Sunday Sermon: ‘The Holy Spirit’ (pt 1) – Growing in Christ Series

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This morning we come to a very important part of our study concerning what it takes to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. This morning we begin to look at the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We will not try to cover every detail concerning the Holy Spirit, yet we will consider His involvement in the life of the believer.

There are many passages we could turn to. The Spirit has laid upon my heart something Jesus said in John 16-

John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

I. Who or What is the Holy Spirit?

A. A Personal Being

I am happy to tell you that the Holy Spirit is not a ‘thing’ but rather a Divine Person who thinks, feels and acts. In the passage we just read Jesus repeatedly referred to the Spirit with personal pronouns.

  • “I will send Him unto you…”
  • “… when He is come, He will…”
  • “…He will guide you into all truth…”
  • “…He will shew you things to come…”

Most Christians understand their personal relationship with the Father and the Son. You will be blessed to know that the Holy Spirit is as personable as well. When we speak of having a ‘personal relationship’ with God, much of that personal relationship comes to us because of the Holy Spirit who is dwelling in each of us – personally. As a matter of fact, scripture says that ‘if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.’ (Rom 8:9) It is impossible to be a Christian and not have the Holy Spirit living within you. The Holy Spirit indwells each of us personally. He knows each of us personally. He prays and works and guides and teaches and uses each of us personally. I have a personal relationship with God because I have the Holy Spirit living within me.

B. A Divine Being

The Holy Spirit is a person, but He is a Divine Person. He is a Divine Being. He is God. Scripture teaches us that the Holy Spirit is a part of what we often call the Trinity. The word ‘trinity’ is not found in your English Bible. It is Latin referring to something that is three-fold. The Bible teaches us that there is one God and that He is three-fold.  The Westminster Confession of Faith states:

“There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”

Perhaps some of you are thinking about now – “Oh great! Pastor Terry is going to explain to us the Trinity!” I’m sorry to disappoint you but I’m not because I can’t; and neither can anyone else. Many have tried to do so and in their efforts they often make two great mistakes:

1. Mistake #1 – There are Three Gods

That is incorrect. Scripture is very emphatic that there is only one God. (Deuteronomy 6:4)

2. Mistake #2 – The One God Manifests Himself in Three Different Kinds of Ways

Though Mistake #2 is not as obvious as Mistake #1, nevertheless it is still incorrect. Mistake #2 suggests that God changes from one form to another, according to the need of the moment. In other words, sometimes He is the Father and sometimes He is the Son and other times He is the Spirit. An illustration that is often used to help explain this is water changing from a liquid to a solid to a vapor.

God does not do that. That is not an explanation of the Trinity. God does not lay down one role in order to pick up another. God is not at one moment the Father and the next moment the Son and the next moment the Spirit. The Father is always the Father and the Son is always the Son and the Spirit is always the Spirit, and often times in scripture we find the three interacting with each simultaneously.

“There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”

I humbly confess that I can’t fully understand or explain the Trinity. Many years ago a great theologian by the name of AW Tozer wrote a book called ‘The Knowledge of the Holy.’ Many would consider Tozer to be one of the greatest spiritual minds who has ever lived and his books have inspired thousands. Yet it is my understanding that sometime after his writing this book he actually made an apology. He apologized, not because he had written error, but because he felt that even his best effort was still unworthy of such a magnificent subject. How can anyone explain God?

Though I can’t explain the Trinity, I can tell you two very important truths about the Spirit that will perhaps help you to better understand His work in your life:

1. God the Spirit is ‘Separate From’ God the Father and God the Son in Role and Function 

John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

Forty days after His resurrection Jesus ascended back to the Father. Ten days later the Spirit came upon the church.

2. God the Spirit Never Acts ‘Separately of’ God the Father and God the Son

John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Everything that the Spirit desires to do in your life is not to bring glory or attention to Himself, but to help us fulfill God’s will for our lives. We often refer to the humility of Christ. I believe that this passage teaches us that the Spirit works in a very humble way as well. “For He will not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak…” The Spirit does not draw attention to Himself and therefore anything that seems to draw attention to the Spirit is probably not of the Spirit, but of our emotions.

Over the next few sermons, we are going to seek to know more about how the Spirit works in our lives. Let me say this – the key to knowing God the Father and God the Son in a deeper and more personal way, is learning to know God the Spirit in a deeper and more personal way. Scripture teaches us that as believers we can either ‘be filled’ with the Spirit, or we can ‘quench’ His power and ‘grieve’ His heart. The Holy Spirit is a Divine Person who desires to work in our lives in a very intimate and personal way.

II. What Does the Holy Spirit Do in the Life of the Believer?

A. The Holy Spirit and the Sinner

Actually the Spirit began to work in our lives, even before we became a believer. We would not be a believer except for the work of the Holy Spirit.

John 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

The word ‘reprove’ means to convince and to convict. Jesus said that it is the Spirit who convicts us of our sin and convinces us that we need a Savior.

Do you remember when you became a Christian? Do you remember some of those feelings and emotions that were stirring inside of you? Do you remember the heaviness of heart? Do you remember the weight of guilt for your sin? Do you remember how nothing else seemed to matter more than being saved? It was as though there was no one else in the world except yourself and God was speaking directly to you. Some people cry when they hear the Spirit speak. Others smile and almost laugh. Some like Felix tremble and become afraid. Others rejoice over finally seeing the truth.

Though there may be a variety of emotions whenever the Spirit speaks, we actually respond in one of two different ways:

  1. We receive His conviction and respond in faith by receiving Christ as our Savior
  2. Or, we resist the Spirit’s conviction and die in our sins

The Bible says:

‘For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) What does it mean to sin? To sin is to do anything that is contrary to God’s perfect standard of holiness. Even the smallest of sins is a great offense to the holiness of God. Who has sinned? The Bible says that all have sinned.

The Bible also says – “…the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a) What does that mean? Wages refers to something that we deserve because we earned it. If you work for someone, they pay you wages because you earn it. You deserve to be paid for what you have done. What has our sin earned us? The Bible says that sin earns death. The consequence of our disobedience to God is death. How does death affect us?

There are three parts to a man: body, soul and spirit. Sin affected each part of man.

1. Physical Death

We’re all in the process of dying. Each day we’re getting a little bit older and one day we will die. Some die when they are very old and others die when they are very young. Nevertheless, each of us will one day die and the reason we will die is because physical death is a part of the consequence of sin.

2. Spiritual Death

But it’s not just physical death that concerns us. There is also a spiritual death. When God created us, He made us with a body, soul and spirit.

The Bible teaches us that God Himself is a Spirit (Jn 4:24) and therefore in order for us to have a relationship with God, there must be a spiritual part of us as well. God created us with a spiritual nature.

But something happened to the spiritual part of man the day Adam and Eve sinned. The spiritual part of man died. Prior to their sinning, Adam and Eve enjoyed a fulfilling relationship with God. They met with God each day and talked with Him in the garden. But as soon as they disobeyed God and sinned, something changed in the spiritual part of their make-up. Rather than rushing out to meet God and to talk with Him, they hid themselves from His presence. Sin put a barrier between them and God. God was no longer their friend. He was now their enemy and as a result of their spiritual death they hid themselves from His presence.

3. Eternal Death

Sin brought death physically and spiritually. Sin also brings death to the soul of man. What is the soul? The soul is that part of man where he thinks and feels. The soul affects the will, the personality and the emotions. C. S. Lewis wrote – “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” The soul is the real you.

How did sin affect the soul? According to Revelation 20, one day sinful mankind will stand before God to give an account for their sin. They will stand there as souls clothed in human bodies. Their dead bodies will have been resurrected and reunited with their souls and together, as soul and body, they will be sentenced to an eternal lake of fire. There will they suffer physically, but also mentally and emotionally. They will also suffer spiritually because they will never know the love of God.

B. The Holy Spirit and the Believer

1. Conviction of sin

The first step in our salvation is that the Spirit of God convicts us of sin.

John 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

He causes us to become aware of our sin and need of a Savior. When a sinner responds by putting his faith in Jesus as his Savior, the Spirit then produces the New Birth.

2. The New Birth

The greatest passage of teaching on this is found in John 3.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

When Nicodemus heard the word ‘birth’, he naturally thought of our physical birth. “How can an old man be born again? How can we go through the birth process once again with our mothers?”

But Jesus was not talking about a physical birth. Jesus was talking about a spiritual birth.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

As we begin to hear the gospel message about our sin, the Spirit brings conviction to our hearts. He makes us aware of our sin and its penalty. He then begins to open our eyes to see and understand that there is forgiveness. He begins to reveal to us that Jesus Christ died for our sins. When we in faith turn from our sins and to God, the Spirit does something amazing. He brings life back to our dead spirit. We are as Jesus said, ‘Born-again.’ Actually the term here means – ‘we are born from above.’ God above brings new spiritual life to that which has been dead.

Conclusion:

How can we be born-again? What does it take to receive this new life from the Holy Spirit?

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. Jesus took our place of judgment. According to Christ, salvation comes through faith in Jesus.  When Jesus speaks of ‘believing’ in Him, He is referring to more than just mentally believing in Jesus. The word here means faith, trust, and commitment. It means to understand these spiritual truths, not just with your mind, but with your heart, and in faith turn to Christ and ask Him to become your Savior.

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