David Seamands, in his book Healing for Damaged Emotions, passes on a fascinating story about a man named Charlie Steinmetz.
Do you remember the story of Henry Ford and Charlie Steinmetz? Steinmetz was a dwarf, ugly and deformed, but he had one of the greatest minds in the field of electricity that the world has ever known. Steinmetz built the great generators for Henry Ford in his first plant in Dearborn, Michigan. One day those generators broke down and the plant came to a halt. They brought in ordinary mechanics and helpers who couldn’t get the generators going again. They were losing money. Then Ford called Steinmetz. The genius came, seemed to just putter around for a few hours, and then threw the switch that put the great Ford plant back into operation. A few days later Henry Ford received a bill from Steinmetz for $10,000. Although Ford was a very rich man, he returned the bill with a note, “Charlie, isn’t this bill just a little high for a few hours of tinkering around on those motors?” Steinmetz returned the bill to Ford. This time it read: “For tinkering around on the motors: $10. For knowing where to tinker: $9,990. Total: $10,000.” Henry Ford paid the bill. The Holy Spirit knows where to tinker. We do not know what we ought to be praying for. We often do not receive because we ask for the wrong things.
I love that! The Holy Spirit does indeed know where to tinker, and, in truth, the Christian cannot put a price tag on His value! Without Him, the whole progress of the Christian life comes to a screeching halt.
My point here is simple and urgent: I plead with us to acknowledge our need for the Holy Spirit and for His ministry in our lives as followers of Jesus.
I grieve to read these words from Francis Chan:
There is a big gap between what we read in Scripture about the Holy Spirit and how most believers and churches operate today…
If I were Satan and my ultimate goal was to thwart God’s kingdom and purposes, one of my main strategies would be to get churchgoers to ignore the Holy Spirit. The degree to which this has happened (and I would argue that it is a prolific disease in the body of Christ) is directly connected to the dissatisfaction most of us feel with and in the church. We understand something very important is missing…
I believe that this missing something is actually a missing Someone—namely, the Holy Spirit…
Given our talent set, experience, and education, many of us are fairly capable of living rather successfully (according to the world’s standards) without any strength from the Holy Spirit.
Even our church growth can happen without Him. Let’s be honest: If you combine a charismatic speaker, a talented worship band, and some hip, creative events, people will attend your church. Yet this does not mean that the Holy Spirit of God is actively working and moving in the lives of the people who are coming. It simply means that you have created a space that is appealing enough to draw people in for an hour or two on Sunday.
Yes, I grieve to read this, and I shudder. I shudder because I know that Chan’s words are true. Too many of us do neglect the Spirit’s presence and His ministry. And I shudder because it is a dreadfully true thought that a church that has the right cogs in place can keep the machine going even if the Lord is not present. But that, friends, is not a church…it is merely a machine, an institution, a business.
But if we are to be a church, then we must return again to the great line of the creed and say it with conviction and with power: “I believe in the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is given to those who love and trust in Jesus.
Let us begin with the question, “To whom is the Spirit given? Upon whom does the Spirit come?” If the Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and therefore God, then the Spirit is not a human being. But the Spirit is consistently depicted in scripture as being upon or within human beings. But which human beings is the divine Spirit within?
Jesus answers this in a fascinating passage from John 14. Listen closely:
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
The “you” in verse 16 is defined in verse 15. The “you” are those who “love me,” that is, who love Jesus! Out of this love comes obedience: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The presence of verse numbers should not keep us from seeing how verse 16 is organically and necessarily tied to verse 15. In other words, in order to “love” Jesus and “keep [His] commandments…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.” The Spirit keeps us grounded in our love and obedience and, indeed, renders these possible!
So the Holy Spirit is given to those who love and trust in Jesus!
This is further highlighted by verse 17. There we are told:
- the “world cannot receive” the Holy Spirit;
- the “world” does not “see” the Holy Spirit;
- the “world” does not “know” the Holy Spirit;
- followers of Jesus do “know” the Holy Spirit;
- the Holy Spirit “dwells with” followers of Jesus;
- the Holy Spirit is “in” followers of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit is given to the church! The language here is so clear that we can say this: the thought of a Christian without the Holy Spirit is an absurdity. To come to Jesus in faith is to be given the Holy Spirit of God. If, then, you are a believer, you have the Spirit. That is God’s intent and design and it is part and parcel of Christian life.
The Holy Spirit helps us in countless important ways!
To what end are we given the Spirit? Here we have a problem, and we might call this problem “an embarrassment of riches.” Simply put, the Spirit does too much and is too important to the life of the Christian for us to capture it all here! Talk about drinking water from a fire hose, consider just some of the ways in which the Spirit helps us.
- The Holy Spirit constantly engages us with the life and teachings of Jesus. [But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)]
- The Holy Spirit gives us the right words to say when we bear witness to Jesus. [And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. (Mark 13:11)]
- The Holy Spirit is the conduit through which the love of God is poured into our hearts. [and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)]
- The Holy Spirit takes our short-sighted mumblings and makes them prayers! [Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)]
- The Holy Spirit gives us hope. [May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)]
- The Holy Spirit helps us say “Jesus is Lord!”…and mean it! [Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)]
- The Holy Spirit gives us joy, even in the midst of suffering. [And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit. [1 Thessalonians 1:6])
On and on the scriptures go with its numerous depictions of the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit! The Spirit of the living God, when placed within the believer’s heart, truly transforms the believer from the inside out. He is no mere addendum. He is no mere footnote to our story. The Christian life must be life in the Spirit, or it is not the Christian life!
This is what makes the modern Baptist neglect of the person and role of the Holy Spirit maddening. He is so essential to our lives!
Os Guinness writes:
President Lyndon Johnson used to tell a story of a preacher who prepared a stirring but rather complicated sermon that required notes. Unfortunately, on his way to church he dropped the notes, and they were eaten by a dog. Unabashed he climbed into the pulpit and said, “Brothers and sisters, I’m afraid a dog ate my sermon notes on the way to church. I’m just going to have to rely on what the Holy Spirit tells me, but I promise I’ll do better next week.”
A funny story…but an ominous story, for do we not sometimes act like this? In the absence of a better plan, we will begrudgingly turn to plan B, the Holy Spirit? No! Perish the thought! The Spirit is no plan B, He is the first and best option!
We must come to terms with the indispensability of the Holy Spirit. We must understand our need for Him! We must understand that trying to live the Christian life without the Spirit is more absurd than trying to run a car without gasoline. I agree with Ignatius Hazim, patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, who said:
Without the Holy Spirit, God is distant, Christ is in the past, the Gospel is a dead letter, the Church is simply an organization, authority is domination, mission is propaganda, worship is the summoning of spirits, and Christian action is the morality of slaves.
Yes! This is so! The Holy Spirit is the sine qua non of the Christian life, the “without which not.”
The Holy Spirit ought not be grieved by our sin but rather delighted by our obedience.
This leads us to a final point and one that arises naturally from the first two. If the Holy Spirit is given to believers, and if the Holy Spirit blesses us with countless gifts, then the Holy Spirit is not to be hindered, but rather embraced.
In Ephesians 4, Paul gives a list of prohibitions and exhortations. In the middle of this list he says something about the Holy Spirit that is fascinating, to say the least. Listen to this list and see if you catch it.
25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Did you catch it? There it is: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
This saying is itself flanked by a number of sins that Paul calls upon the believers to abandon. Before this statement about not grieving the Spirit we find warnings against:
- giving opportunity to the devil
- corrupting talk
Then we are told not to grieve the Holy Spirit. Then the list continues:
This “grieving” of the Spirit, then, is connected to sin and, specifically, to when believers sin. In short, the Spirit of the living God is grieved when the believer who He is seeking to draw more and more into conformity with Christ takes up the rotten fruits of the devil and hinders his or her growth. When this happens, the individual is thwarted. The church is hurt. The witness of the church is weakened. And the Spirit is grieved.
It is interesting to note that if the Spirit is grieved by the believer’s sin then surely the Spirit rejoices at our obedience.
R. Kent Hughes proposes a helpful exercise on the basis of Paul’s words here. Hughes writes:
Do we have the frown or smile of the Holy Spirit upon us? To gain his smile, I would like to suggest a spiritual exercise which can be done alone, but may be enhanced in tandem. If you are married, ask your spouse to participate. If you are single, invite a Christian friend to go through this exercise with you. Take each of the four categories in succession—truth (v.25), anger (vv. 26, 27), theft (v.28), and speech (v.29)—and reflect out loud to your partner as to whether this area of your life has the smile or frown of the Holy Spirit. If you fall short, confess your sins to God and each other, and invite your partner to pray for you. Be assured that the Holy Spirit will attend your conversation with great joy.
A beautiful idea! Let us help one another take stock with this important question: Am I grieving the Holy Spirit? Or is the Holy Spirit delighted in me?
Church, I plead with us all: let us love the Holy Spirit of God. Let us seek Him. Let us never grieve Him. Let us let Him do in our lives the great work that the Father and the Son desire for Him to do!
I agree with Francis Chan, who wrote, “I have yet to meet anyone with too much Holy Spirit.” Nor have I, and that certainly includes myself!
Oh God, fill us with the Holy Spirit!
 Seamands, David A. (2010-11-01). Healing for Damaged Emotions (Kindle Locations 330-341). David C Cook. Kindle Edition.
 Chan, Francis. Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. Kindle Loc. 42-58, 164-168.
 Writing around 404 AD, the monk Rufinus, commenting on the structure of the Apostles’ Creed, points out that “we complete the mystery of the Trinity with our mention of the Holy Spirit.” Rufinus, A Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed. Ancient Christian Writers. Number 20 (New York: Newman Press, 1955), p.50.
 Guinness, Os. The Devil’s Gauntlet. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989), p.24.
 Bird, Michael F. What Christians Ought to Believe. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2016), p.182–83.
 Hughes, R. Kent. Ephesians. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), p.153.
 Chan, Francis. Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. Kindle Loc. 91.