GOD's grace is such that He did not allow me to remain a baby CHRISTian, but through His merciful orchestration, He gave me the necessary tools so that i may be better equipped for the growth process. In 2009, upon my return to San Diego from Fiji, He provided the "Foundations" Bible study at Ocean View Church which gave me insight to the powerful ministry of the Holy SPIRIT in the lives of followers of CHRIST.
And recently, through Jim Cymbala, Zac Poonen (CFC, Bangalore) Zola Levitt (Zola Levitt Ministries), John Yates (Faith Bible Institute, Willmington's Guide to the Bible), fellowship with other CHRISTians, daily Bible reading and study, and SPIRIT-engineered circumstances -- i came to know the Person of the Holy SPIRIT Who was GOD's gift to me (and to all believers in CHRIST) at the moment of redemption.
The following are excerpts from Willmington's Guide to the Bible which clearly define the fantastic ministry of the Holy SPIRIT in the believer's life. Dr Harold Willmington describes the GODhead with this illustration:
"Consider an important executive who determines to build a spacious and expensive home. He thus employs an architect to design the necessary plans for this home. The architect thereupon secures a competent contractor to follow his blueprints. In this illustration, the Executive is the FATHER, the Architect is the SON, and the Divine Contractor is the Holy SPIRIT." (Willmington's Guide to the Bible, page 645.)
As a believing child of GOD, a follower of JESUS, when i learned about the powerful ministry of the SPIRIT working within me, the Person of the Holy SPIRIT became real to me. No longer was He just a doctrine to internalize and share with others, He became a real Presence in my life. His titles of Helper, Comforter, Counselor, Teacher of ALL truth became Reality to me... no longer confined to my finite mind as mere head-knowledge, but REAL in a physical sense. Though i don't see Him with my physical eyes, i know by experience His Presence in my daily life.
So for those who may still be somewhat confused (as i was) about the ALL-powerful hand of GOD in the Person of the Holy SPIRIT, it's my prayer that these excerpts from Dr Willmington's Doctrine of the Holy SPIRIT (in blue italics) will further clarify the AMAZING gracious gift of GOD's SPIRIT to those who have put their faith in CHRIST JESUS.
The instant an unsaved person prays "GOD be merciful to me, a sinner," (genuinely repents -- turns from sin and turns to GOD -- asks for forgiveness and sincerely receives in his heart JESUS as Savior and LORD of his life) -- the Holy SPIRIT immediately effects a five-fold work in him.
1. The Holy SPIRIT regenerates the believing sinner. He literally recreates him and gives him the nature of GOD. (Titus 3:5, John 3:3-7, 1 Peter 1:23, 2 Corinthians 5:17)
2. The Holy SPIRIT baptizes the believing sinner. (This is not water baptism, but spiritual placement.) He places the believer into the body of CHRIST --the church. (1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 4:4-5, Colossians 2:12)
3. The Holy SPIRIT indwells the believing sinner. He not only joins us to the Savior (through the baptism -- #2 above), but He joins Himself to us. He literally lives on the inside of each believer. (John 14:20, 7:37-39; 1 Corinthians 2:12, 3:16; Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:16-18; Ephesians 3:16)
4. The Holy SPIRIT seals the believing sinner. The presence of the Holy SPIRIT Himself is the Seal, Who is given by the Father to assure the believer of his eternal salvation. The Seal is also referred to as the Earnest or Guarantee, or Deposit. (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5; Ephesians 1:13, 4:30)
5. The Holy SPIRIT fills the believing sinner. (Acts 2:4) The Holy SPIRIT controls and reigns over the SURRENDERED believer.
It was at the Foundations Bible study at Ocean View Church that i first learned the difference between the indwelling and the filling of the Holy SPIRIT. Dr Willmington's illustration further clarifies the difference:
A guest is invited into a home. But upon entering that home he is immediately confined to a small room somewhere near the front door. For a while, he may even be forgotten by his host. Finally, however, the owner of the house is convicted concerning his shabby treatment of the house guest. He thereupon gives his guest free access to every room in the house.
The filling, therefore, does not mean the believer gets more of the Holy SPIRIT, but rather the Holy SPIRIT gets more of the believer.
All five of these ministries happen instantaneously to the believing sinner. They all occur by faith (not by any sum of good works) and are not in the least dependent upon one's personal emotional feelings at the time.
The first four ministries can never be lost, and therefore need not be and should not be asked for again... IF a man has accepted CHRIST, he has for all eternity been regenerated, indwelled, baptized, and sealed by the Holy SPIRIT.
The fifth ministry, however, can be lost (by disobedience -- by sin) and therefore should be asked for as many times as needed. (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:16; Acts 2:4, 4:8, 6:3, 7:55, 9:17, 11:24, 13:9, 52)
The first four ministries give us peace WITH GOD (Romans 5:1). But the fifth ministry assures us the peace OF GOD. (Philippians 4:7) Thus, all CHRISTians, regardless of how backslidden they might be, enjoy peace WITH GOD, but only SPIRIT-controlled believers can know that blessed peace OF GOD.
Being filled by the Holy SPIRIT is being controlled by Him -- being surrendered to His guidance, to His leading, to His protection, to His empowerment, to His wisdom...to His sovereign rule in every aspect of the believer's life, inner and outer. As a young child trusts and obeys his/her earthly father, so a child of GOD trusts and obeys his/her heavenly Father.
The fifth ministry is lost whenever disobedience is found in the life of the believer. Disobedience is the sin of quenching the Holy SPIRIT -- which involves not doing that which the Holy SPIRIT would have us do (1 Thessalonians 5:19); and the sin of grieving the Holy SPIRIT -- which involves doing that which the Holy SPIRIT would not have us do (Ephesians 4:30).
The fifth ministry may (and should be) instantly regained by:
-- By knowing GOD's means of forgiveness and cleansing -- the blood of CHRIST. (1 John 1:7)
-- By knowing GOD's method of forgiveness and cleansing -- the confession of the CHRISTian. (1 John 1:9) The confession is absolutely vital, for while CHRIST's blood will cleanse us from all sin, it will not cleanse us from a single excuse.
GOD does not demand golden vessels, nor does He require silver ones, but He must have clean ones. Thus the union with the SPIRIT is so strong that NOthing can break it, but the communion with the SPIRIT is so fragile that the smallest sin can shatter it.
The fifth ministry assures the believer of the following priceless blessings:
The Holy SPIRIT will pray for him. (Romans 8:26)
The Holy SPIRIT will guide him. (John 16:13, Romans 8:14)
The Holy SPIRIT will teach him. (1 John 2:27)
The Holy SPIRIT will empower him for witnessing. (Acts 1:8)
The Holy SPIRIT will impart the love of CHRIST to him and through him. (Romans 5:5)
The Holy SPIRIT will conform him to the image of CHRIST. (2 Corinthians 3:18) The ultimate goal and stated intention of the Father is to conform the believer throughout eternity into the image of CHRIST. (Romans 8:29, Philippians 3:21, 1 John 3:2) But GOD the SPIRIT desires to start this glorious work in each child of GOD at the moment of salvation. (Philippians 3:10)
The Holy SPIRIT will strengthen his new nature. (Ephesians 3:16) This He does through Bible study (1 Peter 2:2) and prayer (Jude 1:20)
The Holy SPIRIT will reveal Biblical truth to him. (1 Corinthians 2:10)
The Holy SPIRIT will assure him concerning salvation and service. (Romans 8:16, 1 John 3:24)
The Holy SPIRIT will give him liberty. (Romans 8:2, 2 Corinthians 3:17)
The Holy SPIRIT will fill his mouth with appropriate things. (Mark 13:11; Acts 4:8-22, 5:29-33, 7:55) "...take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate; but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy SPIRIT." (Mark 13:11)
The privilege of being adopted into GOD's family comes ONLY through the shed blood of CHRIST JESUS -- by faith ALONE -- believing in the Fact that GOD the Son died on the cross as the Substitutionary Sacrificial Lamb to atone for my sin-debt, the penalty which is death... eternal separation from GOD and all the supreme good that He is.
So i simply and humbly received GOD's gift of Amazing Grace in the Person of JESUS CHRIST, fully knowing that i'm unworthy and undeserving -- but utterly grateful for GOD's grace. i received the gift of the Holy SPIRIT and all that He is. He is all THAT that my Father Creator is. He is all THAT that my Savior JESUS is. Since He is GOD... and GOD of all of me -- "It matters not what He does, it matters only Who He is!" (Oswald Chambers)
So to add to Willmington's illustration -- the SPIRIT of CHRIST has free access to all the rooms of this house -- my body (eyes, ears, mouth), heart (affections, desires, motives), mind/will/thoughts, soul (personality), talents/skills, money/stuff -- ALL are His to use for whatever pleases my LORD JESUS and whatever my heavenly Father purposes to further His Kingdom. He has the keys to the front and back doors, the closets, even the safe. In fact (TOday -- 5/13/2015), He has the deed to my whole house!