One minute he could see and the next, he was blind! Saul of Tarsus was a young Pharisee living in Jerusalem, who was zealous for the Jewish faith. Stephen was a new believer in Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, godly character and wisdom. He had just been appointed by the Apostles to serve in the distribution of food to the widows among the new disciples of Christ. Jesus had been crucified four years earlier and the clash between the staunch Jewish leaders and the new believers in Jesus was festering. Stephen, full of grace and power was doing signs and wonders before the people. He was quickly noticed by the Jewish leaders and caught in the crossfire of the two beliefs. The Jewish hierarchy had rejected Jesus as the Jewish Messiah while the Jewish disciples of Jesus accepted Him as their Messiah, Savior and Lord. Stephen was brought for questioning before the leaders of the Synagogue of the Freedmen, but they could not refute his arguments about Jesus. They treated Stephen much like they did Jesus by using false testimony in order to kill him.
Stephen continued to preach about Jesus and His fulfillment of all the prophecies about the coming Messiah in the Jewish Torah and the writings of the prophets. While they were stoning him, Saul was standing close by holding the outer garments of those who were stoning Stephen. He was zealous to rout out all the new disciples of Jesus and eradicate their voice because many of the Jews were turning to faith in Jesus Christ (Messiah). Moments before he died, Stephen looked up to heaven and asked the Lord God not to hold his death against his persecutors. What they did not realize was the message Stephen preached was Truth, and they were fighting against the Lord God Himself by killing His disciples!
Time passed and zealous Saul received papers from the High Priest to go into neighboring towns and villages to arrest Jesus’ disciples and bring them to Jerusalem for imprisonment and subsequent death. While travelling from Jerusalem to Damascus the Lord appeared to Saul as a brilliant flashing light and spoke in a thundering voice. He asked Saul why he was persecuting His people. The power of God’s voice threw Saul to the ground and the men with him shrunk in fear at the authority they heard and felt. Instantly Saul’s eyes became blinded by scales which remained for three days. The men with Saul brought him into Damascus in order for him to rest and recover. The Lord then spoke to a disciple named Ananias and sent him to minister to Saul.
Ananias told Saul God had sent him to lay hands upon him to receive the Holy Spirit and regain his sight. At that moment, the scales fell off his eyes and Saul could see again. Completely healed and filled with the Holy Spirit, Saul went into the synagogues to preach about Jesus the Son of God, the Messiah for whom the Jews had been waiting. See Acts Chapter 9. Eventually, Saul’s name was changed to Paul and he wrote the majority of the New Testament in the Bible.
Who is the Holy Spirit and what does He do?
1.) Intercessor – In Part 1, We learned that the Holy Spirit intercedes through us praying directly to God.
2.) Spirit of Truth – In Part II, The Holy Spirit leads us into all Truth.
Saul was a Jewish Pharisee who studied and taught with the scriptures of the Torah. The writings of the Torah were the compiled knowledge of the Jewish faith (written by Moses). They are the first 5 books of the Bible. Prophecies in the Jewish scriptures prepared the Jews for a day when Messiah would come to His People. Although their texts were accurate, their perception of how their Messiah would come and what He would do was very different from what Jesus actually said and did. Saul’s mindset was based on partial truth. When Messiah Jesus came, the majority of the Jewish hierarchy rejected Him as their Messiah although He fulfilled all 353 prophecies in the Torah and the writings of the Jewish prophets regarding His coming. Much of their blindness was due to valuing the traditions of man in their faith more than an abiding relationship with God. They practiced their Judaism outwardly, but inwardly their hearts were far from God.
Saul was zealous for what he knew, but he staunchly rejected his Messiah when He came. It took extreme measures for God to get his attention and guide him to receive the Holy Spirit who would lead him into all Truth!
“But when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth [full and complete truth]. For He will not speak on His own initiative, but He will speak whatever He hears [from the Father-the message regarding the Son], and He will disclose to you what is to come [in the future]. He will glorify and honor Me, because He (the Holy Spirit) will take from what is Mine and disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Because of this I said that He [the Spirit] will take from what is Mine and will reveal it to you.” John 16:13-15.
We must have the Holy Spirit to walk in Truth. The men and women of the Old Testament had encounters by the Holy Spirit. He is the third Person of the Godhead, but His intent is to always point to the Father and the Son. The Prophets of Israel all prophesied through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He would come “upon” them and they would deliver the word of the Lord. Prior to Pentecost, the Holy Spirit worked outwardly with mankind but after the resurrection of Jesus, He came to dwell inside the heart of man. Today, we have the privilege of daily hearing from and being directed by the Holy Spirit. By living inside us, the Holy Spirit has the opportunity to empower us, inspire us and transform us into the image of Jesus Christ.
He is the One who convicts us of sin, confirms there is a judgement of Satan and all who follow his ways. He also gives us confidence in the resurrection of the believer’s soul into eternal life. (See The Holy Spirit Part I). It is not hard to believe there is such a strong warfare against having the Holy Spirit to guide and lead us into all Truth. The devil has done a great job at deceiving the body of Christ with the “doctrines of demons” which have not only divided them, but in some cases, led many into a false security of salvation.
The work of the Holy Spirit is to illuminate the scriptures and lead us into all Truth. His process is much like that which Jesus did with the two men on the road to Emmaus. Jesus sat with them and explained the scriptures concerning Himself from the beginning in Genesis through to His resurrection. See Luke 24:13-35. Those who read the Bible but struggle with understanding it need the Holy Spirit to help them understand. Many are confused by the contradicting doctrines preached in churches today. However, they can become settled and encouraged by the voice of the Holy Spirit who calms the storms of controversy with His message of Truth. His work not only inspires and teaches, it affirms by experience, attesting signs and wonders following. “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them, they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.” Mark 16:17-18.
“At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders (attesting miracles) were continually taking place among the people. And by common consent, they all met together [at the temple] in [the covered porch called [Solomon’s portico.” Acts 5:12.
“So Paul and Barnabas stayed for a long time, speaking boldly and confidently for the Lord, who continued to testify to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders (attesting miracles) be done by them.” Acts 14:3.
“[and besides this evidence] God also testifying with them [confirming the message of salvation], both by signs and wonders and by various miracles [carried out by Jesus and the apostles] and by [granting to believers the] gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” Hebrews 2:4.
We need the Holy Spirit. We need Him to illuminate the written Word of God to our minds and hearts. We need the empowering work of sanctification to rout out all our sinful and destructive character traits making us holy and faithful disciples of Christ. We need more than a “head” knowledge of the Word of God, we need a life-transforming Gospel that not only changes us, but also effectually changes those who are around us.
The Holy Spirit in us is the River of God that flows to and through us touching others. It is the fire of God that fuels the zeal to evangelize, heal and deliver those in bondage while making disciples of those who believe in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and He leads us into all truth. Fear, confusion, doubt, insecurity and indecisiveness cannot stand when the Holy Spirit speaks! His voice cuts through the darkness and emboldens even the weakest of believers. His work enables us to die to self in order to live for Christ!
We live in treacherous times, the end times. Now more than ever, we MUST be able to hear God’s voice of Truth. The Holy Spirit has been given to all who believe in Jesus. As scripture has said, it is not enough just to be baptized in the name of Jesus, we must also be baptized in the Holy Spirit. “They came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for He had not yet fallen on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of Jesus [as His possession]. Then Peter and John laid their hands on them [one by one], and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:15-17. See also Acts 19:1-6.
Jesus said, “it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor-Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. And He, when He comes will convict the world about [the guilt of] sin [and the need for a Savior], and about righteousness, and about judgment: about sin [and the true nature of it], because they do not believe in Me [and My message]; about righteousness [personal integrity and godly character], because I am going to My Father and you will no longer see Me; because the ruler of this world (Satan) has been judged and condemned. I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear [to hear] them now. But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth [full and complete truth].” John 16:6-13a.
Come Holy Spirit! Abide in us and lead us into ALL TRUTH.