The Bible says, “Live by following the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16) and, “The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them” (Romans 8:14). To hear many of us talk, you’d think we didn’t believe these verses. You’d think we didn’t believe in the Trinity. We talk about the Father and study the Son, but when it comes to the Holy Spirit, we are confused at best and frightened at worst. Confused because we’ve never been taught. Frightened because we’ve been taught to be afraid.
May I simplify things a bit? The Holy Spirit is the presence of God in our lives, carrying on the work of Jesus. The Holy Spirit helps us in three directions – inwardly (by granting us the fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23), upwardly (by praying for us, Romans 8:26), and outwardly (by pouring God’s love into our hearts, Romans 5:5).
The Holy Spirit is on center stage in evangelism. If the disciple teaches, it is because the Spirit teaches the disciple (Luke 12:12). If the listener is convicted, it is because the Spirit has penetrated (John 16:8). If the listener is converted, it is by the transforming power of the Spirit (Romans 8:11). If the new believer matures, it is because the Spirit makes him or her competent (2 Corinthians 3:6).
Working within you is the same Spirit that worked in Philip’s life in Acts 8:26-27. Sound like a hard fact to swallow? I can hear you mumbling under your breath as you read, “I’ve never heard an angel’s voice.” To which I counter, “How do you know Philip did?”
We assume he did. We’ve been taught he did. The flannel board figures say he did. An angel puts his trumpet in Philip’s ear and blares the announcement … But could our assumption be wrong? Could it be that the angel’s voice was every bit as miraculous as the one you and I hear?
You’ve heard the voice whispering your name, haven’t you? You’ve felt the nudge to go and sensed the urge to speak … You invite a couple over for coffee. Nothing heroic, just a nice evening with old friends. But from the moment they enter, you can feel the tension. Colder than glaciers, they are. You can tell something is wrong. Typically you’re not one to inquire, but you feel a concern that won’t be silent. So you ask.
You are in a business meeting where one of your coworkers is raked over the coals. Everyone else is thinking, I’m glad that wasn’t me. But the Holy Spirit is leading you to think how hard this must be. So, after the meeting you approach the employee and express your concern.
You notice the fellow on the other side of the church auditorium. He looks a bit out of place, what with his strange clothing and all. You learn that he is from Africa, in town on business. The next Sunday he is back. And the third Sunday he is present, you introduce yourself. He tells you how he is fascinated by the faith and how he wants to learn more. Rather than offer to teach him, you simply urge him to read the Bible.
Later in the week, you regret not being more direct. You call the office where he is consulting and learn that he is leaving today for home. You know in your heart you can’t let him leave. So you rush to the airport and find him awaiting his flight, with a Bible open on his lap. And you, like Philip, explain, and he, like the Ethiopian, believes.
Were there lights? You just lit one. Were there voices? You just were one. Was there a miracle? You just witnessed one. Who knows? If the Bible were being written today, that might be your name in the eighth chapter of Acts.
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