PASSING THE TORCH
By: Frank Tunstall, D. Min.
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth (John 14:15-17).
It is highly probable the disciples’ knowledge of the ministry of the Holy Spirit was minimal if not zero when Jesus selected them as His disciples. They had to be taught about the work of the Spirit. Jesus-the-master-teacher was their teacher. The greater part of His recorded instruction came during Passion Week, and particularly at the Last Supper.
Since this was true with the disciples, shouldn’t it be true in the Lord’s church today?
- How many parishioners hear sermons regularly about the ministry of the Holy Spirit?
- If a survey were done, what percentage of believers are witnessing the work of the Holy Spirit in action?
- If the survey included our young people, are we raising up a generation who are witnesses of the work of the Spirit both in their church and in the streets of life?
- We have no data to answer these questions, but they certainly should make us think, and pray.
When I was a pastor I admit with deep regret and even shame, I did not give nearly enough attention to teaching my congregation about the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit. I have had to do some heavy repenting.
How about you? Do you need to join me in repentance?
Jesus had to transition from being with the disciples bodily around the clock, to His departure and replacement by the Holy Spirit. It meant Jesus’ disciples had to receive instruction about the Holy Spirit’s ministry, and the Lord Himself did the teaching.
What does that say about the necessity for us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps as pastor-teachers?
It is important to understand the primary curriculum of the Holy Spirit is to teach people about Jesus Christ. A person’s last words before his death are always his most important. The fact that Jesus spent His final hours teaching His disciples about the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit tells us how important the work of the Holy Spirit would be after the Lord went back to heaven.
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:15-18).
The love Jesus was calling for here was agape, and it embraced doing what is best for another person as only God knows what is best. In this passage Jesus was calling on His disciples to do what was best for Him, and for them. They were to obey Jesus’ command and give Him a heartfelt farewell to go back to His Father. But they would not be left alone because Jesus would ask His Father to “give them another Counselor, the Holy Spirit,” and the Spirit would be with them “forever.”
Jesus was such a master teacher, and here He shows the leadership principle of impartation. The Holy Spirit would be Jesus’ gift to His apostles and to their successors. The revelation of the ministry of the Holy Spirit was just this indispensable in the mind of God. The substantial number of Old Testament prophecies had to be fulfilled leading up to Jesus’ prophecy of the gift of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the power source who provided the communication system that has held the Lord’s Church together in every generation, and motivated and empowered its growth worldwide. The Spirit made it happen, giving all the honor to Jesus who died on the cross to make it possible for the church to be born.
Pastors and spiritual leaders need clear understanding of their responsibility to follow Jesus’ example of impartation that began with His disciples. Impartation includes recognizing budding spiritual leaders the Holy Spirit is raising up in the church, and mentoring them like Moses did with Joshua, and Paul did with Timothy, for two examples.
Dear pastor, do you know who the Holy Spirit is giving to your church to serve the next generation? Are you their mentor? And are your spiritual leaders of tomorrow already personally walking in the Spirit? (Galatians 5:16).
Come Holy Spirit, I need Thee.
Come sweet Spirit, I pray.
Come in Thy strength and Thy power.
Come in Thine own gentle way.
By: Gloria Gaither, William Gaither