By Brad Watson
I often plead with leaders, coaches, and communities to depend on the Holy Spirit. I plead with Christians to rely on the Spirit, who Jesus promised would be our helper. But what does that mean?
With so much confusion surrounding the role, reality, and function of the Holy Spirit, it is best to simply look to the Scriptures as a whole. The Bible describes the giving of the Holy Spirit as him taking residence in the new heart of a person (Ezekiel 35:25-27). Jesus promised, in John 15, that the Holy Spirit would enable a person to remember Jesus and obey him. This baptism or receiving of the Spirit is possible because we have been made right, forgiven, cleansed, and brought into the family of God through Jesus Christ (Titus 3:4-7). A person who is baptized in the Spirit is a new creation, in Christ, and a dwelling place or house for the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:4, 2 Corinthians 5:1-5, 17, Romans 8:9).
What an amazing grace from God and intentional closeness from our God. Not only did he save us from death, atone for our sins, and cleans us of our shame, he has made us new and dwells not among us, but in us. God gives us a new heart, and our bodies become the household of God that testifies the gospel to us, sanctifies us, and empowers us to obey all that God commanded.
God fulfills the promises he made in the prophets. Jesus fulfills the promises he makes to his disciples. Be confident you are an heir. You are in Christ, reconciled and united with him.
A Picture of the Spirit Empowered Life
If we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus promises, how does it function in our lives? What does it look like to have the power of the Spirit in your life? This is what we see the Holy Spirit doing in the Bible. The Holy Spirit gives the Christian the power to:
- Understand the gospel (1 Cor. 2:10-14)
- Remember Jesus (John 14:26, John 15:26)
- Obey God and be sanctified (John 14:15-20, John 16:7-15, Ezz 36:25-27, 2 Thessalonians 2:13)
- Confess Jesus (1 John 4:2, 1 Cor. 12:3)
- Confess God is our father and we are his children (Romans 8:15-16)
- Give Witness or Proclaim (speak out loud) Gospel, Christ and the Kingdom with Boldness (Acts 1:8, Acts 2:14-39, Acts 8:9-13, Acts 9:17-22 Acts 6:8-15, Acts 19:1-8)
- In missional direction and decisions through dreams, with fasting, in prayer, and through other people empowered by the Spirit (Acts 13:1-4; Acts 16:6-10, Acts 19:21, Acts 20:22, Acts 21:4, 11)
- Unifies us with the body (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4)
- A Christian who lives a life empowered by the Spirt will be reminded of who Jesus is and what he taught, reminded of his character and their identity in Christ. The spirit also gives us power for speaking the gospel and demonstrating the gospel. The Spirit empowers us to be disciples and make disciples.
Leading with the Power of the Holy Spirit
The best expression of leading a gospel community by the Spirit is through prayer. Prayers of petition and listening are the best way to begin leading by the Spirit. Leaders who regularly go to God and ask him to do something in the community are leading by the Spirit. Leaders who have difficult shepherding or mission problems who turn to prayer are turning to the Spirit. Spirit led leaders are those who, facing crisis and dilemmas, turn to God in quiet prayer asking God to intervene. They listen to God to known what to do next. They wait to understand God’s heart and purposes. This is what it looks like to lead in the power of the Spirit. A leader who is regularly turning to God in prayer for everything in their gospel community will be led by the Spirit.
Brad Watson is a pastor in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of Called Together: A Guide to Forming Missional Communities. He also serves as the executive director of Gospel Centered Discipleship.