November 2023 | Persecution: The First Martyr—Stephen

Manifestation of the Holy Spirit

Manifestation of the Holy Spirit

Pr. Babu Cherian

(Message preached at the 90th Kumbanad Convention of the IPC.

 Translated by Pastor V. S. Mathew)

Jesus Christ is the God who revealed himself in flesh. He took the form of a human being and dwelt among us. But the Holy Spirit did not take the form of a human being, He rather revealed himself through man. The word of God says that the Holy Spirit was manifested through men of God like Samson and Gideon, in ancient times. But in the New Testament times also we see the operation of the Holy Spirit through many people especially through their life and works.

John 7:37 is a statement of Jesus Christ regarding the Holy Spirit. on the last and great day of the feast Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ''if anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said streams of living water will flow from within him”. Everyone should have the experience of infilling of the Holy Spirit. To have this glorious experience one should have an enduring thirst. All those who are needy and thirsty can drink freely of this living water. When a person drinks this water he will experience its fullness, which will then result in outflowing.

The prophet Ezekiel also foretold about this experience, connecting it to a river (Ezek 47:1-12) that flows out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east. After some time it becomes deeper and deeper. There are fruit trees of all kinds growing on either side of the river, whose leaves will not wither. From this amazing vision; we understand that this is not a natural river. it symbolizes different levels of expression of the Holy Spirit referred to by Jesus Christ. I would like to draw your attention to it’s features one by one.

1. It flows from the temple

We ourselves are the present day temple.  I Cor 3:16 says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” God expects that this living water should flow from each one of us into the society. Holiness is the hall mark of God’s temple. God’s temple is sacred (I Cor. 3:17). What is holiness? How do we define it? How does today’s church understand holiness? Do we perceive it as something related only to outward appearances or something far beyond that? Many people have a distorted picture on holiness. Some demand that holiness is seen by wearing of white garments but these very people have no qualms in using foul language. Some others think and profess that sporting a moustache is not a sign of holiness, whereas they have a strong desire to do so. Few others, think that the height of spirituality or holiness is seen when they sit on the floor for worship services, but they have no respect at all for others. There are yet others, who do not give any importance to wearing good footwear, yet cherish a strong desire for recognition and position which they do not deserve.

I remember a story. A man and a woman who seemed to be husband and wife came to a petrol bunk to fill the fuel for their car. Having refueled their car and gone ahead quite a distance, they noticed an expensive camera in their car which did not belong to them. They were perplexed and realized it may have been placed in their car at the petrol pump unknowingly. They drove back to the pump to return the camera to its owner. On seeing this couple the owners were very thrilled and happy, who accidentally had placed the camera in the car. Wanting to honor the faithful couple for their honesty, the camera owners (also the petrol pump owners) decided to give them a gift, which the couple vehemently refused.  Finally, they urged and insisted that the couple pose for a photograph which the camera owners wanted to publish in the newspaper to declare the faithfulness and integrity of the couple. This was again strongly objected  to by the couple. When asked for a reason the man sheepishly replied, pointing to the woman with him : “ this is not my wife, but my girl friend”.  When we closely analyze the lives of this couple, we see that although they were faithful in certain areas of their lives, they were not as good or faithful in certain other areas.  This is not what holiness means! A holy life is a strict training or discipline – to give up the things that break the heart of God and assimilate godly virtues. The streams of living water will flow only from the holy people.

2.  The volume or quantity must increase

When we receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit there will be spiritual growth: ankle deep, knee deep, waist deep and further lower and at a deeper level, that none can cross over without swimming. This imagery teaches many spiritual lessons. When we are in ankle deep water, 90 percent of our body is exposed to the world. The world can view us almost fully – as we are. Half of ourselves is exposed when we are in waist level water. At this level we disclose 50 percent of ourselves to the watching world. But when we are at a deeper level, we have to swim to get across. Here we are completely immersed in the water, and nothing of ourselves is seen by the world. We are totally submerged in the water! All that is seen is the Holy Spirit that surrounds us, that has taken charge of us!  We are completely controlled by the Holy Spirit, leaving no room to gratify the desires of this world. Those who are fully guided by the Holy Spirit will not seek crooked ways of the world.

3.  The Fruit trees

There are fruit trees on each side of this river. This symbolizes our fruitful life. Fruits are more significant than spiritual gifts. A Spirit-filled life is also a fruitful life! What fruit are we producing through our lives?

4.  Renewal

Every month the trees bear fruit. A spirit-filled life inspires and revives the people of God. As this river is flowing it’s water becomes fresh, there is no stagnation hence the water is clean.  Nowadays, many rivers, like people, have become unholy (with pond like characteristics) by forsaking spiritual values. It is during times of a spiritual revival that everything will be transformed and renewed.

5.  Swamps and marshes

Though the water of the river makes the salt water fresh, still there are some places that remain as swamps and marshes and salty. This is also happening in our church community too. In a great revival, some people remain as they are without any real transformation. Such people are seen in every generation. Few examples from the New Testament are Judas Iscariot, Demas etc. How much more are they are in number now? These men are blemishes at your love feast, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain blown along by the wind, autumn trees without fruit and uprooted twice dead. They cannot deceive God always. One day they will be judged by God. 

In conclusion I want to say that every one should come to God, drink the living water and then grow in the Spirit. Let it flow from us to the society. Let us bear fruit and be blessed.   

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