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Lowell Brueckner

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Seeking the Spirit of the Kingdom, chapter seven


There are evangelistic methods, probably many, that are pragmatic… that is, they produce results… just as surely as McDonald’s and Coca Cola produce results. But, if you intend to see that the people you contact in evangelism walk on streets of gold some day, you had better be sure of two things: 1) That you are using Biblical principles and 2) that these principles are anointed with the Holy Spirit.

Abraham and Sarah put two and two together and produced an Ishmael. It was a successful plan and totally within the realm of human possibilities… and therein lay its weakness. It was not according to God’s promise or His supernatural power. God simply was not in it. Every person who comes into the Kingdom of God enters through a supernatural, God-exalting, heavenly new birth. God, and only God, can do that work (Jn.1:12,13) Read in this chapter about the essential work of the Holy Spirit in evangelism.  




Jesus also spoke of the Holy Spirit in the work of evangelism: “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:8-11). It is important, before we consider these verses, to see a question put to Jesus by Judas (not Iscariot): “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?” (14:22). Jesus first answered the part of the question, concerning manifesting Himself to His own, and afterwards the part about the people of the world: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him” (verse 23). Jesus’ purpose was to establish a personal relationship of love between His disciples and God. In His prayer to the Father in chapter 17:3, He showed us that eternal life consists in knowing the Father and the Son: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

The commandment over all other commandments is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the goal of everyone, who is born again and enters into a relationship with the Father and the Son. When the Holy Spirit enters and does His work, transforming the heart of the new believer, He opens his eyes, so that he can see the abundance of God’s love for him, demonstrated in the cross of Christ. “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). This is not a result of an effort by the believer and it is not a process. It is a miracle that only the Spirit can do.

We have told how Jake DeShazer experienced that miracle in a Japanese prison and how his hatred turned to love for the Japanese. He affirmed that such a love is impossible for a human being to cultivate into his life. God did it in him, when he surrendered to Christ. A process does follow, in which this love is perfected in the converts.

In this study, it is most important for us to know that the Spirit manifests this work in the believer, not in those that are still of the world. Since this is very important, I would like to quote as much as necessary from the Bible, so that this teaching will be sufficiently clear. “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” (John 14:24). The unbeliever does not have the capacity or the possibility to love God. By nature, he cannot keep His word or understand the things of God.

Paul did nothing more than confirm in 1 Corinthians, what John recorded of the words of Jesus in his Gospel. Taking into account the question that Judas made to Jesus, “What then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?”, Paul gave us this answer: “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). Paul affirms that God manifests Himself to those that love Him. “To us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God” (verse 10). Only the Holy Spirit reveals the mysteries of God to those that love Him. “Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God… But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (verses 11-14). The natural men, without the Spirit of God dwelling in him, only has the spirit of the world and for that reason, he cannot understand the things of God.

In order to effectively reach the lost, we must recognize this teaching. According to 21st Century culture and the mentality, which accompanies it, the way that Jesus talked about sinners is not correct or acceptable. For that reason alone, and probably for many other reasons, if Jesus came back to this earth, he would be resoundingly rejected. He instructed His disciples, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matt. 7:6). It is clear that He was not speaking of literal animals, but of men with unregenerate spirits. They can never understand heavenly riches and, above all, they cannot correctly capture the meaning of the love of God. They will misinterpret and despise it. The gospel in our time, which offers the sinner the pearls of God’s love, is ignoring and throwing aside the teaching of Jesus. The result is that our churches are full of “half-converted” people.


The message that the Holy Spirit wants to give to the world through His people is not “Jesus loves you”, but one that convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment. The Spirit of God came to a world that had rejected Jesus Christ and, therefore, He must confront the sinner man with these three matters. The sinner must see them as terrible realities, so that, knowing that he has no one or nothing else to turn to, he will turn to Christ for salvation. The Spirit brings this conviction to the heart in such a way that the heart of man is totally in His grasp. He is more than convinced; the reality of eternal things takes possession of his being and he cannot find peace, until he surrenders.

Concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me. The faith that comes from God and finds Jesus alone as its objective is the only means to salvation in anyone’s life. Man, by nature, is an unbeliever and cannot truly believe. If he pretends to be a Christian, he must know that his own faith has only produced a false hope and, in spite of his personal religion, he has not truly believed in Christ. Since he does not have in himself the necessary faith to come near to God, he can only cry out as a repentant sinner, with nothing else to fall back on, and beg him to have mercy, as the publican in Luke 18:13. However, he can only come to this place through a work of the Spirit, who gives grace to bring him to a repentant state, as the first step toward salvation. Until he repents, he cannot believe. Why should God grant faith to someone who does not want to abandon his sinful lifestyle? Therefore, the Holy Spirit first deals with the matter of sin in a person’s life. This is the negative part, that which must be surrendered or renounced, so that he can take the first positive step of faith. He brings conviction to the heart through His word. Once he arrives at this point of desperation and surrender, God gives the necessary faith to enable him to trust in the faithful and divine Person, the God/Man Christ Jesus, and then believe in His powerful work on the cross and his victorious exit from the tomb, in order to be saved. God creates this faith by means of the preaching of His word: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).

Concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me. The sinner man must know that God is righteous and his righteousness is perfect. He will not pass over the slightest infraction of His law. The perfect righteousness of God does not permit forgiveness without effecting a full and just payment for each offense. If this were not true, no one could have any guarantee of a happy eternity, but as the Bible comes to an end, it assures us that in His holy city, “nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27). Jesus fulfilled and satisfied the perfect righteousness of God and ascended to heaven. He was accepted by the Father and His disciples saw Him no more. Now, the work of the Holy Spirit here in the world, by means of His people, is to convince men of this.

Concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. Perfect righteousness demands a sure judgment. In His death, Jesus “had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through the cross” (Col. 2:15). The prince of this world has been judged and one day his entire kingdom will come down with him. All his subjects live in the City of Destruction and, as the pilgrim in John Bunyan’s book, they must come to this conviction and flee from condemnation. The Spirit works in the inner man to make him recognize and tremble before the reality of hell. Therefore, the message must be presented to such a degree by those that He anoints that the listener will know that a judgment, which will determine his eternal destiny, lies before him.
This was the message of Paul and we see him in action in the book of Acts 24:25: “As he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, ‘Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.’” The Holy Spirit convicts of righteousness, judgment and sin… Here it speaks of righteousness and judgment, but the word “sin” is not used. However, “self-control” is the term Paul used to demonstrate to Felix that he was a sinner (for his lack of self-control). It is the power to say ‘no’ to temptations, which everyone knows, because he has a conscience, are wicked and destructive. This man, as many important men, was a slave to his passions and was subject to them. The message convinced him of his sin, but instead of repenting, he wanted to escape, sending Paul back to his cell. Truthfully, Paul was free in spirit, while Felix was a prisoner of sin and destined to eternal punishment.

We have seen much more positive results in many people. For example, a young lady in Germany told me of not sleeping for two or three nights, after receiving a gospel tract in the mail. Also, one of our granddaughters went through a time at only five years of age, when she would break out in tears because of her sin, even in public places, until she found peace in Christ. Similarly, an American commander of a military base in Germany had frightful visions of himself in the flames of hell.

If you will investigate how people, who were useful for the salvation of souls and who worked hand-in-hand with the Spirit, presented the message, you will be convinced that they all spoke of sin, righteousness and judgment. Preachers such as John Wesley and George Whitefield, after presenting these three matters to thousands in the open air, saw a corrupt England stand morally on its feet again, because of their ministries. According to conservative estimates, 500,000 people received Christ through the ministry of Charles Finney, of which 90% continued faithful to Christ throughout their lifetimes. Many times, speaking very directly of the sins of his listeners, at first he would see them angry, then frightened, but finally, as salvation was offered, they became joyful and tranquil. Duncan Campbell, used in the revival of 1949-50 on the Hebrides Islands off Scotland, did not preach the gospel in his public meetings, but afterwards in homes to people, who had fallen under a heavy conviction of sin in the meetings. They were desperately afflicted because of their condition before God.

Besides all we have already mentioned, C. H. Spurgeon said that the hearts of lost men cannot receive the gospel, until they are convinced of their transgression against God’s law and of the judgment that results. He was the famous pastor of the Nineteenth Century in London and one of the most read authors since then, by all the true church regardless of denomination.

I am sure that some, if not many of those who will read these words, will have to admit that they have never heard the salvation message presented this way. That demonstrates how far the people of God have detoured from the work of the Spirit in evangelism. I also must warn of a dangerous lie that is the cause behind this erroneous direction in which the church has gone today. Beware the person, who consciously or unconsciously, will deceive you by saying, “Yes, but those things are in the past. We are living in different times and people have changed. We can’t live in the past. We must see how to reach today’s people.”

Have you ever heard that argument? I have, many times. I saw a movement during the 1950-60s that pulled strongly in that direction, based on some verses, in which God spoke of doing new things. As is the tendency, there were people who reacted in radical form, eliminating almost everything that had to do with the past, including the old hymns of the church. In our times, some still exist who were influenced by these ideas and continue today with the same mentality. It is an old argument, which God’s faithful have had to withstand in past generations. My friend, Leonard Ravenhill, was accused of the same. He responded, “I will speak of true Christianity, wherever I find it, whether in the past or in the present.” The problem is that there is much less true Christianity to talk about in this 21st Century, than that which existed in days gone by.

Since this argument has always been common, someone with not a little irony and good humor wrote this little song many years ago:

Twas an old-fashioned meeting in an old-fashioned place,
Where some old-fashioned people had some old-fashioned grace;
As an old-fashioned sinner, I began to pray,
And God heard me and saved me in the old-fashioned way.

It’s the “old-fashioned” gospel, in which the Holy Spirit brings a strong conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment, that saves the soul eternally. I am a little encouraged to hear news of a movement among God’s people, who recognize the loss of these jewels and want to go back to the basis and the principles, which never change. The Holy Spirit moves among them.


In the same text, in which Jesus is speaking of the gift of the Holy Spirit, He also gave the following promise: “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). I go to something that I say and write many times: Prayer should be the primary activity of the church. As Jesus said, the church should be recognized as “the house of prayer”. In speaking of prayer, we are not talking about a religious ritual, weighed down with repetition and vain human effort, but we are speaking of souls passionately moved by the Spirit, who pour their longings and needs before the Father’s throne.

Luke clearly connects prayer with the Holy Spirit and for this reason His Gospel is sometimes called The Gospel of Prayer. For any person, who would like to study this fact in more depth, I give here a list of verses from the Gospel, in which references are made to prayer: 1:10, 13; 2:37; 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28, 29; 10:2; 11:1-13; 18:1-14; 19:46; 21:36; 22:40-46. It can also be called The Gospel of the Holy Spirit, because that theme appears from the first chapter: “(John Baptist) will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb… The Holy Spirit will come upon you (Mary)… Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit… His father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit…” (verses 15, 35, 41, 67).

Not a few have suggested that Luke’s second book should be called The Acts of the Holy Spirit” instead of The Acts of the Apostles, and I think they are right. The first verse of the book begins, “The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach.” (I only briefly draw your attention to the order of the verbs used: First Jesus did and then He taught.) In other words, in the Gospels we have only the beginning of the word that Jesus continued to do and teach in the book of Acts. We see this also at the end of Mark’s Gospel, stating that the disciples went out and “preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed” (Mark 16:20). As you see, it says the Lord was working with them, referring to Christ Jesus. Although He had ascended into heaven to be at the Father’s right hand, His presence continued to be a reality among the disciples through the Holy Spirit. Faithful to His character and ministry, the Spirit glorifies the Father in the Son. He attributes the work to Christ. As Jesus taught, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father”, in the same way, he who experiences the work of the Spirit, experiences the work of Christ.

It is the Spirit, who leads us into the life of prayer, so that “the Father may be glorified in the Son”. Why is prayer related to the Spirit? The answer is that He keeps us continually conscious of our great need of Christ, as Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” For that reason, the Christian, kneeling before the Lord, recognizes his weakness and his need for God. It is the only motivation that should take him to prayer, mindful that he cannot even pray without the help of the Spirit. He must be completely dependent upon God, because if he is not, prayer will be the work of an egotist, seeking God’s help to fulfill personal desires. The Spirit directs us to prayer in accordance with the will of God and for His glory. All these prayers are heard and answered.

Before Jesus began His ministry, John Baptist spoke of Him in relation to the two principle works that He would carry out. In the first place, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and then secondly, He would be the baptizer in the Holy Spirit (John 1:29, 33). In the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus presented the second work, when He exclaimed, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). In the following verse, John declared, “This he spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive.” The Holy Spirit is the fountain of living water that, through people like you and me, generates life wherever it flows.
When Jesus gave this cry, He must have been referring to Ezekiel 47, where water flowed from under the threshold of a prophetical temple. What this temple signifies prophetically at the end of the age is a study into which I cannot enter now. However, Paul taught us that at this time we are the temple of the Holy Spirit: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

If you would observe this scene from the threshold of Ezekiel’s temple, what you see flowing from beneath it could never be called rivers. This great life of the Spirit that dwells in us, His temple, has unlimited possibilities. However, because of the danger of pride, God does not permit us to be fully conscious of the evidence of life that this water produces, as it flows from us. We only are allowed to see a little, sufficient to encourage us to continue on. We know that the glory must be only for Him, who is worthy to receive all honor, because only He is the fountain of living water.

Ezekiel stated that, as he was led through the water about 500 yards, the water reached his ankles. Going an additional five hundred yards, the water reached his knees and, when he had walked 500 yards more, it reached his hips. Finally, after another 500 yards, he was carried by the river, because now he could not keep his feet on the bottom. There is no way to explain the growth of the river, unless we believe it to be a river, which has life in itself. In verse 9 of Ezekiel 47, it no longer spoke of a single river, but rivers that gave life wherever they flowed. It illustrates the unexplainable work of the Holy Spirit. According to what Jesus said, this will happen to those who come to Him and drink. Not only will He satisfy their thirst, but their lives will serve to generate life in others.


Many have confused the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, of which John the Baptist wrote, “This is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33), with a work of the Holy Spirit that Paul described. In the last chapter, I quoted Paul’s statement, “By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). This, however, is not the same baptism, of which John Baptist wrote. John declared to us that Jesus is the baptizer, but in the teaching of Paul above, the Holy Spirit is the baptizer. The substance, into which the Spirit baptizes, is a body, the spiritual body of Christ, which is the church. But the substance, into which Jesus baptizes, is the person of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian is a new creature. The new creation is a work that took place in the person of Christ Jesus. Paul taught that He is the “last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45). The human race began with the creation of Adam, whom God formed from the dust of the earth and breathed the breath of life into him. A new race came into being through a creation brought forth through Jesus Christ. After His death and resurrection, reunited with His disciples, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). Everyone who is born again, is born again of the Spirit in this way (John 3:5), and having received Him, He dwells within him (Rom. 8:9). It is the Holy Spirit that makes every believer a member of the body of Christ, meaning that He baptizes him into that body.

Nevertheless, that which took place on the Day of Pentecost in the upper room is told at the beginning of a book, based on the practical work of evangelization and the formation and development of the church. In the first chapter, it gives us a promise and the result of having experienced that promise: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In chapter 2, the Holy Spirit fills the house and all those present were submerged in the Holy Spirit. Peter attributed this outpouring of the Spirit to Jesus: “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear” (2:32-33). In chapter 4, the same people were filled anew of the Spirit (4:31). In chapter 8, the believers in Samaria had been baptized in water, the symbol that they had died to the old life and had been born into the new. After this, the Spirit came upon them.

In like manner, the history of the church gives the testimony of many people, who after having been born of the Spirit, He fell upon them to bring them to another spiritual dimension. We will not have space in this book to recall the testimonies of men like Jonathan Edwards, John and Charles Wesley, Charles Finney, D. L. Moody, A. B. Simpson, and many, many others, who were filled with the Spirit to overflowing. Not long ago, I listened to a message by John Piper at a pastor’s conference, speaking favorably about a book by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, written over the theme of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, called “Joy Unspeakable”. Those who God calls according to His will are given enablement through His Spirit.

In the Old Testament, we observe that Israel was not only saved from slavery and the reign of Egypt, when they supernaturally crossed the Red Sea, but they also entered the Promised Land, when they supernaturally passed through the Jordan River. This second experience took them into a very different dimension from the one that they had experienced during forty years in the desert.

Then, we also see Elisha, a disciple of the prophet Elijah, asking his teacher for a double portion of his spirit. He began his spiritual journey, when Elijah threw his mantle over him. Elisha left his old life of farming behind, sacrificing his oxen and plow. Joined with Elijah, he supernaturally crossed the Jordan River. Elisha was witness to the ascension of Elijah into heaven and, for the second time, the mantle fell upon him. So he received the double portion and began a ministry that surpassed that of Elijah (see it in 1 Kings 19:19-21 and 2 Kings 2:8-14).

Jesus said to His disciples, “You are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). This promise was fulfilled in 120 obedient people. As the children of Israel in the desert, as Elisha before crossing the Jordan with Elijah, as 120 poor and incapable disciples of Jesus, every person, who is born of God, needs a second experience. In the beginning of his spiritual experience, he lives due to the birth of the Spirit, but afterwards he meets the question concerning how he is to walk in Him. If he is not enabled by the Spirit, then how will he function in the Kingdom of God? A. W. Tozer testified, “At the age of 19, while I was fervently in prayer, kneeling in the living room of my mother-in-law, I was powerfully baptized in the Holy Spirit… Whatever small work that God has done through me, has to do with what happened to me in that hour.”

Each member of the human body has a natural gift so that the body can function, but when that member does not work correctly, it complicates and affects the rest of the functions of the body. The same thing happens in the body of Christ. Each member of that body can only function through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is a spiritual body, in which we cannot serve with our natural capacities. Everything has to do with the fullness of the Holy Spirit working in us.

Perhaps this chapter has produced a certain dissatisfaction and one sole question and longing comes to your mind: How can I be baptized in the Holy Spirit? Since I want to live a life that will give glory to Christ, how can I know His work through me and not my own efforts? Well, the only thing I can do is direct you to the fountain. Jesus said to the multitude as the feast came to an end, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” It was a very personal offer for each individual, was it not? I cannot tell you how He will do it in your life, but what I do know is that His work in you will not be exactly as He has done in the life of anyone else.
It does not have to do with the emotion produced in a large meeting or going to a person considered especially “spiritual” so that he can pray for you. It simply has to do with going to the One who baptizes to drink from Him. He is giving the offer and it is His desire to do it. You do not have to convince Him to do, what He already wills to do.

Go to Him and, as with everything that has to do with God, you receive by faith. He who is the same yesterday, and today, and yes forever, has said this, “I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you” (Mark 11:24). Do not tell Him how He should do this and what you expect to experience at that moment, because it is very probable that it will not be as you think. Trust Him, put your life in His hands, and expect a real fulfillment of your simple petition.


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