Why Preach on the Holy Spirit Right Now?

August 5, 2017 1:19 pm

Power and Presence: Living Life in the Holy Spirit

Part One: The Lord and Giver of Life

John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7,13-14; 20:19-22

Message Notes for August 6, 2017

For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church, and every kind of grace.” – St Irenaeus

We begin a new series today looking at the person and work of the Holy Spirit. That might be as unsettling for some people as it is intriguing to others. There may even be some who are like the people in Acts 19 who told Paul, “We haven’t even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

Why should we do this? Why should we take the time to focus on the Holy Spirit?

We could answer that negatively by simply noting that there is a lot of confusion and ignorance about the Holy Spirit, or that extreme and dangerous teaching has upset and harmed many. That’s true; as Luther said about some extremists in his own day, “They’ve swallowed the Holy Ghost feathers and all!” Then there’s the other extreme: willfully ignoring and quenching the Holy Spirit, who has been called ‘the ugly stepsister of the Trinity for our denomination’ (The PCA). So wrong! Calvin, according to BB Warfield, was ‘THE theologian of the Holy Spirit’. But let me head in the opposite direction and give you a few positive reasons why we need this season of study so badly.

Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit and we need to know what Jesus taught. We must sit at his feet and embrace his words, and receive the Spirit’s work the way Jesus intended. In fact, the central subject of Jesus’ last discourse before his crucifixion, in private with his disciples, is the Holy Spirit. To ignore the Spirit would in some ways be tantamount to ignoring Jesus teaching.
Jesus and the Father give us the Holy Spirit as a promised gift. How could we possibly ignore a gift long promised and given at such cost? It would be incredibly ungrateful and arrogant to turn up our noses at the very Person the Father and the Son sent to unite us to them. Jesus said we have to be born of the Spirit and we must worship in the Spirit, the first thing he did after being raised from the dead by the power of the Spirit is to give the Holy Spirit to his disciples. This is important! Jesus said it was to our ‘advantage’ that he go away so that the Spirit would come (John 16:7).

Everything happens through the Holy Spirit. He’s the one who is at work to bring everything the Father plans in eternity and the Son wins in history into our experience personally. He’s the one who makes preaching and mission effective. He’s the one who leads us into the truth. He’s the one by whom we pray and worship. He’s the one who inspired the Bible. The Holy Spirit is the One who unites us to Christ.

You can’t open the Bible without running head-on into the Holy Spirit. He’s everywhere, starting on the very first page! (here, cite Gen 1 and then offer several OT examples, from Joseph to Bezalel to David to the promise of Joel). Actually, there’d be no Bible at all without the Holy Spirit!

Living by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit is the new normal for Christians. It’s that simple. Just a cursory reading of Romans 8 – the central chapter of the most important letter Paul ever wrote – maybe even the most important book in the whole Bible – is all about the Holy Spirit and living in the Spirit. In fact, in the first 27 verses of that chapter, the word ‘spirit’ shows up 29x! The Spirit’s life sets us free from spiritual death; the Spirit dwells in us and will cause our bodies to be raised from the dead; we are led by the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit; pray in the Spirit, receive the witness of the Spirit, and have the Spirit of adoption by which we cry out, ‘Abba Father’. In fact, Paul writes that if someone doesn’t have the Spirit he can’t be a Christian at all! Wow!

So I’d say this is pretty vital territory we’re venturing into and it deserves our sustained attention.

My experience as a child – kinda scary because when he was mentioned at all we said ‘Holy Ghost’, not ‘Spirit’. Personally speaking, as a five-year-old, I found the idea of God being a ghost a tad frightening!
It didn’t get any better when I was a teenager… my story about asking friends about the Spirit: damned if I did and damned if I didn’t!

So how can we begin to be better acquainted with the Holy Spirit? Let’s bear in mind what we say in the Nicene Creed: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord ,and giver of life…

I. The Lord: The Spirit of God is God – John 15:26
A. Two mistakes people make about the Spirit
1. De-personalizing the Spirit: turning the Spirit into an ‘it’, a ‘force’; but Jesus called the Spirit ‘He’, a Person. You can’t lie to a force, but Peter told people they lied to the Spirit; a force isn’t ‘grieved’, but the Spirit can be.
Trinity so often in view when the Spirit comes
2. Marginalizing the Spirit: forgetting that we depend on God for everything
B. The main ‘job’ the Spirit does: “He will testify of me..”
– Make Jesus real in human hearts
– JI Packer: like a great spotlight shining it’s beams on a beautiful city center Cathedral at night.
– God the Holy Spirit reveals God the Son so that we might become the sons of God the Father.

II. The Giver of Life: Spirit of God is Our Very Life – John 20:19-22
* The first thing Jesus did when he was with his disciples was to breathe on them and say, “Receive the Spirit”
– Breath – Wind – Spirit (Ruach/Pneuma)
– Genesis 2: God breathing life into us.
-The new creation is underway; the age of the Spirit has begun!
* Ezekiel and his preaching to the bones and invitation to the wind/spirit
Are you discouraged by the church today? You see bones, but God sees an army rising!

This is what happened at Pentecost: the breath became a mighty wind and filled them and then ignited the world. The fire is spreading still.

I do think some of us had suffered some gut punches and had the air knocked out of us though. We need to have a fresh encounter with God the Holy Spirit making Jesus real in our lives. “Breathe on me breath of God/til I am wholly thine/Til all this earthly part of me/Glows with thy fire divine”

The Spirit is bringing you life today, by the word, by his presence, and by the body and blood of Christ. Come and be filled. Come and LIVE!

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