The Quiet Work Of The Holy Spirit
by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 12 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Meet The Holy Spirit)
Sometimes we preachers do an injustice to our hearers. We love to share with our congregation the unusual stories. We love to tell of the startling conversions and the spectacular experiences.
One day I was visiting on the north side of Hammond. A tall man came to the door. I told him who I was. He said that he had company. The truth is, he had 13 people in his living room. I told him, "My name is Jack Hyles," and immediately he began to mock and make fun. He looked at his guests and sarcastically said, "Hey, folks, here's old Hyles, the biggest fake in town."
I told him I wished he hadn't said that. He said, "Oh, Hyles, everybody in town knows you are a fake." I said, "Sir, I which you wouldn't call me a fake. I am sincere from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet." He said, "Hey, folks, old Hyles is a fake!" Suddenly I said, "Sir, you'll be sorry if you say that one more time." He said, "What are you going to do, Hyles, if I say it one more time?" I said, "I'm going to pray for God to kill you." (I had never done anything like that in my life! I was shocked to hear myself say it! I could not believe what I was hearing!) He then looked at his guests and said, "Folks, old Hyles is threatening me." Then again he said, "You're a fake, Hyles!"
Very quietly I put my hand on his head and began to pray something like this: "Dear Lord, Thou the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Thou the God Who made the sun to stand still for Joshua, the God Who parted the Red Sea for Moses, the God Who created the entire universe, I pray that in Jesus' name right now, You would..." "Hold it, Hyles! Hold it!" He interrupted. I kept on praying. "Dear Lord, I pray You'll..." Then the man said, "You ain't a fake. Hyles, you ain't no fake. You ain't no fake." This is the kind of story we love to tell. It is the only one like it in my life, but it did happen, and this is the kind we love to tell.
Years ago in Garland, Texas, a very fashionable lady visited our services. Her married daughter was saved, and the members of her family had come to Christ, but she gave no sign of desire to receive Christ as Saviour. I prayed for her and witnessed to her. She came to our services over and over and over again. Finally one Sunday night during the invitation, I tiptoed back while every head was bowed and said to her, "Wouldn't you like to be a Christian?" She said, "Yes, I would, but I don't feel anything." I said, "Come down the aisle. Let's kneel and pray at the altar." She said, "I would, but I don't feel anything. When I get saved, I want to feel it." I told her she didn't have to feel it, but she had to put her faith in Christ and that faith would be counted for her righteousness. She chuckled and said, "But I don't feel anything, and I'm not going to walk down the aisle until I feel it. When I get saved, I want to feel it." Suddenly I looked up at her and said, "If I guaranteed you a feeling, would you come down the aisle?" She glibly responded that she would. I said, "Then come on." We went to the altar. She knelt and made the sign of the cross, and then I prayed something like this: "Dear God, I pray that You would give this lady a feeling. I pray You would help her to trust You and know that she is saved, but I pray in Jesus' Name You would help her to be saved tonight." Then I said, "You pray." "But," she said, "I don't feel anything." I said, "Pray anyway!" She said, "What should I pray?" I said, "Pray, Lord be merciful to me a sinner, and save my soul,"
She prayed just about these words: "Dear Lord, I don't feel anything and this is silly, but the Preacher said pray, so here goes! Dear Lord.....Be merciful...to me...Lord, I'm beginning to feel it...a sinner, and save my soul. Lord, I feel it now! I feel it! I feel it! Lord, I feel it!"
This is the kind of story we like to tell, and this is the kind of experience that we use for illustrations in our sermons. Perhaps we do our audiences an injustice, for the usual work of the Spirit is a quiet one. The illustrations used above are the exceptions to the rule rather than the rule! They are the unusual, not the usual! The usual is a very quiet working of the Spirit of God that brings about salvation or some blessing of victory for the child of God.
Notice the name, "Holy Spirit." The word "Holy" means "sanctifying." The word "Spirit" comes from the Greek word which means "wind" or "blown wind" or "breath." Put the two together and you get "sanctifying breath", or "blown breath," (from the world, from sin, or from some temptation).
The question then comes, "How does a person get `blown' by the Spirit?" The answer is that he yields. Galatians 5:17, 18, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."
This is how a person gets saved: he is going against the wind. He yields, and the Holy Breath or the Holy Wind brings him to God through Christ.
This is the way a person lives a Spirit-filled life: he yields to the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Breath of God blows him thereby moves him as He wills.
There are three enemies of the Christian: the world, the flesh and the Devil, but the Holy Breath, or the Holy Spirit is blowing the other way. When we yield to Him, He quietly, as a soft wind, controls our lives. Of course, the key word is YIELD!
It is true that sometimes the Holy Spirit blows like a tornado, hurricane or a mighty gale, but normally He blows very quietly and goes about His work of directing the affairs of our lives in a very quiet, unobstructive manner.
A seed is planted in the ground. It is not seen, but it is doing its work. There is no fanfare, no noise and nothing visible, but one day soon a little plant opens the earth and pushes its way out. This is the way the Holy Spirit works in His normal ministry. A seed is planted and then one day we begin to notice its fruit.
A germ enters the body. The germ is not seen and the person does not immediately have symptoms of an illness or disease. This does not, however, mean that the germ is not working. The germ goes about its work in a quiet way, then come the chills, the headache, the fever, the sore throat, etc. The Holy Spirit works much the same way in his normal operation.
A prescription is given for medicine to fight the germ. The medicine is taken. There is no immediate sign that it has helped, but it does its work as quietly as did the germ. The medicine fights the infection and then, after some hours or maybe even days, the patient feels better. Notice that he felt quite the same when he first took the medicine, but by faith he took it.
When a person comes to Christ and yields to Him by faith, he may or may not feel differently. The main thing is: Did he trust the finished work of the Saviour? The Holy Spirit quietly enters. If you ask the person if the Holy Spirit is within him, he may say, "I don't know." (If he does answer in the affirmative, it is simply because somebody has told him or he has read it in the Bible and believed it). Then soon evidences of the Holy Spirit begin to appear. There is a desire to read the Bible, a desire to pray, a lessening desire for things of the world. What has happened? The Holy Spirit was doing His quiet work.
When a couple first hears the news that a baby is coming, it is exciting and thrilling. However, the wife was expecting weeks before they found out about it. The evidence and manifestation came later.
This is not to say that instantaneous, overwhelming demonstrations of the Holy Spirit never happen. Quite to the contrast! Some marvelous instantaneous victories have dotted the ministry of this preacher, but for every one like that, there have been hundreds of sweet, calm conversions and decisions whose geniuses has been proven by the fruit that they bore in subsequent days, weeks and years.
In the same manner of salvation there are often startling, Saul-of-Tarsus-like conversions, whereas most conversions are more like Matthew, who simply left all and followed Jesus. Over a quarter of a century ago as I went soul winning one night in Garland, Texas, I made two visits. The first visit was very spectacular. The man received Christ. When he did, he jumped up, hugged his wife, shouted, hugged the children, clapped his hands, humped up on the sofa and had a real spell! My, what a time we had! I left the place praising God for His wonderful power. I then drove across town and visited another man. He came to the door. I told him who I was. He said, "Sit down." But he didn't sit down! He stood up leaning against the door. (I did not know until later that he had a bad back). He was as matter of fact as a person could be. In fact, he was a bit abrupt and nearly rude at times.
I said, "Sir, do you know if you died tonight you would go to Heaven?" He replied, "No!" I said, "Would you like to know?" He replied, "Yes!" I told him the plan of salvation as best I could and showed him in the Bible the wonderful story of Christ. Then I asked him, "Do you realize that you are a sinner?" Abruptly he replied, "Yes!" I asked him, "Do you know if you died tonight, you would go to hell?" Without any emotion at all he replied, "Yes!" I then asked, "Do you realize Jesus Christ came to the earth as a virgin-born Son of God, lived a perfect life, fulfilled the law, went to the cross, bore your sins in His body, was buried and rose again after three days and three nights?" He abruptly said, "Yes." I then asked, "Do you believe that if you would receive Him as your Saviour by faith now, that He would make you His child?" He said, "Yes!" All of this transpired in the coldest, most unemotional manner that you cam imagine. I said, "Could we kneel and pray?" He said, "You kneel. I have a bad back." He leaned against the door. I prayed. I asked him to pray. He said as coldly as anybody could ever say in a prayer, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner and save my soul. Amen." I felt nothing but doubt, and so I said, "Sir, were you sincere?" He replied coldly, "Yes." I asked, "Where would you go if you died now?" Matter-of-factly he replied, "Heaven." I said, "How do you know?" He looked at me through stern-looking eyes and said, "The Bible says it, doesn't it?" I said, "Yes, and if you're sincere, you got it." I walked away from the house filled with doubt about his sincerity. The first man who shouted came to church the next Sunday and was baptized. He lasted about four weeks. The last man, whom I doubted, has now for 25 years been a faithful, loyal servant of God.
The same is true concerning healing. I keep a little bottle of olive oil in my office, and I pray of the sick when the come and seek to be anointed. Some marvelous answers to prayer have taken place. At least three ladies have been healed of brain tumors immediately. (At least the next x-ray showed so). One little boy was healed from a hole in his heart. There have been many other wonderful, miraculous demonstrations of God's power in the human body. I do not know how many young couples have come to my office who have been told by the doctors that they could not have children and whom I have anointed with oil and prayed for, only to find within a few weeks or months that God was going to give then their own baby. These are the kind we all enjoy and the kind we like to have. However, the usual healing is a quiet one. It may be that the Holy Spirit enters the body and there is no visible change or no immediate evidence of healing, but like the medicine that fights the germ, like the seed that pushes its way toward the daylight, the Holy Spirit continues to do His job.
The same is true concerning the fulness of the Holy Spirit. All of us like to read about Moody's marvelous filling when he was walking down Wall Street in New York City one day and was overcome by the power of God. He rushed to a friend's home and asked to be alone with God. God's power was so mighty upon him that he had to ask God to withhold Himself, and he was never the same.
We like the startling experiences such as that of Christmas Evans, who was riding his horse on his circuit one day when suddenly he was knocked off the horse by the power of the Holy Spirit. He fell to his knees an was then and there filled for the first time with the Holy Spirit!
We love to read of those amazing experiences like that of John Wesley, who on October 3, 1738, at 3:00 a.m., in a prayer meeting with many pastors, was filled with the Holy Spirit for the first time. We love to read about George Fox, who went alone, fasted and prayed for two weeks and came back with the mighty power of God upon him; or that of George Whitefield, who was filled with the Holy Spirit on June 20, 1736, when he was being ordained and Bishop Benson laid his hands on the young preacher.
These experiences are wonderful, but the truth is, many people are filled with the Holy Spirit and know it, who have had a much quieter experience than Moody, Evans, Wesley, Fox and Whitefield. There was Billy Sunday, who always preached his sermons with his Bible open to Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." John Rice, Bob Jones, Sr. and countless thousands of others have known the fulness of the Holy Spirit because they kept pleading and begging for God's power. Quietly, but definitely that power came and they knew the power of the fulness of the Holy Spirit.
In my life, it was much more spectacular than that. I fell on the grave of my drunkard father and told God I would not leave until something happened to me. I do not know how long I was there, but I know that for the first time in my life, the power of God came upon me and I was filled with the Holy Spirit. I have many friends who are filled with the Holy Spirit who did not have such a startling experience as I had, but they have pleaded with Him, met His conditions and claimed His power, and God has seen fit to give them Spirit-filled lives and ministries.
How then can a person without a startling experience know that he is filled? The truth is that the startling experience does not give evidence that one is filled, nor for that matter, does it give evidence that one is saved. The evidence is seen later in soul winning, preaching and teaching, as God works in the hearts of men as they serve Him.
Many people, especially young preachers, spend too much time wanting an experience and pleading to God for that experience when they should be pleading to God for power. I'll be happy to bypass the experience in order to see hundreds of sinners come to Christ. Far better it is to have sinners saved without the startling experience than to have the experience and not power of the evidence of the fulness of the power!
This author would suggest that every believer read the Scriptures in the Bible that deal with the power of the Holy Spirit. Then several times a day yield to Him. Then many times a day pray for the power of the Holy Spirit. Then many times a day pray for the power of God. Then I would suggest that there be seasons of prayer, sometimes all night, sometimes an hour, sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes a few hours, but definite seasons of prayer when he Christian begs for the power of the Holy Spirit. Then if the power begins to come, don't go around announcing it! It will be obvious. You don't have to speak of it!
After I was filled with the Holy Spirit on the grave of my father, I waited over ten years before I ever told anybody. I wanted its proof through my ministry, not just through a spectacular, emotional experience. Oh, but blessed be God, the evidence has come, and through my ministry power of God has rested upon the ministry of these simple servant of God.
Beloved reader, do not seek the emotion. Accept it with joy when it comes, but do not seek it. Seek the power of God for soul winning and for the changing of the lives of men, women, boys and girls. If God wants to give it to you in a spectacular fashion with a light from Heaven or the rushing, mighty wind, splendid; but if God wants to do to you like He did to Billy Sunday, John Rice, Bob Jones, Sr. and others, just thank God for the evidence of His power and that He has given you His fulness.
Remember, the Holy Spirit sometimes comes as a rushing, mighty wind, a tornadic blast or a hurricane, but usually He comes with a soft breeze. Whichever way it is, let us thank Him that He has made available to us a miraculous power that can be used by mortals like you and me to change the eternal destiny of human souls and lives!
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