By Dr. Rick Flanders
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” John 14:12
Some years ago, a famous Pentecostal preacher popularized the slogan, “Expect a miracle!” Of course, Baptist people were reluctant to adopt this phrase because of its connections with the Pentecostal errors about miracles. Unfortunately, however, we Baptists have backed off from important things because of the wrong ideas some have taught about them, and some of the backing off has been bad for us. The whole subject of the ministry of the Holy Spirit has intimidated many of us because of what the Pentecostals say about it. However, our retreat from the doctrine of the Spirit has robbed us of many of the blessings of the Spirit, and also of His power. Our uneasiness about the supernatural has closed many scriptures to us and also deprived us of some miracles! In John 14 and 15 we find the record of our Lord’s principal teachings about the Holy Spirit’s ministry to believers, and in these chapters we will also find access to miracles of a kind that those true to the Bible can seek and expect.
1. Divine help in obeying the commandments of Christ.
Jesus spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit with these words:
“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 for ever; 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.”
God sent us the Holy Spirit in order to help us keep the Lord’s commandments. Can you see the connection Jesus made between keeping His commandments and God giving us His Spirit? The designation “Comforter” is translated from a Greek word that means “Helper.” Believers have the Spirit of God in them to act as their Helper in carrying out the orders of the Lord Jesus. As we set out to follow His words, we can expect the supernatural help of His Spirit!
This is why Peter spoke in Acts 5:32 of “the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” Of course, the indwelling of the Spirit is not a reward earned by people who obey God. The sense in which He is given to those who obey God is the sense in which He is our Helper in obeying Him. We need help in following Jesus, without a doubt. The truth is that we all eventually recognize our need for supernatural help to do what Jesus taught us to do.
His great Sermon on the Mount (found in Matthew 5 – 7) introduced the disciples of Jesus to the life He would call on them to live. Do you remember what He told us to do in that sermon? Here are some of the commandments He gave (which we are to keep if we love Him):
- “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”
- “Love your enemies…”
- “Seek ye first the kingdom of God…”
- “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
- “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them…”
On other occasions, the Lord Jesus stated His requirements for true discipleship:
“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).
“So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple” Luke 14:33).
Are these commandments and requirements hard? Of course they are. Do we need divine help to fulfill them? Certainly we do, and we can thank God that we have this miraculous assistance available to us! The Spirit of God within us will enable us to keep these hard commandments when we rely on Him for His power.
No Christian should try to live the Christian life apart from the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit. Do you remember reading these verses in the Book of Galatians?
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (3:1 – 3)
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (5:16)
Baptists, and other born-again Christians, can expect a miracle when they set out to follow Christ in dependence upon the Holy Spirit for success in overcoming their weakness.
2. Un-explainable peace and joy in difficult times.
While speaking of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Jesus made a remarkable and famous promise:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
This inner peace from Christ is mentioned several times in the Bible, and in one place is called “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (See Philippians 4:6 – 7). It is a supernatural peace, unlike the kind unsaved people experience in times of relative calm. It is a deeper, more secure peace, felt by the believer but not originating in his own emotional center. It is the peace of Jesus Christ, literally His peace, the peace He experiences all the time, conveyed miraculously to the heart of the one depending on Him.
In the fifteenth chapter of John, we read again about believers experiencing the feelings of Jesus.
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love…These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (verses 10 and 11)
Jesus spoke of our experiencing His love, His joy, and His peace. Galatians 5:22 calls this the fruit (product) of the Holy Spirit. By the presence of His Spirit in our lives, we can actually experience the peace, the joy, and the love of Jesus Christ! An example of this miracle is given in Acts 13 in an account of Christians being persecuted. That account ends by saying that the “disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.” When believers look to Jesus for emotional victory, they can expect the miracle of His peace.
3. Miraculous spiritual reproduction.
In the same discussion of the ministry of the Spirit, the Lord Jesus promised us the opportunity to “bear much fruit” for the glory of God (Read John 15:1 – 8). The fruit-bearing of John 15 is spiritual reproduction, Christians producing other Christians. This is the way the term “fruit” is often used in the New Testament, referring to the winning of others to the Lord (for example, in Romans 1:13 – 15 and Philippians 4:15 – 17). Many Christians are defeated in this area of soul winning, but they need not be. The Holy Spirit is in us to work through us in the all-important work of witnessing and bringing people to Jesus. When we witness in dependence on the Holy Spirit, we experience His soul-saving power, and we will see lost men come to Christ. Not everyone will be saved, but many will be won if we work at the business of winning folks while consciously relying on the Spirit to convict sinners and draw them to the Lord. Pentecostals revel in the emotional ecstasy of the experiences the Spirit supposedly gives them, but there is no joy as great as the joy of the winner of souls! The errors of Pentecostalism offer emotional substitutes for the real miracles that come with the real ministry of God’s Spirit. The truth is that if the Baptists were to “rediscover” the scriptural doctrine of the Holy Spirit, not only would they be greatly helped, but also their Pentecostal friends could be turned from deception to reality. Let us set out to know better the Third Person of the Trinity, and to depend on Him for the miraculous help He was sent to provide us.