How to identify the work of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit seems to be the least known member of the Trinity. Even those who claim to know Him have not fully grasped who He is and why God sent Him to us after the ascension of Christ. This ignorance has caused damage to the spread of the Gospel worldwide. When the purpose is not known, abuse becomes inevitable. And the truth is, many of us are more interested in the harnessing and appropriation of the gift of the Holy Spirit than we are in carrying out the mission of the Holy Spirit.
For a clear understanding of what is expected of us when we have received the Holy Spirit, let us look at what Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18).
The reason why God gave us the Holy Spirit is to enable us to have the boldness to preach the Gospel of the kingdom. Jesus gave instruction to the disciples that they go and preach the Gospel to every creature and to all nations but advised them to tarry in Jerusalem until they were imbued with power (Acts 1:8). This enabling power comes from the Holy Spirit which provides believers with everything that is needed for the work of ministry. In my personal experience, I observed that the first evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life was the zeal to preach the Gospel. I find it difficult to believe that anyone has received the Holy Spirit without a passion for soul-winning.
When the Apostles received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, they were immediately changed. Peter, who did not want to identify with Christ during Christ’s crucifixion, came out boldly and preached the Gospel, which led to the conversion of 3,000 Jews. When the Holy Spirit came upon Saul of Tarsus, he became an ardent soul winner.
What is surprising to me is that in this generation many Christians are in their churches speaking in tongues while sinners in their immediate environment are left unevangelized. Every church that does anything short of this is an aberration.
I believe that the essence of edification in the lives of believers is for them to be built up to maturity and be equipped for the task of world evangelization. According to Henry Martyn, an early 19th-century missionary to India, “The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.” One of the key ways by which I identify a genuine Christian is how passionate this individual is about evangelism. Any Christian who does not have passion to bring the lost to the saving knowledge of Christ should think twice and re-examine the spirit operating in him or her.
When we allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in our lives, the first thing He does is to make us become passionate about the salvation of others. He creates an indelible urge to go the extra mile to bring someone to Christ. After preparing us for this Herculean task, He sets us apart and sends us just like He did with Paul and Barnabas in the church at Antioch (Acts 13:2).
Unless and until we become zealous for the spread of the Kingdom, we cannot claim to be partners with the Spirit.
Oscar Amaechina is the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network, Abuja, Nigeria. His calling is to take the gospel to where no one has neither preached nor heard about Jesus. He is the author of the book Mystery Of The Cross Revealed.