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A Theology of the Holy Spirit

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

For the start of 2023, we explored how to be a Spirit-lead fellowship in Bend. Not only for the month of January, but throughout the year we are following the theme "encouraged by the Spirit" from Acts 9:31. Inspired by the Renew Network Faith Statement and restoration movement theology, we sought to answer as best we could what we believe about the Holy Spirit. We hope that the following questions and answers can inspire you to be Spirit lead, filled, and empowered! If you want to dig deeper you can click the link on each section to listen to the full sermon podcast.

"We believe God’s desire is for everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Many hear the gospel but do not believe it because they are blinded by Satan and resist the pull of the Holy Spirit. We encourage everyone to listen to the Word and let the Holy Spirit convict them of their sin and draw them into a relationship with God through Jesus. We believe that when we are born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we are to live as people who are filled, empowered, and led by the Holy Spirit. This is how we walk with God and discern his voice. A prayerful life, rich in the Holy Spirit, is fundamental to true discipleship and living in step with the kingdom reign of Jesus. We seek to be a prayerful, Spirit-led fellowship." - Renew Network Faith Statement

Support Scriptures: 1 Timothy 2:4; John 16:7–11; Acts 7:51; 1 John 2:20, 27; John 3:5; Ephesians 1:13–14; 5:18; Galatians 5:16–25; Romans 8:5–11; Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:6; 9:40; 12:5; 13:3; 14:23; 20:36; 2 Corinthians 3:3.

What is a Spirit?

A Spirit is a person transcending our physical world, but also acting within it. Our bodies will die, but our spirits are eternal.

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” — John 4:24

John 4:24 - God is spirit. Hebrews 1:14 – Angels are spirits. Ephesians 6:12 – Demons are spirits. Romans 8:16 – The Holy Spirit is a spirit, and we have spirits. James 2:26 – The body without the spirit is dead. John 19:30 – Jesus gave up his spirit. Acts 7:59 – Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit". 1 Corinthians 2:11, Luke 1:47, Job 7:11, 1 Corinthians 16:18, 1 Corinthians 14:15 - We can know, rejoice in, be anguished in, be refreshed in, and worship with our spirit.

The Spiritual world is all around us and we need to pray to see it. What’s at stake if we don't? If we stay oblivious of the spiritual realm we will find ourselves missing God's leadership, and we will find ourselves not getting along with others. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. People are not your enemy; demons are. We are immersed in spirits who interact with us all the time.

If you want to see the spirit work in your life consider praying psalm Psalms‬ ‭51‬:‭10‬-‭12: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Small group discussion questions:
  1. If you had two classrooms, one labeled “The Study of the Holy Spirit” and the other “The Holy Spirit Is Here,” which one would you be more comfortable entering and why?

  2. Unlike many other cultures around the world, Western culture does not put much stock in spirits. What are some negative effects that follow when a culture stops believing in the spiritual realm?

  3. In your church experience so far, how much emphasis has been placed on spirits (good or evil), and how has that affected your perspective?

  4. If you fully lived with the belief that both angels and demons exist in the spiritual realm, how might that alter how you process the events that go on in your life?

  5. Read Ephesians 6:12. This passage describes how our fight is against the spiritual forces of evil. Can you describe a battle you have faced before that was ultimately against spiritual forces?

How does the Spirit convict us?

The Holy Spirit directs us to Jesus through His power, by the Word, and through deep conviction within us.

“For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.” — 1 Thessalonians 1:4–5

The central activity of the Spirit is convicting us of sin and enabling us to overcome it. When we are convicted about our need to change things, the Spirit has been working on our Hearts through the word of God. The Spirit also leads us through men and women who are mature in the Word of God. The deeper the word of God is in our hearts, the more we may be able to go with our hunches, yet this is never infallible.

The Jews had a written text inspired by the Holy spirit. They had also witnessed signs and wonders performed by the Holy spirit, but they still missed him. They were called "stiff-knecked" for missing the Spirit. The Spirit personally convicts our hearts so we can believe and obey God. A spiritual person is then someone who calls others higher. A spiritual sermon is a message that deeply convicts the listeners of biblical truths.

We learn from John 16 that Jesus sends the Spirit as our friend, advocate, helper, and comforter. We also learn that the spirit is the prosecutor of the world and without him we may be blind to sin or our need for a helper. After all, if comfort is our God then why do we need a comforter?

Small group discussion questions:
  1. We cannot ultimately defeat sin and draw close to God without the Holy Spirit, but most of us have tried to. Can you describe a struggle in your life where you should have depended more on the power of the Spirit?

  2. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:4–5. Paul states that the Holy Spirit moves us toward Jesus through the Word, through his power, and through deep conviction. Which of these is the most difficult for you to accept and why?

  3. How does knowing that the Scriptures are “God-breathed” (meaning “Spirited-of God”) and that the Spirit is described as revealing the details of God’s will enhance your reading of God’s Word?

  4. Describe a time in your life when the Spirit personally convicted you, and then gave you the power to obey God.

  5. We are called to love the unlovable and to forgive the unforgivable, but this can only be done through the power of the Spirit. How has this been reflected—or how could this be reflected—in your life?

How can we be Spirit lead?

We follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership with formational disciplines such as prayer, fasting, and righteous living.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” — Ephesians 6:18

"In the Global South, they struggle to keep up with the Spirit; in the West, we struggle to embrace it." —Diana Butler Bass

In the developing world, disciples often don’t have anything to do at night but sit around and talk about what God has done for them. They’re in daily dependence on God for healing, counseling, direction. We tend to control those things ourselves in the West. Polytheism and animism also influence these regions to have a normalized expectation for multiple Spirits. It is common practice to cast out multiple demons at the point of baptism for new believers in the global south. It leaves us in the west wondering how can we imitate these brothers and sisters in their dependence on the spirit?

it may be that the Spirit holds the deepest levels of guidance only for those who are fully devoted to prayer and fasting. Through intense prayer and fasting we empty ourselves of fleshly desires and worldly interests and become increasingly dependent on the power of God. Walking with the Spirit is about presence before it’s ever about outcomes. It isn’t a fast track to revival. Not a good luck charm, and not a means of gifts or power, but a way to have a loving relationship with the giver of Gifts and power.

Imagine what God can do in and through the church if we sidelined distractions and dedicated serious time to prayer and fasting? What if it were central and not an add on? Imagine if you were seriously committed and united to Holy Spirit leading. A church that prays together stays together and is Holy Spirit lead together.

Small group discussion questions:
  1. Describe a time in your life when you felt truly led by the Spirit.

  2. Give an example of a situation that if you completely turn it over to the Spirit, then you will have a different perspective on the outcome of the situation.

  3. Is your prayer life as active as you want it to be? If not, is it an issue of your heart, or is it life logistics? What practical steps can you take to change?

  4. If you have not regularly practiced fasting, what is stopping you from participating in this spiritual discipline?

  5. Think of someone in your life who seems particularly led by the Spirit. What sets them apart in your mind? What are practical ways you can be like them and develop more of the Holy Spirit in your life?

  6. How does the Holy Spirit bring unity to the group, even when there are differences?

What does it mean for the spirit to dwell within us?

The Spirit dwells within us by immersing us in a relationship with God and by transforming us to become more like Christ.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” — 2 Corinthians 3:18

How does God change somebody who mainly only cares about himself and regularly wanders after idols into somebody who lives and loves like Jesus? That was the question for me when I became a disciple and realized I needed the gift of the Holy Spirit. I realized it would take an impressive miracle for me to overcome grudges, pride, lust. The good news is that God makes us like Jesus through the Holy Spirit. We “are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory” [2 Corinthians 3:17-18].

"Real life is not the life of lusts and bodily pleasures. Real life is spiritual life in Christ." - David Young

The spirit transforms us to be like Jesus by growing his fruit in our lives, but it can't grow when it's choked out by the weeds of oru flesh. Fruit can’t grow when it’s choked out by weeds, or by our flesh. So how do we receive this gift?

Jesus promised to baptize his followers in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11). Peter announced that the Spirit is given to all who obey Christ (Acts 5:32). The rest of the New Testament abides by this truth of receiving the indwelling Spirit when we repent and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins [Acts 2:38].

Small group discussion questions:
  1. What does it mean to be “immersed” in God?

  2. Contrast Galatians 5:19–21 with Galatians 5:22–23. Is it possible to have the fruit of the Spirit without allowing the Holy Spirit to reign over your life? Why?

  3. As a disciple of Jesus, real life is spiritual life in Christ. Before you were a disciple of Jesus, what was “real life” to you? If you are not a disciple, what do you think would change if you became a disciple?

  4. Paul uses the metaphor of a “seal” in Ephesians 1:13–14 to describe the Holy Spirit, a picture of the Spirit’s ownership and authority. How does this description change your view of the Holy Spirit and his role in your life?

  5. What does it mean to be “filled with the Spirit”?

  6. The phrases “clothed in the Spirit,” “led by,” “walking in,” “fellowship with,” and being “strengthened inwardly by” are all descriptions of the transformational work of the Spirit. Which of these do you long for in your life the most and why?

  7. Read Ephesians 4:30. In what ways have you grieved or put out the fire of the Spirit in your life?

Joining the Spirit in mission

“The church of Christ does not so much have a mission as the mission of Christ has a church.” —Adrian Hastings

We don’t have to wait for the spirit; the Spirit is waiting for us. God doesn't show up only when you show up. God never stopped seeking and saving the lost and drawing men unto himself. He doesn't start when you enter a faith conversation; he has been working all along and waiting for you to join him. If you think evangelism all depends on you; you are not depending on the spirit. The Holy Spirit is himself the primary missionary.

The Spirit empowered Jesus for his mission, and the Spirit empowers the church to continue Jesus’ mission. The spirit empowers us to take the hill country, not to settle for the country club.

Small group discussion questions:
  1. Read Acts 4:31. How did the Holy Spirit transform the lives of Peter and John?

  2. How does it change your view of evangelism to know that the holy spirit is drawing others to the Father?

  3. The gifts that the Holy Spirit gives are to be used for the purposes of fulfilling the mission of Jesus. For example, Romans 12 lists gifts such as teaching, serving, encouraging, and showing mercy. How have you used your gifts to fulfill the mission of Jesus?

How does the Spirit help in our weakness?

Certainly the gospel moves powerfully, but never without pain. Suffering is connected to our character formation in the Spirit-empowered community. It’s a means by which the Spirit transforms. The very struggles, grief, and suffering that would seem to drive believers away from God are the very things that are brought before God. Lament gives voice to grief. A primary work of the Spirit is to initiate us into two primary relationships that are focused on two confessions: “Jesus is Lord,” and “Abba, Father.”.

Small group discussion questions:
  1. How have you experienced the healing grace that comes through the Holy Spirit as he intercedes on your behalf to God?

  2. Read Matthew 5:4. How can the Spirit work in our mourning?

  3. Do you ache with the vision of God's new day?

Resources on the Holy Spirit

Safety checks:

If you would like to hear the Spirit's voice, but are cautious of what you might hear review the following filter questions developed by Dr. Glenn Giles:

How does the Holy Spirit Connect us?

The Holy Spirit draws us to the Father, forms us through relationships, and draws us into the harvest field to care for the lost.

Recommended Books on the Holy Spirit:

40 days with the spirit a campus ministry quiet time series by Trey Hacket and Alex Reitmann

40 days with the Spirit
Download • 341KB


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