Every Monday our evangelism team goes out to call on people who have visited the church or to parents of the children who attend our school. Last Monday we finished our scheduled call with Darryl and Sharon who are very strong believers in the Lord. Before we left their home we circled for a word of prayer and Sharon prayed for our next call that we would be successful in bringing the “good news” to some lost souls. Since, we had only one scheduled visit we decided to stop at a Laundromat and make what is known as a “cold call.” As we pulled into the Laundromat two very large and very rough looking African Americans stood together outside. One of the members on our team thought we should move on, but the lady of the team was eager to present the Gospel.
We are all afraid of different things at different times in our lives. Some people fear death, while others are scared to death to share their faith. Jesus said this to His disciples: "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies ? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:4-7).
Our Scripture today deals with the cure for fear through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus said again to His disciples, "All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:25-27). There is only one to fear and that is not the one who can kill you, but the one who has the power to cast us into Hell!
In the book Healing the Masculine Soul, Gordon Dalbey says that when Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Helper, he uses a Greek word, paraclete, that was an ancient warrior’s term. "Greek soldiers went into battle in pairs," says Dalbey, "so when the enemy attacked, they could draw together back-to-back, covering each other’s blind side. One’s battle partner was the paraclete." Our Lord does not send us to fight the good fight alone. The Holy Spirit is our battle partner who covers our blind side and fights for our well-being.
It is the Holy Spirit that gives the Christian the power to handle each and every situation from what to say, through how to live and even face death.
However way too many people believe that the Christian life and the believer’s sanctification is totally the work of the Holy Spirit and they love to quote Phil 1:6 “ being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” They forget to include verse 5 “because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” In our passage from Luke Jesus says this, “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.” The point is that the disciples participated in their learning they studied under the great rabbi himself- Jesus and we also must study the Word of God aided by the teaching of the indwelt Holy Spirit. When we do our part as the disciples did theirs we need not fear how to share our faith. We can then rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to remind us. Before the Holy Spirit can guide us and remind us of all truth we must do our part and study the Word. Remind simply means to call attention to something you already knew but cannot quite remember. As our paraclete it is the Holy Spirit who covers our back when we step out by faith to tell someone the Good News of Jesus Christ. In Mark 13 Jesus told His disciples, “whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” This is the same advice Paul gave young Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).
Chuck Colson, Frances Schaefer, Knofel Staton and many others have written books that deal with how we should live as Christians, but the Bible teaches that it is the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth who teaches us and gives us direction in how we should live. We know that a life led by our own design is a life led by the flesh, no matter how moral or intellectual that thinking may be. Often times under the power of our own flesh we do not even know why we do what we do. Unless your children are different than mine when you ask them, “Why did you do that?” Don’t you hear these words? I dunno! Beyond immaturity it is a symptom of simply leading a life without the Holy Spirit as our guide. We know that the flesh led life leads us into the acts of the sinful nature: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like (Gal. 5:19-21). But the life that follows the leading of the Holy Spirit, the life that has died to self is full of the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22 –23).
Stephen the first to be martyred certainly understood the power of the Holy Spirit. You need to know that Stephen didn’t go to Jerusalem Bible College or to seminary. He should be our model regarding the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us, teach us and remind us what to say, how to live using the Holy Spirit’s power, and how to die! Yet the Bible says about Stephen who was chosen to bring peace to the church as a deacon that he was full of faith and the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5). He was strong in the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit guided him and reminded him of everything he needed to say to the Sanhedrin. As a matter of fact because he had done his part in study and learning under the disciples that his Jewish opponents in debate could not refute him. They with all the power were powerless, because Stephen had the paraclete the powerful person of the Holy Spirit covering his back and they could not stand up to his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke (Acts 6:10) as he argued that Jesus was the Messiah (Fisher CD-Rom). Christians are you here today still believing that you are powerless and refusing to witness for Christ because evangelism is not your gift? These Sanhedrin conspired secretly against Stephen and got false witnesses to say that he was a blasphemer against Moses and God (Acts 6:11). Yet they could not deny that when they looked at Stephen what they saw was the face of an angel (Acts 6:15). Chapter 7 is living proof of Jesus’ promise that He would send the Counselor and the Counselor would guide us into and remind us of all truth. Stephen’s knowledge and accuracy of the Scripture is simply flawless and eloquent. In Acts 7:51-54 Stephen points out to these the synagogue of the freedman (actually they are the synagogue of satan) the difference between them and the Christians. “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.” “When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.”
But Stephen has no fear, he is not intimidated by their power, by their knowledge or by their threats, by their lies or their reaction to him. He is simply described like this in vv. 55-6 “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
They could not stand the truth of God as it flowed from Stephen’s mouth by way of the power of the paraclete guarding him-the Holy Spirit. They were not free but trapped. It was Stephen who was free. They covered their ears, yelling at the top of their voices, they rushed him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone Stephen to death (Acts 7:57). Now notice the power from the Holy Spirit even at the hour of our death, death by terrorist, death by war, death by disease the same Spirit is present with the believer. Stephen, prays “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and Lord, do not hold this sin against them and he died.” Brothers and sisters you cannot be any more free than at the hour of your death forgive those who are killing you. That is unnatural- the Holy Spirit who guards us is supernatural.
Do you have the Holy Spirit Power in your life today? Power to evangelize, power to live free from the slavery of sin, power to die knowing heaven will open up for you too?
The first step is to become a Christian, the second is to be discipled and taught as you study the word, the third is by faith to live and walk in the confidence of knowing that the Holy Spirit has your backside covered.
Fisher, Fred Holman Bible Dictionary Quick Verse CD-Rom.
Tripp, Tom Colusa, California. Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 2.