The following is a sermon transcription that will hopefully help you to understand from the Bible the Holy Spirit and His Salvation.
The Holy Spirit and Salvation
(adapted from a sermon by Eld Chiu Yi Hsiung)
The Holy Spirit has a direct relationship with salvation. Many of us have been baptised into the Lord Jesus Christ and have entered into His home. Nonetheless, we do not enter into the kingdom of Heaven immediately after baptism. Rather, just like the Israelites who had a 40-year sojourn in the wilderness before finally entering the land of Canaan, there is still a long spiritual journey ahead for us.
Moreover, on this journey towards the kingdom of Heaven, we need to pursue spiritual growth and perfection. In the True Jesus Church, we have the abidance of the Holy Spirit, and He aids us in our journey towards Heaven. In short, the Holy Spirit and Salvation are intricately related. But in what way, we may ask. The following points are for our mutual encouragement.
(1) Belonging to Christ
“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (Romans 8:9)
In Paul’s epistle to the Romans, he emphasizes that if one has the Holy Spirit in him, he is not of the flesh but of the Spirit. Conversely, anyone who does not have Christ’s Spirit is not His. Hence, if a Christian does not have the abidance and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, then this person still belongs to the flesh. Only he who has the Holy Spirit belongs to Christ. This underscores the importance of having the Holy Spirit and is clearly exemplified in ‘Acts of the Apostles’ where the Lord Jesus specially instructed His disciples to wait in Jerusalem to receive power (Holy Spirit) from on high.
Subsequently, Acts 8 records of the gospel being preached in Samaria, where Philip was preaching and performing miracles. The apostles then sent Peter and John to Samaria and they prayed for the Samaritan believers that they might receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15-16). It is telling that Peter and John specially made the trip to Samaria and that “they might pray and lay hands on the believers that they might receive the Holy Spirit”. Doing so allowed the believers to distinguish between receiving the Word and receiving the Holy Spirit, and underscores the importance of receiving the Holy Spirit.
Further on in Acts 19, Paul went to Ephesus and again, he posed the believers an important question. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). Moving on from this, Paul laid hands on them and the Holy Spirit came upon them, speaking in tongues and prophesying, the total number of recipients standing at 12. Naturally, if receiving the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with salvation, Paul would not have had to ask that question in the first place.
Up till today, the phenomenon of receiving the Holy Spirit is exactly the same as the times of Apostles. Today, tongue-speaking remains the visible sign that enables the church ministers to ascertain the number of recipients. But more importantly, from the early church till now, it is clear that if we do not have the Spirit of Christ, we do not belong to Him. The examples in Acts 8 and 19 show us very clearly that with regards to salvation, the apostles held the view that receiving the Holy Spirit was of paramount importance and this holds true even today.
(2) Bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God
In Romans 8:15-17, Paul tells us that we have not received a spirit of bondage again to fear but we have received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” We gain an understanding here: After we are baptised, we become the children of God and we can cry out to the God in Heaven, saying “Abba Father!”
Taking a step back, receiving the Holy Spirit then, is the proof that we have become children of God. In reality, by receiving the Holy Spirit, we regain our sonship that was lost when our forefather, Adam, sinned. This goes all the way back to ‘Genesis‘ when God created man, using the dust of the earth, in His own image and likeness. Through baptism, we become the children of God; through receiving the Holy Spirit, God bears witness that we are His children (cf. Galatians 3:26-29).
In Galatians 4:6-7, Paul explains this even more clearly. Because we are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” It is because we are the children of God that God’s Spirit enters our hearts. Therefore in our hearts we can cry out “Abba, Father!” to our God in Heaven. It is the Holy Spirit that bears witness with our own spirit that we are the children of God, and this is why the Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we are God’s children.
(3) Guarantee of our inheritance
Following on from above, since we are children of God, we are also heirs of God, being able to receive His inheritance. The Holy Spirit is also the guarantee and proof of our inheritance.
In Ephesians 1:13-14, Paul informs us that we have received the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation. And having believed in Christ, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Just as how earthly children have a right to the inheritance of their earthly fathers, we, the children of God, will also receive the inheritance that God has prepared for us.
When Paul emphasizes that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance, he makes reference to how shepherds and herdsmen often brand the animals under their charge. With these identifiable marks, they know at once that these animals belong to them. In similar fashion, we also write our names or place unique markings in our own Bibles or hymnals. We know what belongs to us. Likewise, when God gives you the Holy Spirit as the seal, this sign proves and guarantees that we belong to Him, and hence we have the right to the inheritance of God.
The inheritance of God itself is described as incorruptible and undefiled, and will not fade away (1 Pet 1:4), reserved in heaven for us. It is unlike any earthly inheritance or things of the world that will surely grow old, corrupt, and eventually decay. The love of God towards us is great because He has prepared the best inheritance for us. More importantly, He has given the Holy Spirit to us as a seal and guarantee, and this shows us how important it is to receive the Holy Spirit.
And because our Lord Jesus loves us, He would occasionally allow some church members to see visions to understand this truth. In our church, we have heard of people seeing visions during prayer sessions during Spiritual Meetings. Some have testified that they saw angels moving about in the church carrying a seal, and those persons who have been sealed had actually received the Holy Spirit. Having the Holy Spirit therefore proves that we are sealed with God’s promise.
(4) Gives man Living Hope
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
Our God is actually a God of hope for mankind. There are many people who are in the midst of difficulties in their lives. Some suffer from illnesses, while for some, life just does not seem to go their way. Through His grace, some people are introduced to the gospel and they come to church and listen to sermons. And because of the guidance of the Holy Spirit, when they hear the sermons, they understand. Their lives take a turn for the better because God is a God of hope who fills us with all joy and peace. Furthermore, when we have the Holy Spirit abiding with us, we can continue to abound in hope.
Looking at the lives of the apostles before and after they received the Holy Spirit, we are able to witness how they went from hopeless to hopeful. In Peter, we see his 180-degree change from one who denied the Lord thrice at the capture of Jesus, to one who boldly testified of the Lord Jesus on the day of Pentecost after he received the Holy Spirit. With the power from on high, Peter and the other apostles became bold and their hearts were filled with hope. The change in them was so tremendous to the extent that they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to be whipped and persecuted for Christ. With the Holy Spirit in them, they had the hope-borne courage to suffer for Christ.
Today, with the living hope in us, all our momentary afflictions on earth are considered light and temporary. The Holy Spirit truly gives us this great and living hope, so when we are faced with difficulties and we kneel down to pray, we are reminded of what we are to receive in the future – our inheritance in the Heaven. All our afflictions on earth then fade away for we will be comforted by the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, the comfort we gain reminds us that all that we undergo in this world is only temporary, and ultimately, we have a hope of Heaven, a hope of eternal life with God.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is indeed wonderful for it is the greatest gift that God has given to us. As can be seen, there is a close relationship between receiving the Holy Spirit and salvation. Hence, everyone must have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.