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And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Holy Spirit and Christian Growth

By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs

I.  Introduction.
    A.  The gift of the Holy Spirit was promised to every saved
        person.
        1.  "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name 
            of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye 
            shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
        2.  "We are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy 
            Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him" (Acts 
            5:32).
        3.  "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto 
            your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father 
            give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13).
            (a)  Luke says the heavenly Father will give the Holy 
                 Spirit to them that ask him.
            (b)  Matthew, in a comparable passage says, your heavenly
                 father shall "give good things to them that ask him" 
                 (Matt.7:11).
            (c)  The Holy Spirit of Luke corresponds to the good 
                 things of Matthew.
        4.  "Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy 
            Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are 
            not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God 
            therefore in your body" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
        5.  "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are 
            sons of God" (Rom. 8:14).
        6.  "And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his 
            Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Gal. 4:6).
    B.  The Bible promises the leading and indwelling of the Spirit to 
        all the saved.
        1.  It is not a question of does this happen. We know it does!
        2.  The question is how does it happen.
II.  How Does the Holy Spirit Help the Child of God?
     A.  We know the Holy Spirit convicts and converts the sinner by 
         the power of the revealed word.
     B.  There are at least two theories about how the Holy Spirit 
         works in the life of the Christian.
         1.  One theory says the Holy Spirit works in the life of the 
             child of God in a direct, abstract, immediate,
             inconceivable, independent, mysterious and supernatural 
             way.
         2.  A second theory says the Holy Spirit works in the life of 
             the Child of God in an indirect, immediate, understandable, 
             dependent, and natural way.
             (a)  The first group feels led or urged to do or say 
                  certain things.
             (b)  The second group is instructed to do or say certain 
                  things.
     C.  The first theory--the idea of a direct and immediate leading 
         of the Spirit--is mostly emotional.
         1.  The Bible warns us not to be guided by emotion, or to 
             look within ourselves for leading.
             (a)  "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; But 
                  the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 
                  14:12).
             (b)  "O Jehovah, I know that the way of man is not in 
                  himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his 
                  steps" (Jere. 10:23).
             (c)  "The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is 
                  exceedingly corrupt: who can know it?" (Jere. 17:9).
         2.  We are sometimes urged to make ourselves sensitive to the 
             subtle influence of the Spirit as he works on us by hint 
             and nudge. 
             (a)  The problem with this kind of talk is that you do 
                  not find it in the New Testament.
             (b)  No Bible writers ever gave people such advice.
     D.  The second theory--the indirect leading of the Spirit through 
         the revealed word--is emphatically taught in the New 
         Testament.
         1.  "It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth 
             nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are 
             spirit, and are life" (John 6:63).
         2.  "Which things also we speak, not in words which man's 
             wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining 
             spiritual things with spiritual words" (1 Cor. 2:13).
         3.  "For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power 
             of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the 
             Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16).
         4.  "And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings 
             which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through 
             faith which is in Christ Jesus.  Every scripture inspired 
             of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for 
             correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. 
             That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely 
             unto every good work" (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
         5.  "And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his 
             grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you the 
             inheritance among all them that are sanctified" (Acts 
             20:32).
     E.  How the Holy Spirit guided and instructed first century 
         disciples.
         1.  The case of Philip.
             (a)  The angel told Philip--spoke words--what to do (Acts 
                  8:26).
             (b)  The Spirit gave Philip specific instructions in 
                  words (Acts 8:29).
             (c)  The Holy Spirit works through the medium of words.
         2.  The case of Peter
             (a)  Peter saw a vision and heard words (Acts 10:10-16).
             (b)  The Spirit told Peter in words what to do (Acts 
                  10:19-20).
             (c)  The Spirit told Peter in words to go with the men 
                  (Acts 11:12).
         3.  The case of Paul--Acts 16:6,9.
             (a)  The Holy Spirit told Paul not to go to Asia (Acts 
                  16:6).
             (B)  A man of Macedonia, in a vision, spoke words to Paul 
                  telling him what to do (Acts 16:9).
     F.  The Holy Spirit works through the medium of words, either 
         spoken or written.
         1.  "But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some 
             shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing 
             spirits and doctrines of demons . . . "(1 Tim 4:1).
             (a)  The Spirit speaks expressly.
             (b)  The words of the Spirit warn and encourage.
             (c)  First century saints were instructed and edified by 
                  words.
             (d)  The redeemed today are also filled, guided, 
                  instructed, and edified by words--and in no other 
                  way!

Comments on the Outline

The Bible speaks of the edification of the children of God. Jehovah uses the medium of his revealed word to instruct the sinner in what he must do to be saved. God does not come down upon the lost person in some strange, weird and inexplicable way to overpower him and compel his salvation. Neither does God instruct his child in some mysterious manner in the way of salvation. Edification is the result of words--understood and obeyed. Christian growth comes in the same way as saving grace--through the medium of words. Paul talks about the edification of the saints: "He that prophesieth speaketh unto men edification, and exhortation, and consolation" (1 Cor 14:3). The teacher speaks words of edification and exhortation. The guidance of the Spirit does not come in exotic and marvelous waves of mysterious and inexpressible feeling, but in plain and understandable statements.

The purpose of edification is to help the church grow (1 Cor. 14:4). Growth comes by commands and prohibition. You teach your children by telling them in plain language what to do and what not to do. You do not say to them, Do what feels good and follow your leanings, and, if it hurts, don't do it!

Greater is the man who tells people what to do in words they can understand than the person who ventilates spooky sentiments (1 Cor. 14:5). The purpose of revelation is to teach the saved and encourage righteous conduct (1 Cor. 14:6). Senseless things cannot teach or exhort (1 Cor. 14:7). In teaching, reproving and exhorting "utter by the tongue speech easy to be understood" (1 Cor. 14:9.

"Howbeit in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that I might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue." The drift of the New Testament is toward precise teaching. The Bible warns against eerie demonstrations. Faith healers and soothsayers are always condemned in the Bible. Simon, the user of sorcery, does not have very good press in the New Testament. Sorcery means magic, bewitchment, conjuring, enchantment, incantation, necromancy, and witchcraft.

People of sense do not flounder in the bog of obscure sentiment, but walk on the high-road of sound judgment and reason. We need explicit instruction and plain prohibitions. We do not need hocus-pocus and mumbo-jumbo. The New Testament is terse in telling us what God wants us to do and what we are to avoid. We do not need things that go "bump in the night." We need clear instruction in what is right. Edification comes in the same way as salvation -- through the medium of words. "The gospel...is the power of God unto salvation to every one that is believing; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."


H. A. "Buster" Dobbs, email: had@worldnet.att.net
P. O. Box 690192
Houston, Texas 77269-0192
(281) 469-3540

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