WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE
HOLY SPIRIT IN THE CHURCH
by W. G. Guy
What became of the role and function of the Holy Spirit in the modern day church? For most churches, the Holy Spirit seems to be missing or ignored. We seem to forget that it was the Holy Spirit that birthed the church on the day that He was poured out upon the praying believers on Pentecost nearly two thousand years ago.
So what is the role and function of the Holy Spirit in the church today? What is the work of the Holy Spirit in the church today? The answer is that His work is the same as it has been since the beginning of the church. The problem is that much of the church ignores the work of the Holy Spirit; some even deny that His working is for today having stopped with the death of the apostles.
The working function and position of the Holy Spirit in the church is as the Director of Affairs. The Holy Spirit operates under the head of the church, Jesus Christ, and communicates the Lord’s will and truth to the believers.
John 14:26 - But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
1 Corinthians 2:12-13 – Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to us; leads us to worship and praise Jesus, reveals the truth of the Word of God to us, equips us to live our lives as unto Christ, and matures us in the knowledge of Jesus; and equips us with ability to be living witnesses for Jesus.
The Holy Spirit, also referred to as the Holy Ghost, provides leadership to the church for its spiritual growth and maturity. The Holy Spirit also provides the power and ability, (supernatural and spiritual) to be witnesses and do exploits that draw people to Jesus Christ.
Acts 1:8 – But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11 – Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
The following are some of the works of the Holy Spirit: Conviction of sin, righteousness (justice), and judgment (making proper decisions);
John 16:7-11 – Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
Guidance in evangelizing:
1 Thessalonians 1:5 – For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
Developing ministries and divine movements:
Acts 20:28 – Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Directing affairs of the church and ministries according the Christ’s plans:
Acts 13:2 – As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
Acts 15:28 – For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
Acts 16:6-7 – Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. (Notice that the Holy Spirit stopped them from going to certain places.)
The Holy Spirit speaks through us in times of trial and critical situations:
Mark 13:11 – But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
Luke 12:11-12 – And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
The Holy Spirit helps us to speak boldly when needed:
Acts 4:31 – And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
The Holy Spirit selects and sets apart those for ministry:
Romans 15:16 – that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified (set apart) by the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Spirit renews us daily and continually as we seek Him:
Titus 3:5 – not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
The Holy Spirit works signs and wonders through the love we show to others as a powerful witness:
Hebrews 2:4 – God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?
The Holy Spirit leads the true children of God who look to the Lord for direction in their lives:
Romans 8:14 – For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
The Holy Spirit frees the church from traditions of man’s orthodox legalism as we follow His direction:
Galatians 5:18 – But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Consider what Jesus commanded us to do, it’s called “The Great Commission”; He didn’t just tell us go out and make converts by evangelizing, which is only the first step in His command. He commanded us to go into all the world and teach, which means to make disciples; disciplined followers and imitators of Him.
Matthew 28:19-20 – Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
This requires the work of the Holy Spirit as Christ is formed in us through God’s appointed ministers.
Ephesians 4:11-15 – And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Notice that this assignment of gift ministries occurs after Jesus ascended into heaven and not before.)
The church without the power of the Holy Spirit’s leading and directing its affairs is powerless to change the world as did the early church. The church under the leadership of man lacks the power to be what Jesus intended it to be. We need the Holy Spirit’s power and equipping us so we can be witnesses to Christ and have an impact that will draw people to Christ and make a real change in their lives. Unfortunately, many churches in these last days deny the power and working of the Holy Spirit saying that it is not for today.
2 Timothy 3:5 – having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
Why is the Holy Spirit lacking in many churches today? The answer is because man wants to control the church and fears relinquishing control to the Holy Spirit. As a result many churches deny the real working of the Holy Spirit saying it is not for today; some do not even teach or preach about the Holy Spirit and His importance to the church. Now for a special warning as some preachers are so deceived by the devil that they say the workings of the Holy Spirit are of devil; even going so far as to say that “tongues” (one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit), are of Satan. This is what Jesus said is “blasphemy”, calling the Holy Spirit evil and unclean.
Matthew 12:31-32 – Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
(Note: please understand that the above statement Jesus said was because he was accused of casting out demons by works of Satan, or an unclean spirit. Jesus was doing it by the power of the Holy Spirit which was upon Him in fullness.)
Many such preachers say that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for today. They say that because they just don’t believe what the Bible says. The apostle Paul declared these gifts are in effect till the return of Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:7 – so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
How do you receive the Holy Spirit to work in you and your church? Just ask and invite Him in! You have not because you ask not!
James 4:2b – …….ye have not, because ye ask not.
Luke 11:13 – 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?
It is imperative that we in the church are equipped with, empowered by, and led by the Holy Spirit, in order to accomplish the task assigned to us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; and that we do it with what He provided. Then we shall see great success in evangelizing and building up the saints into the image of Christ!