Who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6 ESV)
Paul reveals an astonishing truth in 2 Cor. 3:6 above: God has made us ministers of the New Covenant to minister the Holy Spirit to people. In unveiling this truth, he distinguishes between the ministers of the Old Testament who ministered the letter from New Testament ministers of the Spirit. So what does it mean to minister to the Spirit? How do we do that?
Jesus painted a glorious picture of ministering the Holy Spirit to people in John 7:38:
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” (John 7:38 ESV)
In this passage, Jesus pictures the believer’s heart as a gigantic reservoir of living waters flowing out like mighty rivers to give Water to the thirsty around them. So ministering to the Spirit is like giving people water to drink: the Water is the Holy Spirit, and drinking is receiving and experiencing the life of the Holy Spirit. In contrast to the Jewish scribes and Pharisees who taught the regulations of the Law, God’s ministers in the New Testament serve their hearers with words full of the Holy Spirit.
The most outstanding example of ministering the Spirit to someone is the conversion experience. When we preach the Gospel to people to receive Jesus as their Savior, we bring them to the banks of the Heavenly River and help them drink from the Living Waters as they receive the glorious gift of the Holy Spirit into their hearts. Paul says:
“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13 ESV)
So every time you win a soul by preaching the Gospel to them, know that you have just ministered the Spirit to someone.
After the salvation experience, the ministering of the Spirit continues. The next distinct experience is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as I have taught before. We also minister the Spirit when we bring people to receive the baptism of the Spirit. In Acts 8:17, Luke described what the Apostles did to the Samarans:
“Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:17 ESV)
The Apostles, Peter and John, laid their hands on the believers and ministered the Spirit to them. So laying on of hands, just as speaking words, is another avenue to minister to the Spirit.
Beyond the new birth and the baptism of the Spirit, there are still many situations and avenues through which we minister to the Spirit. Pau said:
“and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4 ESV)
He cast out devils by issuing commands, healed people in different ways, including body contact with handkerchiefs, and imparted spiritual gifts to ministers like Timothy by laying his hands on them. In short, we are a peculiar people and a chosen generation given the incredible privilege of ministering God’s Spirit to people.
How many of you felt something from the Spirit while reading this devotional? Do you know what “that thing” was? These words just ministered the Spirit to you. The Lord gave me the subtle for Deshen Daily as “the breath of the Spirit every day” for this reason. I pray every day that every devotional will minister joy, encouragement, edification, strength, understanding, faith, etc., by the power of the Spirit.
What does it mean to minister the Spirit to people? What are some of the avenues listed above by which we can minister the Spirit to people?
Apply the Word
As ministers of the Spirit, God wants us to give Water to the thirsty hearts around us. The lost need Jesus so badly, so provide them with a drink. Many Christians are empty and hungry, and some do not even know what they are hungry for. Give them the living waters of the Spirit. As believers, we also have many needs in God’s house and the world around us, from healing our bodies to deliverance from demons and everything in between. Dispense Rivers of Living Water, and give freely and lavishly!
Ask the Father to help us become more effective ministers of the New Covenant.