The Holy Spirit in Pastoral Ministry

The Holy Spirit is fully God as the third person of the Trinity (Acts 5:4).  The Spirit is not an impersonal force, but is as personal as the Father and the Son.  The Holy Spirit teaches Christ’s disciples, glorifies Christ, regenerates sinners to new life, intercedes on behalf of Christians in prayer, and inspired the authors of Scripture to write his God-breathed oracles (Rom 8:27).  The Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son to take out the heart of stone from dead sinners and give them new life through the preaching of the gospel.  He convicts sinners of their sins and gives new life through regeneration.  The Spirit makes Christ known through the gospel and seeks to glorify him.  The Spirit empowers believers to live the Christian life and gives gifts to believers so that they can serve God and each other (1 Cor 12:11).  The Spirit purifies Christians and progressively conforms them to the image of Christ in sanctification (2 Cor 3:18).  He unites believers together, guides them, gives assurance of salvation, and teaches them.  The Holy Spirit is the agent by which the Father and the Son carry out their work in the world.

Because only the Spirit can give new life, pastors must rely completely on the power of the Spirit to give life to the unregenerate sinners that they preach to.  The preacher can do nothing without the working of the Holy Spirit.  If the Spirit does not convict sinners and fall down upon the congregation when the Word is preached, then all is in vain.  The Christian leader must recognize his own helplessness to bring new life to those who are dead in their sins.  Only the Spirit can give new life as the gospel is preached.  Because of this, the pastor does not need to change the gospel to make it attractive to dead sinners.  The gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Cor 1:18).  It is only when the Spirit takes away the veil that they can see (2 Cor 3:16).  The pastor must therefore pray that the Spirit would work to convict sinners when the Word is preached.  This cultivates humility, dependence, and boldness.  The pastor should ask God for confidence when preaching because God will honor the preaching of the Word and it will not return void without accomplishing God’s purposes (Isa 55:11).

Christian leaders can have confidence in prayer since the Spirit intercedes for them in their prayers.  Even if the pastor does not feel adequate to intercede for his congregation, the Spirit will equip him to pray if he comes to God in faith asking for God’s power and help in his ministry.  This is a great encouragement to pray and to have endurance in the face of trials.  When facing difficult decisions, the pastor knows that God has promised to be faithful to his people and will support them in the midst of their difficulties.  Christian leaders should therefore seek the power, conviction, boldness, and encouragement that only the Spirit of God can give through prayer.

Just as the Spirit seeks to give glory to Christ through making him known, the Christian leader should imitate the Spirit by seeking to glorify Christ in all that he does (John 16:14).  The pastor must seek first Christ’s glory in all things and find ways to make him known to those who have never heard.  The convicting work of the Holy Spirit should be a motivation to share the gospel with unbelievers because the pastor knows that the Holy Spirit will be with him as he shares the gospel.  He does not have to rely on his own wisdom or cleverness when presenting the message because it is only through the gospel that people are saved.  If the pastor preaches any other message beside that of Scripture, the Spirit will not work because it is only through the Word that the Spirit gives new life to sinners (1 Pet 1:23).  Because the Spirit has united all Christians together in one body, the Christian leader should strive for the unity of the church (Eph 4:4-5).  Each member has been given a gift from the Holy Spirit to serve the church (1 Cor 12:7).  The pastor therefore needs to exercise the gifts that he has been given to the fullest extent that he is able and encourage others to use their gifts.

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