Billy Graham Center
World Congress on Evangelism, 1966
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Juan M. Isais

Esteemed fellow servants in the Lord: I consider myself highly privileged and blessed to take part in this discussion concerning the third Person of the Trinity.

Some people, to judge by their words and actions, think that the Holy Spirit -- His ministry, collective work, and all that He is -- has for many years been a special monopoly in the hands of evangelicals who emphasize the intervention and operation of the Holy Ghost. On the other hand., there are those who degrade the work of the Spirit of God, and refuse to take His ministry into account.

Throughout all of Holy Scripture every man and every movement that has been used, has been used because of the constraint of the Holy Spirit. Constraint is definite guidance to do those things with which God in His divine purpose has seen fit to entrust us.

We live in a badly oriented world that is tormented by uncertainty and dazzled by science. There are educators and also a number of religious leaders who have ignored the Great Commission and have shut themselves off in their little niches; they believe that Christ died only for them and, that they alone are the salt of the earth in our day. Faced with this kind of situation, we must accept our total responsibility toward a world that is dying without Christ, without God, and without hope.

Unfortunately, we have tried to hide our sin of unbelief, and our lack of evangelistic activity, by emphasizing our apparent differences and even our identification tags. Anyone who is genuinely constrained by the Holy Spirit cannot deny that only under God’s constraint can evangelism in general and personal evangelism be carried on with effectiveness, certainty and vision.

When a person is constrained by the Holy Spirit, social, organizational and administrative problems represent no real obstacle but rather become a challenge to true faith -- to the faith that Paul speaks of as calling “those things which be not as though they were.” When a man is constrained by the Holy Spirit, h thinks and works even against all hope, and does a supernatural work in a natural way.

If each of us here could understand the significance of being constrained by the Holy Spirit, we would spare no effort, today tomorrow, or any time, to direct all our resources into an evangelistic activity that is multi-faceted and, above all, constant.

It was the Holy Spirit Who constrained the mother of Moses to put him in a basket in the river Nile. It was also the Holy Spirit who constrained Pharaoh’s daughter to rescue him. Later it was the same Spirit of God Who constrained Moses to refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Who constrained him to deny himself the joys of temporal things in order to become a leader who was sustained by looking to the Invisible one and by bearing the reproach of Christ.

It was the Holy Spirit who removed Philip from an obviously and definitely blessed activity to dedicate him to answering the quest of a truth—tormented soul on the way to Ethiopia. It was the Holy Spirit who constrained Peter to renounce his exclusivistic spirit, to go to the house of Cornelius with the message of Good News for those who long, had agonized in prayer and good works for, the answer to ‘their spiritual restlessness. It was ‘the Holy Spirit who constrained Paul to say, “I stand at Caesar’s’ judgment seat.” And the same Spirit constrained the leaders of the Jerusalem Council to reject a restrictive philosophy and to accept a new one that received both Jews and Gentiles into one, body the Church of Christ.

The marvel is that Peter himself says in Acts 2:39: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” The work of the Holy Spirit, as we can see, is many—faceted. It is not circumscribed or determined by circumstances, time or people. Rather it is the definite answer to a contrite, humble, and above all, obedient, heart (II Chron, 7:14).

It is not sufficient to know theoretically that the Holy Spirit can constrain us; it is absolutely necessary to accept by faith that He will do so.

The apparent absence of concrete manifestations of the Holy Spirit today is due not to the lack of modern apostles, nor to any scarcity of information about Him, but rather to a negligent and unbelieving spirit on the part of leaders who proclaim the Good News of the Gospel ‘even while they refuse to give liberty to’ the Holy Spirit, and who compensate for this lack by a mechanization of the faith.

Unconditional surrender to God is not only advisable, but desirable ‘and imperative in every member of the body of Christ (Psalm 51). Personal surrender to the Holy Spirit by leaders responsible for the work today is indispensable for the good health of the evangelical Church in the Twentieth Century. We can never create ministers. Our task is limited to discovering those who, constrained by the Holy Spirit, deny themselves -- those who have lost their lives to find, themselves.

When the divine call becomes something mechanical then we obtain professional ministers prepared unto every good work but who have no consuming passion for their fellow men. We cannot successfully develop permanent evangelistic enterprises unless the Spirit of God has absolute liberty in them. We cannot plant or develop churches as long as we insist on patterns of thought that deny the Holy Spirit a time to, meet and abide in believers r that deny believers the opportunity to have lips, mind, and personality touched, cleansed, and pardoned as did Isaiah of old.

The Holy Spirit has the last word in regard to missionary work. Undeniably there are many mysteries, such as the absence of extensive missionary work for more than ten centuries. Nevertheless, some facts are obvious and it is well to consider them. The missionary philosophy of today tends constantly toward labor that implies neither faith nor sacrifice, neither self—abnegation nor the guidance of the Spirit. God has always been opposed to honoring methods that lack total surrender. The Holy Spirit uses not only people of a certain class; on the contrary, He uses anyone and everyone •who like Gideon will challenge the God of the impossible.

Of course good administrative sense requires organizational association with other agencies having similar purposes. The Holy Spirit should be taken very much into account in making our plans, in recruiting personnel, and in choosing places; we are to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance and not simply His accompaniment.

The Apostle Paul asked the Ephesians whether they had really taken the Holy Spirit into account in their plans, whether they had invited Him to cast light on the solution of their problems. Must we perhaps confess that we have acted impiously deciding first, choosing first, and then saying, “Now, Lord, carry on!” The natural consequence of such a spiritual farce is discouragement, frustration, a desire to mechanize, and. automatize our faith.

The words of Paul should be our exhortation: “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Note that the Apostle’s invitation is closely related to life in the home, to the life of work, to the relationships between parents and. children, between masters and servants. In a word if the Church is truly to be the Church, it must be filled and guided constantly by God.

As we return to our countries may we not be constrained by those who, knowing more than we, have been able to impress us. But may we be constrained to love and serve others by the Spirit Himself Who will not betray us, and Who, if we obey Him fully and constantly, will honor our ministry, whatever may be the circumstances, place, or people, with supernatural power.


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Wheaton College 2006