How might we obey the Bible’s instruction to “keep in step with the Spirit” as found in Galatians 5:25?
When you became a disciple of Jesus Christ, you entered into the new reality of the Kingdom of God.
You are no longer fully of this earth; you have a home in heaven and are part of God’s Kingdom.
Each one of us is called by Jesus and given a role and a commission.
We are called and enabled to become Jesus’ friends and co-creators with God.
Our effectiveness in this task depends on us understanding how we cooperate with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Jesus walks in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is our model for cooperating with the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus had the Holy Spirit within Him enabling intimacy with the Father and transforming His character.
- Jesus had the Holy Spirit upon Him in the manner of an Old Testament prophet, priest, or king for empowering for His mission.
- Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit, that we may be empowered for mission as well.
Jesus cooperated with the Holy Spirit in kairos moments with people, bringing healing, forgiveness, salvation and transformation to those whom He encountered.
Incredibly, Jesus says,
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.John 14:12 (NIV)
Is it really possible that Jesus expects us to do what He did?
When we see that Jesus did his miraculous work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, then we have hope that we too can experience those moments of cooperation.
Example of Cooperation
The following example is adapted from Chapter 1 of the Book, Growing the Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit.
We read in Acts 16, about a group of missionaries who had been journeying westwards across Galatia and Phrygia, eagerly seeking fresh opportunities to tell people the message about Jesus.
They had looked towards the virgin mission field of Asia, but the route had been clearly blocked off, frustrating their efforts.
Persistent in their endeavors, they had turned northwards towards Bithynia, but again had met with the same “closed door” experience.
Shortly after a doorway is flung open, the way ahead becomes clear and they embark on a two-day voyage across the Aegean to plant the first church on European soil, in the Roman colony of Philippi.
As Luke recounts this episode, he makes it abundantly clear that the entire venture was overseen and directed by the Holy Spirit.
These disciples were first “kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. [Then] they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. [Finally] during the night Paul had a vision…”
And the following morning, in faith-filled response to this, “after Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”Acts 16:6-15 (NIV)
Their evangelistic travel arrangements were being organized by the Holy Spirit!
Two Components to Cooperation
What we see in this example are fundamental activities of how to keep in step with the Spirit.
- We receive guidance from the Lord.
- We step out in cooperation or obedience.
It is the Holy Spirit who makes this possible for us to advance the Kingdom of God through cooperation.
Life Examples of Cooperation with the Holy Spirit
We have experienced many moments of cooperation with the Holy Spirit in life changing kairos moments.
Perhaps a few illustrations from contemporary life might help bring understanding. Following are three examples written by Dr. Brad Long and are found in the Dunamis Project 2: In the Spirit’s Power manual.
1. The call to conversion at a Campus Crusade for Christ gathering
At a Campus Crusade for Christ gathering in a major southern city, several pastors took turns each night preaching. With brilliant clarity, a leading Presbyterian minister and seminary professor presented the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
The audience of seven thousand people had been engaged in the presentation, and it was obvious that the presence of the Holy Spirit was extraordinarily strong.
After his wonderful sermon, he sat down, and the worship service proceeded.
But a Baptist pastor, sensing a kairos moment and perhaps having received a word from the Lord, jumped to his feet, paused the service, and said that he felt that the Lord was working to bring some present in the room to faith.
He gave an altar call that resulted in more people accepting Christ that night than at any other time during the crusade.
At this meeting, God had been in the business of saving souls!
Had it not been for the Baptist pastor, the young people would have left with little more than a wonderful sermon and inspiring worship.
2. Prayers for healing
This dynamic of cooperation (guidance and stepping out in obedience) has been experienced repeatedly in prayer.
A word of knowledge will be received and, when spoken, will have a visible effect as it is used by the Holy Spirit to heal.
The word spoken can be a word or an action.
At one Dunamis Project retreat the air was thick with the presence of the Holy Spirit. I (Brad) suddenly received a nudge to lay my hand on an older woman and the wife of one of the pastors.
Neither woman exhibited any visible signs that anything was happening, nor did they know who had laid hands on them.
After the service, each testified that God had dramatically worked in that touch. The older woman had seen a flash of light and the vision in one eye afflicted with cataracts had cleared up.
The pastor’s wife had experienced God’s deep comfort for heavy burdens that she had been carrying.
On many occasions, after a person has confessed sins, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I have spoken the words of absolution.
Cleansing and the lifting of guilt actually takes place as an event that is visible to those looking on.
3. Worship that brought the congregation into the presence of God
At a morning worship service in a California church, I (Brad) became aware of the moving of the Holy Spirit as the choir led us in a time of worship.
I felt a kairos moment while we were singing the second verse of the traditional Presbyterian hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.”
The Holy Spirit was powerfully present.
The people sang with intensity and conviction, and the words took on a special sweetness.
I have experienced this many times in traditional worship. And usually we just stick to our program and keep going until the last verse and then stop.
However, the worship leader was listening, not only to the lovely music, but also to the Holy Spirit, and he knew that God was calling him to obedience.
Instead of finishing the verse, he led the choir to return and to dwell on the hymn.
This lyrics served as the raw material for the Holy Spirit to move us into the kairos moment
In a moment, the Spirit had fallen upon the congregation. We knew we were caught up in the presence of God almighty.
People were weeping. Some stood with tears in their eyes and their hands uplifted in praise; others had knelt on the floor.
Keep in Step with the Spirit
Be alert to the ways in which the Holy Spirit is moving.
We are to take steps that present a faith-filled response. He is the director of the entire process; He calls us into the dance of cooperation.
He directs our movement toward His purposes. He leaves room for our full and unyielded, responsive participation.
Mary told the servants at the wedding in Cana, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5), and her words apply just as much to us.
So perhaps the Spirit gave you a burden for intercessory prayer, and now you get a particular urge to pray for a specific situation? Seize the chance.
Perhaps you are in conversation with someone after worship and you sense an inner ‘nudge’ to pray for them? Then make the offer (“Would you like me to pray about it with you?”) and go ahead and pray with them. If the Spirit brings something particular to mind as you pray, then follow that lead too.
Perhaps it’s an opportunity to offer hospitality; or a sense during your church service that God has something specific to say to the people; or an urge to pray for the cashier at the checkout; or a call to generous giving on a particular occasion?
All these were actual instances of the Spirit calling people to participate in the work of God’s Kingdom, and on each occasion, people learned to co-operate simply by taking the delightful risk of acting on what they believed to be the impulse of the Holy Spirit.