Sunday Sermon: ‘The Holy Spirit’ (pt 2) – Growing in Christ Series

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The days leading up to Christ’s crucifixion must have been difficult both for our Lord and His disciples. Though Christ was committed to do His Father’s will, scripture reveals that the thought of what was about to happen greatly troubled Him. On the night of His arrest, He prayed earnestly in the garden and sweated as if it were great drops of blood. Medical doctors tell us that such an event can actually occur when someone is under a tremendous amount of stress.

In addition to the Lord’s distress, there was that of the disciples. They were well aware of the tension that was growing between Jesus and the religious leaders. Perhaps they could see stress in Jesus’ face. Added to that were the Lord’s words that soon He would be laying down His life.

I. THE DISCIPLES’ WORRY

Jesus knows everything there is about us and He could see the worry in the hearts of His beloved disciples. Therefore He said to them –

John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

A. The Disciples’ Concern

The word ‘troubled’ means to be agitated, anxious, or experiencing distress. What was the disciples’ fear? I am sure that some of their questions were:

  • What’s going to happen to us once You are gone?
  • Are we going back to fishing, tax collecting or whatever?
  • Are we going back to living the way we used to be?
  • Is something tragic going to happen to us as well?

Fear often keeps men from being saved. Fear often keeps a new believer from growing. Fear can also keep us from serving. The fear of failure can sometimes be so great that it paralyzes us.

Let me share some things I have learned about the Christian life:

  • There are going to be times in your spiritual walk when you will be very proud of yourself, and rightly so. You’re growing as a believer and experiencing God on every hand.
  • There are going to be other times in your spiritual walk when you will be very ashamed of yourself.
  • But our success as a believer does not depend upon what we can do for God, but what we will allow God to do in and through us. Here is a great spiritual truth to help us overcome a lot of our fears –

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

We didn’t start this good work in our lives; God did. And He who began this good work will continue to perform it until the Lord comes back. The word ‘perform’ means – “bring it to completion.” I like the saying that says – “Be patient with me, God is not through with me yet.” The truth is – we’re all a work in progress.

The disciples’ minds were filled with fear. Yet Jesus wanted them to know that He had not brought them this far just to drop them. My security as a believer is based upon this truth – “I love Him because He first loved me.”

B. The Disciples’ Comfort

John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

The word ‘believe’ means – trust. Jesus was saying – ‘Guys, trust Me. I know what I am doing and I have a plan.’ God the Father planned our salvation. God the Son purchased our salvation. And God the Spirit performs our salvation. God began this good work in our lives through the new birth of the Holy Spirit and God will complete this good work by the Spirit as well. Paul wrote to the Galatians –

Galatians 3:3 Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

In other words – “Are you going to become spiritual by human effort?” The obvious answer is – “Of course not.”

II. THE SPIRIT’S WORK

Jesus told His disciples – ‘Don’t worry. Trust Me. I am not going to abandon you.”

John 14:18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

The world ‘comfortless’ literally means – “I will not leave you as orphans.” It’s the Greek word from which we get the English word – orphan. How is it that Christ comes to us? How is it that the Lord takes care of His followers?

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

Christ cares for His followers through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to take a look at some of the things the Spirit does in the life of the believer. Today I want us to focus on how the Spirit encourages us.

A. HE ENCOURAGES US

1. The Comforter

If you are using a King James Version of the Bible you see how they gave the name ‘Comforter’ to the Holy Spirit. Other translations use the titles of ‘Helper’, ‘Counselor’ and ‘Assistant.’ All of these titles are good and appropriate, but why did the King James translators stick with the word ‘Comforter?’ No doubt they did so because of the setting. This dialog between Jesus and His disciples began with –

John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

A major part of the Spirit’s work in the life of a believer is to provide him or her with comfort during times of difficulty.

The exact Greek word used here means – {one who is called alongside to assist}. The thought is that there is a need and the Spirit is there to help meet that need. Comfort and encouragement are great needs in the lives of God’s children. Life is hard and especially if you are a committed follower of Christ. Scripture says that all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. The more committed you are as a follower of Christ, the more you are going to be swimming against the current and therefore you need someone to help you. That person is the Holy Spirit.

2. How Does the Spirit Encourage God’s Children?

How does the Spirit encourage God’s children? I am sure that you can tell me many ways, but for simplicity in today’s message, I am going to list three:

a)  Encourages Us by His Presence             

We read from the book of Romans –

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

The title ‘Abba’ is the dearest term a child can use in speaking of their father. The word we use today is ‘daddy.’ The Spirit’s presence in our lives establishes a relationship with God that is so dear that we call Him – Daddy. Note what Jesus said to His disciples-

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

Through the indwelling presence of the Spirit, we are able to enjoy fellowship with the Father, Son and Spirit. Note what Jesus said –

John 14:18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

I’m sure that disciples were wondering – ‘How can You be in heaven and still with us?’ It is possible because the Father, Son and Spirit are three-in-one. Note what else Jesus said –

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

I often refer to my relationship with God as a personal relationship because God dwells in me personally. The Spirit of God dwells within a part of me that is so deep and secret that I don’t even know how to describe it. You have to experience it to know what I am talking about.

Here is something else that is wonderful about this relationship- there is nothing too high, too low, too far or to wide to keep me from the love of God. Outward circumstances can affect my relationship with God because the Spirit dwells within me.

b) Encourages Us with His Promises

John16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…

We are going to dedicate some lessons strictly for the Bible and what it means to the disciple; but for today allow me to say this –

The Bible is not a human book written by men in order to discuss religion. The reason some believe this is because they don’t know the author. They can examine the Bible only from a human perspective. They can’t see the spiritual side of it. What is the Bible? Where did it come from?

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God…

The word ‘inspiration’ means – ‘God breathed.’ Just as God breathed into man and man became a living soul; God breathed His Word to man. How did God breathe the Bible? Here is an interesting and important truth – the word translated as ‘breath’ is the same word translated as ‘spirit.’ God breathed to man His Word by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit-

(1) Revealed to men – the mind of God

(2) Guided men – accurately recorded such revelation

(3) Guides us as we study and read

There is more for us to study and learn about the Bible and we will do so in another lesson.

c) Encourages Us Through His Prayers                

Lastly, the Spirit encourages us through His prayers. Note this wonderful passage of scripture –

Romans 8:26 In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. 27  And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. CSB

The word ‘groanings’ refers to a prayer that arises during a time of distress. It’s a cry. It’s a sigh. It’s an expression of grief and sorrow due to difficult circumstances. During times of difficulty when we don’t know how to pray, the Spirit prays for us. Because the Spirit dwells deep within us, He knows our inner most thoughts. He also knows the perfect will of the God and therefore He takes our needs and presents them to God in a way that will meet our need and glorify God.

CONCLUSION

The Holy Spirit passionately desires to help us become full devoted followers of Christ. For two thousand years He has been indwelling believers and equipping them to live for God. The Spirit is able, yet there are certain requirements that must be met in order for Him to work:

1)  Salvation

We must know Christ as our Savior before the Spirit can begin to help us live for God. We must be born-again by the Spirit so that through our spirit we can have a relationship with God.

2)  Surrender

But even after salvation, there certain requirements that must be met in order for the Spirit to effectively work in us.

Paul writes – ‘Grieve not the Spirit.’  (Eph 4:30) To grieve means to cause sorrow. Christians can cause the Holy Spirit living within them to sorrow. How so? We can do so by living with unconfessed sin in our lives. Whenever a believer condones in their lives what they know to be sin, they cause the Spirit much sorrow and thus hinder His work of helping us become disciples of Christ.

In addition to grieving the Spirit, Paul tells us that we can also ‘ quench the Spirit.’  (1 Thessalonians 5:19) Whereas grieving the Spirit is hindering His work by our sins, quenching the Spirit is hindering His work by our stubbornness. As we read through the New Testament, we often come across the work of the Holy Spirit. One of the primary reasons the early church was so dynamic is because they were in step with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes He would open doors. Other times He would close them. Through their great sensitivity to the Spirit, they were able to discern His leading and thus do God’s will. However, whenever a believer carelessly and stubbornly goes through life, doing their own thing, they often quench the Spirit. To quench means to extinguish. Though a believer cannot extinguish the Spirit from their life, they can extinguish His power and influence.

In contrast to this Paul tells us to be ‘filled with the Spirit.’ (Eph 5:18) What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? To be filled with the Spirit means to live life as much as possible under His guidance and control. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul expressed it as ‘walking in the Spirit.’ To be filled with the Spirit or to walk in the Spirit simply means to give the Spirit complete control of every detail of your life.

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