Empowerment of the Holy Spirit: New Believer's Bible Study - Part Eleven

New Believer’s Bible Study: Part Eleven – The Empowerment Of The Holy Spirit

Pastor Duke Taber

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Introduction

One of the most remarkable and transformative aspects of the Christian life is the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are not left to live the Christian life in our own strength, but we are given the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to live a life that honors God and advances His kingdom.

In this study, we will explore the biblical teaching on the person and work of the Holy Spirit, with a particular focus on His empowering presence in the life of the believer. We will examine the various gifts and manifestations of the Spirit, as well as the fruit that He produces in our lives as we walk in obedience to Him.

As we delve into this topic, may we come to a greater understanding and appreciation of the Holy Spirit’s vital role in our Christian walk, and may we learn to depend on His power and guidance in every aspect of our lives. May we also be inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with the Spirit and to yield ourselves fully to His transforming work in us, so that we may experience the abundant and victorious life that Christ has promised to all who follow Him.

Reflective Questions

  1. What has been your understanding or experience of the Holy Spirit up to this point?
  2. Why do you think it is important for Christians to understand and depend on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit?
  3. What questions or concerns do you have about the Holy Spirit and His role in your life?
  4. How do you hope to grow in your relationship with and dependence on the Holy Spirit through this study?
New Believer's Bible Study: Part Eleven - The Empowerment Of The Holy Spirit

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The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

Before we explore the specific ways in which the Holy Spirit empowers believers, it is important to have a clear understanding of who He is and what He does. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force or abstract concept, but a divine person, fully God and co-equal with the Father and the Son.

The Deity and Personality of the Holy Spirit

The Bible presents the Holy Spirit as possessing all the attributes of deity, such as omnipresence (Psalm 139:7-10), omniscience (1 Corinthians 2:10-11), and omnipotence (Luke 1:35). He is eternal (Hebrews 9:14), holy (Isaiah 63:10-11), and sovereign (1 Corinthians 12:11).

Moreover, the Holy Spirit is described in personal terms, with qualities such as intelligence (1 Corinthians 2:10-11), emotions (Ephesians 4:30), and a will (1 Corinthians 12:11). He speaks (Acts 13:2), teaches (John 14:26), guides (Romans 8:14), and empowers (Acts 1:8).

Recognizing the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit is crucial for understanding His role in our lives and relating to Him in a meaningful way. He is not just an abstract power or influence, but a personal being who desires to have a relationship with us and to work in and through us for God’s glory.

The Work of the Holy Spirit in Salvation

One of the primary works of the Holy Spirit is in bringing people to salvation and incorporating them into the body of Christ. From beginning to end, the Spirit is active in the process of redemption, drawing sinners to faith and applying the benefits of Christ’s atoning work to their lives.

The Holy Spirit convicts people of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11), awakening them to their need for a Savior and drawing them to repentance and faith. He regenerates believers, giving them new life and a new nature (Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17), and He seals them as God’s possession and guarantees their future inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14).

The Spirit also baptizes believers into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), uniting them with Christ and with one another, and He indwells them permanently, making their bodies temples of the living God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Understanding the Holy Spirit’s work in salvation is foundational for appreciating His ongoing work in the life of the believer. Having brought us to new life in Christ, the Spirit continues to work in us to conform us to the image of Christ and to empower us for service and witness.

The Work of the Holy Spirit in Sanctification

Another vital aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work is His role in the believer’s sanctification, the lifelong process of being transformed into the likeness of Christ. While we are justified (declared righteous) at the moment of salvation, sanctification is the gradual outworking of that righteousness in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

The Holy Spirit is the primary agent of sanctification, working in us to put to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13) and to produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). He illuminates our minds to understand and apply God’s Word (1 Corinthians 2:12-13), and He empowers us to resist temptation and to live in obedience to God’s commands (Galatians 5:16-18).

Sanctification is a cooperative process, involving both God’s initiative and our response. As we yield to the Spirit’s leading, put off the old self, and put on the new self (Ephesians 4:22-24), we are progressively conformed to the image of Christ and prepared for effective service in His kingdom.

It is important to recognize that sanctification is not a matter of self-improvement or moral reformation, but a supernatural work of God’s grace in our lives. As we abide in Christ and walk in the Spirit, He produces in us the character and conduct that pleases God and advances His purposes in the world.

Reflective Questions

  1. How does understanding the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit impact your view of and relationship with Him?
  2. In what ways have you experienced the Holy Spirit’s work in bringing you to salvation and incorporating you into the body of Christ?
  3. How have you seen the Holy Spirit at work in your sanctification, conforming you to the image of Christ and empowering you for obedience?
  4. What areas of your life do you sense the Holy Spirit calling you to yield to His transforming work more fully?

The Gifts and Manifestations of the Holy Spirit

One of the primary ways in which the Holy Spirit empowers believers for service and witness is through the giving of spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift is a God-given ability or capacity, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to serve the body of Christ and to advance God’s kingdom purposes in the world.

The Nature and Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

The New Testament contains several key passages that discuss the nature and purpose of spiritual gifts, including Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12-14, Ephesians 4:7-16, and 1 Peter 4:10-11. These passages make clear that:

  1. Every believer has been given at least one spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Peter 4:10).
  2. Spiritual gifts are given for the common good, to build up the body of Christ and to equip believers for ministry (1 Corinthians 12:7; Ephesians 4:12).
  3. Spiritual gifts are diverse and complementary, given according to the sovereign will of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Romans 12:6).
  4. Spiritual gifts are to be exercised in love and humility, with a concern for others and a submission to biblical authority (1 Corinthians 13:1-3; 14:26-33).

The purpose of spiritual gifts is not to draw attention to the individual or to promote personal status, but to glorify God, edify the Church, and advance the gospel in the world. As each believer faithfully exercises their Spirit-given gifts, the body of Christ is strengthened, and the kingdom of God is extended.

The Diversity of Spiritual Gifts

The New Testament lists a variety of spiritual gifts, including:

  • Prophecy: The ability to receive and communicate a message from God for the edification, exhortation, or comfort of others (1 Corinthians 12:10; Romans 12:6).
  • Teaching: The ability to understand and explain the truths of God’s Word in a way that instructs and equips others (Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28).
  • Evangelism: The ability to effectively communicate the gospel and lead others to faith in Christ (Ephesians 4:11).
  • Pastoring/Shepherding: The ability to care for, guide, and nurture the spiritual growth of a group of believers (Ephesians 4:11).
  • Exhortation/Encouragement: The ability to come alongside others to encourage, comfort, and motivate them in their faith (Romans 12:8).
  • Wisdom: The ability to apply spiritual truth to practical situations and to provide wise counsel and direction (1 Corinthians 12:8).
  • Knowledge: The ability to understand and articulate the deep truths of God’s Word and to apply them to specific needs or situations (1 Corinthians 12:8).
  • Faith: The ability to trust God confidently and to inspire others to do the same, even in the face of difficult circumstances (1 Corinthians 12:9).
  • Healing: The ability to pray for and see God bring physical, emotional, or spiritual healing to others (1 Corinthians 12:9, 28).
  • Miracles: The ability to perform supernatural acts that glorify God and advance His purposes (1 Corinthians 12:10, 28).
  • Discernment: The ability to distinguish between truth and error, and to recognize the influence of spiritual forces (1 Corinthians 12:10).
  • Tongues and Interpretation: The ability to speak in or interpret a language not previously learned, as a sign of God’s presence and power (1 Corinthians 12:10, 28).
  • Helps/Service: The ability to practically assist and support others in their ministries and needs (1 Corinthians 12:28; Romans 12:7).
  • Administration/Leadership: The ability to organize, direct, and implement plans to achieve goals and meet needs (1 Corinthians 12:28; Romans 12:8).
  • Giving: The ability to contribute generously and cheerfully to the work of God and the needs of others (Romans 12:8).
  • Mercy: The ability to empathize with and compassionately care for those who are suffering or in need (Romans 12:8).

This list is not exhaustive but representative of the diverse ways in which the Holy Spirit equips and empowers believers for ministry. It is important to note that no single gift is given to all believers, and no single believer possesses all the gifts. The diversity of gifts reflects the diversity of the body of Christ and the various needs and opportunities for ministry.

The Exercise of Spiritual Gifts

In order to effectively exercise spiritual gifts, believers must first seek to discover and develop the gifts that God has given them. This involves prayerful reflection, feedback from others, and a willingness to step out in faith and obedience as opportunities for service arise.

As believers exercise their gifts, they must do so in a way that is consistent with biblical principles and priorities. This includes:

  1. Exercising gifts in love and humility, with a focus on others rather than self (1 Corinthians 13:1-3; Philippians 2:3-4).
  2. Exercising gifts in an orderly and fitting way, in submission to spiritual authority and for the edification of the body (1 Corinthians 14:26-33, 40).
  3. Exercising gifts in proportion to one’s faith and in cooperation with others, recognizing that all gifts are interdependent and essential (Romans 12:3-6).
  4. Exercising gifts with a desire to glorify God and advance His kingdom, not to seek personal gain or recognition (1 Peter 4:11).

As believers faithfully and obediently exercise their spiritual gifts, they will experience the joy of participating in God’s work, the growth and maturity that comes from serving others, and the advancement of the gospel in the world. They will also contribute to the health, unity, and effectiveness of the body of Christ, as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:16).

Reflective Questions

  1. What spiritual gifts do you believe God has given you, and how have you seen them manifested in your life and ministry?
  2. How can you cultivate a greater awareness of and appreciation for the diversity of gifts in the body of Christ?
  3. What are some practical ways you can develop and exercise your spiritual gifts more effectively?
  4. How can you ensure that your exercise of spiritual gifts is motivated by love, humility, and a desire to glorify God and serve others?

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit

While the gifts of the Spirit are essential for the effective functioning and mission of the Church, the fruit of the Spirit is equally important for the health and witness of individual believers. The fruit of the Spirit refers to the character qualities and attitudes that the Holy Spirit produces in the lives of those who walk in obedience to Him.

The Nature and Importance of the Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23 lists nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These qualities are not the product of human effort or moral discipline, but the result of the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in the believer’s life.

The importance of the fruit of the Spirit cannot be overstated. While spiritual gifts are given for the edification of the body, the fruit of the Spirit is essential for the Christian’s personal growth, witness, and relationship with God and others.

The fruit of the Spirit reflects the character of Christ and the nature of God’s kingdom. As believers display love, joy, peace, and the other qualities listed in Galatians 5, they bear witness to the reality of their faith and the transforming power of the gospel. They also create an atmosphere of grace, truth, and unity in the Church and in the world.

Moreover, the fruit of the Spirit is essential for effective ministry and service. While spiritual gifts equip believers for specific tasks and roles, the fruit of the Spirit ensures that those tasks and roles are carried out in a Christ-like manner, with pure motives and a concern for others.

As Jesus Himself stated, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). The fruit of the Spirit, particularly love, is the primary mark of authentic discipleship and the most compelling evidence of the Spirit’s presence and power in a believer’s life.

Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit

While the fruit of the Spirit is the work of God in the believer’s life, it is also the believer’s responsibility to cooperate with and submit to that work. Cultivating the fruit of the Spirit involves several key practices and attitudes:

  1. Abiding in Christ: Jesus taught that the key to bearing fruit is to abide in Him, as a branch abides in the vine (John 15:4-5). Abiding in Christ involves maintaining a close, dependent relationship with Him through prayer, worship, and obedience to His Word.
  2. Walking in the Spirit: Galatians 5:16 exhorts believers to “walk in the Spirit,” which means to live in constant dependence on and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading and empowering. As we yield to the Spirit’s control and guidance, He produces His fruit in our lives.
  3. Putting off the flesh: The fruit of the Spirit stands in stark contrast to the works of the flesh, which include things like hatred, jealousy, selfish ambition, and immorality (Galatians 5:19-21). Cultivating the fruit of the Spirit involves putting to death the deeds of the flesh and resisting the pull of our sinful nature.
  4. Practicing spiritual disciplines: Spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, worship, and service can create a conducive environment for the growth of the fruit of the Spirit. As we practice these disciplines consistently and wholeheartedly, we open ourselves to the Spirit’s transforming work in our lives.
  5. Engaging in supportive community: The fruit of the Spirit is not only for individual believers but for the entire body of Christ. As we engage in authentic, supportive community with other believers, we have the opportunity to practice and receive the fruit of the Spirit in the context of loving relationships.

Ultimately, the goal of cultivating the fruit of the Spirit is to become more like Christ and to reflect His character and love to the world around us. As we yield ourselves to the Spirit’s work and cooperate with His transforming power, we will experience the abundant life that Jesus promised and the fruitfulness that brings glory to God.

Reflective Questions

  1. Which aspects of the fruit of the Spirit do you see most evidently in your life, and which ones do you desire to grow in more fully?
  2. How have you experienced the importance of the fruit of the Spirit in your personal life, relationships, and ministry?
  3. What specific practices or attitudes do you need to cultivate in order to cooperate more fully with the Spirit’s work of producing His fruit in your life?
  4. How can you create an environment in your relationships and community that encourages the growth and manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit?

Living in the Power of the Holy Spirit

In light of the Holy Spirit’s vital role in empowering believers for life and ministry, it is essential that we learn to live in daily dependence on and cooperation with His presence and power. Living in the power of the Holy Spirit involves several key practices and attitudes:

Walking in Step with the Spirit

One of the primary ways to live in the power of the Holy Spirit is to walk in step with Him, moment by moment and day by day. This involves cultivating a lifestyle of sensitivity, obedience, and dependence on the Spirit’s leading and empowering.

Galatians 5:25 exhorts believers, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” The Greek word for “walk” in this verse refers to a daily, habitual way of life. It means to keep in step with the Spirit, to follow His lead and pace, and to rely on His strength and guidance.

Walking in step with the Spirit involves several practices:

  1. Listening to the Spirit: Through prayer, meditation on Scripture, and attentiveness to the inner witness of the Spirit, we can discern His voice and direction for our lives.
  2. Obeying the Spirit: As the Spirit reveals God’s will and calls us to obedience, we must be quick to respond and follow through, even when it is difficult or challenging.
  3. Depending on the Spirit: Rather than relying on our own wisdom, strength, or resources, we must learn to depend on the Spirit’s power and provision for every aspect of life and ministry.
  4. Keeping in step with the Spirit: Just as soldiers must keep in step with their commanding officer, we must stay in sync with the Spirit’s leading and movement, neither lagging behind nor rushing ahead.

As we cultivate a lifestyle of walking in step with the Spirit, we will experience His empowering presence and transforming work in every area of our lives. We will have the wisdom, strength, and courage to face life’s challenges and opportunities, and we will bear fruit that lasts for eternity.

Being Filled with the Spirit

Another key aspect of living in the power of the Holy Spirit is to be continually filled with His presence and power. Ephesians 5:18 commands believers, “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.”

The Greek verb “be filled” in this verse is in the present tense, indicating a continuous, ongoing experience. It is also in the passive voice, suggesting that being filled with the Spirit is not something we achieve by our own efforts, but something we receive from God as we yield ourselves to Him.

Being filled with the Spirit involves several elements:

  1. Confessing and repenting of sin: Since the Holy Spirit is grieved by sin and cannot fill a divided or impure heart, we must regularly confess and turn away from any known sin in our lives.
  2. Yielding to the Spirit’s control: Being filled with the Spirit means surrendering every area of our lives – our thoughts, desires, actions, and relationships – to His lordship and direction.
  3. Asking for the Spirit’s filling: Jesus promised that the Father would give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him (Luke 11:13). We can confidently pray for a fresh infilling of the Spirit, knowing that God delights to answer this prayer.
  4. Abiding in Christ: Being filled with the Spirit is closely connected to abiding in Christ, as a branch abides in the vine (John 15:4-5). As we remain in close, dependent relationship with Christ, the Spirit fills and flows through us.

When we are filled with the Spirit, we will experience a greater measure of His power, love, and self-control in our lives (2 Timothy 1:7). We will also bear the fruit of the Spirit more fully and consistently, and we will have a more effective witness for Christ in the world.

Exercising Spiritual Gifts

A third aspect of living in the power of the Holy Spirit is to exercise the spiritual gifts that He has given us for the edification of the Church and the advancement of God’s kingdom. As discussed earlier, every believer has been given one or more spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit, to be used for the common good of the body of Christ.

Exercising spiritual gifts involves several principles:

  1. Discovering our gifts: Through prayer, study of Scripture, and feedback from others, we can discern the specific gifts that the Spirit has given us.
  2. Developing our gifts: Like natural talents, spiritual gifts must be cultivated and developed through practice, training, and accountability.
  3. Deploying our gifts: We must be intentional about seeking opportunities to use our gifts in the context of the local church and in the world, as the Spirit leads and enables us.
  4. Stewarding our gifts: We must use our gifts with diligence, humility, and love, recognizing that they are entrusted to us by God for His purposes and glory.

As we faithfully exercise the spiritual gifts that God has given us, we will experience the joy of participating in His work, the growth that comes from stepping out in faith and obedience, and the blessing of seeing God work through us to impact others for eternity.

Engaging in Spiritual Warfare

A final aspect of living in the power of the Holy Spirit is to engage in spiritual warfare, recognizing that we are in a constant battle against spiritual forces of evil that seek to hinder God’s purposes and destroy His people (Ephesians 6:12).

The Holy Spirit is our ultimate source of power and protection in this battle, as we put on the full armor of God and wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). The Spirit also empowers us to resist temptation, stand firm in our faith, and advance the kingdom of God through prayer and witness.

Engaging in spiritual warfare involves several practices:

  1. Recognizing the reality of the battle: We must be aware of the spiritual forces at work in the world and in our own lives, and we must take them seriously as real and formidable foes.
  2. Relying on the Spirit’s power: Rather than trusting in our own strength or strategies, we must depend on the Holy Spirit’s power to enable us to stand firm and overcome the enemy’s attacks.
  3. Using spiritual weapons: We must make use of the spiritual resources that God has given us, such as prayer, Scripture, praise, and the name of Jesus, to resist the devil and advance God’s kingdom.
  4. Standing together as a body: We must recognize that spiritual warfare is not a solo endeavor, but a corporate battle that requires the unity, support, and prayers of the entire body of Christ.

As we engage in spiritual warfare in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can have confidence that the victory is already won in Christ, and that God’s purposes will ultimately prevail. We can also experience the joy of being used by God to bring light into darkness, hope into despair, and freedom into bondage.

Reflective Questions

  1. In what areas of your life do you sense a need for greater dependence on and cooperation with the Holy Spirit?
  2. What does it look like for you to walk in step with the Spirit on a daily basis?
  3. How have you experienced the reality and power of being filled with the Spirit?
  4. What spiritual gifts has God given you, and how can you more faithfully exercise them for the good of the Church and the advancement of His kingdom?
  5. In what ways do you sense the Holy Spirit calling you to engage in spiritual warfare, and how can you rely on His power and protection in the battle?

Conclusion

In conclusion, the empowerment of the Holy Spirit is a vital and transformative reality for every follower of Jesus Christ. Through His indwelling presence and power, we are enabled to live a life that honors God, advances His kingdom, and experiences the fullness of His blessings.

As we have seen throughout this study, the Holy Spirit is not merely an impersonal force or abstract concept, but a divine person who desires to have a close, intimate relationship with us. He is the One who has sealed us as God’s possession, who leads and guides us into all truth, and who produces in us the fruit of Christlike character.

We have also explored the various gifts and manifestations of the Spirit, recognizing that every believer has been equipped and empowered for service and ministry in the body of Christ. As we discover and exercise these gifts in love and humility, we have the privilege of participating in God’s work and experiencing the joy of seeing Him work through us.

Moreover, we have considered the practical implications of living in the power of the Holy Spirit, such as walking in step with Him moment by moment, being continually filled with His presence and power, exercising our spiritual gifts for the edification of the Church, and engaging in spiritual warfare with His strength and armor.

As we seek to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, it is essential that we cultivate a posture of dependence, surrender, and obedience. We must recognize that apart from Him, we can do nothing of eternal value or significance (John 15:5), and that our greatest joy and fulfillment come from aligning our lives with His will and purposes.

At the same time, living in the power of the Spirit is not a matter of striving or self-effort, but of yielding and resting in His grace and sufficiency. As we abide in Christ and allow His Word to abide in us (John 15:7), the Spirit will naturally and supernaturally bear fruit in our lives and empower us for every good work.

Ultimately, the goal of the Spirit’s empowerment is not merely our personal happiness or success, but the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom on earth. As we live in the power of the Spirit, we have the privilege and responsibility of being His witnesses and ambassadors in a world that desperately needs to know and experience His love and truth.

May this study of the Holy Spirit’s empowering presence inspire and equip us to live more fully and fruitfully for Christ, and may our lives be a compelling testimony to the reality and power of the gospel. As we yield ourselves to the Spirit’s work and walk in step with His leading, may we experience the abundant, victorious life that Jesus promised to all who follow Him.

“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.” (Acts 1:8, NKJV)

Reflective Questions

  1. What has been your biggest takeaway or insight from this study on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit?
  2. How has your understanding of the Holy Spirit’s role in your life grown or changed through this study?
  3. In what specific ways do you desire to live more fully in the power of the Holy Spirit, and what practical steps can you take to pursue this goal?
  4. How can you use the gifts, fruit, and power of the Spirit to bless others, build up the Church, and advance God’s kingdom in your sphere of influence?
  5. Take a moment to pray and invite the Holy Spirit to fill, empower, and use you for His glory and purposes, expressing your desire to live a life that honors Him and bears much fruit.

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