In both the Old and New Testaments, the teachings concerning the Holy Spirit are not as numerous as those that concern the Father and the Son.
WHY SHOULD THAT NOT SURPRISE US?
John 16:13 tells us:
He (The Holy Spirit) will not speak of Himself.
The Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture, according to 2 Peter 1:21. But, both the Old and New Testaments point us to the person and work of Christ. Nevertheless, there are 261 references to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, and 88 in the Old. He is mentioned in every book of the New Testament, except Philemon, 2nd John and 3rd John. But each of these 3 one-chapter Books were penned by a person who wrote other New Testament books. That means that every writer of the New Testament, in at least one of his books, makes repeated references to the Holy Spirit. And each of the 4 Gospels contain in its introduction a promise of the Spirit's outpouring. So we have, in the Bible, all that is needed to know about the person, the ministry and functions of the Holy Spirit.
The are a number of ways in which the Holy Spirit is identified in the Bible. He is identified with a number of descriptors.
o Spirit of wisdom - Isaiah 11:2
o Spirit of counsel - Isaiah 11:2
o Spirit of knowledge - Isaiah 11:2
o Spirit of truth - John 14:17
o Spirit of holiness - Romans 1:4
o Spirit of life - Romans 8:2
o Spirit of adoption - Romans 8:15
o Spirit of promise - Ephesians 1:13
o Spirit of grace - Hebrews 10:29
o Spirit of glory - 1 Peter 4:14
o Spirit of supplication - Zechariah 12:10
Each of these descriptors tell us something about the person of the Holy Spirit. There are also other descriptors we call symbols of the Holy Spirit.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SYMBOLS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?
These symbols help us understand either the person of the Holy Spirit - or His work.
Today, I want to examine four of the symbols of the Holy Spirit. When revival comes, we can identify at least four aspects - or phases - of the Holy Spirit being present. All four of these attributes are necessary parts of revival. Each of these describes a different part of the character of the Holy Spirit. They represent what He is doing in our lives through revival.
As we go through these symbols of the Holy Spirit, I will present them in the order I believe they work during a revival. As we transition from one to the next, I will mention the need for their sequential order.
So, let's take a look at what they are. When people talk about the move of the Holy Spirit, there are four different nouns that are used to describe what is happening.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit has many facets and the Scriptures use various symbols to illustrate these. One of the most striking is fire.
Matthew 3:11 NKJV
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
The Phillips translation renders this, "He will baptize you with the fire of the Holy Spirit."
Then, on the Day of Pentecost, we read in Acts 2:3 NKJV
3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
WHAT DOES "FIRE" REPRESENT TO YOU WHEN SPEAKING OF THE SPIRIT?
Men use fire to warm, illumine, purify, test, release energy and generate power. It consumes combustible materials and refines or purifies what it cannot burn.
Matthew 3:12 NKJV
12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
When a revival occurs, the first move that comes is the fire of God. Fire in the Bible always represents the presence and power of God. Fire is also a picture of God's all-consuming holiness in that it cleanses.
In Deuteronomy 4:24 it says that "For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God." As early as Genesis, and as late as Revelations, we see God represented as fire. In the Old Testament, we find fire used for several things, all of them as holy things representing God's character.
Exodus 19:18 NKJV
18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.
First of all, as I've already mentioned, fire shows God's power and presence. The fire often indicates or reflects the glory of God. His glory is so bright that it appears brighter than the sun.
A great example of God's power being shown through fire is when Elijah took on the 400 prophets of Baal to see which God was truly God Since fire is God's demonstration of power, Satan has no power over fire (and maybe he has not power to make fire). God showed forth his power by consuming the sacrifice, after Elijah offered a simple prayer. Also, when God sent the fire on Carmel, it was an evidence of His approval of Elijah.
This is one aspect of the Holy Spirit which will be seen in all revivals. We need the fire of God so that it will cleanse and purify us.
Malachi 3:3 NIV
3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness,
God wants pure hearts and lives in those who bring sacrifices to Him. This happens when we judge ourselves as individuals and assess our relationship to a holy God. 1 Peter 4:17 tells us "...judgment must begin at the house of God."
Before we can expect God to bring people into our churches, we must become a vessel that is made ready for receiving those people. The purging and purifying will remove those things from us that have been keeping us from drawing near to God. We cannot expect God to work through us to impact the world until He works in us to make us more Christ-like.
After going through the fire, we then become what God needs us to be. No longer are we common vessels, made of the things of the world, but now we are precious vessels, vessels that have been made only for the use of the master. We become something that is able to hold the glory of His presence, without marring His perfection.
2 Timothy 2:20-21 NKJV
20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.
21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
God wants us to be vessels of honor, having been cleansed - sanctified - for then we become useful for the Master.
Jesus knew the need for this fire to come. In Luke 12:49, He said: "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" Why did He want this fire? Because He knew the results that it would bring.
We need to be looking forward to the fire also. Although this is the part that hurts, it is also the part that brings healing. God cannot bring the other moves of revival until we make it through the fire. Yet, most of the time, we look at the fire as a bad thing, because we are afraid of what we'll lose. Those things that God will remove through the fire are only things that are harming us. Afterwards, we'll have gained a zeal and a passion for God that is so great, it overcomes anything else that is put in our way.
God is looking to envelop us with His fire today too. We need the fire to cover us, and permeate every part of our lives. Not just a little fire to show His light, but a blazing bonfire to dispel the darkness around us.
How does God describe His angels. In Hebrews 1:7, we read, "And of the angels He says, who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire." That is actually a quote from Psalm 104:4.
Sometimes fire is used by God to attract attention. That was true of Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3. It accomplished God's purpose. Moses turned aside to consider the phenomenon of a bush that burned with fire and yet was not consumed. One the attention of Moses was obtained, it was here that God commissioned him to deliver the oppressed Israelites.
Few things get a persons attention like fire. On the Day of Pentecost, God wanted the attention of the world drawn to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Earlier, I read Acts 2:3, where it says: "There appeared unto them cloven tongues as of fire, and it sat on each of them. Three verses later, we are told that when this happened, it was noised abroad, and "the multitudes came together."
This fire that God sends will totally cover us and make us into a flame of fire for him. As this happens, we will become that "living sacrifice" that Paul urges us to become. Our lives will no longer shine with our own glory, but with the glory of God the Father. And when we get on fire for God, people will come to see us burn.
Romans 12:1 NKJV
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Oh Lord, send your fire soon, for that is what we truly need. We may act as if we don't like it. We may cry and complain a little. But Lord, if we are going to have true revival, we know we need your fire. We are willing Lord, to be burned up and burned through with your fire, so that we can become a blazing torch for you in this dark world.
So, the first stage of a revival is the coming of the fire of God. It speaks of the presence and power of God in our midst. But it also indicates that a cleansing is going on.
There's a Pentecostal song we used to sing, called "Send the Fire."
Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame, Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire.
Thy blood-bought gift today we claim, Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire.
Look down and see this waiting host, Give us the promised Holy Ghost,
We want another Pentecost, Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire.
This fire must be the first stage of any revival. God has to show up with power or else there is no revival. And for fire to accomplish its cleansing, there must be repentance. And once the fire has burned, there is always a residue besides the fire. The ashes and chaff needs to be blown away by the wind of the Holy Spirit.
Wind the second symbol of the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 1:25 NKJV
25 I will turn My hand against you, and thoroughly purge away your dross, and take away all your impurities.
All the impurities left over from the fire needs to be removed. Once the ashes or dross is removed from our lives, then God is able to move more freely in our midst.
In John 3:8 (NKJV), we read:
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
The Greek word, "Pneuma," can be translated a number of ways. It is the word in the New Testament that is translated "Spirit." But it can also be translated as "wind" or "breath" or "air." Jehovah breathed into Adam and he became a living soul. Christ breathed upon the disciples and said, "receive ye the Holy Spirit."
The wind of the Holy Spirit is the move that brings change. Every time we see the Holy Spirit moving upon the face of the earth, we see the wind as the agent bringing about some change.
On the day of Pentecost, in the beginning of the book of Acts, it is the "mighty rushing wind" (Acts 2:2) that brings the fire of the Holy Spirit onto the 120 gathered in the upper room (Acts 2:3). There is a work that happens through the combination of the fire and the wind. Fire reduces everything it consumes to ash. However, without the wind, those ashes will remain in place. When the wind comes, it blows away the ash, leaving a clean fresh surface.
We cannot truly have revival without the wind of the Holy Spirit. When we enter into revival, God will need to remove some of the ways we do things, and replace them with the way He wants them done. Don't be afraid of the wind, it is moving for your benefit. Understand it, but don't fight it, or you will delay the work that God is trying to bring.
When the wind of the Spirit starts blowing into our lives, it brings with it life. Remember, revival is about bringing people back to life who were alive once before.
In Ezekiel 37, we are told of the valley of dry bones that Ezekiel saw. When he prophesied to those bones the first time, flesh came upon the bones, but there was no "breath" (life) in them.
Ezekiel 37:9-10 KJV
9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
The first time that God told Ezekiel to prophesy, he prophesied to the bones. The second time, he prophesied to the wind. It wasn't until the wind of the Spirit blew into the bones, now covered with flesh, that life came into them. Without the wind of the Spirit, there is no life - there's only an appearance of life.
What have we learned? We need the fire of God's presence and power to show up and burn away all that is not necessary to living our life for God. Then we need the wind of the Holy Spirit to blow away the ashes and chaff, and blow life into what remains.
This brings us to the third phase of any revival.
One of the most amazing marketing ploys has to be that of bottled water. 30 years ago, I would never have dreamed of paying for something I can get free out of the tap. But the brand names on plastic bottles go on for half an aisle. You have Aquafina, Calistoga, Evian, Crystal Geyser, Naya, Dasani, Sierra, Deep Rock, Arrowhead, and Dannon.
In the Bible, water is a metaphor for a number of things. It is especially a symbol of the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
John 7:37-39 NKJV
37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."
39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy* Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Wherever in the world there is no water, there is no life. People and animals die - vegetation shrivels - when there is no water. In the same way, the Holy Spirit is our only source of spiritual life and energy. This promised "water" keeps us from getting dry and crusty. Whenever we become arid in our souls, it is sure to be due to a lessened influence of the Holy Spirit.
The problem in churches across America is not our lack of buildings, Bible translation, sound equipment or financial resources. What we all definitely need is a fresh and abundant supply of the water that brings life.
How much does this wonderful water cost? Is there a spiritual supermarket where God directs us to go and buy it. Listen to these truths from the book of Revelation.
Revelation 21:5-6 NKJV
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me,* "Write, for these words are true and faithful."
6 And He said to me, "It is done!* I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
And then later in the book:
Revelation 22:16-17 NKJV
16 "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star."
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
After the fire and the wind, the rain feels just wonderful. Many people today are praying for the rain, but they haven't bothered to pray for the fire to cleanse and the wind to move the ashes. They are missing the preparation process that is necessary in order to have the rain. If we are going to have revival, we need all that God wants to pour out on us.
If a farmer doesn't plow the field, and break up the ground, all that the rain is going to do is wash across the surface, then end up in the ditch. No matter how much rain God sends, it won't do that farmer much good. All it will do is help the weeds to grow. But, when the farmer has worked to break up the earth, that rain is able to penetrate deep into the soil. His ground will receive the maximum benefit from every drop of the rain.
We like the rain because of the refreshing it brings. After the scorching of the fire, and the upheaval that the wind brings, the cool rain feels wonderful to us. But, that's not all the rain does. The purpose of the rain is to bring growth. The reason we need revival is that we aren't growing fast enough. The maturing process of revival happens through the rain. This is where we see the Holy Spirit bring the new manifestations to us that are part of that particular revival. This is where the Lord starts bringing new people into the church. We must go through the fire and the wind before they come. Why? Let's be honest, there isn't much reason for people to come in now. There needs to be something different about us, to draw them. Not only different, but powerfully, miraculously different.
Once the fire and wind have come through, the world will see something they've never seen before. They will see people who are totally sold-out to the Lord, who take a stand in their faith, and can back it up through the power of the Holy Spirit. That's what they're waiting for.
When we reach that point, we will begin to see the world flock to our doors seeking answers. It won't be just because of evangelism either. It will be because they're hurting and seeking an answer that the world can't give them. They won't be drawn by our efforts, but by our lives. The Holy Spirit will move on their hearts, showing them their needs, and letting them see how God has met His people's needs.
God's idea of revival is to bring His people back to life. Then the "evangelism" comes about naturally - or maybe I should say supernaturally.
So, the third phase of a revival is indicated by the symbol of rain. It speaks of refreshing after the fire and wind. The rain is needed for growth. Spiritual progress and growth is seen as the fruit of the Spirit exhibited by God's children.
After this, the next part of a revival is seen in how the members of the church are mobilized. I am speaking of our service for our Lord. And we dare not do that by ourselves. We need the Oil of the Holy Spirit.
The new Testament speaks often about something we today call the "unction" of the Holy Spirit. It is a reference to the anointing of the Spirit of God. And not only leaders need the anointing - we all need it as we serve the Lord.
Jesus attributes to Himself the words of Isaiah when He said: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon, because he has anointed me..." (Luke 4:18). We find affirmation of that in Acts 10:38.
Acts 10:38 NKJV
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
The epistle to the Hebrews adds: "Therefore God, even thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness." (Hebrews 1:9)
All of these Passages are alluding to the unction of oil described in the Old Testament for priests and kings. It speaks to the preparation for ministry by the Holy Spirit. And it is not only for leaders in the church - but for everyone of you. The oil of the Holy Spirit represents the anointing power that is flowing in and through our lives. Once we have been purified by the fire, have had things set in order by the wind, and have been brought to maturity by the rain, the oil can flow in our lives.
God has already provided every bit of His anointing power that is necessary in your life and ministry. The fact that you are called as a Christian, dictates that you are anointed by God for ministry. God doesn't call you and then let you flounder out there on your own. No, when He calls he equips, anoints, and provides for. The anointing is there for you right now.
How much of that anointing oil comes forth out of you depends upon how fully submitted to the will of God you are. That's why we need the fire, wind and the rain. Revival will bring us to a place where we are totally submitted to God's will. Then we become a pure vessel that the oil can flow through easily.
When we are in this stage of revival, we see an increase of the miraculous. We will hear many more messages of God revealed through prophecy. Spontaneous healings will break out. Burdens will fall off of people. Demons will flee at a command.
Most of us Pentecostals are familiar with the words in Zechariah 4:6, which says: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts." But do you know that this is speaking of the oil of anointing. Let me read the previous 5 verses as well.
Zechariah 4:1-6 NKJV
1 Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep.
2 And he said to me, "What do you see?" So I said, "I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps.
3 Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left."
4 So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, "What are these, my lord?"
5 Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord."
6 So he answered and 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 of hosts.
It is only by the Holy Spirit that the oil keeps flowing through the pipes and keeping your lamp lit.