Do you have the promised Holy Spirit of the Lord?
The following is a sermon transcription that will hopefully help you to understand from the Bible the Holy Spirit and the Grace of His Salvation.
Holy Spirit and Grace of Salvation
(adapted from a sermon by Pr Simon Chin)
Only Jesus can give us salvation. In order to do that, He came as a man to die on the cross. By His shedding of blood on the cross, there is the grace of forgiveness of sins. When people believe in Him, repent of their sins, and are baptized in His name, their sins will be forgiven – this is the promise of God.
From the Bible, the understanding is clear: if sins are not forgiven, mankind is destined to die and perish in the lake of fire. However, because Jesus loves us, He wants to grant us this grace of salvation. The Bible clearly shows that we are saved not because of our good works but because of the grace of the Lord.
Similarly, when God judges, His judgment is executed according to His word. Thus, it is not according to how much you’ve given but how much you fear God and your worship of Him. Therefore, at the judgment, it depends on how much God’s grace is with you and how much you have accepted this grace.
What is the Life of Someone Without God?
“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7)
Paul wrote in the epistle to Titus that before people accepted Christ, they were sinful, foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. This is the life of people without God and you can find them in this world. Such people have no fear of God and will spend money to serve their lust. They do evil things but yet think that they are good people. They’re people without God.
However, when the loving kindness of God appeared, those who are chosen will be saved by grace, through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Those who accept Him are saved from the evil that is in this world. They are rescued from their previous futile lifestyles and have their sins forgiven. Ultimately, they will be saved into the kingdom of Heaven. This is the grace of God that is given to us.
Accomplishing Salvation through the Holy Spirit
In Titus 3:5, Paul mentions that the Holy Spirit is abundantly poured down upon the people. In addition, Paul says that this is through the washing of regeneration. This is to accomplish the work of Salvation in the hearts of men because we continue to be weak even after being baptized. Even though we attend church regularly, we are still weak in the flesh and fall short of the glory of God. The Lord God understands the weakness of men and He wants to save those that He has washed off their sins by sending them the Holy Spirit.
With the Holy Spirit, man can be justified by His grace (Titus 3:7) and can become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Hence, the Holy Spirit has a close relationship with salvation. Today, many churches believe in Christ and they say Christ is our Savior but they do not want Christ to be their Lord. In other words, they do not want God to govern their lives because they still want freedom to live their lives according to their flesh. Hence, we can see many people spending plenty of money on worldly things. For example, the most expensive house in Singapore is 109 million dollars! And yes, there are people who rush to buy such homes.
Becoming One Pleasing to God Through the Holy Spirit
Nevertheless, through the Holy Spirit, we are changed into the likeness of God and become a person pleasing to Him. That is why it is important for us to receive the Holy Spirit. Paul says, in Titus 2:11-12, that the grace of God has brought us salvation. We have the grace to understand that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, died on the cross and shed His blood, then resurrected and ascended to Heaven. He also sent the Holy Spirit upon believers so that they can be taught to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly in this present age.
An example of how True Jesus Church members changed after they believed in Jesus Christ can be seen from a testimony from the early days of our churches in Taiwan and Sabah. Many natives of these lands were once headhunters. In fact, when a man wanted to marry a bride, he had to present her with a skull before she acknowledged his manhood and married him. Such were the people whom the true gospel was preached to.
By the grace of God, when they heard of the word and have received the Holy Spirit, they were entirely changed in their nature. No longer were they warriors nor bloodthirsty people anymore. When the spirit of God came upon them, they were totally changed and by the power of the Holy Spirit, they were able to live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age – they became gentle, meek and godly.
Today, anyone who visits our native churches in Taiwan will find that they are probably the most beautiful buildings in their villages. In fact, some are even more so than their own houses. Some of the hill tribe churches in the high mountain regions are fitted with air-conditioning and automatic doors. While there are comments that this is a waste of money, to the believers though, this is how they show their love to the Lord after having experienced the love of God.
They were once drunkards, murderers, immoral, and always had to borrow money due to their past lifestyles. But when the grace of the Lord came upon them and the Holy Spirit filled them, they were saved and their lives were changed. The change in their life is clear today – they no longer need to borrow money to drink alcohol anymore and their living conditions became better. More importantly, they have the hope of everlasting life. They even testify that the Lord Jesus has saved their lives for heaven and also their lives on earth.
In one edition of the Holy Spirit Times, there was a testimony about a church member who had an infection. She was comatose for a few months and was transferred from one hospital to another because nobody knew what type of sickness she was suffering from. But because her family members were believers of the True Jesus Church, they believed that Jesus our God is the Savior, and so they continued to trust in Him. One day a church member visited her while she was alone. At that point, she was already comatose in the hospital for four months. All of a sudden, she woke up. The visiting church member was so happy and immediately informed the family about the good news.
Importantly, because they had God and Jesus Christ as their Savior, they were able to have peace and hope during that difficult time. Truly, the grace of God was and is sufficient for them. The mercy of God is upon them and she has since recovered. Today, she is the mother of two young kids. If it were not because of the mercy and grace of God, this family would not have this type of peace and joy. Hence, salvation is so important to everyone. For believers who have already baptized, we must know the importance of the Holy Spirit.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
First, He is God almighty.
“And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” (1 John 3:23-24)
Believers of Jesus Christ know that God abides in us and we know this through the Spirit whom He has given us. This is because the Spirit is God Himself and He abides in us through the Holy Spirit. So when we received the Holy Spirit, it means that God abides in us. This is why it is so important to have the Holy Spirit.
Second, the Holy Spirit is also known as the Spirit of Jesus.
“Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them.” (Acts 16:6-7)
In this record, Paul and Silas went into the gentile lands to preach. In their ministry, they had planned to go from one place to another to preach. At that time, Asia was a commercial center with a large population. Naturally, it would have been good to go to such a place to preach. But as it turned out, God forbade them because the time was not yet ripe. So they decided to go further north to Bithynia but similarly, the Spirit of God did not permit them. What we can see from this record is that the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them. From this we know that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus.
Importantly, the Spirit of Jesus abides in us because of the promise Jesus made just before he ascended to heaven.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and surely, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:19-20)
This promise was that Jesus would abide with His disciples through the Holy Spirit even though He was received up to heaven. True enough, the Holy Spirit was poured down upon them ten days later during the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:4-5. Today, this promise is also for all believers of the Lord – all can receive the Holy Spirit because God wants to abide in us.
Unfortunately many people do not believe in the importance of receiving the Holy Spirit. Many people think that merely believing in Christ is sufficient for salvation. Hence, there’re many people who’ve not received the Holy Spirit and the grace of Salvation from Lord Jesus Christ cannot be fully accomplished in them. This is a shortfall in their belief when compared to the complete teachings of Lord Jesus Christ.
Thus, we must always be mindful that we’re saved because of our Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is given to us when we obey the full gospel of salvation, according to the Bible. This is crucial because on the day of judgment, many will call to Jesus, “Lord, Lord” but Jesus will say, “I‘ve never know you.” Only those who have done according to His will can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So it is important for us to believe in the gospel that Jesus Christ proclaimed and which was testified by the apostles.
The Importance of Praying for the Holy Spirit
“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” These disciples saw the Lord being taken up to Heaven in Mount of Olives. They obeyed His command to return to Jerusalem to wait for the promised Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:14)
From this record, we see that the apostles gathered together to pray for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost, which was ten days after the ascension of the Lord. There were all together about 120 disciples in a small room and they prayed in one accord. If they did not obey the Lord to return to Jerusalem or if they did not wait in the upper room and prayed in one accord, then the promised Holy Spirit would not have come down upon them. Thus we can understand that the Holy Spirit is given to those that obey the teachings of the Lord.
Some years ago, there was a retired pastor who lived next to our Melbourne church. He enjoyed attending our Saturday services and he usually brought a tray of pastries for lunch. Our church members took care of him and he enjoyed our fellowship programs. However, he refused to kneel down to pray for the Holy Spirit, saying that he had already received Him. From what we know, even until this man’s death, he never spoke in tongues and so we conclude that he had not received the Holy Spirit. Because he did not believe that it was necessary to pray for the Holy Spirit, he never had the opportunity to receive Him.
In the same church, there was an elderly Australian, Harry, who was 78 years old when he first came to church. Harry got to know our church through a Malaysian sister who migrated to Australia. Almost every Saturday, both of them will be on the same bus and our sister would always be reading the Bible. Harry knew that she was a Christian and one day, he asked her “it is a Saturday and where are you going?” Our sister replied, “I am going to church.” He said, “Can I join you?” She said, “Sure.”
He came and was very happy. A few weeks later, I happened to be posted to Melbourne and there was a Spiritual-Evangelistic Meeting. I was surprised to see him because he was not a familiar face. I noticed that he knelt down to pray, which was marvelous because it is very seldom that we find a white Australian who is willing to kneel down with us. After the service I asked him, “How do you feel?” He said, “So wonderful! I find that your church is so godly and your people are so genuine.” We can only give praise to God. After I left Melbourne, I received the good news that he received the Holy Spirit and was speaking in tongues.
On another occasion, during the dedication of the Tai Chung church in Taiwan, I saw a one and only non-Chinese in the congregation. Over a thousand people partake of the Holy Communion. So I asked him, “How do you feel?” He said, “Praise the Lord! I never knew I had so many family members. All the church members are my brothers and sisters, my sons, my grandsons and my relatives.” He received the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
From these testimonies, we know that if we have received the Holy Spirit, we belong to God and He abides in us. And if we are willing to obey His teachings, and to kneel down and pray, we too can receive the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit and Salvation
Finally, how is receiving the Holy Spirit related to salvation?
First, receiving the Holy Spirit is the pre-requisite of Salvation. We can see this from the interaction between Jesus and a Pharisee, Nicodemus. Nicodemus came to Jesus by night asking how could a man be born again (John 3:4). Jesus’s answer to him was, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5).
Jesus Christ went on to explain about the need to be born of the water and Spirit (John 3:6), therefore showing the importance of receiving both the Holy Spirit and water Baptism as the requisites of salvation. It is clear that these are requisites set by our Lord Jesus Christ. Clearly, one must receive the Holy Spirit in order to be saved.
Second, the receiving of the Holy Spirit and the ability to speak in tongues are both evidence of receiving the heavenly inheritance.
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Paul tells us here, that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance. It is a seal. The old Ephesus is a trading center where timber was traded. A seal was usually placed on the wood to identify the owner who had placed a deposit. The Kingdom of Heaven will come in the future and will be given to those who will be saved on the Last Day. Similarly, God has given us the seal of the Holy Spirit as a proof of this inheritance and the promise of eternal life will be accomplished for us. If one does not have the seal, then he does not have the promise and he will be unsure of his inheritance in Heaven. As believers, we must therefore be certain of our inheritance in heaven. Clearly again, this shows how the Holy Spirit is related to salvation.
Third, the Holy Spirit is also known as the Spirit of truth. He reveals the truth to man, as can be seen from Paul’s writings to the Corinthians.
“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10-12)
Today there are many people preaching the gospel and so many people proclaiming themselves as Christ. Yet we know that many false christs exist, and although they too are using the Bible, we cannot be certain that what they are preaching is according to the truth. Many at time, these false christs twist the truth and preach only the partial truth of the Bible.
Once we went to visit a lady in the hospital who was very sick and she had just been transferred out from the high dependency ward. She is from the province of Chongqing in China and her mom is here to take care of her. We asked the mother “When did you start believing in Christ?” and she replied, “In the ICU ward when I was looking after my daughter.”
To many other Christians, this lady would have already been saved. Other pastors would say that if you believe and confess with your lips then you are saved. However, this is not true. It was likely that she did not know what she believed in. While in the ICU, she hoped that her daughter can be cured and she needed God’s help. So when someone said to her, “believe in God and everything is possible”, it was very likely that she would have said that she believed.
If salvation is so simple, then Jesus Christ need not have come into the world to sacrifice Himself for all mankind. Also the work of the preachers will be very easy because as long as you and I believe then we’re all saved i.e. you are happy and I am happy.
Today, we are very anxious about many people who have not received the Holy Spirit. There are many reasons and one of them is that their faith is still not according to the Bible. If you do not obey the truth then how can you receive the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit reveals the truth to us.
In the church, people are filled with the Holy Spirit. Our early church workers know very little about the bible and they are not theologians. Yet the Holy Spirit revealed the truth to them. Some of their children and grandchildren studied theology and to their amazement, they learnt that what their grandfathers knew through the revelation of the Holy Spirit was exactly what they learned in the theological college. Hence, the Holy Spirit reveals the truth and is your teacher. With the Holy Spirit, we will be able to differentiate truth from falsehood as was mentioned by Elder John:
“But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” (1 John 2:27)
The anointing mentioned here is the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is promised to everyone who believes in Him. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we’ll know the word of God. We will be able to know the truth and discern it from the false. We will know what the will of God is and to abide by the word of God and remain in this grace of Salvation.
I am the third generation of believers in my family. My grandmother was illiterate. My grandfather died when my dad is still very young and my grandmother is left with 6 children to care for without the support of anyone. By the grace of God, she was brought to believe in Christ. She received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. The Lord guided her in all the days of her life. When I was young, she brought me to the church. She could sing the hymns and read the bible. This was marvelous because she was illiterate.
What is more wonderful is her faith that was built on the word of God. When she was about to pass away, a deacon saw a vision that she was taken away by angels to the Kingdom of Heaven. He phoned and told us about it before my grandmother died. We were greatly strengthened in our faith. It shows that our faith in the Lord is true. Thus, when we were filled with the Holy Spirit, we belong to God and because of the grace of Salvation we shall receive eternal life in Heaven.