The Holy Spirit in the Last Days
(Joel 2, James 5, Revelation 3)
Introduction: Do you want Jesus to return and take you to heaven with Him? Are you tired of living with sin, sadness, pain, grief and conflict? The Bible tells us that special things will be happing in the "last days." One of those "things" is that the Holy Spirit will be especially active. What will the Holy Spirit be doing? Will we be ready? Let's jump into our study of the Bible and find out what the Holy Spirit will be doing!
- God's Approach to the End of Time
- Read Joel 2:1-2. Why should we tremble at the coming of Jesus? Why should we sound alarms? Why is this a "day of darkness and gloom" as opposed to the best day of our life? (This warning is addressed to all people, and not just Christians. Everyone needs to take the Second Coming of Jesus seriously.)
- Why does God come with His army? (This gives us an extraordinary mental picture. Apparently, God is approaching "hostile territory." The majority on earth must be hostile to the return of Jesus.)
- Read Joel 2:3-5. Focus on verses 4-5 which describe God's army. Is it mechanized? If you were describing a tank, and you lived in the days before cars, when horses and chariots were the "cutting edge" military weapon, how would you describe the tank?
- What kind of army can "leap over mountains?" (God has an airborne army that staggers the imagination.)
- Read Joel 2:6. What is the reaction of the world to the Second Coming of Jesus and His invading army?
- Read Joel 2:12-13. What is the purpose of revealing the terrible military aspect of Jesus' Second Coming? (This makes clear that the "military" is for those who have turned away from God. God does not prefer to approach us with an army. He prefers for us to accept Him as our Friend and God.)
- Often, people seem to have a negative reaction to the "hellfire and brimstone" approach to evangelism. Is that approach improper? (Using common sense and judgment is required, but in Joel 2 God uses the "give 'em a good look at the downside" approach to evangelism. We certainly cannot say it is wrong.)
- Read Joel 2:28-29. What else does God use to bring attention to His Second coming and the need to be ready? (The Holy Spirit is poured out on His people.)
- Read Joel 2:30-31. What else does God use to bring to the attention of the people the need to prepare for His Second Coming? (Dramatic events in the heavens.)
- As you consider the three approaches God has to get the world ready: warning of judgment, signs in the heavens, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which of these involve a joint work with His people? (We can be involved in at least two aspects of this. We play an important part in the warning of a coming judgment and the Holy Spirit energizes us to convey God's message for the end time. Compare Revelation 14:6-12.)
- Let's look at the work of the Holy Spirit in more detail. Read again Joel 2:28. Who has the gift of prophecy? (A large number.)
- Read again Joel 2:29. What gender is primarily used for the work of the Holy Spirit in the last days?
- Why does Joel make the point that "both men and women" will be Spirit-filled? (He is making plain that both sexes have an important role as co-laborers with the Holy Spirit in the last day message.)
- What kind of economic success is required to be a Spirit-led Christian? ("Even on my servants" means that God does not exclude from His partnership those who lack "status" in this world. God is plainly telling us that the way we look for "helpers" is not the way He looks. Gender, social status, are not issues for Him.)
- Are you ready for a church like this? A church were it seems that most everyone is a prophet?
- With the Holy Spirit speaking so directly to us, will we need our Bibles then? (Read 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21. Our Bibles will be more important than ever. With so many claiming to speak for God, we need to judge them ("test everything") by the timeless standard of the Bible.)
- Read James 5:7-8. James compares our work to that of a farmer. How is the work of the Holy Spirit like rain? (The rain came in seasons to spur the growth of the crops.)
- What can we do to influence the coming of the rain?
- Earlier in this series of lessons we studied the Pentecost account in Acts 2. Let's review a few verses now. Read Acts 2:1-4. Does this remind you of the Joel prophecy? (Read Acts 2:14-16. Peter specifically identifies this as a fulfillment of the Joel 2 prophecy.)
- Read Revelation 3:14-16. What is wrong with the people in the Laodicean church? (They have lost their "heat," they lack "fire.")
- What gives believers "fire?" (Read Romans 12:11. Spiritual fervor is our "fire." These people are low on the Holy Spirit.)
- Let's skip down a couple of verses. Read Revelation 3:19-22. What does the Laodicean church represent? (It is thought that this list of churches represents not simply literal churches at that time, but also symbolizes the Christian church over time. Thus, because Laodicea is the last in the list, it would represent the church of the last days.)
- Is there any evidence in these verses to support the idea that Laodicea is the church of the last days? (The reason I skipped down a couple of verses is because Revelation 3:19-22 can be understood as Jesus waiting to come the second time and take His children back to heaven with Him. He says to the last church, "I'm waiting!")
- Who is trying to break through to the Laodiceans with the message that they are needy? ("He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says." The Holy Spirit is working to break through the shell of our hard hearts.)
- We have this picture in Joel of the church of the last days being on fire with the Holy Spirit. We have this symbolism in James about the Holy Spirit coming as the "latter rain" to prepare the harvest. Then we have this terrible picture of the church of the last days being lukewarm. How do you reconcile these three pictures to get a fix on the work of the Holy Spirit in the last days?
- Let's pick up the verses that we skipped to find an answer to the previous question. Read Revelation 3:17-18. What is the solution to the condition of the Laodiceans? (To get new eyes to recognize their spiritual condition, to get gold fresh out of the fire and to put on the robe of righteousness.)
- How much of that is the work of the Holy Spirit? (All of it is "Spirit work." We have this end time picture of a tepid church. It is rich and self-reliant. Out of that church arises a group fired by the Holy Spirit. As the "latter rain" comes, these are people who by the power of the Spirit realize their spiritual nakedness, and turn to God. The Holy Spirit fires them into this powerful group which has an extraordinary connection with the Holy Spirit. They have extraordinary spiritual power. This on-fire group brings in the last harvest in preparation for Jesus' Second Coming.)
- Friend, do you want to be part of this on-fire group that prepares the people for Jesus' Second Coming? The Holy Spirit calls to you to recognize your spiritual condition and turn to Him for fresh fire and clear sight!
- Next week we start a new quarter of studies on the gospel, 1844 and judgment.