Monday, February 2, 2015

By the Spirit of God Alone

Have you ever heard of the five solas? Sola is a Latin word that means “only.” And the reformers came up with five solas that defined the reformed theology. I have written about those in my previous posts.

Just to review the five solas, there is Sola Scriptura that means  Scripture Alone. So our rule of faith is Scripture alone. The Word of God alone is our rule of faith. We don’t put our faith in the traditions of men. Then there’s Sola Fide, which is By Faith Alone. So the just will live by faith, as opposed to “we’re going to be saved by our good works." Sola Gratia means  By Grace Alone (Ephesians 2:8). Again, it’s not by works. It’s by the grace of God, right? Then there’s Solus Christus which means in  Christ Alone. So that’s the only way we can be saved, is through Christ. He’s the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except by Him (Jn 14:6). The fifth one is Sola Gloria, which is For the Glory of God Alone. As opposed to someone doing something for their own glory, for their own benefit, we do everything for the glory of God. So those are the five solas.

Now since there are five of them, how could any one of them be a sola? If it’s by faith alone, but it’s also by Christ alone and it’s also by grace alone, how can it be “alone” if there are five of them? The reformers didn’t mean that any of these solas were “exclusive of any of the other solas”. They meant that all five solas are one and that they have to be taken together. Now, they knew that the truth couldn’t be less than these five solas. But it can certainly be more. There’s more to the Bible than the five solas, isn’t there? But we cannot have a theology that is less than the five solas. These five principles assist us in developing sound doctrine, but we do not worship these principles and they are not God. Neither the five solas nor any biblical principles can ever replace the Holy Spirit.

But By My Spirit, Says the Lord
So I want to talk to you about Solus Spiritus -- by the Spirit of God alone. This was not one of the original solas that the reformers defined. Yet it’s in the Bible and it's one with all the other solas. It’s not to be separated out. So all the other ones still stand, but it’s surely by the Spirit of God alone.

“So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”'" (Zech 4:6)

“It’s not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.” So this is where we learn that whatever God is doing (In this case, it was rebuilding the temple in those days)  is not going to be accomplished through your might, through your power. It’s going to be by His Spirit. Everything that God does, He does it by His Spirit. Everything! Even the River of Life in heaven is the Spirit of God, which flows through heaven and then comes down here to earth in the invisible form of the Holy Spirit. And we’re going to see throughout this study that it’s only by the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit in the Ministry of Jesus
The Spirit of the Lord anointed Jesus Christ.  He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk 4:18-19). Jesus performed all of His healing and miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit.

When Christ was baptized, which you can find back in Luke chapter 3, verses 21 and 22, heaven was opened as He was praying. The Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. Now after His baptism, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. And after His forty days of temptation, He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. And then He went to the synagogue and He read that Scripture from Isaiah, chapter 61, verses 1 and 2. And in there, in those verses, what Jesus is saying is that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him, because He had anointed Jesus to preach good news to the poor.

Jesus did all of His ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit. He preached by the power of the Spirit. Look at what else He did. It’s in this verse. He proclaimed freedom by the power of the Holy Spirit. He healed the blind people by the power of the Spirit. He released the oppressed by the power of the Holy Spirit. So everything that Jesus did in His life and in His ministry—His healings that He performed, His miracles—was all by the power of the Spirit alone. He didn’t do anything in His own strength, by His own power, by His own might. It was not by power, not by might, but by the Spirit of God. That’s how Jesus operated. And He is God! But He emptied Himself before He came to earth, so that when He was found in appearance as a man and took upon Himself the form of a servant (Phil 2:7), He limited Himself, so that He would only be able to perform His ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit. Even after His resurrection, He only spoke by the Holy Spirit (Ac 1:2).

In summary, Jesus was Spirit-filled (Lk 4:1), Spirit-led (Lk 4:1), Spirit anointed (Lk 4:18), and Spirit-empowered (Lk 4:14). He left us an example, that we should follow in His steps (1 Pe 2:21). And so everything that we see Jesus doing is the same for us. Whatever we’re going to do for God—healing, miracles, preaching, teaching, setting captives free—is going to be by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture Inspired by the Holy Spirit
So what Peter taught us in 2 Peter 1, 20 to 21 is that all of the prophecies, every word of Scripture that we have in our Bibles was given by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)

Those prophets that wrote—Moses and the prophets, David and Isaiah and Daniel—they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. So even all the Scriptures that we have in the Bible are by the Spirit! So if they were written by the Spirit, they have to be understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, too. It’s only by the Spirit of God.

The Outpouring of the Spirit on All Mankind
The Lord promised through the prophet Joel to pour out His Spirit upon all mankind in the last days (Joel 2:28-29). This outpouring began on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit of God came powerfully like the sound of a mighty rushing wind and with fire upon all those who were praying in the upper room. Afterward they all ran out into the streets speaking in other tongues. Then the apostle Peter explained what was happening to those who watched and mocked the Spirit-filled disciples. He said:

“Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” (Ac 2:18)

So in this verse, Peter is quoting Joel, saying that the promise God gave to the prophet Joel was being fulfilled. On that day, God began to pour out His Spirit upon His servants, both men and women. And He’s continuing to do it today. And that’s why everybody, every single servant of the Lord, every one of us, both men and women, both children and adults need the baptism with the Holy Spirit. We need the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, don’t we? Because we cannot live for the Lord without receiving the Holy Spirit.

The other verse I want to talk about is in Acts chapter 2, verse 33, which says,

“Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” (Ac 2:33)

So, in Acts 2:33, Peter was describing that Jesus rose from the dead, was exalted to the right hand of God, and that He received from the Father the promise. The Father’s promise that Jesus referred to in Luke 24:49 is the Holy Spirit. And Peter said He has now poured the Holy Spirit out, which you can see and hear. They could see and hear the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, because they could see people and hear them speaking in tongues, glorifying God in other languages. That’s only by the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s the promise of the Father, that we receive the Holy Spirit.

Now let’s look at Isaiah 59:21, which says,

“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord. (Is 59:21)

So in Isaiah, the Lord promises us that this promise of the Holy Spirit is not just for a day or for an hour. But the Holy Spirit will remain with us, which is what Jesus said in the Gospels, that the Holy Spirit, when He comes, will remain with us and abide with us.

Baptized with the Holy Spirit
Now let’s go to Matthew 3:11. We must be Baptized with the Spirit as they were on the Day of Pentecost. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Mt 3:11)

So John the Baptist declared that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire. We need both the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire just as on the Day of Pentecost. Every single believer needs this, because again, we can’t live the life that God has told us to live without the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

It was critically important that all the disciples be witnesses for Jesus, but yet, the Lord didn’t have them rush off, “Come on, let’s get going. Move along. Move along. Get out there. There’s no time to waste. You have to preach to all the nations, now. And so far, this is the only nation that’s heard. So you got a lot of work to do.” Notice what He told them. He told them to wait, didn’t He? “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised.” It’s the gift of the Holy Spirit that they had heard Him speak about. He even quoted John the Baptist. “John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” And then He said that they would know when they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that they shouldn’t get up and leave, saying, “Well, we probably got it by now. Let’s go ahead and move along.” They would know, because power would come upon them when they received the baptism with the Holy Spirit. And then they would be His witnesses, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’” (Ac 1:4-5,8)

Now let’s go to Acts 2:4, which says,

“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Ac 2:4)

On the Day of Pentecost, every single one of them that was in the upper room, seeking the Lord, waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. You see? It’s only by the Spirit. Whether we speak in tongues, whether we are witnesses for the Lord, whatever we do, it’s only by the Spirit.

Now let’s look at Galatians 5:16, which says we must walk by the Spirit every step of the way.  The apostle Paul said, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal 5:16)

So Paul taught that we have to walk by the Spirit every step of the way. Make that your prayer, that you would each day walk by the Spirit every step of the way, because that’s the standard for us as Christians, to walk by the Holy Spirit, to live by the Spirit. And if you’re doing that, you won’t be gratifying the desires of the sinful nature. That’s why it’s so important. It’s not just by grace, by faith, by Scripture, and for the glory of God. It’s by the Spirit.

The Anointing
Now 1 John 2:27-28 says,

”As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”  (1Jn 2:27-28)

So the anointing of the Holy Spirit also teaches us about all things, which is why it’s so important that you abide in Him, and that you rely on the Holy Spirit’s teaching. It’s very tempting sometimes when you don’t understand something, to look to a commentary or to look to someone and ask them, call them up on the phone, or ask somebody, “What do you think?” Whether it’s a Scripture passage you don’t understand or whether it’s a revelation that someone’s received, or a prophecy, and you’re trying to determine, “Is this from God?”, rely on the anointing of the Holy Spirit to show you the answer as you pray. Pray in the Spirit. Bring it before the Lord. As you search the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit will teach you all things. And He will show you whether it’s from God or not. So the Holy Spirit serves a critical and essential role in the Kingdom of God.

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Believer's Life
The Lord Jesus Himself promised to send the Holy Spirit, and defined for us the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Here is what he taught:

Jesus said, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (Joh 14:26, NIV). Here Jesus taught two important aspects of the Holy Spirit's ministry: 1.) The Holy Spirit will teach you all things; and 2.) He will always remind you of everything Jesus has said, which is written in His Word.

We constantly need to be reminded of what Jesus said, and we need to be taught so that we can understand what Jesus said. We need the Holy Spirit to meet both of these critical needs.

Matthew Henry, the English Bible commentator and pastor from the seventeenth century, commented regarding Heb 1:1-3: "...We must expect no new revelation, but only more of the Spirit of Christ to help us better to understand what is already revealed." This is exactly my point in this article! We are not expecting a new revelation that goes beyond what is written, or contradicts what is written, but we need more of the Spirit of Christ to help us understand the Scriptures. And the Spirit of God is free to use any means He chooses to give us that understanding of what has been revealed already. He has said in His Word that He would do so through through dreams, visions, prophecies, and revelations (Ac 2:17-18; 1 Cor 14:1-6, 30; 2 Cor 12:1), as well as other gifts of the Spirit, which He manifests in the Church according to His will (1 Cor 12:1-11).

Jesus also said that it is only the Holy Spirit who can bring conviction for guilt with regard to sin, righteousness, and the coming judgment. He said, "Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When He comes, He will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment." (Joh 16:7b-8, NIV78). Man cannot bring the conviction to other men. The five solas cannot bring conviction. Your theology cannot bring conviction. That is a work of the Spirit of God alone.

Jesus also said, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what he hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that He will receive what he will make known to you." (Joh 16:12-14, NIV). In this passage, Jesus further defined the role of the Holy Spirit. He taught that the Holy Spirit would: 1.) Guide you into all the truth; 2.) Speak only what he hears from Jesus; 3.) Glorify Jesus; 4.) Take from what belongs to Jesus and make it known to you His disciples.

Therefore, let me remind you that Jesus had much more to say to His apostles, which they were unable to bear at that time, and later after His ascension into heaven, the Holy Spirit guided the apostles into these truths. Likewise, today the Holy Spirit continues to guide us into all truth in keeping with the various aspects of His role that Jesus defined in the passages above. As the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, it is always consistent with the written revelation and everything Jesus has already said.

Putting it All Together
As we have seen in God's Word, no prophecy of Scripture ever came about by the will of man, but men spoke for God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. Jesus spoke by the power of the Holy Spirit. He was Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, Spirit anointed, and Spirit-empowered. He performed all of His miracles and healing by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and so did the apostles.

Likewise, it is only by the Spirit of God alone that we can accomplish anything, not by our own might or power. We cannot understand God's Word or interpret Scripture correctly without the Holy Spirit. We cannot be a witness for Christ without the power of the Holy Spirit. Men cannot be convicted and brought to repentance without the Holy Spirit. He alone guides us into all truth and reminds of everything Jesus said. He alone discloses to us those things that Jesus wishes to say to His Church today, by taking from what is the Lord's and revealing it to us. In this way He alone brings glory to Jesus through the Body.

The demonstration of the power of the Spirit must accompany the preaching of God's Word (1 Cor 2:4). Yet it is by the Spirit of God alone that we can demonstrate the power of God. It is by the Spirit of God that God confirms His Word by signs and wonders following (Mk 16:16-20). Only the Spirit of God can distribute gifts in the Church, and only He can bring forth good fruit in our lives.

There are plenty of people out there who have reformed theology, but that alone will not save them. And if they don’t remember that it is solus Spiritus also, that that is part of the package, part of the way of God, they can end up rejecting what God is saying in these last days, because God has poured out His Spirit, and there are prophecies and there are dreams and there are revelations. And if you just rely on your five solas, you can end up missing what God is doing and saying. And you can end up calling what God is saying a word from the devil. So you need to rely on the Holy Spirit.

That’s why people who are just saying, “There are only five solas, and that’s all,” while rejecting a genuine revelation that’s actually from the Lord, are making a dangerous move. Those people should keep in mind that it’s also solus Spiritus, because they need the Holy Spirit to show them what is of God and what’s not. For the Lord does speak through spiritual revelations, dreams, visions, and prophecies. And those people, who receive genuine revelations, dreams, visions, and prophecies, though they are still human, speak from God as the Holy Spirit carries them along.  So you’re going to need the Holy Spirit in order to know what is from God and what’s not, along with the Word of God and faith and so on and so forth. But you need the Spirit of God.  Have you received the Holy Spirit yet?

Attribution notice: Most Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted. "Receiving the Spirit" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I encourage you to read Baptized with the Spirit, Anointed by the Holy SpiritHoly Fire Baptism, The Role of the Trinity in Drawing People to God, Supernatural Power for All Disciples, Discerning the Things of the Spirit, Led by the Spirit, Progressive RevelationJudging Revelations, Visions, and Prophecies, Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit -- What's the Difference?, and The Spirit without Limit. You may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Home page of this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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