Truth for Life  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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-As we get back into our look at creeds and confessions that help us define what we find in Scripture, we find ourselves in the beginning part of the third section of the Apostles’ Creed. We find that the creed reads this way:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary; Suffered under Pontius Pilate; Was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From there he shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit;
-Each section reflects a member of the Trinity, and the third section begins about the Holy Spirit. There are a lot of strange ideas in Christendom about the Holy Spirit, who He is, and what He does. There are, of course, what we Baptists would call the excesses of the charismatic movement. But even more mainstream evangelicals have wrong ideas about the Holy Spirit as we often move Him merely to the category of an empowering energy—like the Force of Star Wars.
-In one of his books, J. D. Greear talked about a Christian singer who rented a recording studio. After an extensive setup and sound check, she began performing her first song. The sound technician thought it sounded great. But about halfway through the first verse, she stopped abruptly, threw up her hands, and said, “It s no use. Turn it off! He’s not here.”
“Him who?” the technician wondered. The singer replied, “the Holy Spirit. His presence—it’s missing.” She called a few friends into the studio, and they commenced to laying their hands on various pieces of equipment, praying for God’s presence and dabbing the equipment with oil.
After a few minutes, she began singing again. About thirty seconds in, she again said: “Stop! He’s not here. Let’s pray again.” Another fifteen-minute session of walking about the room: anointing, shouting, muttering incantations. Again she started … and again she stopped.
And again in came the prayer posse. By this time, the sound tech was getting annoyed. His equipment was getting greasy. As she began recording for the fourth time, he noticed that the reverb on her monitor was turned off, so he reached down and turned it up, at which point she put her hands in the air and began to say, “Hallelujah, there he is! He is here!” “The sound tech simply didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was the reverb and not the Holy Spirit.
-We think that we can manipulate the Holy Spirit into anointing our own agendas, but that is not the work of the Holy Spirit. Yes, the Holy Spirit empowers. Yes, the Holy Spirit moves and works—but, it’s not for ourselves, but for what God wants to do and work and accomplish. I want to briefly talk about what the Bible says is the work of the Holy Spirit.
-Jesus said something that we might find astounding.
John 16:7 ESV
7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
-We would never think in a million years that it would be good for Jesus to go away. But, as long as the earth was the way that it is, and as long as humans were in the condition that they were, after Jesus accomplished redemption He and the Father were going to send a Helper, a Paraclete—one who would come alongside the people of God to accomplish great works to advance God’s kingdom. Since the people of God would be spread throughout the world, God would need His Spirit to go and indwell and empower the saints throughout the world. So, Jesus tells us:
John 14:16–17 ESV
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
-After Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension there would be a change in the dynamic of how the Holy Spirit interacted with God’s people. The Old Testament talks about the Holy Spirit coming upon people at certain times for certain tasks. But now, the Holy Spirit would actually indwell God’s people. The Holy Spirit doesn’t come and go and needed. The Holy Spirit actually abides, lives within, the believer. That means not only is the full power of God in our midst, but the full power of God actually is inside of us. But what exactly does this Helper do that Christ’s presence could not accomplish at this time in the condition that the world is in?
John 14:26 ESV
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
-This verse initially speaks of the Holy Spirit coming upon the apostles, bringing to remembrance what Jesus said and did, and then inspire them to write the Scriptures so that future generations would have the revelation of God. The Holy Spirit guided this process the entire time. In fact, we’re told:
2 Peter 1:21 ESV
21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
-This is why Paul can say that every part of Scripture is God-breathed—the Holy Spirit led these men to write what they wrote so that the world would know what Jesus taught and accomplished. But now the promise is given to us that the Holy Spirit who resides in us will teach us all things as He brings to mind the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will enable us to read Scripture and help us understand Scripture and how to apply it to our lives.
-Having said that, this does not mean that we simply skim a passage of Scripture and we will just be automatically enlightened to every single thing that is found therein. There is effort that we put in on our part of praying over and wrestling over Scripture. And when we do that, the Holy Spirit will enlighten us to what it says. So that means the Holy Spirit uses time and effort on our part along with His own leading and teaching so that we understand what God revealed. As Al Mohler wrote:
The Holy Spirit gave us the Scriptures, opens our eyes to see the Scriptures, and opens our hearts to believe God’s Word.
-That means the Holy Spirit takes the Word, and empowers the Word, and applies the Word. As God said...
Isaiah 55:11 ESV
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
-Then, related to this, the Holy Spirit uses His power, influence, and Word to testify of Christ. We see...
John 15:26–27 ESV
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
-While every member of the Trinity is equal in divinity and essence and nature, each serves a specific role. This is a great mystery and we may not fully understand it all, but we notice that the Holy Spirit does not come to bear witness about Himself. Yes, He has a role to play in God’s dealings with humanity and redemption of humanity, but His role is not to highlight Himself and what it is that He does. Yes, He works in us and through us and much more, but the Holy Spirit never makes Himself the center of attention. The Holy Spirit comes to bear witness to Christ. The Holy Spirit places the spotlight on Christ.
-That’s why we have to be so careful with how we talk of the Holy Spirit, and why we are so careful not to fall into the excesses of so many charismatic brethren—they highlight the baptism of the Spirit and certain gifts of the Spirit and make it all about the Spirit. The Spirit Himself never makes it about Himself. You know that the Holy Spirit is at work when Christ is put at center stage. The Spirit will enlighten us to Christ in Scripture and at work in our lives. The Spirit testifies to the person and work of Christ. We see another aspect of the Spirit...
John 16:8–11 ESV
8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
-The Holy Spirit will convict people of their sin. He convicts unbelievers of sin so that they will seek Christ for salvation. He convicts believers of sin so that they repent and are able to walk in holiness. The Holy Spirit convicts of righteousness in that He will guide people to God’s version of righteousness and justice, not man’s version. There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, will convict people about what is really right. And the Holy Spirit convicts of judgment, testifying to the truth that judgment will come. It will come to earth in temporal judgments for sin, but it ultimately comes to the unbeliever in that they will be judged for eternity. Related to the last two aspects that I have mentioned, we also see...
John 16:13–14 ESV
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
-While man’s natural tendency is to walk toward lies and sin, the Holy Spirit will guide someone to truth. This truth is not based on anything other than what God has revealed. And when He guides people toward truth, they will be convicted of their sin. And then we also see that the Holy Spirit will glorify Christ as He declares the truth that Jesus has revealed. This reminds us that the Holy Spirit will never, ever guide or convict someone outside of the boundaries of Scripture. But then, next, we see that the Holy Spirit also empowers us to live lives holy and pleasing to God.
Romans 8:12–13 ESV
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
-I’ll talk more about the Holy Spirit’s work in salvation next week, but we see that after salvation the Holy Spirit will put us through a process of sanctification that will kill sin within us day by day. We cannot hope to put sin to death if we do not depend upon the power of the Spirit. But there is not just the negative aspect of this work of holiness, but there is also the positive form as well—the Holy Spirit doesn’t just remove sin from us, but He also develops a right character within us.
Galatians 5:16 ESV
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Galatians 5:22–23 ESV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
-The Holy Spirit will kill sin within us, and then the Holy Spirit will empower us to walk with Him and put on display the fruits of Christlikeness.
-While we quickly reviewed some work of the Holy Spirit, the rest of the Apostle’s Creed also talks about aspects of His work that we will touch upon next week. But remember that the Holy Spirit, while God, is not our focus. As one person put it...
It is as if the Spirit stands behind us, throwing light over our shoulder on to Jesus who stands facing us. The Spirit’s message to us is never, “Look at me; listen to me; come to me; get to know me,” but always, “Look at him, and see his glory; listen to him and hear his word; go to him and have life; get to know him and taste his gift of joy and peace.” The Spirit, we might say, is the matchmaker, the celestial marriage broker, whose role it is to bring us and Christ together and ensure that we stay together.
-May we pray that He does that work in our lives and the lives of others...
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