The Holy Spirit’s work in becoming a Christian
To be a Christian, there must be a beginning. The Bible uses different expressions for this beginning. Some are “being saved,” “receiving Jesus Christ,” “repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ,” “being born again,” “turning to God,” “believing and turning to the Lord Jesus,” “believing with all your heart” and “repenting and being baptized.” The Bible is very clear about the work of the Holy Spirit in each person who comes to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. I will simply summarize three ways the Holy Spirit works and how an unsaved person may respond to His work.
The Holy Spirit brings about the saving experience. In the Gospel of John 3:3,5 and 7 Jesus said, “Unless a person be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Unless a person be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. You must be born again.” The Bible says in Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Likewise in 1 Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you, but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 12:13 says of all true believers, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit brought about your beginning saving experience.
The Holy Spirit gives power to the gospel of Jesus Christ as an unsaved person is confronted with this good news. The gospel is the good news from God to us sinners that “Christ did for our sins according to the Scriptures and that he was buried and that he was raised again the third day according to the Scriptures.” In 1 Thessalonians 1:5 the Apostle Paul said, “For our gospel did not come unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost and in much assurance.” In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 he also said, “My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” The Apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 1:12, “They preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven”. Our Lord Jesus said in John 16:7-11, “And when the Holy Spirit is come, He will convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world (the devil) is judged.” So, it is very necessary for Christians and the church to depend upon the Holy Spirit to make our testimony and the Gospel to be alive with power as we share with unbelievers.
The Holy Spirit makes possible the saving decision of repentance and faith. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “No person can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Ghost”. In 1 Peter 1:22-23 we find, “Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Holy Spirit-being born again-by the word of God.” In Acts 8:29-38 we have the most simple and complete account of a personal conversion in the New Testament. A deacon, Philip, obeyed the Holy Spirit and went to share the gospel with an Ethiopian who was prepared by the Holy Spirit to gladly receive the good new and obey. The Ethiopian believed with all his heart and became a baptized believer. In Acts 11:20-21 we are told of lay persons going to Antioch “preaching the Lord Jesus.” And “the hand of the Lord was with them (another expression for the Holy Spirit): and a great number believed and turned to the Lord Jesus.”
How may an unsaved person respond to the Gospel and the Holy Spirit’s work? First, he may respond in a positive way summarized by Revelation 22:17, “The Holy Spirit and the Church say, come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever is willing, let him take the water of life free of charge.” God uses his church and His Spirit to invite persons to turn to Jesus. There are only two requirements to the invitation. One, a person must thirst, that is, have a real and sincere desire to be right with God, to become a child of God and to know that death would mean heaven. Two, a person must be willing. If a person is thirsty and willing: the Holy Spirit says, “Come on, it’s for you, it’s free: nothing can keep you from being saved!” On the other hand, according to Acts 7:51, you can refuse to repent, be hard hearted and resist the Holy Ghost. Maybe this is described in Hebrews 10:29, “He has trodden under foot the Son of God and has counted His blood an unholy thing and has outraged the Holy Spirit of grace.”
Note: Charles Christmas is a religious columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Saturday.