The Witness of the Holy Spirit
In October, 1735, John and Charles Wesley took a ship from England to travel to the state of Georgia as missionaries. During their third month at sea their ship, the Simonds, was caught in a terrible storm. At one point the sea broke over the ship, split the main-sail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks. A terrible screaming began among the English, but the Moravian Christians on board calmly sang hymns and prayed.
The behavior of the Moravians so impressed John Wesley that he approached a Mr. Spangenberg, one of the Moravian pastors, and questioned him about the serenity of his people. "In reply the pastor said, `My brother, I must first ask you one or two questions. Have you the witness within yourself? Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?'"
Numbed by the question, Wesley remained silent. "Then Spangenberg had another question. "Do you know Jesus Christ?' `I know that He is the Saviour of the world,' replied John after a pause. `True,' replied the German. `But do you know that he has saved you?' . . . Finally, John Wesley gulped, `I hope . . . He . . . died to save me.' But his words had a doubtful ring in them." The above was taken from the book "Susanna Wesley", by Charles Ludwig, pgs. 170-72.
John Wesley eventually received the assurance of his salvation, and the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. If he were here today you might hear him ask, "Does the Spirit bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?" If he did what would your response be?
The Witness Of The Spirit Is The Conviction Of Our Conscience
God, through the Holy Spirit, is constantly trying to communicate to us. He has given us His Word, the Bible, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19-21). It is the Holy Spirit that teaches us the truth the Bible contains (John 16:13), and it is the Spirit that brings the truth we have learned to our memories (John 14:26). The Bible is the standard by which all spiritual communication and experience is to be tested (1 John 4:1; Isaiah 8:20; 1 Corinthians 14:32; Acts 17:11).
The Holy Spirit also communicates to us by the conviction of our
conscience (Romans 9:1)</B>. God has given some light to every person (John 1:9),
and He has also given every person a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). Even in nature God's
voice is heard and impressions are made on our conscience (Psalm 19:1-4 & Romans
1:20). "For when Gentiles (people who are not Jews), who do not have the law, by
nature do the things contained in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law
to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also
bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing
them." Romans 2:14-15.
"Conscience is the voice of God, heard amid the conflict of human passions; when it is resisted, the Spirit of God is grieved." Testimonies to the Church, vol. 5, pg. 120.
A person may safely follow their conscience, their convictions, if
their conscience has been educated by the Bible. Sometimes people sincerely believe
something is right, but their sincerity does not make it right if the Bible says it is
"Truth, Bible truth, is to become the authority for the conscience and the love and life of the soul." Evangelism, pg. 542.
Three Steps Of The Holy Spirit's Work
"And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin. . ." John 16:8. The sense of guilt we feel from a violated conscience when we have sinned is the Holy Spirit seeking to correct us as a loving Father would do (Hebrews 12:5-11).
The law of God, the ten commandments, defines sin (1 John 3:4) both in principle and in action. God's law witnesses, or testifies to us, and tells us when we have sinned. In fact, the ten commandments are referred to as the "testimony" (Exodus 31:18). As we come into contact with the law of God, and the rest of the Bible (Matthew 4:4), the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin (Romans 3:20, 4:15, 5:13, 7:7), and thus we are lovingly led to confess our sins and turn away from them.
When a person is convicted of their sins and feels bad because of their past life, and the evil tendencies of the present, this is proof that Satan's delusions are being broken by the power of the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-31 & Zechariah 12:10), even if they have never heard of Jesus (Acts 19:1-6). If you are aware of the fact that you are a sinner and feel the need to be forgiven and changed this is proof that the Holy Spirit is working on your heart.
To turn from the conviction of your sins is a dangerous thing to do because this is what the Bible calls grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). If a person continually refuses to listen to the Spirit's voice the Bible says their heart has become hard, or unimpressible like the Egyptian Pharaoh who would not listen to God's voice until great calamities had taken place (Exodus 7:13).
Is your conscience at rest, or do you know yourself to be a sinner in
violation of God's law? If you want the peace of sins forgiven just turn to Jesus in
prayer and ask Him to forgive all your sins. The Bible promises, "If we confess our
sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9.
"And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness. . ." John 16:8. The Holy Spirit will not convict us of our righteousness, or goodness, for we have none according to the Bible. "There is none righteous, no not one." Romans 3:10. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." 1 John 1:8.
Not only are we not righteous, but we do not even have the power to be good (Jeremiah 13:23, and even the good works we try to do are considered no better than filthy rags in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6). No wonder the Bible says, "Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight." Romans 3:20.
No, we are not righteous, but Jesus is (1 John 2:1), and it is His righteousness that the Holy Spirit convicts us of when we confess our sins to God. Because Jesus died on the cross He paid the price for our disobedience, our sins. Now He offers forgiveness, eternal life, and a new life as a free gift to all who will accept Him as their Saviour and Lord (John 3:16 & 1 Corinthians 1:30).
If you have accepted Jesus as your Saviour you may now confidently say that you have eternal life, and that you are a child of God (Romans 8:16) by the authority of the Bible. As you believe the promises of salvation in Jesus such as John 3:16, the Holy Spirit witnesses, convicts you, of the fact. He bears witness with your spirit, (the spirit of a person is their conscience as 1 Corinthians 2:11, and Romans 9:1 show), that you are a child of God. When we choose to believe the promises of God that we have life in Jesus as we accept Him as our Saviour, the Bible says we have life and the inner witness, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, that this is so (1 John 5:9-13).
When I get to heaven I will not boast of my good works that obtained me so great a salvation, but I will honor and praise the name of Jesus alone saying, "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power." Revelation 4:10-11. When I see those nail-scarred hands reaching out to place the crown of life upon my head my whole being will cry out, "Worthy is the Lam!" There has never been, is not now, and never shall be any human deed that can pay for eternal life. I could never hope to repay a human life were it to be laid down for my salvation let alone the life of the Son of God.
How much is His blood worth?
"And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." John 16:8. The Bible teaches us that the judgment is now taking place in heaven (Revelation 14:7). Soon the judgment will be over and the case of every person will be eternally decided (Revelation 22:11). The Holy Spirit wants to convict us of the shortness of time and the urgency of the hour, but the word "judgment" both in Hebrew and Greek can also mean deliverance.
In the Old Testament a "judge" was not just a person who made decisions in cases brought to court, but he was also the one who delivered the people of God from their enemies. The book of Judges is full of stories of men and women who delivered Israel through the power of God. It is also God's will that you be delivered from your bondage to sin.
In John 16:11 it is not we who are judged, but "the ruler of this world", who is Satan, or the devil (John 12:31 & 14:30). Satan and his power is to be broken in your life. When we invite Jesus into our life He comes into us (Revelation 3:20) through the Holy Spirit and begins to cleanse us, with our consent, from all our sins. He gives us new attitudes and desires (Ezekiel 36:25-27), takes away our lusts (Galatians 5:16), and fills us with the good character traits of Jesus (Galatians 5:22-23).
"It is through the mighty agency of the Holy Spirit that the government of Satan is to be subdued and subjected. It is the Holy Spirit that convinces of sin and expels it from the soul by the consent of the human agent. . . Through the merits of Christ men may be able to exercise the noblest powers of his being and expel sin from his soul." My Life Today, pg. 43.