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
So, again, 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 have made the point that this was the last verse of 29 chapters that Paul wrote to the Corinthians (when you combine both his first and second epistles together), and were most likely the last words that he ever spoke to their church. And the reason this is important to understand is because these must be super-significant words to both the apostle Paul and to the Holy Spirit who inspired Him to write this prayer.
So, we have seen that just as the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father are critical things for us to walk in as believers, likewise the communion of the Holy Spirit is just as important. Yes, all three of these things—grace, love and communion—work together and are of equal importance just as the Trinity works together and is of equal importance with one another.
So, we have spent a little time all three weeks defining this word “communion.” The first thing we noted is that it comes from the Greek word koinonia. We saw that in the New Testament, this word is translated as “fellowship” more times than as any other word, likely being the best translation of this word. But then we looked at the English word that is used in this verse and saw what it means in order to get a better understanding of what the communion of the Holy Spirit is. So, we saw that as communion is the word used to describe the Lord’s Supper, it describes a uniting of two things or people together. Therefore, the communion of the Holy Spirit could describe the “intimacy or union of the Holy Spirit.” Then last week we looked back at the root word for koinonia and saw that it means “common.” Therefore, having communion with the Holy Spirit is us having something in common with Him. In other words, we have something in common with Him and share a common goal.” Praise God, that is what it means to have fellowship with the Spirit of God.
Now, in this series, we are spending some time looking at the Book of Acts—as it illustrates to us how the Early Church operated. And we saw that they were a Body of believers who were completely dependent on their communion with the Holy Spirit. No, they did not have the privilege you and I do today to have the complete Word of God because throughout those 28 chapters, the New Testament had not even been written yet. So, they were completely dependent on the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, teach and instruct them. Now through understanding this, compare the results of the early church with the results of the church today. It would be an understatement to say that they had more of an impact on their world than we are having on ours today. Amen? It is for this reason that I believe the modern-day Church is not nearly as effective as the early, First Century Church was. Yes, it is because of the church of today’s lack of respect for the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
So, even though most of our Bibles title this Book— “The Acts of the Apostles” — I believe a more accurate title would be— “The Acts of the Holy Ghost through His Church.” You see, it was not just apostles who did the things we see described in the Book of Acts. There were deacons, pastors, evangelists, and even children who were playing a part in turning the world “right-side up.”
So, we began in Acts 1:1-3 and saw how even Jesus did the things He did “through the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, even He walked in the communion of the Holy Spirit—doing all of the mighty works that He did through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Then we saw how Jesus said in Acts 1:4 that He had taught His disciples about HIM. And we looked at some of these verses and found that in just 9 verses contained in John chapters 14-16, He referred to the Holy Spirit with a personal pronoun 22 times!
So, we learned that the Holy Spirit is not a goose bump! Nor is He a cloud, a vapor, or a feeling! Yet if you asked certain believers who have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, this is exactly how they see Him. They relate to Him through these physical manifestations that He gives us—such as the goose bumps they feel, the cloud of glory they see, or the emotions they experience. But the truth is this: He is a person with a personality and emotions. The Holy Spirit is as much of a divine person as God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ because He is, in fact, the Third Person of the Godhead.
Therefore, we ended with a quote from the late Dr. R.A. Torrey who once said, “If the Holy Spirit is a divine person and we know it not, we are robbing a divine Being of the love and adoration which are due Him. It is of the highest practical importance whether the Holy Spirit is a power that we, in our ignorance and weakness, are somehow to get hold of and use, or whether the Holy Spirit is a personal Being who is to get hold of us and use us...”
Church, it is time for us to recognize the latter—that He is indeed a Person who stands at the door of our hearts and knocks, desiring to use us. And when we decide to invite Him into all of the rooms of our life and give this perfect Gentleman full access, it is then that we, like both the Head of the Church and Early Church itself, will turn our world “right-side up.” Amen!
Again, church, this recognizing Him as a person and then relating to Him as such is what makes us more usable. It is like a marriage—you and your spouse can live under the same roof but if you don’t have communion (that is, you are not intimate, you don’t enjoy fellowship, or you are not unified), then your marriage relationship will not be as productive as it ought to be.
Let’s look at a few verses that describe more about our Divine Partner—because I believe it will show us more of what His heart longs for. As I have said, we cannot have communion with a goose bump. Therefore, it is imperative that we see Him as He is in truth—the Third Person of the Trinity:
THE EMOTIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Since He is a Divine Person that means that He has a divine personality. He has emotions and feelings just like we do. In James 4:5, the Word of God says, “Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously’?”
Now the language here is very impacting when you understand what James was saying: First of all, notice that he describes the Spirit as “dwelling” in us. This word describes someone “residing” or “inhabiting” somewhere permanently. We would say that they are “living in their home.” Then the word “yearns” describes how someone would “greatly desire or long for” someone else because of their heart for them. And, finally, the word “jealously” is the common word used for “envy”—which is always (except for this one time) used to describe a work of the flesh, not a work of the Spirit. So, is the Holy Spirit violating His very nature here? Heavens, no! This simply describes His heart of love for each of us, and His unwillingness to share us with anyone or anything else. Yes, the Holy Spirit greatly desires, longs for, and yearns for you and I! And why? It is because His personality and emotional makeup is to have fellowship with you, and you with Him, that is not unfaithful in the least!
Now I am not sure where the specific Scripture reference that James is referring to here is located but I do know that there are a lot of references in the Old Testament to the Lord’s desire for his people to be faithful and not “play the harlot.” So, there are certainly a lot of examples that we can draw from in the Old Testament that describe the Lord’s desire to have this kind of “unadulterated” relationship with His people. Not to mention, this statement is preceded by verse 4 that calls us “Adulteresses” if we make ourselves friends with the world. That is because we are “married” to God and when we try and have a relationship with our ex-husband, the world, we are being unfaithful to our current mate. The Holy Spirit represents that current mate here and the Word says that He “yearns jealousy.”
Therefore, a paraphrase I like to use of this verse is as follows: “The Spirit that has come to settle down, make His home and permanently dwell in us, is bent with an all-consuming, ever-growing, excessive, passionate desire to possess us totally, and is envious and filled with jealousy toward anything or anyone who tries to take His place.”
Ephesians 4:30 portrays something similar: It says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” The word “grieve” is the Greek word lupete and is most commonly translated to be sad or sorrowful. I have heard that it is used to denote the emotions of a betrayed spouse, such as, being hurt, wounded, betrayed, misled, lied to, and abused. He is our spouse and partner and He hurts when we are unfaithful to Him.
But a good question then is: What are some things that “grieve” the Holy Spirit? Well, the verses surrounding this one speaks of “lying, anger, stealing, corrupt communication, bitterness, wrath, unforgiveness” and so forth. This includes how we talk, and reminds us of the old rule, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Therefore, some of the things that make the Holy Spirit feel betrayed are when we choose these other things above what He desires and wants for us. Again, it is like choosing to be intimate with another, which has similar effects on the Spirit as that would have on our spouses.
You see, when we willingly turn our hearts from what our Divine Spouse desires from us, we not only “grieve” the Spirit, but we also can “quench” Him as well (First Thessalonians 4:18). “Quenching the Spirit” can refer to extinguishing the gifts of the Spirit, but I believe it also can refer to what happens when we continually grieve Him. The word “quench” means “to extinguish or to put out.” I believe this is why the majority of baby Christians lose their zeal and enthusiasm in serving the Lord. It’s because when the Holy Spirit starts to deal with sin in their hearts, they get to a point where they are unwilling to cooperate with Him, thus throwing sand on the fire that He’s given them and “quenching” the flame. We must honor and esteem His council in order to remain a gracious host for Him to live in. When we don’t do this is when the fire goes out of your relationship with Him.
So, through having a personality, the Holy Spirit has the capability of being angry or sad. He is capable of being grieved or excited. Remember, He is the One who yields the fruit of the Spirit in us. Therefore, He is love, peace, joy, etc. In short, He is a Divine Person with a Divine Personality that we can and should have communion and fellowship with!
THE SPIRIT HIMSELF IS THERE TO HELP
Now someone might have said throughout all of the references we have used to describe the Holy Spirit as a Person, “Aren’t there two verses in Romans chapter 8 that use the word ‘itself’ in reference to the Holy Spirit? I recall in my King James Bible these times where the Holy Spirit is referring to as an ‘it.’” And the answer to that question is this: “Yes, there are in the Romans 8:16&26.” The King James Version translates the Greek word autos “itself” in both of these verses. However, this word is translated “he, him, himself, etc.” over 3,000 times as opposed to “it or itself” which is only used 190 times. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the King James translators made the wrong decision in translating this word in these two verses.
And it is interesting that we are here in Romans chapter 8 because this chapter is such an important chapter in describing to us one of the benefits of walking in this communion with the Holy Spirit.
Did you know that the Holy Spirit is only referenced a couple of times in Romans chapters 1-7, but in Romans chapter 8 itself, He is referred to over 20 times! What that shows us is that, just as there is an obvious emphasis placed on the Holy Spirit in Romans 8, there is obvious importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives today to walk out our salvation!
You see, so many times, we feel like the person Paul described in Romans chapter 7. The servant of God described in this chapter wanted so much to please God and to do the right thing, but he lacked the power to perform those desires. His testimony was “Oh, what a wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:24). And this is exactly what having a desire to do one thing, but lacking the strength and ability to fulfill those desires will do to us. It will utterly frustrate us and make us miserable.
But, praise be unto God, we don’t have to live that way! We have the solution to this dilemma in Romans chapter 8! And the gist of Romans chapter 8 is the same as that of Philippians 2:13—that we have God living on the inside of us in the person of the Holy Spirit, and He is working in us not only the desire to do what is right, but also the ability to live what is right. This is the power of the Spirit-filled life, my friends! He enables us to do what we could never do because of the weakness of our flesh. Thank you, Jesus!
Isn’t that wonderful, church? We have something in common with the precious Holy Spirit! And guess what that is? It is that the Body of Christ and the Spirit of Christ agree on seeing the kingdom of Christ increase more and more! Amen!
In fact, one of the Scriptures that we just looked at in Romans chapter 8 describes this beautifully. Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses…” The Greek word for “help” here is actually a triple-compound word. It is the word sunantilambano (That would make a great password, wouldn’t it?). When taken apart, this word literally means “with, against, and to take,” meaning He is “with us” denoting partnership, that He has partnered with us to be “against” something, and to “take hold” of it. So, you can translate, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses”, as “Likewise the Holy Spirit also partners with us in being against weaknesses by taking hold of them.” Therefore, we have this thing in common with the Holy Spirit: We are both against our weaknesses, and we are both resolved in taking hold of those weaknesses and getting the help we need. Amen!
But “help” doesn’t just mean that we ask the Holy Spirit to do it for us. This word in Romans 8:26 denotes that we have partnered together with Him. Yes, He is the One who brings the increase. Sure, He is the One who builds the house. But there is a cooperation with Him that must take place where we yield our bodies to Him and invite Him to work in and through us to accomplish His kingdom purposes.
For example, like in this verse, we might have a situation where we don’t know how to pray. We are at a loss, and don’t know what to pray for. Well, this is when that wonderful prayer language we have been given comes in handy. We simply yield ourselves to the mind of Christ within us and pray in other tongues for an extended period of time—believing God to give us the answers and pray out His perfect will through us. This is one of the ways we yield ourselves to Him and cooperate to see all things work together for our good. Yes, I spend time communicating with the Holy Spirit—both doing what I know to do and doing what He tells me to do—and then I can fully expect the Holy Spirit to help me in my weaknesses.
You see, say I asked someone to come “help” me move the pulpit, but when they came up to help me, I sat down and expected them to do it themselves. That wouldn’t be them “helping” me; that would be them doing it for me. But the fact is, the Holy Spirit has been sent to help us and as we learn to be led by, yield to, and cooperate with Him, all things are possible for us because the “Helper” has something to work with. Amen!
So, do you see that we have a partnership with the Holy Spirit? We are a team! We work together to see God’s kingdom come and His will be done!
PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
And, in fact, this is another way that the Greek word koinonia—the word used by the apostle Paul to describe the communion of the Holy Spirit—is defined. So, let’s dig a little deeper into this Greek word for “communion” that the apostle Paul used in Second Corinthians 13:14.
Again, we have seen thus far that this word means “fellowship, union, and intimacy,” but I want to show you yet another interesting description of this word that goes along with what we’ve just seen: The word koinonia also denotes “partnering together with something or someone.” Yes, koinonia carries with it the idea of “joint participation” or a “partnership.”
Let’s look at another passage in the New Testament where a derivative of this word is used because I see it as a good illustration of what it means to have “communion” with someone: In Luke 5:10, the Bible says, “…James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon…” So, an akin word to “koinonia” is what is being translated “partners” here. Therefore, we might say that James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were Peter’s “co-workers” or you could say, “co-owners” in Peter’s fishing business.
Now let me give you a good word of encouragement here: Just as the sons of Zebedee “partook” of the miraculous catch of fish because they were Peter’s partners (You see, their boat was filled too (see Luke 5:7), likewise we reap the benefits of being in partnership with the Holy Spirit. Yes, He throws the net, we help him pull in the miracle, and we are sitting on the beach with Him just relaxing and enjoying a tuna salad sandwich, sipping on an Arnold Palmer (sweet tea & lemonade)! Glory be to God!
So, koinonia carries with it the idea of an intimate joint participation with someone or something. And like I made mention of last week, the root word koinos means “common.” So, when you apply this to “koinonia” you can see how “koinonia” carries the idea of “having something in common with somebody or having a common goal.” So, we could translate that part of Second Corinthians 13:14 like so: “and the partnership of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
BECOMING A WITNESS
So, let’s conclude today’s teaching by going back over to the Book of Acts and looking at some things that describe how the Holy Spirit partners together with us today:
Let’s pick back up in Acts 1:4, where the Lord was telling his disciples to wait for the promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;” Then he goes on to say in verse 5— “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Even John the Baptist said this in Matthew 3:11 when he said, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Now we will get more into this in the future, but it is important for us realize that being baptized with the Holy Spirit is for all of the Lord’s disciples. As important as being baptized in water is, the baptism in the Holy Spirit yields its own wonderful benefits in our lives—and one of those benefits is found in the following verses…
But like so many in the church today, Jesus’ disciples didn’t get it here. They immediately transitioned to the natural side of things by asking Him if this was the time that he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel (see verse 6). But Jesus turned it back around to what was important when He said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (see verses 7-8). Let me paraphrase what I believe Jesus was saying here— “Times and seasons are not to be your concern. That is God’s sphere of authority, not yours. What is important, however, is that you understand what is in your control—and that is that you receive and walk in this power that the Holy Spirit will endow you with. For this is what enables you to be the kind of witnesses I need no matter what time or season you are living in.”
You see, church, so many people in the church today like to get into things like dispensationalism, end time events, etc.—trying to figure out when this is going to happen, what that is going to look like, etc. But what the Lord was communicating to His disciples, both yesterday and today, is that our focus needs to be on being quality witnesses for Him no matter what happens in the world around us. In other words, our attention doesn’t need to solely be on being able to tell what is going to happen; our attention needs to be primarily on being ready for whatever happens. Amen?
In fact, we see this illustrated in just a few verses when Jesus was supernaturally taken up and received into a cloud after He had spoken these very words to them. We are told that as the disciples continued to look steadfastly into the heavens that what were obviously two angels stood by them, asking them, “Why are you guys gazing up into heaven? The same way Jesus was taken up is the same way He will return” (see verses 9-11)
You see, too often believers put their attention on things that do no good. For example, there are those who keep looking for supernatural things that happened in the past (like His disciples were doing here) and become ineffective in the present. Others turn their attention to the heavens, only looking for His soon return, and are useless in the world we live in today. Saints, we certainly need to be cognizant of the fact that He is coming back soon and very soon, but not at the risk of taking our hand off the plow and seeking first the kingdom of God in our everyday life.
We need to be His witnesses in the time and season that we are presently living in, church! And the only way we can be effective witnesses for the Lord is by receiving this partnership with the Holy Spirit!
Now notice that Jesus said that when they had received this power after the Holy Spirit came upon them that they would be witnesses. And when Jesus had spoken in Luke 24:49 about them being “endued” with this power, that word meant that they would be “clothed” or “transformed” with the power. So, it is when the power comes that we are enabled to be His witnesses. I bring this up because, how many Christians are trying to be witnesses for the Lord without ever receiving the power (or, ability) of the Lord? No, Jesus did not say that when we receive the Holy Spirit we will “go witnessing;” He said we will be witnesses! You see, witnessing is not just something you do; a witness is something you are. It is not just about going door to door, handing out tracks. Witnessing is testifying to something you have both seen and experienced. And the tragedy is when we go around trying to tell people about a Jesus that we’ve never experienced. Church, we need to see Him! We need to experience Him! We need to experience the power of His resurrection in our lives (see Philippians 3:10) so that we can be a true witness that Jesus is alive and still doing miracles in the earth today! When people see His goodness in and through us, it will validate what we are saying as His witnesses. That is what it means to be His witnesses! Amen!
And notice where Jesus went on to say that they would be His witnesses: “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Notice that the first place that Jesus mentioned for His Jewish disciples to begin was in the city where they were currently living—Jerusalem. Then He told them in all of Judea and Samaria, which was the surrounding country and region. And, last but not least, He included all of the earth so that they were not confused about His intention to preach the gospel to everyone everywhere.
But I believe this shows us a practical model for witnessing: We start where we are at—that being with our neighbors, in our city, or where we are at in our hearts. Then we move on to the next sphere of influences in our lives (i.e. our Judea’s and Samaria’s). And finally, we aspire to witness for Him even to the ends of the earth.
My point is this: The Holy Spirit is the One who makes us Christ’s witnesses! But, you know, many believers are terrified of witnessing. And why? One of the main reasons is because they are afraid they will not know what to say, but this is why we were given the Holy Spirit! He is in us to help us through those occasions where we are witnessing to an unbeliever. You see, He knows that person inside and out. He knows everything about them. So, all we have to do is approach the person when the Holy Spirit leads us to and then listen with the ear of our heart to how the Holy Spirit coaches us through it. He will give us creative examples to minister to them. He will bring Scriptures to our remembrance. He will prompt us when to listen and when to speak. He will guide us through the whole process if we will just depend on Him. I like to say that the Holy Spirit is witnessing made fun 😊! He will make us look good in witnessing (and in life in general) if we will just heed His instruction and learn to work together with Him.
The Holy Spirit is our partner, church! And when we begin to see Him as such and utilize this wonderful resource our Heavenly Father has given us, we will become better witnesses—witnessing both the power and presence of the Lord in us and through us. Amen and amen!