K Neill Foster

Making Jesus Real

a series of essays on the Spirit-filled life
by Del McKenzie

The filling of the Holy Spirit seems to be the ultimate relationship that we can have with God while still in this life. It is a relationship with a Person that takes it beyond an event or experience. What makes it unique among relationships is that He is a divine Person. God is filling us with Himself. That relationship is possible and available for every human who has become a child of God by faith in Jesus Christ and thus been born of the Spirit. It has a beginning point and a relationship that can be developed more fully than anyone has yet discovered.

It is helpful to have a clear biblical picture of what the Holy Spirit wants to do in the life of the person He fills. What can we expect or anticipate that He will do in, for and through us? Perhaps an even greater question is, "What can and should we trust Him to do?" If all of God's working is by grace in response to faith it is imperative that we trust the Holy Spirit to minister in our lives out of His filling.

The Bible gives numerous, clearly stated, ministries of the Holy Spirit, fulfilled most completely in and through the people He fills. Where to start is difficult to determine because they are all important. There appears to be a sequential factor but there are also many that are simultaneous. This article will start with His ministry of making Jesus real because it is foundational to all He does and because it is at the core of the biblical message and at the heart of the gospel.

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would take from what was His and make it known to the disciples. He makes that statement twice in John 16:14-15. Jesus becomes real by the work of the Holy Spirit in a person's life. The things of Jesus become real in the same way. When Jesus becomes real to a person there is a following of Him in faith, surrender and worship. To really comprehend who Jesus is results in people giving themselves to Him. This is crucial because of who Jesus Christ is. He is the unique God-Man. And "unique" is used in its best and original sense: one of a kind with no other like it. Common usage today equates it with unusual when something is said to be "very unique." No, it is unique or not unique. Jesus is the only Person who is both fully God and fully man. That allows Him to be the one and only Mediator between God and man. When these and other facts about Him become real to a person all of life is changed. We cannot go on living as if this world was the ultimate reality and the end of all things.

The Holy Spirit will bring our focus increasingly to Jesus. He will bring glory to Jesus because of who Jesus is. The Holy Spirit will not glorify Himself because all the fullness of Deity in bodily form does not reside in Him, it resides in Christ (Colossians 2:9). It is Christ who is the hope of glory. The Holy Spirit will not glorify the church but will see to it that Christ is glorified as head of the church and the savior of the body. There are some specific statements made by Jesus in John 16:12-16:

  • The Holy Spirit will guide into all truth
  • He will speak only what He hears
  • He will bring glory to Jesus, by taking what is His (Jesus) and making it known
  • All that belongs to the Father also belongs to Jesus
  • He will take what is belongs to Jesus and make it known

Nothing beyond what Jesus revealed either by Himself or through His inspired writers will come from the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the foundation of all revelation and truth and no other foundations can be laid by man or will be laid by the Holy Spirit. We can expect the Holy Spirit to exalt Jesus when we are filled by Him. We can expect Him to draw us to Jesus and lead us into loving our Savior and Lord. Jesus will become increasingly real to us and the reality of who He is, what He has done and what He is doing will grip our hearts with a passion to know Him, love Him, become like Him and make our lives count for His glory.

Without this revealing of Jesus there can be no salvation. He is the way, the truth and the life and without Him no one comes to the Father. People who are not saved are still in their lost condition because Jesus has not become real to them. Conversion happens when a person is turned from trusting something or someone else and throws himself in repentance and trust on Jesus. That does not happen without the work of the Holy Spirit. Without this revealing of Jesus there can be no sanctification. Jesus is made unto us sanctification. It is in Him that we are set apart from sin and to God. The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus as our Sanctifier. Without Jesus there is no divine healing. It was He who took up our sicknesses on the cross. The Holy Spirit makes those healing stripes real. Without Jesus there is no coming kingdom of righteousness and glory. He is the coming King and the Holy Spirit will reveal that truth to us.

Through His ministry the Holy Spirit can make Jesus more real than any other person we have ever come to know. His presence can become a constant, amazing reality to us.

We are now faced with the question of how the Holy Spirit does this work of grace. Jesus said that someone was coming who would have the authority and ability to make Him known. This has happened for many people down through the centuries but many more have missed it, even many in our churches. One of the reasons is that it has been pursued with the intellect only and not the Holy Spirit. A. W. Tozer writes that "it is possible to read your New Testament and still never find the living Christ in it. You may be convinced that He is the Son of God and still never find Him as the living Person He is. Jesus Christ must be revealed by the Holy Spirit – no man knows the things of God but by the Spirit of God." There is a difference between the intellectual knowledge of God and the heart knowledge of Him. Spiritual truths cannot be intellectually perceived. Paul wrote that we know Christ no longer after the flesh, that is, with mere human abilities. We can know Christ only as the Holy Spirit reveals Him to us.

God said through Isaiah that His ways and thoughts are as much higher than ours as the heavens are higher than the earth. That great gap is bridged by the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote that no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God and that we have received the Spirit who is from God so that we may understand what God has freely given us. The mind is important and may be the first entry gate of God into our lives but if we stop Him there we will not know Jesus in a personal, living way. Paul also said that his message and preaching were not with wise and persuasive words but with the demonstration of the Spirit's power so that the people's faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. Just as we don't see with the ear or hear with the eye, neither do we find Jesus with the mind. It is by the ministry of the Holy Spirit to our heart that Jesus is seen in His beauty and power. Tozer also said that "a revelation of the Holy Spirit in one glorious flash of inward illumination would teach you more of Jesus than five years of theological seminary. But that final flash that introduces your heart to Jesus must be by the illumination of the Holy Spirit Himself, or it isn't done at all."

That initial revelation of Jesus that produces eternal life in us is to be followed by a filling of the Holy Spirit that makes Jesus increasingly real and attractive. We can expect that of the Holy Spirit when He keeps filling us. We can pray with the poet, "More about Jesus let me learn, more of His holy will discern; Spirit of God, my teacher be, showing the things of Christ to me." There is to be growth in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That growth in the knowledge of Jesus is a ministry of the Holy Spirit. It doesn't happen by Bible study in itself. Growth in the knowledge of Christ happens when the Holy Spirit is revealing the Jesus of the Bible to our hearts and we are bowing in adoration before the Son of God.

How real is Jesus to you? Does He captivate your heart and mind? Does His work on the cross thrill your heart and draw you to your knees in wonder and awe? It is the desire and delight of the Holy Spirit to do that for us. When we are filled with the Spirit we can ask and expect Him to do that and, more than we can ever ask or imagine. May this supernatural work of the Holy Spirit mark our lives.