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How Much Of The Holy Spirit?

Those readers who never experience difficulty in initiating a discussion about our Savior with strangers sitting next to them on the plane, or with unbelievers working at their side or even sharing their home may skip this item and go on the the next. This article is intended for those who, like the writer, ever need more help in their daily life of sanctification, and especially in becoming more effective in witnessing to others.

What is our problem? Scripture strongly suggests that a major part of the difficulty may be that we do not have enough of the Holy Spirit. Some may protest this, pointing out that they were baptized in infancy, and that in the Sacrament the Holy Spirit worked faith in Jesus as their Savior, and that they have the assurance of Scripture that the same Spirit has been living withing their bodies since that time, sustaining and strengthening their faith through both the Word and Sacrament. How then can it be suggested that they may not have enough of God’s Spirit?

How Much Of The Spirit Do We Need?

Consider the case of the disciples of Jesus. They too had been baptized. The Holy Spirit had worked faith in their hearts, and dwelt within the temple of their bodies. When Christ asked their opinion as to who He was, the Spirit moved Peter to make the glorious confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” He was ready to take the sword to physically defend His Savior from His enemies.

But was he ready to witness to Christ in the face of the icy blast of the world’s hostile unbelief? A servant girl, probably a slave, was enough to unnerve Peter completely in the courtyard of the high priest by observing: “You also were with Jesus, the Galilean.” What an opportunity was presented to Peter for witnessing! Yet, though he had received three years of the best possible seminary training under pressure Peter was capable of nothing more than an abject denial of even knowing who Christ was.

When the faith and zeal of the eleven was eventually revived by their resurrected Lord’s bodily appearances before them, they took renewed interest in the things pertaining to His kingdom. The Lord commissioned them to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. They may have thought they were ready to begin spreading the good news of the resurrection immediately, but the Lord knew they were still not fully equipped to make that witness, “He charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father”. Just before ascending into heaven, Jesus told them what they needed to wait for: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Now look at the new Peter, after he had been filled with the Holy Spirit! When hauled before the authorities and ordered “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” Peter and John answered them: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard”.

How Much Of The Spirit Do We Have?

Only to the perfect, sinless Man, Jesus, has God given the Spirit without measure (Jn. 3:34). To others, the Spirit is given by measure. The Old Testament has many references telling how the “Spirit of God came upon” Gideon, Samson, David and others when God empowered them to perform some special service for Him. In the New Testament we are told that on Pentecost all of the believers in Jerusalem “were filled with the Holy Spirit”, suggesting that they were given as much of the Spirit as they could contain. All of God’s people today also receive the Holy Spirit, but in varying measure.

Do you need more of the Holy Spirit to empower you to carry on a more active role in witnessing to your Savior? The amount of the Holy Spirit available to you in any area of your sanctified life is not fixed. You can obtain more of the Spirit. God wants you to have more. Jesus said: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Lk 11:13).

Notice that the Lord is not here making this promise to people who are still unconverted. Since such do not pray to the Father through Jesus, they cannot even pray successfully. He is promising this to those who already believe in Christ and have the Spirit, assuring them that He wants them to have more and will give them more when they ask for this important blessing.

How Can We Get More Of The Holy Spirit?

The key to receiving more of this best of all gifts is an open line of communication between us and the Holy Spirit. We have this when we spend much time speaking to Him in prayer and also regularly permit Him to speak to us though His Work in our public worship and in our private study of the Scriptures.

When our prayer for a larger measure of the Spirit is graciously answered, our hunger for even more of that essential blessing will move us to keep coming back with requests for ever greater portions. Coveting is not always wrong. “Covet earnestly the best gifts!” Paul exhorts us (1 Cor. 12:31). When we covet a greater measure of the Holy Spirit, we are pleading for more of the source of all spiritual gifts.

How Much Of The Holy Spirit Do We Want?

We don’t really need to worry about being too greedy in our prayers for more of the Spirit. Why not? Because our sinful flesh would sooner have us get the seven-year itch than have us get more of the Spirit. Our flesh wants us to forget about praying for more of the Holy Spirit. It wants us to think that we already have a great plenty of Gods’s Spirit. “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want” (Gal. 5:17).

So then, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). And let the prayer for a larger measure of the Spirit be among your most urgent requests. Then you will have the boldness to rise to the occasion when the Lord leads someone to sit next to you on the plane that desperately needs the testimony you are equipped to give.

And about your unspiritual coworker. Have you ever thought about this, that because of your close relationship with him and because of his respect for you and your way of life he may be more ready to listen to a witness about Christ from you than from anyone else? “… How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

— Pastor Norbert Reim