The Holy Spirit: Helper, Advocate, God

Holy Spirit dove stained glass with the vibrant colors: red, blue, yellow, green, and white.

Few topics will break out into an argument like the Holy Spirit. There are various thoughts and positions concerning the Spirit, and most of them are on shaky ground. In this series, we will dive into what we do know about the Holy Spirit, and throw aside many popular myths. In the end, our body should have some practical ways to "keep in step with the Spirit" (Gal 5:25).

OUTLINE

Week 1: Who is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is God
- 1 Corinthians 2:11-12; Romans 12:1-8
MYTH #1: The Holy Spirit is just for our comfort.

Week 2: What Does the Holy Spirit Do?
The Holy Spirit Washes Us
- Romans 8:11-13; 1 Corinthians 6:11
MYTH #2: The Holy Spirit makes us perfect in this life.

Week 3: What Do We Do with the Holy Spirit?
We Follow and Learn from the Holy Spirit
- Romans 7-8; John 14:25-26
MYTH #3: The Holy Spirit is always spontaneous.

Week 4: How Do We Know the Holy Spirit is at Work? The Confirming Work of the Spirit - Hebrews 2:4; 1 Corinthians 12
MYTH #4: The Holy Spirit is always spectacular.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS

Spiritual gifts tend to be a source of confusion and ignorance, so we will spend time on them in a few of the lessons. Here is what we teach about spiritual gifts:

1. They are for ministry

We are not given spiritual gifts to hoard them or to "wait until we are ready." The Holy Spirit gave us these gifts for their use. We sharpen our gifts by using them and receiving loving feedback from the community.

2. Spiritual Gifts are found in Romans 12:1-8

The spiritual gifts are prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, generosity, leading, and acts of mercy. They are often called the "motivational gifts" and Scripture seems to encourage their use and development over time.

3. Other lists are different

There are many lists concerning spiritual gifts in Scripture, but a disciplined approach shows us how to tell the difference between them:

  • Romans 12 focuses on spiritual gifts as we think of traits. In other words, the seven gifts listed are typically ones that follow us around and develop as we grow. These gifts each contain a calling to hone their use over time: "to the one who leads, lead with zeal; to the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness."
  • Ephesians 4 focuses on roles within the church: Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd and Teacher. To learn more about how these five functions work in churches, read this excerpt from The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch. Romans 12 gifts typically stick with people over time, whereas Ephesians 4 gifts serve as general roles within healthy church leadership.
  • 1 Corinthians 12 focuses on manifestations of the Holy Spirit (see verse 7): they occur as indicators of the Spirit moving or of God's presence. If someone has the gift of an utterance of knowledge (verse 8), they typically do not develop that gift over time - it is something they were swept up in as the Spirit moved. Romans 12 gifts, however, contain a calling to gain skill in their use. See above.