The Work of the Holy Spirit
“The Work of the Holy Spirit”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
June 4, 2017
Readings: Acts 2:1-11, Psalm 104:24-30
1 Corinthians 12:4-13
If some of you think that the Holy Spirit has just arrived because today is Pentecost Sunday, I encourage you to go back to the beginning where Scriptures tell us that the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. The Spirit has always been here, sent to us in Christ to strengthen us after He ascended to heaven. In my own mind, it’s as though God is saying to man, “I lost you once; I won’t lose you again. I’m going to send the Spirit who has been with Us since the beginning, to dwell also in you”. This shows the perfection and beauty of God’s commitment to man. It wasn’t enough for us to know the Father and the Son. God wants us to know the wholeness of the Godhead, the Trinity, so He sends to us the Holy Spirit; that through the Holy Spirit, Christ can dwell in us. It was the Holy Spirit that was involved in creation, giving the ability for things to happen. The Trinity works together in unity. The Father, the “boss man”, gives the ideas and direction; Christ fulfills them through the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit to us so that we will be empowered to do the will and plan of God. It’s not according to the flesh because the flesh can’t do it, but through the power of the Spirit that will cause us as human beings to fulfill the will and purpose of God.
The Collect of the Day says the Spirit came to bring life to the world and power to the Church. That should quicken us with hope because we are the Church. I’m not talking of an institution or a structure but a living being. We are part of His Body and His Body is the Church. He gives us the power to be able to fulfill what He placed in our being. We’re not weak; we may think we are but that’s a lie from the enemy to keep us from rising up and be what God intended us to be. The enemy is the father of lies; he can’t speak the truth. Truth comes through Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, revealing to us the greatness and ability of God within us.
In the Gospel today, Philip approached Christ and asked Him to “show us the Father”. They wanted to know the Father. Jesus said, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father, how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” Perhaps we see a little confusion here because Philip asks, “Show us the Father”, and Jesus responds, “Don’t you know Me?” They weren’t asking about Jesus but about the Father, and Jesus was telling them if they know Him, they will also know the Father. Man did not know God from the beginning. He didn’t understand God and blamed Him for many things He didn’t do; so He sent Jesus to show us the truth. He came living out the life of God the Father in our midst. If you want to know God, look at Christ because He is the exact representation of the Father. We know the Father through Christ, and now comes the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t act on His own as Christ didn’t act on His own. The responsibility of the Holy Spirit is to reveal Christ to us. He will not speak on His own but will reveal Christ to us, and then we will know the Father and be filled with what He has given us. Each part of the Trinity functions in unity and brings about perfection. Unity is powerful. We don’t comprehend its power because as individuals, we think we have a right to our own opinions. That’s a lie from the devil. We are all created in the image and likeness of God. This image can’t be changed; it’s eternal. Yet we can deny it, and when we do, we can’t fulfill what God has given us. The Holy Spirit comes to help us understand who we are because of what Christ did for us and brings us back into the family of God as His children. The Holy Spirit empowers us. Remember that Christ said, “The things that I do you shall do also”. When we hear this statement of Jesus, we don’t believe it; yet we can do His works because it is the Holy Spirit who does it through us. We are the instrument through which Christ works in this world in the flesh. We should realize how great God’s commitment to us is. He doesn’t want us weak, wanting or in bondage, but to be like Him, with power and authority. The Collect of the Day says that the Church has the power and I would say further that the world doesn’t have the power. We don’t understand this and as a result, we’re not living out the power that God has given us. That power is not in human strength but in the Word of God which contains the promises and provision of God. If we hold firm to that, what God has intended will be seen in the world.
Hebrews 1:3a “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” This is talking about Christ. He is the exact representation of the Father. We are also a representation of the Father, but the exactness of the representation depends upon our commitment. We’ve been given much. Are we using them? The reason we find ourselves in difficulties, struggling and in pain is because we’re not using what God has given us. I’ve used this example many times. If I deposit 1 billion pesos to your account, you could still be living in poverty by choice, even if you should be living in abundance. It’s through the Holy Spirit that we can be what God intends us to be, His exact representation. Jesus showed us God’s commitment to us when He went to the cross, taking upon Himself all our sins. He showed us God’s heart of love and compassion, His mercy and grace, and demonstrated who God is and His commitment to His creation. He doesn’t do anything that the Father doesn’t ask Him to do, but only fulfills the will of the Father. What Jesus did – feeding the hungry, raising the dead, healing the sick and turning water to wine show us that we can provide the answer to the needs of mankind by turning what God has given us into something that will bring peace and enjoyment to others. God has given us this ability in the Spirit.
John 16:13 “When He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide You in all the truth….” If we don’t understand the Bible, the Holy Spirit will teach us. It’s a matter of how much we desire to know God. If we want to know Him, He will reveal Himself to us. Scripture says “Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find”. If we will only ask, God will reveal to us things. On a shelf in my study is a figurine of Peter coming out of the boat and walking on the water with Jesus. I saw something which I didn’t see before. Peter was on the boat; the storm came and the disciples feared that they would die. They saw Christ and thought that He was a ghost; but He assured them that it was He, and He was walking on the storm of life. Christ was victorious over everything that they feared. He was in them and walking on top of what they were afraid of, in dominion over them. So Peter asked Jesus to tell him to come out of the water. This is so like us. We want Jesus to do everything for us. Jesus has given us the power; we should be able to follow Him. Peter should’ve just stepped out of the boat and walked on the water, but he had to ask Jesus to command him to walk. Jesus did, so Peter walked on the water; but suddenly he saw something that couldn’t be seen. He saw the wind, which is invisible and became fearful. Peter was afraid of something that wasn’t visible. How many times are we like Peter? We see something destroying us when in reality it hasn’t happened yet. When something goes wrong, we immediately think it’s the end of life. We interpret events negatively and this prevents faith from working in our lives. Peter was already walking on the water, but he became afraid of something he couldn’t see. Yet Christ didn’t rebuke him nor correct him, but reached out and pulled him up; then together they walked on the water. This is the grace and mercy of God. This gives us hope because as humans, we conceive of all kinds of problems in our minds. Some people see nothing but problems and always have negative thoughts because they don’t have that life within them that sees the beauty of what God can do. We see in the image of Peter walking on the water the grace and mercy of God. We may have failed many times, but what He cares about is our ability to demonstrate His life in us. He asks us to walk with Him on the water.
The Holy Spirit will reveal to us the meaning of the stories and parables that Christ gave us to show us the life and hope that are ours. That’s the purpose of the Holy Spirit; He reveals to us the truth. He reveals to us the solutions to our problems. We are so quick to see problems, but they don’t count. What counts is the solution to these problems and the Holy Spirit reveals the truth about them to us. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:14). This is a promise of God to us. These are not mysteries. Scriptures tell us that the mysteries have been unveiled. To many generations they were hidden, but to us they have been revealed. We know who we are and the hope that’s ours. We understand that Christ has taken away the sin, and He did that for one purpose – that we can be the sons of God and walk in holiness and blamelessness for Him.
Acts 1 talks about the time when the Holy Spirit was revealed to the disciples. It helps that they were all together in one place. That can have two meanings. It could mean that they were all in one room, or it could mean something more important – that they were all of one accord. They had the same purpose; they were all in the room to wait for the Holy Spirit because Christ asked them to. They were in one accord and there for only one purpose. This same commitment should be in us when we come to worship God. We come, not to see a friend or tell a friend a story, or to eat and fellowship, but to worship God. When we do this, we fulfill what happened in the Upper Room. There was unity in the beginning. Father, Son and Holy Spirit were in unity from the beginning of time. In that unity they created the universe and man. Look at the power of unity – it produces the ability to create something out of nothing; to make visible the invisible.
In the priests’ meeting this week, we were studying and the one thing that was brought out so clearly is that the foundation of everything that God does is based on marriage. The first thing God did after He created all of nature was to create man and then give him a wife, a helpmate. That’s the foundation of God’s ability to work in life, to bring His purposes to fulfillment. We see unity in Genesis 2 when we read that “the two shall become one flesh”. That power of unity is so great and this is what the Holy Spirit is meant to do for us. The Holy Spirit goes beyond just telling us the truth but also empowers us to act out the truth and to bring to life the reality of the truth. The truth is that man was created to be free. God created man in His image and likeness and gave man His breath of life. God did this to deliver man from anxiety and stress. Look at Adam; he was king over all creation. Everything bowed down to him and he had such wisdom because he was able to name all animals. The Holy Spirit was working through him. When sin came in, all things were not functioning as they ought anymore. The Holy Spirit now comes to strengthen us to be that witness, making us like Christ. We are now given the responsibility to be the visible representation of the invisible God and to live out the life that God gave us. He has given us the ability to change the world.
In 1 Corinthians 12, we see that the Holy Spirit is the giver of gifts so we can change circumstances and be the answer to people’s needs. “To each one is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (verse 7). It doesn’t mean that you’re only going to get one gift, but it tells us that there’s a variety of gifts. When the need arises, if we have the confidence in Christ, these gifts can be ours to address the need. The Holy Spirit will work with us to give us the wisdom and knowledge. Yesterday I went to the wake of the son of Raul Olegario. When I came in, I said something to Dcn Raul and he told me those words were quickened to his heart because it was the same thing he was thinking of and it was confirmed by what I said. I didn’t know what he was thinking; I simply spoke because I was there to bring comfort and strength to him and his family. This is how the Holy Spirit works. At a moment of need, the wisdom will just flow out of your life that you won’t have to think about it. As an example, if while driving you see a person in an accident lying on the road in front of you and he was dying and crying out to you for help, and you don’t know if you have that gift, so you call for somebody with the gift of healing. By the time the person gets through traffic to you, the wounded man would be dead. You have that gift at that moment to meet the need. The enemy will tell us we can’t, but anytime the enemy says we can’t, it’s a lie. You should realize that when a voice tells you that you can’t do it, that’s when God wants you to act. The enemy doesn’t want you to act because he doesn’t want the glory to go to God and He will hinder you from believing. “To each one is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good”. I know some people who claim they have the gift of healing. One of the most powerful I know was Catherine Kuhlman. She would speak and hundreds would be healed at the same time. She had the gift but that doesn’t mean it’s the only gift she had or that nobody else could have that gift. That gift is within all of us because the Holy Spirit is in us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the dwelling place of God. He wants our bodies to manifest Him and what He has done. Christ became flesh and dwelt among us to reveal God to us. He used the flesh because we couldn’t see the invisible. When the invisible became known to us, we could believe because of our senses. God gave us these senses to make us understand. The world is seeking for answers, for help and peace. It doesn’t have a visible answer. God has given the Church the power to be the visible answer to the problems of mankind, to bring mankind to the place where they are able to live out the life that God has given it. Feeding the hungry is a simple thing, yet through it, the Holy Spirit acts to break down barriers and bring hope. In our feeding program, there were some who didn’t go to church but now they do, even if we didn’t invite them to. When you use the gifts God gave you, it opens the door for the work of Christ to come into fullness in people’s lives because kindness overcomes evil, fear and bondage. This is the power of the Holy Spirit within us. There are times when something happens to upset you and the natural response is to destroy; but when you suppress that and instead, act in love, you destroy the evil.
This is God’s love for us. He doesn’t want us weak but wants His people to be the representation of His ability. Christ is the example. He could face the problems and He set the world free. We can be like Him. We have a purpose He wants us to fulfill. We will see great things taking place because we are in one accord with God and with one another. Obedience to God brings about the unity; that unity brings about power and that power sets the world free. That’s the hope we have in the Holy Spirit. May we be willing and desiring and seeking the fullness of that functioning in our lives. The Holy Spirit is here. Are we letting Him be in our lives what He’s meant to be?