s ministry on the earth is to have “communion” with us. Praise God!
WHAT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT?
Now before we do anything else, let’s first look at this title given to Him in the Holy Scriptures—the Holy Spirit. While He is certainly called other things in the Bible such as the “Spirit of God”, “Spirit of truth”, “Spirit of grace”, and is even given a slew of names in Isaiah 11:2 (seven to be exact), the predominant name given to Him in the Scriptures is “Holy Spirit.”
Now I know that there are some out there who believe that we should not call Him “the Holy Spirit”—which is technically accurate because in all of the references that I have looked up regarding the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, there is no definite article placed before the words hagio (Holy) and pnuema (Spirit). What that means is that there is no cause for putting the word “the” in front of them. So, yes, technically the word “the” is not necessary.
However, I will tell you that I personally do not believe that “Holy Spirit” is His literal name. No, I do not believe He is “Mr. Spirit” or “Sir Holy.” He is the Spirit of God, which makes Him hagios--holy, pure, clean, sanctified, and separate. In other words, He, being God’s Spirit, is unlike any other spirit out there. He is divine. He is sacred. There is none like Him. Therefore, in my opinion, referring to Him as “the Holy Spirit” is not inherently wrong—as long as we understand that He is a Person and that He is God. (We will get more into that throughout this series)
But let me make an important point along these lines, you can refer to Him however you want to. What is important, however, is that you have a working knowledge of His ministry in your life. A religious spirit will get fired up about trivial things like this, but when it comes down to what is really important—like, how well do you know Him, are you experiencing His fruit in your life, etc.— that’s not high on their priority list. Church, what is truly important in Christianity is not necessarily knowing the truth; it is walking in the truth we know. Never forget that.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
And the truth that we are called to walk in regarding the Holy Spirit is this principle of “communion”—may the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all. So, I reckon we need to understand what this word “communion” means, right?
Let’s first look at the Greek word used to translate this word “communion.” It comes from the Greek word koinonia. Now in the New Testament, this word is translated as “fellowship” more times than as any other word, and that is probably the best translation of this word, as evidenced by the majority of translations translating this phrase “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.”
In fact, we can see it being translated this way as it pertains to the Holy Spirit in Philippians 2:1 when Paul says, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy.”
Now the word “if” that is being repeated here does not convey doubt but rather makes a point of emphasis. It would better be translated “since” or “in view of the fact.” So, the four things mentioned in this verse are facts: We already have consolation in Christ! We are comforted and loved! We already have obtained affection and mercy! And we now have fellowship with the Spirit! So, again, we see the word koinonia being used in association with the Holy Spirit, and in this verse, we see how this fellowship with the Holy Spirit is available to all of God’s church “since” we are His children.
So, when we look at the writings of the apostle Paul, we see that the Lord desires all of us to walk in the fellowship of His Spirit and has readily made this fellowship with Him available to us all.
Now I want us to look at another passage of Scripture where Paul used the word koinonia and it is translated again as “fellowship.” However, in this passage, it is not used in reference to the Holy Spirit, but rather to a fellowship that was made available to Paul himself. Let’s look over at Galatians chapter two.
In this chapter, Paul was describing a private meeting that he had with some of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem. And the result of this meeting was that the pillars of the church—Peter, James and John—gave Paul and Barnabas the “right hand of fellowship.” (see Galatians 2:9)
No, not the “right foot of fellowship,” but the “right hand of fellowship.” I say that in jest, but it is actually quite sad because some of you are in this church today because when you received the One we are talking about, you got the boot from your particular denomination.
But what were the apostles in Jerusalem doing here? They were inviting Paul and Barnabas into their inner-circle. Yes, they were associating themselves with Paul and Barnabas and considering them their friends and co-laborers in the gospel. Therefore, this word “fellowship” refers to “closeness and intimacy.”
Now, as evidenced by these terms I just used, there is a big difference between “relationship” and “fellowship.” For example, Peter, James, and John already had a relationship with Paul & Barnabas by virtue of the fact that they were brothers in the Lord, being a part of the body of Christ together. But this giving them the “right hand of fellowship” was another level in that relationship. It was now them saying, “Yeah, we agape you as the brethren, but now we phileo you as friends.”
Now just think about this! How awesome would this have been if you were living in the First Century Church to have Peter, James, and John invite you into their inner-circle? Let’s bring it down home for a moment—say, a group of your favorite big-name ministers said to you, “Hey, you want to hang out?” You would probably be glowing for weeks if you were invited to be at the right-hand of the one you look up to and admire! Yes, you would be so blessed to be able to have fellowship with them!
Well, guess what? You have something even better! You have been called into the “fellowship of the HOLY SPIRIT!” God is inviting you to be at His side and to enjoy “the right hand of fellowship” with His Spirit! Now that should send us around glowing all the days of our life because GOD has invited us into fellowship with Himself through the Person of the Holy Spirit.
THE HOLY GUEST
So, how do we enter into this “fellowship” with the Holy Spirit? We do so by first understanding in our hearts what we just saw—that being “tight” with Him is far more valuable than being close to any man or woman. And then once we esteem our opportunity to commune with Him like so, then we simply begin a “monologue”—that is, we begin talking to Him, saying things like, “Good morning, Holy Spirit … Thank You for being a part of my life today … I’m so grateful that you are going to work with me today to lead, guide and teach me … I love You … I value all of the help you give me … etc. etc. etc.” And then as you begin talking to Him like this, you open the door to begin a “dialogue” with Him. In other words, the more He hears your voice, the better you will hear His voice.
Just think about it—probably the closest “fellowship” we enjoy on this earth is that of a husband and wife. Well, how good do you think your relationship with your spouse would be if, while you both obviously lived under the same roof, you never communicated with each other? That wouldn’t fly with most of you, would it? Well, all of us have the Holy Spirit living in the same house with us—that is, the temple of our bodies—and most of us do not ever acknowledge Him. This should not be so, church.
You see, He is a perfect gentleman and does not force Himself into our lives. In fact, this idea is where the old King James translation of “Holy Ghost” came from. In their day, a ghost was not something spooky or scary; a ghost was just another way of describing a “guest.” So, we could call Him in the “Holy Guest”—meaning, He is abiding with us as Jesus promised, but He will only do what we invite Him to do. And this is why the Holy Spirit is not to be feared. He is not going to force Himself on us. He will only perform in us what we invite Him to perform.
So, this is one of the things we see in the apostle Paul’s prayer for the church at Corinth—that they would enter into fellowship with the Holy Spirit. This means us inviting Him into our inner circle, us becoming close with Him, and us accepting the invitation to enter into His right hand of fellowship. Amen!