The Basics 6d – Holy Spirit and Power

One word commonly linked with the Holy Spirit is power. Jesus promised His disciples, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NASB95) The problem, however, is that our experience with power skews and twists our expectations of the Holy Spirit.

In our common everyday experiences, we are either the master of power or its victim. With a turn of a key or the flip of a switch, we control power. The power we employ magnifies our abilities. With the aid of a small tractor, I can do more than my own muscle could do. But power is also dangerous and can be abused. This is true of the real power of engines and electricity as well as the intangible power of governments, employers, and those in positions to exercise domination and control.

From those experiences, Christians tend to either seek to control the power of the Holy Spirit or seek to avoid that power entirely. Both are wrong. One is operating out of pride and the assumption that works of power confirm their standing with God. The other is operating out of fear or ignorance of that power.

The Holy Spirit is powerful and does release that power through people. Even Jesus experienced that connection. Peter’s sermon to the gentiles noted, “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38, NASB95) And Paul prayed for believers, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,” (Ephesians 3:16, NASB95) But here we must also be careful.

One vital ingredient is missing – Why does the Spirit move with power? The answer is found in the verses already quoted. In Acts 1:8, it is the power to witness. In Jesus ministry, it was the power to do good and to heal. In Ephesians the power of the Spirit is “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,” (Ephesians 3:17, NASB95) The Spirit empowers to touch the world around us and to anchor us more fully and completely to Jesus. He does not empower folks to show off, to claim special anointing, to hold sway over people, or anything that puts the spotlight on us.

A better way to see the empowering of the Holy Spirit is as a piece of copper wire. That piece of wire is powerless yet connected in the right way fantastic power flows through it. So, who gets the praise and thanks? The piece of copper wire or the power generation plant? Obviously, the power plant. But if that copper wire should break, then no power flows even though the powerplant is still producing.

You could say it this way. Our purpose as followers of Jesus is all about connections. Staying connected with Jesus and connecting with others. As we do so, then the power of the Holy Spirit flows through us. Sometimes, perhaps more often than not, we are unaware of that flow. Times when we say or do the right thing and don’t even know it. Simply because we’re connected to Jesus.

Even as I write this, I know and recognize that the power isn’t in my words. Little I write can change a heart or a mind. But the power is in God’s word as the Holy Spirit touches lives in ways I can’t even imagine. Not because I’m someone special, I’m no more special than you are, but because these words serve as a bridge, a conduit, between God’s heart and the hearts of others. My purpose is to make the connection, be obedient to the nudge of the Spirit, and get out of the way.

There are always going to be those who seek to wield and control power over people. Sometimes that takes the guise of political power, or the power of money, or even the power of religion. The power of the Holy Spirit is greater than all of these. “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4, NASB95) But the Holy Spirit doesn’t play their games or invest in their power struggles. He’s not out to rule the world but to turn hearts in every tribe, tongue, and nation to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

One word commonly linked with the Holy Spirit is power. Jesus promised His disciples, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NASB95) The problem, however, is that our experience with power skews and twists our expectations of the Holy Spirit.

In our common everyday experiences, we are either the master of power or its victim. With a turn of a key or the flip of a switch, we control power. The power we employ magnifies our abilities. With the aid of a small tractor, I can do more than my own muscle could do. But power is also dangerous and can be abused. This is true of the real power of engines and electricity as well as the intangible power of governments, employers, and those in positions to exercise domination and control.

From those experiences, Christians tend to either seek to control the power of the Holy Spirit or seek to avoid that power entirely. Both are wrong. One is operating out of pride and the assumption that works of power confirm their standing with God. The other is operating out of fear or ignorance of that power.

The Holy Spirit is powerful and does release that power through people. Even Jesus experienced that connection. Peter’s sermon to the gentiles noted, “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38, NASB95) And Paul prayed for believers, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,” (Ephesians 3:16, NASB95) But here we must also be careful.

One vital ingredient is missing – Why does the Spirit move with power? The answer is found in the verses already quoted. In Acts 1:8, it is the power to witness. In Jesus ministry, it was the power to do good and to heal. In Ephesians the power of the Spirit is “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,” (Ephesians 3:17, NASB95) The Spirit empowers to touch the world around us and to anchor us more fully and completely to Jesus. He does not empower folks to show off, to claim special anointing, to hold sway over people, or anything that puts the spotlight on us.

A better way to see the empowering of the Holy Spirit is as a piece of copper wire. That piece of wire is powerless yet connected in the right way fantastic power flows through it. So, who gets the praise and thanks? The piece of copper wire or the power generation plant? Obviously, the power plant. But if that copper wire should break, then no power flows even though the powerplant is still producing.

You could say it this way. Our purpose as followers of Jesus is all about connections. Staying connected with Jesus and connecting with others. As we do so, then the power of the Holy Spirit flows through us. Sometimes, perhaps more often than not, we are unaware of that flow. Times when we say or do the right thing and don’t even know it. Simply because we’re connected to Jesus.

Even as I write this, I know and recognize that the power isn’t in my words. Little I write can change a heart or a mind. But the power is in God’s word as the Holy Spirit touches lives in ways I can’t even imagine. Not because I’m someone special, I’m no more special than you are, but because these words serve as a bridge, a conduit, between God’s heart and the hearts of others. My purpose is to make the connection, be obedient to the nudge of the Spirit, and get out of the way.

There are always going to be those who seek to wield and control power over people. Sometimes that takes the guise of political power, or the power of money, or even the power of religion. The power of the Holy Spirit is greater than all of these. “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4, NASB95) But the Holy Spirit doesn’t play their games or invest in their power struggles. He’s not out to rule the world but to turn hearts in every tribe, tongue, and nation to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The power of the Holy Spirit is awesome. We are neither to control it for our own ends or fearfully avoid it but be a willing conduit and conductor of that power.  

The power of the Holy Spirit is awesome. We are neither to control it for our own ends or fearfully avoid it but be a willing conduit and conductor of that power.  

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Dale Heinold

Dale lives in central Illinois with Betty, his wife of nearly 40 years. He has a theology degree from Oral Roberts University. Dale works full time as an IT director for a local school district. He sees his writing as a ministry and hopes that you were blessed, challenged, and inspired by this article and lambchow.com.
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