Billy Graham – The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
Tonight I want you to turn with me to the 14th chapter of John and I want you to turn to the 16th verse. Now I have several scriptures I’d like to read, but I’m just going to limit myself to this particular scripture, the 14th chapter of John beginning at verse 16. “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever. Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him, but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you”.
Pope John was once asked what the greatest need in the world was. And he said the teaching and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. My wife and I took a brief vacation several years ago with the great Swiss theologian, Karl Barth. And I asked Dr. Barth. I said, “What is going to be the next theological emphasis in the world”? And that was before the charismatic movement had come to bloom, as we know it today. And Dr. Karl Barth with great prophetic insight said, “The emphasis is going to be on the work of the Holy Spirit”. And the apostle Paul said in First Corinthians 12:1, “Now concerning matters pertaining to the Spirit. I would not have you ignorant”.
Now it’s impossible to understand the Bible, Christian living, the structure of the church, to understand your own relationship to God without the person and the work of the Holy Spirit. Now we have what is called today the charismatic movement. And I see it throughout the world. I see it in all sorts of phases. I’ve been to some countries where they say that the charismatic movement is moving so great in the Roman Catholic Church. And I find that those people have never spoken in tongues at all. They’ve just had a new experience with Christ, and yet they call themselves charismatic and they are right, because every true Christian is charismatic. Every true Christian is charismatic. It’s the word charismata where we get our word charisma from. And that is the plural for charis, which means gift, a gift of grace.
Now there are 20 or 21 or 19, no matter how you count them. In my book, I say 20, but I think it’s only a sample list of the gifts of the Spirit, but every true believer has a gift of the Holy Spirit. The gift of administration, the gift of helps, the gift of knowledge, the gift of wisdom, the gift of an evangelist, the gift of a pastor, the gift of a teacher, whatever the gift is, it is given by the will of the Holy Spirit. It’s a gift from the Holy Spirit to you. To help you, to guide you, to lead you, to strengthen you, to edify, to build up the body of Christ and to witness for Christ to the world round about us. And so, in that sense, every true believer is charismatic.
Now let’s look a little bit at the word, the work of the Holy Spirit. First of all, He is not an it. I hear people talk about, “I want it”. He is a person. The Bible says that He’s not something, He’s someone. He is God. There are three persons in the Trinity. God, the Father, God, the Son, God, the Holy Spirit. You say, “I don’t understand that”. Neither do I. I’m not going to try to explain it. At least at this point. Accept by faith that there’s one God expressed in three persons. God, the Father, God, the Son, God, the Holy Spirit. Now the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is all powerful. Micah 3:8 says, “I’m full of power by the spirit of the Lord”.
The Bible says He’s present everywhere. No matter where you go, He’s there. “Whither shall I flee from Thy Spirit or whether shall I flee from Thy presence,” Psalm 139:7. That is one of the reasons that Christ went away. He went to get out of a human body because Christ could only be in one place at one time. He was confined to his body. He went away so the Holy Spirit could come in his place and be everywhere at the same time. The Holy Spirit can be in your heart and my heart. And we may live a thousand miles apart. He said it is expedient for you that I go away. And if I go not away, the Holy Spirit will not come, he said. So he said, I have to go away so that the Holy Spirit can come and do His great work throughout the history of the church.
Now He also has all knowledge. The Bible says, “But God has received them unto us by His Spirit for by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God”. It is the Holy Spirit that teaches us and takes us deeper and deeper as we go along in our Christian life. Now in our Christian life, we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, but we can only grow by the help of the Holy Spirit, because the moment that you received Christ as your Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live in your heart. Your body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is there to help you live the Christian life. There’s not a person in this audience that can be a Christian without the Holy Spirit. There’s not a person in this audience that can follow Christ without the help of the Holy Spirit.
So, the Holy Spirit is extremely important. All important in our lives. The Bible also says that the Holy Spirit has all knowledge, “But God has revealed unto them by His Spirit; for He searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God”. But in the book of Revelation it says that He has seven eyes. The word seven is the word of perfection in the Scriptures. He has seven eyes, perfect eyes. He sees everything that goes on. He knows what goes on in your heart. He knows what goes on in your mind. Nothing is hidden from Him. The searching probing power of the Holy Spirit with those seven eyes that see in every direction. He has perfect knowledge.
And then the Bible says He’s eternal. In Hebrews 9:14, we have the phrase, the Eternal Spirit. He is the co-eternal with God, the Father and God, the Son. To explain the Trinity again, I do not know how, But let’s say you take an apple. You have the peeling on the outside, you have the meat and then you have the core, but it all makes up the apple or you have ice and water and vapor. They’re all the same, but they take different forms. Those are poor illustrations of the mighty Trinity. God, the Father, God, the Son and God, the Holy Spirit. Now He’s called holy 100 times. He’s referred to as the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost is the old English translation. And the Bible says, “God says, be ye holy even as I am Holy”.
The Holy Spirit’s job, one of His jobs is to help make you holy. And we ought to be more holy today than we were yesterday. We should always be growing more into the image and conformity to Jesus Christ. And it’s the Holy Spirit that helps us in this growing process.
Now the Bible also teaches that where He is there’s liberty. Our brother a moment ago talked about liberty, the liberty that he has in Jesus Christ. He gives us liberty out of the bondage of the law and out of the bondage of legalism, because you see, even though you may be a slave to sin, to drugs, to alcohol or whatever it may be. “You’re a slave of sin,” Jesus said. But Jesus Christ comes and liberates us because of His death on the cross, and the Holy Spirit also liberates us. And there’s liberty where the Spirit is. And I can go into a service and tell you in five minutes in that service, if those people have been liberated by the Holy Spirit, The work of the Holy Spirit.
What is the work of the Holy Spirit? The work of the Holy Spirit, first of all, is to convict. He convicts us of sin. “And when he has come, He will reprove the world of sin, and righteousness, and of judgment,” in John 16. He uses a mother’s prayers, as our brother a moment ago said, or a tragic experience or a pastor’s sermon or some other experience. Maybe this telecast He will use to convict you of your sin and of your need of turning your life over totally to Jesus Christ. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. And many times, He disturbed you.
I’ve had people get up out of their seats and come and stand in front and shake their fist in my face. They were so disturbed by the Spirit of God, but they’ll come back. One man came back the next night and accepted Christ. One man came at five o’clock in the morning to our hotel to receive Christ. The Holy Spirit sometimes makes you angry. He disturbs you. You don’t like for people to point right in your direction and say, “You’re a sinner”. The Holy Spirit points right at you. He puts a dagger in your heart, and He says, “You’re a sinner. You need to repent”. We don’t like to hear that, but that’s the work of the Holy Spirit. And without the work of the Holy Spirit, you could never go to heaven. You could never have your sins forgiven. You could never be saved. And the Holy Spirit has been working with some of you all week, whether you’ve been here or haven’t been here. And then secondly, He gives new life.
You see, the Bible says that we are dead in sins and trespasses. Our spirit within us, made in the image of God, is dead toward God. And what does mankind need tonight? Mankind needs life. All have sinned; therefore, all are dead toward God and a dead man needs life. And the Holy Spirit comes to give us that new life in Jesus Christ. Bertrand Russell once wrote to a friend, “I could think of nothing but suicide. For over man and his works,” he said, “night falls, pitless and dark”. Is that the way you feel? Night is falling, pitless and dark for you. You see man without God is dead. But Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”.
You must be born again. And the Holy Spirit is the one that does the work of making you a born-again person. It’s a supernatural act, not by works of righteousness, which we’ve done. Not all your good works and all the good things that you’ve done are going to save you, Paul said to Titus, “But according to His mercy He saved us”. We’re saved by the mercy of God. By the grace of God. I don’t deserve heaven. I don’t deserve to have my sins forgiven. I don’t deserve to be saved. I don’t deserve to have this peace in my heart. I don’t deserve this deep-seated joy that I have. It’s by grace, by mercy. Something I didn’t earn. Something I didn’t work for. I just received a gift. The gift of God, the gift of salvation. “But according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit”. It’s the Holy Spirit that does it.
And then thirdly, as I’ve mentioned already, He indwells. Many of you are spiritually dead and surfeited with the issues or with the life in which we live today in our hedonistic culture. The Holy Spirit can come into you and indwell you right now. You can start all over again, brand new life, the life of the spirit, the Holy Spirit indwelling you. The Holy Spirit pulsating spiritual life through and in you. “And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and ye shall keep my judgments and do them,” says Ezekiel 36. Think of it. God said, “I’ll put My Spirit in you. I’ll come to live in you”.
Think of your body housing God. And that’s what happens. Your body becomes the temple where God dwells by his Holy Spirit. That’s the reason we should never take anything unclean into our bodies. That’s the reason we discipline our bodies. That’s the reason we should watch our bodies, because it’s the temple of the Holy Spirit. God loves your body. He doesn’t want it polluted and fouled up by fleshly lust and things that you give yourself to. “He dwelleth with you and shall be in you,” said Jesus in our text. “Know ye not that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you,” said First Corinthians 3:16.
And then fourthly, the Holy Spirit gives you power to serve Christ. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me”. I can’t do the work I’m doing without the power of the Holy Spirit. People always, you know, bless their hearts, I love newspaper reporters. Some of them are my best friends. But many of them who do not know Christ cannot possibly understand what it’s all about. They study and they try to penetrate, and they try to figure it out. They think it’s advertisement. They think it’s promotion. They think it’s something else. One fellow said that he knew the secret of why the crowds came to these meetings. He said it was my eyes.
Well, you can’t see my eyes four rows back. No, I’ll tell you the secret. It’s the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God where Christ is exalted. I don’t claim to be a great preacher. I’m just a communicator of God’s message. He called me and gave me that gift. He gave Cliff his gift. He gave Ted his gift. He gave Bev Shea his and John his and all these team members. He gave them separate gifts. He gives as He wills.
There are some of the team members here that we have with us, and some of the people here that can do things I would give anything in my possession to be able to do by way of organization, by way of music. I wish I could sing like some of these people. I can’t sing a note. In fact, I don’t even sing when I’m standing beside somebody because I throw them off. And I’m not the greatest organizer in the world. But God gave me my little gift. The gift of communicating the gospel. The thing that counts is the message that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scripture; that He rose again, according to the Scripture; that He’s coming back again, and that He’s ready to come into your heart right now by the Holy Spirit and make you a new person.
That’s the gospel. That’s the one message Christ gave me. That’s the one message God gave me. I was reading about something in Wakefield, England the other day, and a woman tried her driver’s test for the 38th time and failed. 38th times and failed. Perhaps you’ve tried that many times for a license spiritually to sit in the driver’s seat of your life, but it hasn’t worked. How many people have gone to meetings and you’ve rededicated your life and you’ve come forward, or you’ve gone out of there and said, “I’m going to live different” or “I’m going to do better”. It just hasn’t worked. This may be the 38th time and tonight it may work, because you’re going to turn your life over to Christ in the right way, by repentance of your sin and by faith in Christ.
And the Holy Spirit is going to come supernaturally and renew you and give you a new nature. Then the Holy Spirit produces the Fruit of the Spirit. What are the fruit? Nine of them. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love and joy and peace and long suffering and gentleness and goodness and faith and meekness and temperance”. That’s produced by the Holy Spirit. There are people that you may not be able to love normally. They’re just not your kind, but the Holy Spirit will give you the power to love them. And the greatest thing in the world, what is it? Love. The greatest evidence that you know Christ is love and you can’t love that person.
Well, I know there are some people that are just hard to love, but the Holy Spirit can love through you. He can love through you. And then you don’t have joy. There are a lot of times that I feel that I don’t have joy and I get on my knees and I say, “Lord, where is the fruit of the Spirit of joy in my life”? The joy is there down deep. It’s a deep river, whatever the circumstances, there’s a river of joy. And then the peace that passeth understanding comes from the Holy Spirit, whatever the circumstances. Let the world fall apart, I have peace in my heart, I know where I’m going. I know where I’ve been. And I know where I’m here by the Holy Spirit. Do you know Christ?
You see the Holy Spirit comes to do this. He comes to magnify, to glorify, and exalt the Son. John 16:13 says, “He shall not speak of himself”. The Holy Spirit shall not speak of himself. In other words, we’re not to go around saying the Holy Spirit this, the Holy Spirit this, the Holy Spirit that and ignore Christ. He came to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to glorify Christ. And the Holy Spirit is pleased when you glorify Christ in your life.
Now the Bible says you can sin against the Holy Spirit. The Bible says you can anger the Spirit. The Bible says you can grieve the Spirit. The Bible says you can lie against the Holy Spirit. The Bible says you can tempt the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that you can resist the Holy Spirit. And if you resist the Holy Spirit, there’s no forgiveness. Because you see it’s the Holy Spirit that draws you to Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts you of your need of Christ. And if you resist him, keep resisting, your heart getting harder and harder all the time. Then there’s no more repentance, no more salvation. There’s only one way of salvation and that’s Christ. A solemn thing to resist the Holy Spirit. You detect His voice, and yet you deliberately refuse.
It’s a dangerous thing to resist the Spirit. “He that despiseth Moses’ law died without mercy, under two or three witnesses. Of how much sore punishment suppose ye shall be thought worthy, who have trodden underfoot the Son of God. And have counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith He was sanctified an unholy thing, and have done despite under the Spirit of grace”. I’m asking you tonight to give in to the call of the Holy Spirit. I’m asking you to come by the hundreds and say, “I want Christ in my life to be my Lord and my Savior. And I want to be sure of it”.
You may be faithful in the church, but you really don’t know Christ. Or you may not have any religion. You may be Catholic or Protestant or Jewish or no religion at all. I don’t know who you are, what you are, but I would assume that the majority of the people here tonight are church goers. And I know thousands of church goers that need to come to Christ in a new way and have a new experience with the Lord Jesus Christ led by the Holy Spirit because you see there’s many people that need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I don’t have time to go into what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit or to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. All that’s in my book, because I’m here tonight to talk to you about what the Holy Spirit can do for you right tonight, right here and now.
And I’m going to ask you to get up out of your seat, hundreds of you as we’ve seen night after night and I want you to come and stand here in front of the platform and say, by coming, “I want Christ in my heart. I want to know I’m going to heaven. I want my sins forgiven. I want to start a new life”. If you’re with friends or relatives, they’ll wait. If you come from that top balcony up there, it’ll take you about two minutes, so start now. You can bring your friend with you. There are thousands of you here tonight that God has been speaking to. You get up and come right now, quickly, and say by coming, “I want Christ in my heart. I want the Holy Spirit to come into my life tonight. I want Christ to forgive my sins”. You get up and come quickly. We’re going to wait on you. Men, women, young people, you come right now.
You that have been watching by television can see that there are scores and scores of people that are coming here to make their commitment to Christ tonight. They want their sins forgiven. They want a new life in Christ. And the Holy Spirit is the one that can perform that supernatural act in your heart or theirs. It can happen right now to you wherever you are. I’m going to ask you to say yes to Christ. Receive Him into your heart. Let the Holy Spirit come in to dwell, to give you supernatural power, to produce the fruit of the Spirit that is so desperately needed in your community and in your family and in your own life. You come and make this commitment in your heart. God help you to make that commitment.
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