Sabbath School Lesson for January 28-February 3, 2017

The emphasis in our study so far has been on who the Holy Spirit is. We’ve seen that He deserves our love and devotion for the Holy Person He is, fully equal with the other members of the godhead.

It’s necessary for us now to begin a closer examination of what the Holy Spirit does. If He is divine, there will, no doubt, be many imitators and misconceptions about His work, and we must attempt to understand His activities as much as possible, in order not to be deceived by a counterfeit.

Many questions come to mind when considering the topic this week?

  • What does it mean to be baptized with water and fire? What do these symbols represent? And why do we ALL need both of them?
  • How does the Holy Spirit fill our lives? What part do faith and obedience play in this process of transformation?
  • Can we have more of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives, and would this be something we can safely pray for?

The answers, as you might expect, are varied among Christians. So, we really need to study God’s word this week and get some valid, reliable answers.

Memory Verse: ” ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ “ John 10:10 NIV

Who doesn’t want to have a full, abundant life? Most people assume having a large monetary income would give us an abundant life. But a quick look at those who are financially blessed reveals that they don’t always have a pristine, trouble-free existence either.

Neither can fame or power bring the kind of satisfaction we need. Many, with all the world offers–money, possessions, education, power, fame, talent–still find life empty, lonely, and unfulfilling.

So, there must be something else. Only when we look to God and become revitalized (reborn) by the Holy Spirit, from the inside out, can we find the kind of full life offered in this verse.

Sunday: The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

We find the baptism of the Holy Spirit only mentioned seven times in Scripture, in the New Testament. John was the only Gospel writer who didn’t write about it in the future tense.

John’s references seem to give baptism of the Spirit a continuing validity. This does seem to support the recommendation for us to seek God and surrender to Him daily for our spiritual blessings. Jesus prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 15:31, “I die daily.”

We gather also from these seven passages that our water baptism and our spirit baptism belong together. And that they are evident throughout the lifetime of a Christian.

  • Water baptism signals a new birth and publicly identifies us with Christ. These are emblems of an inside work on our heart. (Both our initial baptism by immersion, and the emblem of footwashing before communion provide us with reminders of this water symbolism.)
  • Spirit baptism gives us the power to live according to God’s will and to spread the good news about Him to others. This transformation immediately begins to be noticed by those around us. (Just as the “tongues of fire”, also symbols of the Holy Spirit, signaled the beginning work of the disciples at Pentecost.)

Therefore, we can easily see that both water and the Spirit baptism are needed, in order for our Christian lives to be all they can be; not just for our blessing, but so we can, in turn, bless others.

Discussion Questions: Read Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33. All these verses talk about Jesus’ baptism. What was John the Baptist saying about this event? What baptism of the Spirit was he referring to? Wasn’t the Holy Spirit also involved with John’s work of baptizing so many in the Jordan River? In what way?

Read John 7:39, Acts 1:5, and 11:16. Didn’t the disciples have the Holy Spirit also while Jesus was alive? When was Jesus glorified and what did this indicate about the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Read 1 Corinthians 12:13. Are some Christians more blessed with the Holy Spirit than others? What kind of ramifications would there be if some were blessed more? What kind of unity is God looking for in His people, and how will it be achieved?

Monday: Being Filled With the Holy Spirit

Now, concerning being filled with the Holy Spirit. Once we belong to Jesus, we should, through the Holy Spirit, begin to live for Jesus. He fills us for this transformation, as soon as we give Him permission to do so.

After baptism, we are full, when it comes to the Holy Spirit. He begins to work as much as we allow Him, in the greatest way possible in our personal life.

Many of us may have prayed in the past to have more of the Holy Spirit, but in actuality His presence is already working full-time for our salvation. What is needed more is OUR commitment and surrender, so His infilling will have the greatest impact on who we are and how we bless others.

It’s dangerous also to think of even HAVING the Holy Spirit, because in actuality, He needs to have US. When we cease to think of Him as a Holy Person, and only as a power or gift we utilize to do more, even if it’s more for the church and community, we lose much of what God has to offer.

Only when we surrender all areas of our life to God, can the Spirit use us. This is not to say that we are instantly made perfect; we all tend to stray at times. But the overall trend of our transformation can only continue and be seen in our life when we daily commit ourselves to Him.

Discussion Questions: Read Ephesians 5:18 and Romans 8:9. Why are we either filled with the Spirit or not, in the same way as you are either drunk or you’re not drunk?

Read Acts 13:52. How could Paul and Barnabas be joyful after just being persecuted and kicked out of Antioch? Why is there joy when you are filled with the Spirit? How would you describe this joy?

Ellen White says, “Every individual who receives Jesus as his personal Saviour, just as surely receives the Holy Spirit to be his Counselor, Sanctifier, Guide, and Witness.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, p. 71. Can you think of any person on this earth who can fulfill all these roles for us? What other roles might there be, as each of us experience the Holy Spirit diffeently? How does this magnify our need for the Holy Spirit to be invited into our hearts every day?

Tuesday: Conditions, Part 1 (faith)

As we’ve heard, God is the Potter; we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8). We were formed in the beginning “from the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7). Just as the condition of the soil determines the potential growth of the seed, the condition of our heart determines the ability of the Holy Spirit to mold us in His image.

The first condition of our heart must be that it be found faithful. This only happens on the heels of an experience of true repentance for our sins.

Only when we see our sin as rebellion against the Creator, can we be touched with the love of God enough to aspire to be the true and faithful disciple that the Holy Spirit can grow to maturity.

Discussion Questions: Read Acts 2:37, 38. Is repentance something you do in order to be saved? Why is it not considered a works-oriented activity?

Read Galatians 3:14 and James 1:6-8. Why is faith so essential to the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives?

Read Luke 11:5-10, 13 and 1 Corinthians 12:11. Although the Spirit gives gifts according to His will, what benefits can we derive from asking for something specific? For what kind of gift was the man asking his friend in the middle of the night? Was it something for himself or someone else? How does intercessory prayer (praying for others) affect us, as well as the receiver of the gifts? How willing is the Holy Spirit to answer those prayers?

Wednesday: Conditions, Part 2 (obedience)

After we repent (see our sins, ask forgiveness for them, and submit to God), our faith becomes evident in our lives. But this faith and transformation is not only felt by us. Those around us are able to see the fruits of obedience that indicate that the Holy Spirit is working on our hearts.

As we turn to God, the things of the world do not hold the same attraction for us. This process, which happens differently for every believer because we all sin differently, must be in operation if we are to be continuously blessed by the Holy Spirit.

Signs of obedience will be noticed and must be evident for the Holy Spirit to work out our salvation. Love for God will be the driving force that compels us to obedient behavior though. No one likes to disappoint someone they love.

We aren’t obedient so we can go to heaven, so others will think more of us, or because it’s just a more trouble-free way to live (it keeps us out of jail). We do it because we love our Creator, and He expects our service in His efforts to save the world.

It’s this kind of loving obedience that enables the Holy Spirit to work fully in giving us the daily, spiritual blessings we need.

Discussion Questions: Read Acts 5:32, John 14:23, Luke 6:46, and 1 John 3:24. Why is obedience, based on love, the only kind of obedience the Holy Spirit can recognize, even though all the verses don’t mention love? Is commandment-keeping necessary, even though all the verses don’t mention the commandments? What commandments are meant here?

Read Jude 17-21. What kind of problems are the result of acts of impurity in the church? Was this one of the problems that has brought about all the denominations, or divisions, we have seen since the Protestant Reformation?

How can we keep ourselves pure, even when worldly pleasures are all around us, even in the church? Is separation always the answer? Isn’t separation also an act of division? What might be a better strategy for holding the church together?

Thursday: Self-Center Living Versus Christ-Centered Living

Paul thought it necessary in letters to the churches in Galatia and Ephesus to describe the difference in people who are self-centered versus those who centered in Christ. The contrast is stark; the differences are clear.

But we must remember that the transformation that takes place is not only apparent on the outside. It goes beyond outward behavior and habits. It touches the heart and encompasses:

  1. a new outlook and thought patterns,
  2. improved values that motivate our behaviors, and
  3. more forgiveness and compassion for others.

Without God’s Spirit, we…

  • are controlled by negative passions
  • are enslaved to habits
  • are self-indulgent and boastful
  • do not recognize our need for forgiveness.

With God’s Spirit, we…

  • are controlled by the Holy Spirit’s guidance and influence
  • are free from destructive habits
  • are compassionate and humble in our interactions with others
  • recognize the need for God’s forgiveness and praise Him for what He has done for us.

Discussion Questions: Read Galatians 5:16-26 and Ephesians 5:1-9, 17-20. Why do you think Paul found it necessary to describe sin in such detail to these church members?

Read 2 Corinthians 5:14. In what sense does Christ “compel” or “control” us? How is our power of choice still protected, when we choose to serve God? How does Satan try to take that choice away, when we choose to follow him?

Read Philippians 1:6 and 2 Peter 3:10. To what does the day of the Lord usually refer? How long will the Holy Spirit be working on our hearts then?


Many verses in the Bible speak about true freedom in Christ (Psalm 119:45, Luke 4:18, John 8:34-36, 2 Corinthians 3:17, and Galatians 5:1).

When we are baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, we experience this freedom. The spiritual blessings that accompany it are many and varied for each individual. But two things seem to be apparent for most of us:

  1. a desire to abandon our negative habits and thought patterns
  2. a desire to abide in the power of the Holy Spirit, which frees us from all that brings us down

Surrendering to God and making our hearts ready for the indwelling of His Spirit is the only way we can enjoy true freedom in this sinful, fallen world.

Parting Words

It seems that control is something we all struggle with in our lives. Either someone or something wants to control us, or we find ourselves in the position of controlling others.

In a spiritual sense, this same issue of control is felt. Either God holds a place of sovereignty over us, or Satan claims title to our souls.

By allowing and encouraging God’s Holy Spirit to control us, to fill us, we can experience the only way to be free of the crushing control of this sinful world and Satan, who is ultimately responsible for that sin.

To be baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit then is just letting God have control, giving Him permission to enter our hearts and strengthen us for the struggles ahead. It means more than a behavior modification, an improvement over our old selves. We are changed inwardly and solidly into disciples, ambassadors for God.

 Next Week: The Holy Spirit and Living a Holy Life

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