UNDERSTANDING THE HOLY SPIRIT
BY REV. DR. JANET ONAOLAPO
TEXT: JOHN 16:5-15
The Holy Spirit is the continuous manifestation of the presence of Christ. Until we begin to appreciate the Holy Spirit, understand and relate with Him as expected, we may not be able to enjoy the full benefits of His existence.
Jesus was with His disciples for three and half years, guiding, teaching, caring for them, and providing their needs, among several other things. They completely depended on Him who said to them: “Follow me and I will make you…” Their making as well as everything about their lives depended on Jesus. Jesus was their only source and hope.
Jesus Christ knew that after He had died, resurrected and gone back to the Father, that would be the end of the dispensation of His physical presence on earth. So, He made a plan for the continuation of His presence with the disciples.
When He told them about His pending exit, they were very sorrowful. He expected then to ask Him questions about how they would cope in His absence, but they did not.
However, Jesus knew all that was going on in their minds and how they felt. He then told them about His plan to send them a Comforter (the Holy Spirit).
The disciples could reach out to Jesus anytime they wanted to see Him because He was physically present with them. Jesus knew that after He had gone, they would still want to see Him so, He made His presence available to them in the Holy Spirit.
Because He knew that the assignment which lay ahead of them needed continuous guidance and the disciples still needed to learn and understand many things, He put the Holy Spirit in place so that they could easily access Him spiritually, and all the time.
Jesus told His disciples that because everything God the Father has is His, He would pass them on to the Holy Spirit so that as He received instructions from Him, He
would give them directives that will lead them to the path of truth and also reveal things to them (John 16:13-15).
The Holy Spirit who took over after Jesus Christ had left the earth is His continuous presence. As a believer, if you don’t have this understanding, then you cannot benefit anything from Him. (John 16:13).
The account in Luke chapter 24 tells us that three days after Christ was buried, some women went to His tomb to anoint His body according to their culture. But when they got there, they could not find His body. As they wondered about what could have happened to His body, two men suddenly appeared to them.
The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. The men said to them: “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? The man you seek is no longer here.” As soon as they heard that, they went back to inform Jesus’ disciples about it. In their state of fear and worry, Jesus Christ appeared to them (the disciples) in their room.
Jesus still needed to appear to them at that time because without Him, they would be in perpetual sorrow and would not be able to move forward. When Jesus appeared to them, He told them not to be afraid and doubtful but to remember what He had told them; that when He left, He would send the Holy Spirit to comfort them. Because the disciples had no idea of who the Holy Spirit was, they wondered how they would find Him and how they would receive Him (Luke 24:49).
In Acts 1:4, Jesus instructed His disciples to remain where they were (in the City of Jerusalem) while He delivered the Holy Spirit to them (Vs. 5). He told them that He had baptized them with water but that they would receive power through the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Vs. 8).
With the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, Jesus won’t have to be there with them physically anymore but the Holy Spirit would go around with them and they would be Christ’s witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, etc.
The Bible says that when the day of Pentecost (a feast that gathers Jews from all over the world) came, and the disciples gathered in obedience to Christ’s instruction, they received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Though they were still very much afraid due to Jesus’ absence from their lives, fear disappeared immediately the Holy Spirit came upon them.
Sometimes in life, due to the circumstances surrounding us, we become sorrowful and perplexed. But do you know that we don’t have to be because the Holy Spirit can comfort us and show us the way out of those circumstances by divine direction? You need to know that when you cry to the Holy Spirit concerning any situation,
which you do not know how to go about, He will receive solution from the Father and hand it over to you.
As the disciples waited in the upper room, not knowing what to do, they prayed in one accord and the Bible says: “and suddenly there came a sound from heaven….”
The manifestation of the Holy Spirit began at Pentecost and the first evidence of His presence was the evidence of speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4). After receiving the Holy Spirit, the disciples no longer bowed their heads in sorrow or fear but moved in faith and power. As they spoke in tongues, instead of being ashamed, the power of God made them courageous. On that same day, the power of the Holy Spirit transformed Apostle Peter who formerly could not withstand the challenge of a little girl who once called him one of Jesus’ disciples when Jesus was being arrested.
However, after the baptism, he stood up with a great courage to address the people and made them understand that they were not drunk but were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit which Jesus Christ had promised them before His ascension. He preached on that day of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and after he had finished preaching, 3000 people gave their lives to Christ. What Peter had thought was impossible to achieve in his life became possible that day.
That was the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles which is a compilation of the activities of the Apostles. These “Acts” have not ended because you are still a part of them. If there is going to be a second writing, your name has to be included because your life is a continuation of the Acts of the Apostles.
Jesus Christ made us to understand in the book of John 3:8 that when the wind blows, no one sees where it goes or where it comes from but it can be felt as soon as it touches us. This is exactly how it feels when the Holy Spirit touches the lives of people. It produces power.
The disciples gathered together on the day of Pentecost and began to speak in tongues (the language of the Holy Spirit) because the Holy Spirit had come upon them and was speaking through them. They spoke in languages which they could not understand. If by the Holy Spirit, I begin to speak in Chinese language, I won’t understand what I am saying because I am not from China. This will also be experienced if someone from Saudi Arabia by the Holy Spirit speaks an African dialect.
If the manifestation of the Holy Spirit began from receiving the baptism and speaking in tongues, then you have to have that manifestation. Many of us who are filled with the Holy Ghost, know the effect of praying in tongues in our lives. I don’t know how anyone’s prayer life can ever be effective if he does not speak in tongues.
How many minutes can you possibly pray in your language? You may pray for some time but you won’t be able to pray for as long as you would if you pray in tongues. When you pray in tongues, you can pray for as long as three hours because as you pray, you will receive utterances from the Holy Spirit as He releases them into your spirit. As you continue to hear, get instructions and directives from the Holy Spirit, you will be flowing in the spirit because you have the manifestation of Christ in your life.
In Romans 8:26-27, the Bible says that as humans, we don’t know how to pray as we ought to. That is why the Holy Spirit helps us to pray the right prayers and stay for as long as we should in the place of prayer. Again, you may want to do something and may not know how to go about it. Not knowing what to do at such times is a limitation, a weakness, etc. That was the weakness the disciples had when Jesus told them to tarry in Jerusalem to receive the power of the Holy Spirit.
There is no way you can be effective in your prayer life as a Christian without the Holy Spirit. It is not possible. The Holy Spirit knows your heart, what you are thinking and what worries you. He knows what is in the mind because He makes intercessions for the saints according to the will of God.
Sometimes, because of the extent of worry and anxiety in our hearts, we find it very difficult to pray in our dilemma. The Bible enjoins us to be anxious for nothing but to give thanks to God with prayer and supplication by making our requests known to Him so that His peace which passes all understanding will keep our hearts and minds.
It is the Holy Spirit that brings the peace of God to our hearts when we are restless or in trouble. If you don’t allow Him to calm you down, the devil will kick you around and you will be perpetually sad. But when you allow the Holy Spirit, He will guide and teach you how to be calm even in the midst of all your troubles.
If as a Christian, you are not yet filled with the Holy Spirit then I will advise you to meet your pastor or someone who is qualified to minister the Holy Ghost to you so that you can carry the presence of the Holy Spirit with you at all times. The reason is that you need His presence to empower you in your Christian journey.
Herbalists chant incantations when they want to communicate with spirits to perpetrate their evil deeds because that is where their power lies. As they chant, we must realize that they are releasing words that will connect them with the spirit realm even though we do not understand what they are saying. The point I am trying to drive home is that, something must connect you to the spirit realm as you pray. That thing is the Holy Spirit who will guide your ways so that you will no longer need to run from one pillar to post.
The day you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, a measure of the Holy Spirit came into you. Then when you go ahead to receive the baptism of the Holy
Ghost, you will receive an over flow.
In John 7:38 when Jesus said: “…out of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters”,
He was talking about the Holy Spirit which anyone who believes in Him would receive. Where rivers flow, there is no dryness and where the Holy Spirit flows, there can never be dryness. When you have the overflowing presence of the Holy Spirit, you can never be dry or stranded. Though you may have a problem, you will only be momentarily sad as you remember that the things you are seeing are temporal while the ones you are not seeing are eternal. The Holy Spirit has a way of keeping us going because He is our comforter.
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