The Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead and He needs to be treated and respected as God. We must never lose sight of the fact of who He is and what the Scriptures reveal about Him. Ephesians chapter 1 givesusa picture of the Godhead. Verses 3-4 show us that the Father is the Originator; verses 4-12 show that Jesus is the One who makes it all possible; and verses 13-14 show us that the Holy Spirit is the One who equips and makes it real within the lives of God’s children.
The Holy Spirit also distributes gifts as He pleases (1 Corinthians 12:11). These enable us to bring the reality of the life of God to people in this world. Tapping into God’s knowledge is not just so we can do some spiritual party trick, but so that God can reveal something that will bring glory to His Name. Speaking in prophecy is not just so you will know which job to go after or home to buy. Prophecy is God speaking directly into people’s situations and affecting them by His life.
Some cults say that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for today: they were only necessary to see the early church established or until that which is perfect, the Bible, came into being. This last thought comes from 1 Corinthians 13:10 which says that when that which is perfect comes, the gifts that are partial will cease. But, what is “that which is perfect” and, more to the point, has it ‘come’? The Bible is the Word of God, but I do not believe it is what is described by the phrase, “that which is perfect”. There is still a greater revelation for us when God sets up His kingdom; the Bible indeed foretells that one day this fullness will be reality. When we see the Lord face to face we will not need the gifts, but until then they reveal God to the people.
Love, patience and faithfulness are often qualities needed when dealing with cult members and these are shown to be fruits of the Holy Spirit. We may have a measure of these things in our own personality but eventually that will be exhausted. Remember, though, God’s great ‘Enabler’ never tires and He can continue to provide these qualities beyond our own resources. Welcome the Holy Spirit into your life and give Him the opportunity to produce the fruits. Fruit is not just for you to hold and say how wonderful it looks. Fruit is to be tasted. Those in the cults will see the fruit of the Holy Spirit in you and will want to taste and see what it is.
We need the ministry of the Holy Spirit if we are to talk to the cults. He is the One Who provides the power for the steam train to run on the track of God’s Word. If you have not taken enough notice of the Third Person of the Trinity until now, do take this opportunity to seek God. Ask the Lord that He will give you a greater awareness of this Person of the Godhead and will reveal His vital work in your life.
The Changing Work of the Holy Spirit
If you are perfect, you have my permission to skip this section. All still here? Good! Most Christians are aware that they are not perfect and that changes are needed. In the area of communicating to the cults I find I need the Holy Spirit to make several things real in my life. He also has to change the way I do things. I can look back in my life to at least two occasions where God has had to bring me down to the ground. We cannot be used if we think we are the greatest thing since Balaam’s ass. We cannot be used if we just go blundering on like Elijah running away from that still, small voice. Even with the earthquake, thunder and lightning going on around us, we need the peace of God within to enable us to listen. The Holy Spirit needs to teach us these lessons. Sometimes the lessons are hard because we are determined to go our own way. The Holy Spirit brings a ‘softness’ to our personalities although we are not ‘softies’. He brings gentleness in the way we say the hardest things. These qualities are vital as we get ready to speak to the cult member.
James 1:19 highlights the pre-eminent quality of communication that we need the Holy Spirit to make real in our lives – and this has nothing to do with speaking. We are told to be quick to hear and slow to speak. We have two ears and one mouth and we need to use them in that proportion. So much can be accomplished as we listen to people telling us about themselves. The Holy Spirit can give us an insight into the character behind the words. If we have our pat answer ready and two minutes after the cultist has started, we are telling him the way to solve all his problems, I doubt if we are under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Many are ready to shout, “Jesus is the answer”, before anyone has asked a question. Many have learnt the appropriate Scripture and the appropriate counsel for each situation they come across. This does not work. We are not talking about static situations but about living people and each person will be different. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us to be quiet and let him do the talking when He is ready.
We are not to condone wrong attitudes and beliefs of cultists, yet at the same time we are not to condemn them, for what may be genuine reasons, for being in the cult. We must not put standards on them that God has not put on us. Hebrews 4:14 – 5:10 shows us that our High Priest can both understand us and sympathise with our weaknesses. These may not be qualities that come naturally to us, but they are qualities that the Holy Spirit can reveal in us. They are also vital qualities if we are truly going to help people be set free.
Victims of the cults need to be shown lots of love and care. They need to experience compassion and restoration. Our care for people will often have to go beyond just the initial ‘preaching of the gospel’. If they come to our church we may be helping them for many months. They may have said and done things of which they are now ashamed, or other Christians may have condemned them for what they have done. A few platitudes are not the answer. We need to meditate on Jesus’ treatment of Peter in John 21. There are clear indications that Jesus was deliberately reminding Peter – and maybe the others – of the night of the betrayal. The fire will have reminded Peter of the fire he stood beside and denied his Lord. Interestingly, the Greek word for “fire” in those two instances is the same and these are the only times that word is used in Scripture. Three times the Lord asked Peter if he loved Him, reminding Peter of the three denials. Jesus did not do it to condemn but rather to show the restoration work that God wanted to do in Peter’s life. Cult members have probably said and done many things that they now regret. Many may have even misrepresented Christ and persecuted Christians – as Paul did. And just as the Lord received and restored Peter and Paul, so we are to welcome and help these former cult members.
I cannot emphasise this quality of the Holy Spirit enough. John 16:8 tells us that the Holy Spirit will convict, not condemn. As those filled with the Holy Spirit, we will not have a ministry of condemnation, but the Spirit will move through us to convict the sinner. Condemnation says, “You have sinned and you have had it!” Conviction says, “You have sinned and this is the way out.” The Holy Spirit will convict these people but not condemn them.
Communication of the Holy Spirit
We should continually be learning lessons about the Holy Spirit’s enabling, although I’m sure we will never get perfect in one area before He moves us on to another. While our education continues, we can begin to learn about the next stage too. Having come to recognise at least the basics in our character that need to be changed, having ‘got into negotiation’ with God to do the work by the Holy Spirit, we can now look at the next step. In the last section we talked about our inward attitudes to thes
e people and the need to be silent and listen. Now we need to look at what we are to say when we open our mouths.
In our seminars at Reachout Trust, we teach various presentations that can be used with the different cults. We give no five-year guarantees and we also urge people not to rely just on the plans; it is the Holy Spirit who will convict a person of what is wrong and what is right. If we ever get to the stage of thinking that pointing out a specific verse in a particular way will mean that a person will come to Christ, we are going to be disappointed.
Jesus would often ask questions to get through this barrier. In Luke 10:25 we find a lawyer standing up to put Jesus to the test. Jesus, knowing what was going on, does not turn him away but answers his question with another question that reveals much to the man. Mark 11:27-33 reveals again Jesus’ way of asking questions. Knowing that whatever answer He gave to the question of authority, it would have been misused, He asked a simple question about the baptism of John. The scribes and elders would not answer Jesus because they did not like the truth and they knew that whatever they said would backfire on them; as a result, neither did Jesus answer their question. Asking questions can often reveal something to the person that no amount of accusation would bring.
Our presentations are similar; we want to make the person look at something in a different light so that all their standard alarms and protection mechanisms are switched off. With their power source disconnected, a new source can come online and the Holy Spirit will have a way into their life.
Most of those in the cults are still not ‘born again’ of God’s Holy Spirit and they are still looking at the things of God, with what Paul describes as ‘the natural mind’. He also tells us that the natural mind does not understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). How, then, are we to get through to such people? We read that we need to have spiritual words to express spiritual thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:13). This is the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us.
Teaching of the Holy Spirit
John 16:13 tells us clearly that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to lead into all truth. He may use us but it is His job and we can trust Him to do it in His time and His way. I remember an incident with one of the first Jehovah’s Witnesses that I led to the Lord. She was coming very close to receiving Christ as her Saviour but had a real problem about the Trinity. A succinct and helpful answer was needed. I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to say, “Don’t worry about it; it doesn’t matter for now.” Although I said it, feeling it was from the Lord, I did worry about it on the way home. I only stopped worrying when I remembered that on the night I came to Christ I did not believe or understand the Trinity. I did not even know that Jesus was God! At that time it did not matter. What did matter was that I knew that Jesus was God’s sacrifice for sin and that if I truly repented I would? could be saved. A few weeks later, after this woman had come to Christ, I was greeted with a broad smile when I knocked on her door. She told me excitedly that she had been reading her Bible and had seen the Trinity on every page! This is the work of the Holy Spirit.
I learnt some lessons from this incident. First, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to lead us into all truth. He has been doing it far longer and does it far better than we ever can. Commit the people you are dealing with firmly into His hands. Secondly, we are not to put conditions on people that God does not put on us. He does not demand that we fully understand the Trinity before we accept Him. We should not expect every cult member to get all their theology right before they repent and receive Christ. Sometimes it will take many months or years to do all that. This leads me to the third lesson; it is according to the Holy Spirit’s timing and plans that these things are dealt with. My job is to encourage cult members to trust themselves fully to God. This gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to work at His pace, and in His way, within their lives.
Leading of the Holy Spirit
Under this final heading I want to emphasise something we mentioned earlier in the chapter – the still, small voice within. Some of you will never have experienced a word of knowledge, but that does not mean that you never will. Some may think they have never made a prophetic statement that has brought the reality of God directly into the life of someone else, but there is always a first time. These gifts of the Holy Spirit are often stereotyped in our minds and that is partly why we do not experience them. We may think you have to be a preacher at the end of the meeting to get a word of knowledge about those who need healing or deliverance. The prophetic word must come in a booming voice, go on for several minutes and end or begin with, ‘Thus says the Lord’. These gifts may come like this, but that is not the only way. If we restrict them in this manner then we could be missing out on knowing the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.
Having learned all the rights and wrongs of what to do with cult members, and having learnt a great presentation and underlined all the relevant Scriptures, you may feel you are ready and nothing is going to stop you. You start at A and whatever happens you are determined to plough through to Z. There may be times when that is right, but please ensure that there is enough trust in the Lord to allow the Holy Spirit to whisper something to you. He may reveal to you that this cultist has a doubt over one aspect of the faith and that you should mention that subject. Don’t think you can’t, simply because this is not what you have prepared. The Lord may want to speak directly through you.
How will you hear or see these words? Probably not by someone writing them in the sky or by a booming voice in your ear. It will not be an audible voice at any level, but just a feeling within your spirit. Respond to that still, small voice as Elijah did. You will be nervous and there will probably be times when you make mistakes, but there will be other times when you see the Holy Spirit working. I remember spending several hours with two Jehovah’s Witnesses and getting absolutely nowhere. It was about “I AM” and I was just about to go when I had a feeling that I should introduce a particular Scripture that I never usually mention to Witnesses. I will never forget the look on the face of one of them: it was just as if he had been hit in the stomach by a heavyweight boxing champion; I knew that at that point the Holy Spirit spoke to him.