I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT!
JOHN 16:1-15, 5/28/2017
Introduction: A group of Christian disciples in the Church of Ephesus in the First century were asked a question by the Apostle Paul, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Of Course, this group of believers must have heard about the Holy Spirit if they listened at all attentively to John the Baptist, but what kept them in ignorance? The same ignorance is still prevalent in many churches in all denominations worldwide even after 2000 years. Why such unbelief and resistance?
I grew up in a Lutheran Church, I was sprinkled as a child, was confirmed at age 13. For our confirmation, we need to memorize and recite the apostle’s creed, which goes like this, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen. (The Apostles Creed 390 AD, by Ambrose)
From that day, until age 18, I sincerely, along with my parents and the other members of our church, habitually recited each Sunday saying, “I believe in the Holy Spirit” Yet I just limited the Holy Spirit to the Apostle’s Creed and to the Bible, like the believers in Ephesus, I never realized that the promised Holy Spirit was for my advantage and for my help. When I accepted that truth and opened my heart to the person and the work of the Holy Spirit, my life has never been the same. I title this message, “I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.”
Last week, we learned that Christ consoled the grieving disciples by assuring them that they were not going to be left out as orphans, because he was going to send another helper. He said, that the Helper will be, with them forever and he will be in them. Do you think, the disciples believed everything that Jesus was saying right away? No! they had problems with unbelief. So, he said to them again, “I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.” (John 14:29) In the passage we read, he goes on to explain, why he was going away, why then, was he telling them about the Holy Spirit, and what was the nature and the work of the Holy Spirit. Let’s get started.
I. JESUS PROMISES THE HOLY SPIRIT (4-7)
The first four verses talk about what was going to happen to his disciples once he was gone. They will be brought before courts, persecuted and even be put to death. In fact, those who would kill them would think that they were doing a favor to God. Why would they do that we wonder. Jesus said, they will do such things because they have not known the father or him. He went on to say, in Vs 4-5“I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me.” In Vs, 7 he explains the reason why he was going away.
Vs 7, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good (advantageous) that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate (helper) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Let’s look at this scripture in detail. “Very truly I tell you” In John Gospel alone there are about 25 times the words, “verily verily or verily truly mentioned. It is funny, when I was typing the MS word program kept showing me to delete the repeated words as if it was a mistake. Why did Jesus use this repeated word, was it a mistake, ran out of words or was he trying to communicate something very important that the disciples must pay attention to?
Whenever Jesus used a same word twice to emphasize a certain truth, the emphasis here is whether or not Jesus was telling the truth, but the truth he was telling was significant and important to listen to, and the very lives of the disciples were depended on that truth. In other words, Jesus was saying to his disciples “you must pay close attention to this truth.” What did disciples need to pay attention to? Jesus was going away for their advantage and unless he went away the helper would not come, and when he comes he will guide them into all the truth.
The Greek word that was translated here as “advantage” has a range of meanings: “To bring together, to be profitable, advantageous, to conduce and benefit. It was for more than one reason Jesus was going away and promised to send the Holy Spirit (the helper) to be in and with the disciples forever. They must believe and accept this forever promise of truth for their own benefit and survival. Jesus further explained the work and the nature of the Holy Spirit.
II. THREE EXCLUSIVE WORKS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (8-11)
Vs 8-11, “When he comes, he will prove (convict) the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” These scriptures tell us what only the Holy Spirit, and no one else can do these three-exclusive works: In NASB it is translated, “When he comes he will convict.” Conviction here implies not merely the charge, but the truth of the charge and very often also the acknowledgment, if not outwardly, yet inwardly of its truth on the part of the accused. What will the Holy Spirit convict?
Firstly, He will convict the world and individuals of their sin. What are the two greatest sins of all? One is pride and the other is unbelief? Pride says, I don’t need God I can do it myself. Unbelief says, I don’t believe in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God’s word the Bible.
There are many people around the world in spite of divine appearances and intervention of God, and the evidence of changed lives would remain as skeptics and unbelieving. One thing we must realize that apart from the Spirits convicting work, people can never see themselves as sinners. Secondly, the Holy Spirit will convict them about righteousness. There are certain people in this world, who will never admit that they were wrong or they would never do anything wrong. They are always right and everyone else is wrong. Do we see them in the world?
What does the scripture say about people in general and particularly such people who boast? The wise King Solomon acknowledged long ago, “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” Ecce 7:20. The Apostle Paul reiterated, “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12
These scriptures tell us that no one is sinless, we all have sinned and are found guilty before God. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and when we repent of our sins he will cleanse us from all our sins, clothe us with the righteousness of Jesus and present us before God faultless. That has to be the work of the Holy Spirit, and no one will be able to pronounce a sinner guiltless and make him right before God.
Thirdly, the Holy Spirit convicts the individual believer and the world about the upcoming judgment. God has already pronounced judgment upon Satan who is known as the great deceiver, who is deceiving the world into sin. The Holy Spirit shows us what will happen to Satan and to all those who follow him, they all will end up in the fiery lake also called hell. Only when we believe in the Holy Spirit, will we believe these truths, because they are the exclusive works of the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at the nature of the Holy Spirit.
III. THE NATURE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (13-15)
In many churches, when it comes to God the Father, and His Son Jesus there is reasonable acceptance and agreement among them, but when it comes to the Holy Spirit, there seems to be so much misunderstanding, misinformation and controversy. I wonder why? Moving away from the controversies surrounding the third person in the Trinity, namely the Holy Spirit, I want to share what I believe the Bible says about the nature of the Holy Spirit.
During my ministry experience I met a lot of genuine believers, who struggle with how to address the Holy Spirit. In the passage we read alone, Jesus, referred the Holy Spirit as “He (14 times). There are many more scriptures that address the Holy Spirit as “He” There is no evidence in scripture where the Holy Spirit is referred as she or it, therefore we can safely assume and call the Holy Spirit, “He”
Let’s look at the other aspects of the Holy Spirit: He is the Spirit of truth, he is our guide, he is humble and only speaks what he hears from the father, he remains in the background and elevates and glorifies Jesus. He reveals to us what he receives from Jesus. He will show us the things that are yet to come. In other places, we see him as: counselor, helper, advocate, teacher, miracle worker, and intercessor. He is mighty, powerful and yet gentle and gracious.
The Holy Spirit is a person, so he has emotions, he relates to people as a person. He can be resisted, grieved, lied to, blasphemed and insulted. Above all these natural attributes he is the third person in the Trinity, that puts him equal with God. Therefore, we need to regard him and address him as God the Holy Spirit. So, far I have shared with you all these exclusive, claims and wonderful attributes of the Holy Spirit that are recorded in the Holy Scriptures. But none of these means anything and have an impact on you unless you really believe in the Holy Spirit.
In the beginning, I shared with you my personal journey of faith, and how I evolved in my belief in the Holy Spirit. Without a doubt in my mind I believe in the Bible, and I also believe what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit. I have personally experienced the presence, the power and continued working of the Holy Spirit in my life over and over again. I also have seen the same in the lives of many believers. What the Bible says about the Holy Spirit is very true, but what matters is that do you believe and appropriate this truth for your personal life?
In closing, I want leave you with a few questions, during the week before the Pentecost. Do you limit your understanding of the Holy Spirit only to the scriptures and your church tradition? Or you really believe in the person, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit? Would you open up your heart and acknowledge his presence in your life and yield yourself to his continued work of sanctification and transformation? Would you long to be lead and guided by the Holy Spirit in you day to day life? If you are sincere, the Holy Spirit will reveal himself to you, will help you, teach and guide you into all the truth. My prayer is that, we all will say, affirmatively, without a doubt, Yes, We Believe in the Holy Spirit! Amen