The Sinfulness of the Sin of Silence, Part 3: Whatever Happened to the Holy Spirit?

“The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you,” John 14:26, –

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning,” John 15:26-27, –

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” Acts 1:8, –

The Holy Spirit is the forgotten Person in the Trinity. Many, it seems, are afraid of Him. Others have confused the purpose and goal of His ministry. This may be an oversimplification, but the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to transform sinners into disciples of Jesus who daily pursue Christ-likeness and an identification with Christ in His resurrection ministry. By Him we are inclined towards the means of grace and personal sanctification. The Holy Spirit regenerates and quickens dead sinners, and energizes the dynamic of God’s Word. And among these and many other things, the Spirit of Jesus Christ works in us to testify of Jesus Christ, – to speak up concerning the Gospel.

It is this particular aspect of His ministry that I’m concerned with in this blog. Many of us who have been indwelt by Him have experienced that powerful tug upon our hearts to open our mouths and share the Gospel of Christ with the unbeliever nearby. Perhaps we have begun a conversation with them, – we shoot the breeze with them about sports, food, drink, and then we go deeper towards more offensive things like politics and objective morality, and then there comes the tug (will I or will I not – what will I say – how will I do this exactly – how will they respond – this is the spiritual warfare of the moment when eternal consequences hang in the balance!)

It is a worrisome thing not to feel this tug; it is a blessed reality to know it; it is more blessed to act upon it in the power of God’s Spirit. But how many of us are so full of God’s Holy Spirit that when that occasion of witness comes we will quite supernaturally overflow with the words of grace and mercy, of the Law and Gospel of Christ, and these things with all boldness?

Any amount of time spent in Acts reveals a power working within the converts that compelled them to bear witness of Christ before all men, even at the inevitable prospect of suffering persecution or death. John the Baptist prepared the way and Jesus Christ our Lord came saying, “I am the Way,” and that exclusively. Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the coming of the kingdom of heaven. But when Christ had finally been taking up into heaven and was seated at the right hand of power above all rule and authority and name, He sent the Holy Spirit, and the immediate effect was an outbreak of Christian testimony. This is the great consequence of really knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection, that we are filled with the Holy Spirit of Christ and set free to serve all in the proclamation of the Gospel at all costs.

Allow me an example to conclude with, – “deacon Stephen!” Three times the Bible says that Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit:

1. The first mention of this fullness stands as a qualification of his being chosen as a deacon and of that example that we ought to imitate, – “they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit,” Acts 6:5.

2. The second mention of this fullness pertains to his apologetics, – “then some…rose up and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking,” Acts 6:9-10. Notice that he was speaking!

3. The third mention of this fullness comes after he has been falsely accused and seized. Standing trial the high priest asks him if the things that he had been falsely accused of were true. Being full of the Holy Spirit, Stephen took the opportunity to (you guessed it!) open up the Scriptures concerning Jesus Christ (I recommend you reading it!) They didn’t like being told that they resisted the Holy Spirit and murdered the Messiah. Because of these things they became enraged and ground their teeth at him, intending to kill him. Impending martyrdom is the context where we find the Bible saying of Stephen, “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,” Acts 7:55. And full of the Holy Spirit, Stephen proclaimed to them, – in the face of death for it, – exactly what he had seen, – Jesus at the right hand of God! Again, he spoke!

I mention these things because they prove a wonderfully biblical point and offer a penetrating challenge: The point is this, – If God has filled us with His Holy Spirit He intends for us to speak by Him, in Him, of Christ to all with every opportunity at all costs. Stephen was so full of the Holy Spirit that he delightfully succombed to that which is most natural for the Holy Spirit to do, namely, bear witness of Jesus Christ! The challenge is this, – are you so full of the Holy Spirit? For it is only by that fullness that we, like Stephen, will shun silence and herald Christ! And although it is true that God has given the Holy Spirit to believers in such a way that He could not give any more of Him, yet at the same time we need to be practically, daily, devotionally, passionately filled with Christ’s Holy Spirit. The principle is given, and the practice is on that basis commanded.

My encouragement then is to go and get so drenched with the Holy Spirit that when the opportunity arises to speak up for Christ and for the sake of the lost you will not shy away from it and keep silent but rather overflow with the testimony, wisdom, and power of nothing less than the Holy Spirit Himself which no man can withstand, – in Jesus’ name.

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2 Responses

  1. Hey man, I want to get caught up on your writing, but I wanted to encourage you to jump in the discussion over at http://openedtous.wordpress.com/ if you ever want to. A friend and I are discussing preaching, church planting, biblical theology, etc. He’s the one who’s going to study with Piper next year.

  2. No posts since July 11th!? What gives my brotha? I have thoroughly enjoyed these posts on the sin of silence because it is a topic that i struggle with greatly…even with discussing spiritual matters with family members who are believers!

    I wanted to add that the tug felt is indeed a wonderful tug…and the assurance that resides with it is a true gift of God. Furthermore, i have noted that the more that i listen to the tug of the Spirit, the louder He speaks afterwards. Likewise, the more i resist Him, the more i am separated from clearly hearing Him afterwards. May we all strive to follow His leading today and hereafter.

    May

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