John THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE BELIEVER
In our previous text Jesus said that a river of water
would flow forth from the belly of the person who believes
in Him. Let me read again verses 37 and 38. He, of course,
was not talking about literal water flowing out of the
abdomen. He was speaking figuratively about the work of the
Holy Spirit flowing forth from within the inner spirit of
the person who believes in Christ.
John, the writer of the Book of John, adds his own
explanation in verse 39, which is our text verse. V. 39,
"(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe
on him should receive..." It is John's explanation of the
work of the Holy Spirit in the believer that we will deal
with in this message. I will not attempt to cover every
thing pertaining to the work of the Holy Spirit within the
believer. For instance, I will not try to deal with the
work of the Holy Spirit in the security of the believer.
Rather, I will confine my remarks to what John was talking
about in this text.
I. What happens when one believes in Jesus as Savior
To be technical, the believer receives the Holy Spirit
at the time he believes in Jesus Christ as his Savior. That
is, the believer receives the Holy Spirit the very moment
that he trusts in Jesus to save his soul. It is at that
very point of time, at that very instant of placing his
faith in Jesus that he is born again and he receives the
Holy Spirit at the same time he is born again. It is the
Holy Spirit who produces the new birth.
Let me explain the new birth. The new birth is not a
physical birth. It does not change the physical nature of
the believer. The physical nature of the believer is the
same after he believes as it was before he believes. His
physical nature will not change until the resurrection. The
new birth does produce a change in the spirit which indwells
the believer. In the inner spirit the believer is not the
same person that he was before he placed his faith in Jesus.
He is a new man, a new person. II Corinthians 5:17 reads,
"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become
This inner change is not a partial change. It is not a
patch-up job. It is not a remodeling job. It is a complete
change of the spirit which dwells within. The old sinful
nature of the indwelling spirit is completely gone. It is
gone forever. In its place is a new-born spirit which is
without sin. This new inner spirit partakes of the nature
of the Holy Spirit which produced it and which still lives
within it. It is without sin and will remain without sin.
This change takes place instantly. It takes place in a
split second. I takes place the very moment that the person
places his faith in Jesus to be his Savior.
Therefore, when one places his faith in Jesus Christ to
save his soul so that he not go to hell but will go to
heaven, from that moment on he has a new spirit dwellig
within him and the Holy Spirit of God actually dwells within
the new spirit of the man.
This is what John, the writer of the book, was
explaining. John says that Jesus was not talking about a
literal river of water coming out of the literal belly of a
man. John says that Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit
of God who has taken up residence within the new spirit of
the man who has believed in Jesus.
John says that the river which proceeds from with the
believer is the work of the Holy Spirit of God coming from
within him. The Holy Spirit enlightens the believer, He
leads the believer, and He empowers the believer.
He enlightens the believer in the teachings of the Holy
Scriptures. When the Scriptures were being written, He
actually gave new revelations to the writers. In fact, that
is how the Holy Scriptures were written. The Holy Spirit
gave new revelations to the men and the men wrote down those
However, now that the Bible has all been written, the
Holy Spirit no longer gives new revelations. Rather He
gives enlightenment as to the meaning of the Holy
Scriptures. He helps shed light on the meaning of the
Scriptures so that the believer can better understand God's
Furthermore, the Holy Spirit leads the believer in the
will of God. This is in conjunction with the teaching of
the Scriptures and is in addition to the Scriptures. For
instance, I asked God to lead me to the which He wanted me
to marry. I believe that God answered that prayer and that
He led me to the girl who is now my wife. I believe that
the Holy Spirit led this church to call me to be their
pastor and I believe that the Holy Spirit led me to accept
that call. I believe this to be in harmony with the
teaching of the Bible, but there is no Scripture in the
Bible which instructed me to marry Frances Russell. There
is no Scripture in the Bible which instructed this church to
call Harold Davis as their pastor. There is no Scripture in
the Bible which instructed me to come and pastor this
Let me repeat. The Spirit always leads in complete
harmony with the teaching of the Bible. He never leads
contrary to the teaching of the Bible. For instance, He
would never lead anyone to do that which the Bible forbids.
He would never lead anyone to commit a sin. He always seeks
to lead the believer to overcome temptation and to resist
sin. He always seeks to lead the believer in doctrinal
truth. He never leads into doctrinal error.
The Holy Spirit also empowers the believer to do God's
will. He enables the believer to resist temptation and to
do what is right in spite of the temptations of Satan. He
enables the believer to overcome problems and to have a
productive happy life in spite of great problems. He
enables the believer to serve the Lord even under difficult
He seeks to lead the believer to live the kind of life
that would bring honor and glory to God and bring blessing
to himself, to his family and to other about him.
II. The benefits which result from receiving the Holy
Spirit in the inner man
Let me show you a passage of Scripture which lists some
of the benefits which the Holy Spirit brings to a believer.
Galatians 5:22-23 reads, "But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness,
faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
Love: through the Holy Spirit the believer learns to
have a real genuine love for God and for his fellow man. He
is empowered to have that kind of love.
Joy: The Holy Spirit enables the believer to do the
will of God and to have greater joy than he could ever
experience out of the will of God.
Peace: The Holy Spirit enables the believer to have a
peace within his heart that passes all understanding. He
enables him to live peaceably with others about him.
Longsuffering: The Holy Spirit enables the believer to
be longsuffering toward others and to have a greater
tolerance for the faults and failures of others than would
ever be possible any other way.
Gentleness: The Holy Spirit enables the believer to be
kind and gentle in his dealings with others. He helps the
believer to overcome anger and bitterness and to show
kindness to others.
Goodness: The Holy Spirit enables the believer to live
a good life in spite of the sinful body and sinful world
that he lives in.
Faith: The Holy Spirit enables the believer to depend
of God and to trust in God no matter how bad the
Meekness: The Holy Spirit enables the believer to take
a meek and lowly spirit. That is the kind of person that
Jesus was. It is said in Scripture that He is meek and
lowly. Likewise, Moses was a meek man. It is said in
Scripture that no man of that day was more meek than Moses.
This kind of meekness is not achieved by our own natural
inclinations. It is achieved by the help of the Holy Spirit
Temperance: The word, temperance, means "self control."
It is not given to outbursts of anger and rage. It does not
do things impulsively. It thinks things out and makes a
deliberate choice to do the better thing -- the right thing.
III. What John said about the difference between works of
the Spirit as described by Jesus in His invitation and
the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost
But now let us get back to what John said about the Holy
Spirit and His work in the life of a believer. (V. 39),
"...for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus
was not yet glorified.)" John said, in effect, that the
reader should not confuse the working of the Holy Spirit
which is described in this passage with the outpouring of
the Holy Spirit on the church on the day of Pentecost
following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. What is
involved in this passage is the working of the Holy Spirit
within the individual believer. What is involved in Acts
chapter two is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the
church at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost which followed
the ascension of Jesus.
The prophets of old had foretold that there would be a
special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 32:15 reads,
"Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high..." This
Scripture declared that the time would come when there would
be an outpouring of the Spirit from on high. That had to be
the Holy Spirit.
In Isaiah 44:3 God said, "...I will pour my spirit upon
thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring." So twice
Isaiah has prophesied that the time would come when the Holy
Spirit of God would be poured out in a special way.
Ezekiel also gave a prophecy of this event. In Ezekiel
39:29 God said, "Neither will I hide my face any more from
them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of
Israel, saith the Lord GOD." The fulfillment of this
prophecy involved only about 120 Israelites, but it was
fulfilled on the day of Pentecost following the crucifixion
and ascension of Jesus.
In Acts chapter two the record is given of this event.
I will not take time to read it now for I am sure that you
are familiar with it. This was the outpouring of the Holy
Spirit upon the church which Jesus had organized and left at
Contrary to what many people think, Jesus organized and
founded His church during His personal ministry here on
earth. It was not founded on that Pentecost day when the
Holy Spirit was poured out. It already existed when the
Holy Spirit was poured out upon it.
In keeping with Old Testament Scriptures there came this
special outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of
Pentecost upon the church which Jesus had established. This
outpouring of the Spirit on that Pentecost day did not come
upon individual believers as such. Rather, it came upon an
organization -- a New Testament church.
The purpose of the outpouring of the Spirit upon the
church as an organization was altogether different from the
purpose for sending the Spirit to the individual believer
when he trusts Jesus as Savior.
The purpose involved in sending to the individual
believer was so that the individual believer could grow in
grace and knowledge of the will of God and could develop
into a strong Christian. The purpose of sending an
outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church at Jerusalem
was to give this church and other churches which would
spring from it with special help in the very early stages of
The Holy Spirit would give the church and churches
special miraculous spiritual gifts which would later be
discontinued. These special spiritual gifts included the
gift of miraculously speaking in other languages so that
they could communicate with people of all languages. It
involved the gift of prophecy. The New Testament had not
been written at that time. This gift would provide the
local churches with information from God that was not made
clear in the Old Testament. It involved the gift of
miraculously discerning the spirits so that when some fellow
comes along preaching or teaching some new doctrine the
church would be able to know whether he speaks from God or
from Satan's demons. It involved the gift of miraculous
healing so that the public could know that the church people
were speaking the truth of God.
These special gifts would not be needed once the New
Testament was completed. The Bible teaches that after the
New Testament would be completed these special miraculous
gifts would be discontinued. There would, however, remain
three special gifts upon the churches to assist them in
their work down through the ages. These three special gifts
are named in I Corinthians 13:13. They are faith, hope and
charity --- that is, faith hope and love. These three
special gifts are still given to God's churches.
Let me repeat: The work of the Holy Spirit as described
in John 7:37-38 is not to be confused with the coming of the
Holy Spirit on the church at Pentecost. According to the
invitation given by Jesus during the Feast of Tabernacles,
any man who would place his faith in Jesus to save his soul
would have a river of spiritual water which would spring
from within his inner born again spirit. This would take
place instantly when he trusts in Jesus. It would take
place in every believer whether he was a member of the
church or not. It takes place every time someone believes
in Jesus Christ and is saved. It happens to everyone who is
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost following
the ascension is an altogether different thing. This event
did not come upon all believers. It came only on the New
Testament church which tarried there at Jerusalem and the
Spirit bestowed different gifts to different people. What
Jesus describes in His invitation happens to all believer;
what happened on Pentecost did not happen to all believers,
only to the members of that church and even then the same
gift was not given to all. Every believer gets the Holy
Spirit; only the local church got the baptism of the Holy
Spirit. And that happened only one time. It never happened
again. The special miraculous gifts were extended to all
the churches which sprung up through persecution and through
mission efforts, but the outpouring of the Spirit never took
IV. A summation of the message
Let me sum up this message in this way. God saw fit to
inspire the Apostle John, who wrote this book to make
special mention that what Jesus was talking about in His
invitation was not the same thing as would later take place
on Pentecost. In fact, it would take place on the very next
Pentecost following the Feast of Tabernacles. Since God
thought it important for John to make this clarification in
the inspired writings of this book, it is important that we
make this distinction in our minds. Because it was
important to God, it should be important to us.
What was given on Pentecost is not offered to all, but
what Jesus was talking about in verses 37-38 is offered to
all. Anyone who will come to Jesus placing his faith in
Jesus to save his soul will receive that spiritual water of
life which springs up within his born again soul. It is
absolutely vital that every man come to Jesus and call upon
Him for salvation.
Most of you people in this congregation today have
already come to Jesus and trusted Him for salvation. I am
calling those who have not yet done so to come today.