It wasn’t my idea. But when I get the chance just to sit and chat about the four ways of the Holy Spirit, a compass is one of my favorite memory-helps to see the symbols of North, South, East, and West.

To be honest, I wouldn’t want to only talk about the Holy Spirit.

I’d much rather we get on with cooperating with His work in, through, and around us.

But to get our thinking straight is vital too!

So when someone new to the faith asks, “So tell me what the Holy Spirit is about” What do you say to them? And how do you make sure it’s simple, helpful, and true?

Here’s what I’ve found helpful. It uses the four points of the compass – N, E, S & W – North, East, South & West.

Each letter points towards one of four basic ways that the Spirit works in our lives.

N = New Life

The Holy Spirit makes spiritual rebirth happen.

Jesus said that humans give birth to humans, but spiritual birth happens through the Holy Spirit.

He was the one who coined the phrase “born again.”

That’s not a description of any particular experience.

It just means that a new life has begun – we’ve become a child of God.

It was the Holy Spirit who made it happen. You wouldn’t even be able to call Jesus your Lord unless the Spirit had enabled you.

I love being able to affirm this for every Christian: the very fact that you are a Christian means that the Holy Spirit has already been at work in your life.


S = Sanctify

If you’re a Christian then the Holy Spirit has moved in – not as a visitor but as a permanent resident.

You’re his temple! And he’s working to make that temple pure and holy – he’s sanctifying you.

He’s transforming us, creating a more Jesus-like character.

He produces things like love, joy and peace, patience and kindness, faithfulness, humility, gentleness and self control.

These are the fruit of His work.

This work has begun. It’s ongoing … and it’s not yet complete, as my family can tell you!

And this is true for absolutely every Christian: the Holy Spirit is continually at work in your life to make you more and more like Jesus.


Points on a compass in a hand four works

W = We

The Bible’s word is fellowship (and if you can cope with the Greek, it’s koinonia).

The Holy Spirit joins us together with other Christians.

He builds us together, like living stones being made into a temple where he dwells.

He unites us as the Body of Christ, with each member and organ having a vital place.

We are not instructed to create unity, but rather we are urged to maintain this unity which the Spirit has already created. And we need to do this so that the whole body can function properly!

This is Jesus’ Church. And as these relationships grow, you’re experiencing the Holy Spirit hard at work knitting you together into fellowship with other Christians.


E = Empowers

If you’re a Christian then the Holy Spirit can – and will – equip you for action.

Jesus sent his followers (then and now) to be his witnesses, and he promised that the Spirit would clothe us with power for the challenge.

But the work is too difficult!

The task is actually impossible in our own strength.

That’s why spiritual gifts such as prophecy, visions, healing, evangelism – and plenty of others – are made available to us. They enable us to do what Jesus wants.

This is often the most overlooked way that the Spirit works.

And I love being able to reassure and encourage Christians about this: that Jesus’ promise is for you, and I’d count it a privilege to pray for you to be empowered by the Holy Spirit in whatever way he chooses, so that you can be equipped for action.


Every Christian really should make sure they can explain these four basic ways that the Holy Spirit works in our lives.

Read more on the Four Basic Works of the Holy Spirit

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