Why do we need the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is one of the most misunderstood subjects in the Bible. Many people have this thought that the Holy Spirit is a force or a ghost type of mystical presence. However, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the trinity and often refers to Him as He. So like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is a person and has personality, a will and emotions.

The Holy Spirit can be especially confusing for the new believer. When speaking to a new Christian it is not uncommon for them to ask, “Why do I need the Holy Spirit when I already believe in Jesus?” We can answer this question by looking at the Bible and seeing a number of important roles that Holy Spirit plays in the life of the Christian. In this article I want to look at five of the major ones that are helpful for the new Christian to learn.

1. We need the Holy Spirit because Jesus promised to send another one like Him

In John chapters 15 and 16 we see that Jesus told the disciples that after He returned to the Father He would send another Counsellor (John 15:26, John 16:5-7). When Jesus said that He would send ‘another counsellor’, the word ‘another’ here means ‘another of the same kind’. Jesus was saying that all that He had been to them the Spirit would continue to be once he had returned to the Father. I believe it is important for us as Christians to understand this role of the Holy Spirit. While we trust Jesus for our salvation, it is the Holy Spirit who is our ever present help, comfort and counsellor today in the same way Jesus was to the disciples two thousand years ago.

2. We need the Holy Spirit because He teaches us and illuminates Scripture

The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit teaches us and reveals the truth of Scripture (John 14:26, 1 Corinthians 2:10-14). This teaching and revealing work of the Holy Spirit is often described as Illumination. Illumination does not concern the impartation of new knowledge, but a clarification of the text as it stands revealed and inspired by God. I believe that it is especially important for the new Christian to understand this teaching and illumination role of the Holy Spirit because the Bible makes it clear to understand the “deep things of God” we need the wisdom, teaching and illumination of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:6-16).

3. We need the Holy Spirit because He assures us we belong to God

The Bible tells us that as soon as we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ we are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). A seal is a symbol of a finished transaction, of ownership and of security. Because we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, we can be assured of our salvation. In Romans 8:16 we see that the Holy Spirit also testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children and Ephesians 4:30 assures us that we are sealed until the day of redemption. Understanding that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and assured of our salvation is very important for the new Christian, as they are often prone to doubts and uncertainty about the decision they have made.

4. We need the Holy Spirit because He makes us more Christ-like

The Bible tells us that as Christians we are being transformed into likeness of Christ by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). When a person becomes born again, he is sanctified or set apart for God. This happens only once, but sanctification is also a daily process for the rest of one’s life. To achieve this work the Holy Spirit indwells the believer (Romans 8:11) and works in their life to produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). I believe as Christians it important to realise that as we submit every area of our lives to the indwelling Holy Spirit, we allow Him to work in us to progressively reflect the character of Christ. This is what God intended for humankind when He originally created us.

5. We need the Holy Spirit because He equips us for service

The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit equips us for service with gifts and empowers us to be Christ’s witnesses (1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit equips us to serve God by imparting His gifts, directing our ministry and anointing us with His power. For the new Christian it is vital to understand that while we have been called to serve God and be Christ’s witnesses, we have not been called to do this alone. We have been equipped by the Holy Spirit with gifts to undertake God’s work and we are empowered with the Holy Spirit’s power to be Christ’s witnesses.


In this article I have listed five things that answer the question, “Why do I need the Holy Spirit when I already believe in Jesus?” These include we need the Holy Spirit because Jesus promised He would come, that we need Him to illuminate and help us to understand Scripture, to make us more Christ-like through the sanctification process and that the Holy Spirit equips us for service.  I also looked at how that Holy Spirit assures us we belong to God because He is God’s seal of ownership on us.

Being a true disciple of Christ

I have been thinking a lot about being a disciple lately and what it really means to follow Jesus. I decided to look up my Bible software and see how the New Testament describes followers as Jesus. I found that it used the term disciples 282 times, believers 26 times and Christians only 3 times. This got me thinking about the terms disciple, believer and Christian.

Being the Bible geek that I am, I decided to look up the Greek words used for disciple in the New Testament too. One is math-ay-tes this means learner or pupil. The other is math-ayt-yoo-o this talks about being a student or a pupil, but also a teacher too. It is about learning and also passing it on to others.

Today I want to have a look at what the Bible says about being a disciple and what things are expected from a true follower of Christ. Here are some of the things.

1. A true disciple is willing to follow the call to discipleship

When Jesus called the first disciples we see that He came and saw the fisherman by the lake in Mark 1:17-18. He simply said to them to, Come and follow Me. We see that they heard the call, received it and simply left everything to follow. He called them to be His followers or Disciples.

In New Testament times a disciple was someone who wanted to learn from another person. You could become a disciple of a Rabbi, a Craftsman or a Philosopher. The learner would attached themselves to the person and learn the particular skill. Often the pupil had to beg over a period of time to be the apprentice. If accepted, they would watch, learn, practice and eventually do it by themselves. When the skill was fully transferred they would go on their way.

This was very different to Jesus He chose His disciples, not the other way around! He turned the whole process upside down when He chose His disciples!

As we have seen, being a disciple was about connecting with someone else to learn their ways. This is how it was for the 12 disciples that Jesus called at the beginning of His public ministry. They stayed with Him for three and a half years. The watched, learnt and were sent out to do things themselves.

Being a disciple of Jesus is about committing to a way of life and of learning and growth. It goes past just believing in something, it is more about learning to follow and to heading in a new direction full steam ahead.

2. A true disciple wants to be part of God\’s plan for their life

The Bible tells us that God has a plan and purpose for each of our lives and a disciple of Christ knows and understands this. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10, For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. The NLT says, You are God\’s masterpiece. This verse tells us that God has a great plan and purpose for our lives. He has a destiny that He planned for us before the world was made.

Because of this plan He has created us with certain gifts and abilities so we can play our part in it. Just imagine that we could have been born at any time in history, but God chose for us to be born now. We are not here by chance and we are not living at this time in history with no purpose. God has a plan and purpose for each of us and it is a great one! When we deliberately seek out God’s plan for our life and play our part in it, we find ourselves being the most happy and fulfilled as we can be in this life. Finding and following God’s plan is a big part of being a true disciple.

3. A true disciple loves and accepts others like Christ did

In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. A true disciple should love God and love others.

It is interesting when we look at the life of Jesus, we see that He loved and cared for all types of people. Here are a few examples of the different groups of people Jesus spent time with. The Sadducees, Pharisees, Herodians, Romans, Zealots, Samaritans. Jesus also had followers who were women which was unheard of for religious leaders of His time. He welcomed children. Combine this with Jesus spending time with social outcasts of the day like tax collectors, prostitutes and lepers shows that Jesus was a Saviour for all people. He didn’t discriminate. He just genuinely loved and cared for people, no matter whom they were or what they had done.

Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Loving others the Jesus way means opening ourselves up to others and to want what is best for them. It means being willing to come along side them and help them if the need arises. It is interesting that it says people will know we belong to Christ because of the love we show to others. A true disciple loves people like Jesus did.

4. A true disciple shares their resources to help others

In this life we have a choice to spend our money how we please. We can choose to save it and spend it all on ourselves or we can see ourselves as stewards of God’s resources. One of the great examples we see from the early church in Acts 4:32-37. We see that the community of believers shared their possessions and sold some things so others would not go without the basics of life.

They understood what the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:10, Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. We should really look out for each other and not just see this life and my journey, but our journey together. A true disciple sees the world and its needs through God’s eyes and uses their resources accordingly. A true disciple knows to store up their treasures in heaven as it tells us in Matthew 6.

5. A true disciple helps others to follow Christ

In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus tells us to go and make disciples. This is the last words of Jesus before He returned to heaven. We are told to make Disciples, not Christians. As we saw earlier a disciple who is someone who is committed to a journey of learning, service and growth. We are called to help others start the journey of faith and life in Christ to be disciples.

A true disciple knows how great it is to know, love and serve Christ and they want to help others to follow Him too. For me personally, the day I became a Christian is the greatest day of my life. Knowing Jesus personally and asking Him into my life was a true turning point for me. My life was good, but I lacked a sense of purpose or real meaning. Now my life is full of hope, purpose and meaning and I want to share this with others. I also want to share the great love Jesus has for others too.

6. True disciples are known by Jesus and do the Father’s will

In Matthew 7:21-23 there is a section titled, “True disciples” in the NLT Bible. It says, “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, “Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.” But I will reply, “I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.”

As I read this section of Scripture two things spring to mind. The first is that being a true follower of Jesus is about being obedient to the Father’s will. Secondly, being a true follower of Jesus is about relationship. Jesus’ words “I never knew you” shows us that it is possible to do good works and not be in relationship with Him. I can have an intellectual knowledge of God and copy what other ministers do and get good results, but a personal relationship might not exist. True disciples are obedient to the Father’s will and are in an ongoing personal relationship with the Son.


As true disciples of Jesus Christ our heart attitude should be that of a humble servant who loves God and loves others. They should try their very best to live their lives in the same way that Christ lived His. A true disciple should try to live out Jesus’ teachings in a way that blesses others and gives them a chance to follow Jesus themselves. And finally a true disciple is known by Jesus and is obedient to the Father’s will.

Help with understanding the Trinity

One of the most confusing things I found when I first became a Christian was the concept of the Trinity. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around the concept. People often used analogies of water being in the form of ice, water and steam or things like an apple – the core, the flesh and the skin.

While these helped in some ways, it wasn’t until I went to Bible college and we spent a whole lecture on the topic that it fell into place. One of the most useful resources we looked at was this diagram. It explained the concept one God in three persons.

The key thought of the Trinity is one God in three persons – Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Three distinct persons, but they are one in love, one in purpose, one in unity, one in relationship and so on. All are equal members of the Godhead and all are eternal.

The diagram above shows that God or the Godhead is actually the sum total of the three persons. You can see that it shows Father, Son and Holy Spirit as the three members of the Trinity. Then it says the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. But they are all God.

This helps us to understand that when Jesus left heaven to live in the world that He was able to pray to the Father in heaven. Likewise when Jesus returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit, was able to come and be our comforter and helper.

I hope this helps you in understanding the Trinity.


Five principles of Christian leadership

Leadership gurus describe leadership as being “influence, nothing more, nothing less”. In some ways this is true. However, I believe there is more to Christian leadership. Christian leaders are people who are moved at God’s pace and in God’s time to God’s place. Christian Leadership is about taking a central role in taking people further into God’s plans and purposes and encouraging others into a deeper relationship and understanding of God.

Over the years I have read a number of leadership books and seen some of these principles in practice. Some have been good and some not so good. In this article I want share the five of the most important things I believe Christian leaders should do and be, to be the most successful leaders they can be.

1. Christian leaders need to cultivate an intimate relationship with God

The first and most important thing Christian leaders need to do is develop and strong and intimate relationship with God. In an article by Gordon MacDonald he says, “the forming of the soul that it might be a dwelling place for God is the primary work of the Christian leader”. Developing this intimate relationship with God through daily prayer and reflective Bible study is vital if Christian leaders are going to be all they can be in God.

We see that Jesus modelled this drawing away to a solitary place to connect with His heavenly Father in prayer. In Mark 1:35 we see that He did this alone and in Mark 6:35 he called the disciples to draw away from the pressing crowds. As Christian leaders we need to follow Jesus example to make sure we come aside from the business of life and ministry to make our connection with the Father. As we do, we find that our relationship with God grows and we allow Him to speak to us. We can also learn from Scripture and receive guidance on how He wants us to lead the people we are overseeing. I believe this time alone with God is vital for our growth, seeking direction and for our long term survival of the pressures of ministry brings.

2. Christian leaders need to have a servant heart

The second thing Christian leaders need to have is a servant heart. In 1 Peter 4:10 the Bible says that “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms”. At the heart of this verse is being called to serve and we are to use what God has given us for the benefit of others.

In Matthew chapter 20 we see the disciples we having a discussion on who was the greatest amongst them. Jesus enters the conversation in verses 26 and 27 and says, “…Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave”. In this short statement Jesus turned their views of leadership and greatness completely upside down. The Gentile rulers of the day lorded their power and authority over the people and treated them harshly. Jesus told His followers they need to live different and that greatness comes not from being served, but by being a servant to others.

3. Christian leaders need to be shepherds of God’s people

I believe as Christian leaders one of our prime objectives should be to love and care for people under our ministry. The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:2 that Christian leaders should, “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly – not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God”. This verse tells those in leadership to watch over those in their care like a shepherd watches over his flock.

In John chapter 10 Jesus talks about the role a shepherd plays in caring for his sheep. He says that they provide food, water and protection and if one strays the shepherd goes out to look for the lost sheep and brings it back to pasture. As a result of this care and protection the sheep trust and listen to the shepherd’s voice. Our heartbeat as Christian leaders should be to provide love, care and a safe place where people can grow in their faith and service to God.

4. Christian leaders need to live with character and integrity

One of the keys to successful long Christian leadership is the desire to live with character and integrity. In 1 Timothy 3:8-12 and Titus 1:5-9 it lists 24 characteristics that should be seen in Christian leadership. Some of these include being of good behaviour, not greedy for money, not given to excessive drinking, not quick tempered, but being self controlled, a responsible steward, one that holds fast to the Word of God and has a good reputation outside the church. It tells us that these qualities should be evident in the lives of those who are called to Christian leadership. In saying this though, it does not say that one has to be perfect to be in Christian leadership. That is not possible as we are all human and fall short at times. However, it is saying that these things must be evident most of the time.

I firmly believe that as Christian leaders we need to have this same commitment to living with character and integrity the Bible talks about. We need to have a good testimony both in and outside the church and before God and man. Billy Graham put it perfectly when he said “If I were ever to do anything dishonouring to Christ, I would rather He take me home to heaven before I did it”.

5. Christian leaders need to be committed to making disciples

The last words of Christ before returning to heaven are recorded in Matthew chapter 28:19-20. It says, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you”. This verse is a clear command to reach people with the love and saving message of Jesus and to teach them how to follow Jesus and His teachings.

As Christian leaders I believe the core of what we do is to love God, love people and to make disciples. We need to focus our energies on loving and bringing people into the Kingdom and teaching them how to continue to grow in their faith and service of God. The early church understood this and as a result many thousands of people came to faith in a short time. In Acts chapter 2:42 we see that, “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer”. In committing themselves to these things, the early church members were able to grow to maturity and be sent out in their community to reach others for Christ.


In this article I have shared the things that I believe are vital for those in Christian leadership. I believe that the foundation of Christian leadership is the forming an intimate relationship with God by regular prayer and disciplined Bible study. As we do these things we will grow and change and are able to start to see the world through God’s eyes. This then allows us to move out into the world with a servant heart and the attitude of a shepherd to love and care for those entrusted to us. As we do these things we need to live with an attitude of integrity and humility before God, while resolutely playing our part in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Practical tips for lay preachers

Years ago when I first started preaching as a Lay Preacher it used to be like a big build up to a huge performance or sporting event. Usually it was every three months or so.

I would get the date, start to pray about it, look at some Scriptures, pray some more, prayerfully chose a topic, change my mind, pray some more, get stressed out, pray some more, decide on a message, then change it three days before!

All the while I would not feel worthy to preach God’s Word or feel qualified to do it! I really carried a lot of stress and when it was over I felt drained. Sometimes I even became depressed depending on the feedback.

When I did Bible college I found that a lot of other Lay Preachers did the same thing I did. There was a fairly common process and not many people felt worthy to preach God’s Word. Even some of the lecturers felt that way!

Through the lessons I learnt at college and experience over the years I have developed a few things I try to do which have helped. Here are a few…

1. I seek God

I pray for the first few weeks. This gives me a chance to seek God and ask what He wants me to bring. I don’t do any preparation in this time. I wait for God to speak or lead me in a certain direction. After all it is God\’s church and God\’s pulpit, so I make sure I prayerfully seek God and His message.

2. I start to write down some thoughts

Once I start to get some ideas from I jot them down on a piece of paper. It might be a topic or an idea. If it is a passage of Scripture, I print it out in big font and start. In this part of the process I ask questions of the text, write any background information that is helpful and see if there are any natural breaks in the text that can have headings attached to them. I find this part of the process really interesting as I often learn a lot during it.

3. I commit to the text and don\’t change it

Once things start to take shape I make a definite decision that this is the text I am going to speak on. I then commit the message and points to God and ask Him to use me to speak to people through me. By this point there is no chance of changing the passage of Scripture or topic. I have found this has taken a lot of the stress out of being a lay preacher. To be honest it really helped when I was a Pastor too.

4. I pray for myself

Next I pray for myself. Preaching as a Lay Preacher every few months can be pretty stressful at times. You want to use God’s Word correctly and do your best. You also want to be a blessing to others. So I pray God would help me to prepare and keep my emotions in check – before, during and afterwards. I also pray for protection as preaching is a spiritual exercise and I need protection and covering from God.

5. I practice the message.

Once my message is complete I give it a run through to see how it flows. I do this at a pulpit and imagine that I am preaching to a group of people. After this run through you might make some minor adjustments. This is to make it flow more smoothly if I noticed something. I also like to know how long it will take. I have found that I preach at about 100 words per minute. So 2000 words for me is about 20 minutes. One Pastor I know records his practice version and listens back to it in his car on the way to church. This helps it to be fresh in his mind.

6. I walk away and leave it

I put it down and leave it. Once the minor adjustments are done I put it down and leave it as it is. I just wait for the day to preach it. I am someone who usually prepares early. So I may have it ready a couple of weeks before and just leave it as is. I may re-read it the day before and practice it again.

7. I accept there will be feedback.

Everyone wants positive feedback, but sometimes you push people’s buttons and they might say things that actually hurt or throw you. And of course not everyone holds the same position on Theology. I ask God to shield me from the wrong negative feedback and filter what it correct. I ask for any incorrect feedback to be like water off a ducks back.

8. Finally I reward myself.

If I have preached in church or at another event I have done a very good thing. Regardless of how I think I have done, I thank God for the opportunity and I do something nice for myself. It might be a long slow walk through the bush trails near my house with an iced coffee or having a nice afternoon nap afterwards. I find this is a good part of closing the loop on each message.


Being a Lay Preacher is a great thing to do, it really is a privilege. But is also has a up and down cycle to it for many people. I hope some of these things may help you if you are new to preaching as a Lay Preacher.