The Fundamentals of Our Faith;
What We Believe Sermon Series
“We Believe in the Holy Spirit”
Gloves are an amazing thing. They can pick things up. Then, I drop it on a hymn book or Bible and tell it to pick up the book. When it doesn’t move, I apologize for its failure and assure them that I’ve seen it pick up books before. I suggest it might be too heavy, so I move to a smaller book. When it still doesn’t work, I move to a piece of paper.
I need to put the glove on my hand. I then suggest that I neglected something important. A glove can’t pick anything up without a hand inside it. We can’t do anything significant unless the Holy Spirit is inside us. Just as the glove can do things with my hand inside it that it cannot do by itself, so we need the Holy Spirit.
And yet, so many believers try: to deal with their sin problems without calling upon the Holy Spirit; to handle their personal problems without getting guidance from the Holy Spirit; and to serve God without getting power from the Holy Spirit. We are going to look at the vital role that the Holy Spirit plays in the believer’s life, and why we should include Him in our daily walk with the Lord.
The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
The Holy Spirit helped create the universe and man in Genesis 1:2 “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” and Job said, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
The Spirit equipped individuals for service. He gave power to judges and warriors as in Judges 14:6 “Then the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him [Sampson], and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat.” “The Spirit came upon people for a particular purpose in this manner, but they did not necessarily transform their moral character unless they called out for it.”
He gave wisdom and skill for particular jobs, including those of a nonspiritual nature. Bezaleel was filled with the Spirit to work gold, silver, and bronze for the tabernacle (Ex. 31:2-5).
The HS inspired the prophets. When they spoke they would often say, “This is what the Lord says.” They would also attribute their message to the Spirit such as Ezekiel 2:2 “And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. And he said to me, “Son of man, . . .”
The HS moved people toward moral living. David committed adultery and murder and he repented and pleaded with God to create a new heart within him. David pleaded with God not to remove His Spirit from him, Psalm 143:10; “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!” and 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
The Spirit foretold the coming of the Messiah. “The references that anticipate Jesus are of two kinds. There are those that prophesied a direct indwelling of the Spirit in one messianic figure. Other prophecies contained a more general message, telling about the new covenant people of God, with the Spirit given to all people of all classes.”
Scripture suggests the HS caused men to grow more and more conscious of their inner need for God’s help if they were to serve the Lord and be morally pure. In the latter parts of the OT, some scholars detect an awareness, on the part of believers, that the human government of Israel would never succeed in achieving the purpose of Jehovah, and that in time, the Spirit would be given to all God’s people, not only to the people of Israel.
The Holy Spirit’s Work in the Life of the Believer
The gift of the Holy Spirit was increasingly unfolded in Jesus’ lifetime on earth. He was conceived by the HS and born of Him (Luke 1:35). Jesus was led by the Spirit (Matthew 4:1). He was anointed for His ministry by the Spirit in a special way at His baptism (Matt. 3:13-17). He offered Himself as a sacrifice through the Spirit (Hebrews 9:14), and He was raised from the dead by the power of the Spirit (Romans 1:4). He gave commandments to the apostles, and through them to the church, by the Spirit (Acts 1:2).
Then, following His death and resurrection, Jesus gave His disciples His last instructions in Acts 1:4-5, “And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
At Pentecost approximately 120 were gathered in Jerusalem for prayer, suddenly a violent wind came from heaven as did tongues of fire. Acts 2:1-14 “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” This event marked the time when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in any person that places their faith in Christ – immediately at the moment of salvation.
Of the three persons of the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit is vitally and intimately involved in our initial salvation, and the ongoing development as a Christian. The Holy Spirit is as much a person as God the Father and God the Son. He is not an impersonal “it” or ghost.
Jesus has completed what was required to accomplish salvation for humanity – through His death, burial, and resurrection. He ascended into heaven, and His present ministry is praying for us. The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to apply salvation to believers:
Conviction: causing us to see sin and to desire righteousness, leading us to receive Christ as our Savior (John 16:8). Without the unveiling of sin by the HS, we would not believe we are really sinning. Whenever a person comes to a sense of his own sinfulness, whether by the preached word, written, or personally spoken word, the Spirit of God has been at work.
Regeneration: causing our old, dead spirit to be born again, so that we are now spiritually alive (Titus 3:5)
Indwelling: coming to live within us to help us live out our new life (1 Cor. 6:19-20). The Spirit’s work is to reveal what the holiness of God desires for us. Through Jesus’ death He gives us His righteousness; He makes us sensitive to anything that goes against God’s revealed righteousness.
Baptism: placing us, spiritually, in the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).
Sealing: marking us as God’s own possession and guaranteeing our eternal salvation (Eph. 1:13-14).
The Holy Spirit is called, in the New Testament, our paraklete. This is a combination of two words, para – beside, alongside, and kaleo – to call, invite, or summons. Therefore, the meaning is “to call or summon someone to come to your side to help.”
As our paraklete, the Holy Spirit does a number of things. He:
- Helps us have inner assurance of salvation (Rom. 8:16)
- Helps us understand the Bible (1 Cor. 2:9-10, 13)
- Helps us understand God’s ways (Eph. 1:17-18)
- Helps us in our prayers (Romans 8:26-27)
- Helps our strength in faith and obedience (Eph. 3:16-19)
- Helps guide us (Romans 8:14).
Our Relationship With The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit lives within the Christian as described as 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” Therefore, the HS is not only a person (with emotions, feelings, an expressed will, etc.), He is deity.
He is eternal, (Heb. 9:14), omnipresent (Psalm 139:7), He is the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2) qnd the “Spirit of truth” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit may be grieved by our actions (Eph. 4:30) and sinned against by unforgivable blasphemy (Mark 3:29).
In Ephesians 5:18 the apostle Paul says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, . . .” This is a command, and the language points to an ongoing action to be taken (not just a one time act). “debauchery” – expresses the idea of an abandoned, debauched life.” The Christian life should be an ongoing process of being filled by the Holy Spirit.
In the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15) the son wasted the inheritance given to him by his father. An while he was wanting the food he was feeding to the pigs he was employed to feed, “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!” The sons thoughts were finally cleared of greed, alcohol, lust, entitlement – all gone, all that remained was a desire to go home.
Paul is saying take whatever that hidden inward desire is that a person may be seeking in alcohol, find that instead in God, allow the Spirit to fill you. In the prodigal son story we see the father make a statement twice, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’”
The Holy Spirit guides believers away from death and into life. He is a guide, not a tyrant – you have the choice to be filled or not. He leads us away from a debauched (or abandoned) life to a purposeful and full life.
Galatians 5:16-18 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
In Galatians 5 Paul used four distinct verbs to designate the Spirit-controlled life of the believer, all of which are roughly equivalent in meaning: to walk in the Spirit (v. 16), to be led by the Spirit (v. 18), to live by the Spirit (v. 25a), and to keep in step with the Spirit (v. 25b).” They must continue to walk with God as they did when they received Christ.
“In this verse the emphasis is on the spiritual inability in which man lives, if he has only the law. He is defenseless against the flesh.” In order to overcome the flesh, we should be led by the Holy Spirit.
Instead of giving over to our flesh which impairs our ability to do wise things, clouds our thoughts, and pulls us away from holy living – the Spirit will lead us toward a life pleasing to the Lord.
Paul describes the church as the body of Christ. All believers are joined into one body, stressing its unity, even as the physical body works as one. In this context Christians are given spiritual gifts.
The Holy Spirit gives believers spiritual gifts – this is a God-given ability for ministry to others, for the good of the church body as a whole. Each believer in Christ has received at least one spiritual gift. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”
Spiritual gifts can be broken down into three major categories. First, there are “office” gifts which are given to those who serve the church at large in a specific capacity; apostle, prophet, evangelist, or pastor/teacher (Eph. 4:11-12).
The second category of spiritual gifts are “service” gifts, which are non-miraculous gifts that correspond to ministries that all of us should do, but some individuals are gifted for greater impact in those areas.
The third category are the “special” gifts, which are miraculous or supernatural gifts that appear to be given for the purpose not only of meeting a need of the moment but also for validating the message of Christianity to those who have not previously received the message (1 Cor. 12:4-11).
When the Spirit does His work in the believer there will be change and evidence of His presence in their lives – Galatians 5:22-23 “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.”
 Little, 86.
 Little, 87.
 Little, 87.
 Paul E. Little, Know What You Believe, A Practical Discussion of the Fundamentals of the Christian Faith (Colorado Springs, Colorado; Cook Publications, 1999) 83.
 Max Anders, New Christian’s Handbook, Everything New Believers Need to Know (Nashville, Tennessee; Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999) 58.
 Anders, 59.
 W. Robertson Nicoll, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Volume III (Grand Rapids, Michigan; WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967) 363.
 Timothy George, The New American Commentary, Galatians (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994) 386.
 Herman N. Ridderbos, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Epistle of Paul to the Churches of Galatia (Grand Rapids, Michigan; WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984) 204.
 1 Corinthians 12:11
1 Thessalonians Sermon Series
Standing Firm: Foundational Doctrine For New Believers
Standing Firm in Our Salvation
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
When Paul, Silvanus (another name for Silas), and Timothy enter into Thessalonica on their second missionary journey it would have been the first time that this city would have heard about Jesus and the Gospel. Acts 17 records the amazing results of their ministry of less than a month, Acts 17:4-5 “And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. 5 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd.”
“In those few short weeks, a small group of Thessalonians came to know Jesus Christ as Savior. Persecution broke out almost immediately, forcing Paul and his companions to leave after ministering for three Sabbath days.” So later he sends this young church a letter to encourage them in their new faith.
They didn’t have the New Testament, they were suffering under persecution, some had even died as a result – all they had were what Paul, Silas, and Timothy taught them over those few short weeks. Paul is concerned that this group of new believers would be discouraged and go back to what they knew before. So, he writes them a letter.
The Gospel is Powerful To Change Us (vv. 1-6)
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. 2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
(v. 2) “We give thanks to God always for all of you,” – Paul is thankful for the church in Thessalonica because of (v. 3) “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” This triad of faith, love, and hope are a “shorthand summary of the essentials of Christianity: They are linked to something toilsome and hard – faith as the assurance that God has acted in Christ to save his people, love as the present expression and experience of the restored relationship between God and his people, and hope as the confidence that “he who began a good work . . .will carry it on to completion” (Phil. 1:6), and that the future, therefore, holds not “wrath but . . . salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul is thankful for how God has worked in the Thessalonian church, and he is praying for them because of their:
work of faith – Paul is clear that our salvation does not come from work, we cannot earn our salvation. But, when that is clearly understood Paul shows again and again that our salvation should produce a work – We work and serve because of our faith (Eph. 2:8-10; James 2:14). Hobbs says, “The word rendered “work” connotes the general idea of work or business, daily tasks or employment. Whatever they did, it was a work characterized by faith. It was the activity which faith inspired.”
labor of love – labor means “toilsome, wearisome work. It is laborious toil done for love’s sake.” Paul uses the word agape here for love, it is a love that characterizes God’s nature (1 John 4:8). We do the hard things because we love God, and other human beings. In other places, Paul tells us that even though we may toil and labor if there is no love behind it, it is worthless.
steadfastness of hope – William Barclay says: “It is the spirit which can bear things, not simply with resignation, but with blazing hope.” The steadfastness connotes an athlete or soldier who could endure his opponent’s attack, yet possess reserve strength with which countercharge to victory.
(v. 4) “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you” – The emphasis is one of knowledge of their certainty of salvation, not on the reasons for their being chosen. These missionaries see in those that they shared the gospel with, a reaction to that message – they know that they are saved (or chosen by God unto salvation) because of what they are doing. “There is evidence of their genuine faith and fervent ministry for Christ. They are known by their fruits.”
(v. 5) “because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” There were times when Paul was told not to preach the gospel (Acts 16:6 f.), “Sometimes he had spoken fearfully and haltingly (1 Cor. 2:3). He had undoubtedly preached to people and felt it was hopeless, but here, with the Thessalonians, it was different.”
The gospel came to them in power, this is where we get the word dynamite from – the gospel were not just words, the gospel was explosive, “it demolished the false idols” and false gods.
This power was linked with the Holy Spirit – the Spirit and power of the gospel go together. This was promised by Jesus in Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” When Paul spoke, God spoke through him. When you speak the gospel – there is power there because God is speaking thorough you.
How does Paul know they are saved? How does anyone know if someone else is saved? Paul says their response to the gospel “came in power, it was not simply an emotional experience nor had they been swept off their feet by Paul’s oratory. This was unmistakably the power of the Holy Spirit at work. It all deals with the way the Word was received. It is one thing to preach the Word, it is another thing to receive the Word.
They received the Word 1) and became followers of Paul, 2) they received the Word in spite of persecution 3) they received it with joy of the Holy Spirit.
Even though Paul, Silas, and Timothy were not there very long, there were those who would try to discredit them. These people would come behind them and try to get these new believers to doubt their decision to “turn to God” from idols.
It is as if Paul was saying, “Do not be deceived by the enemies of the faith who are trying, by means of an attack on our integrity, to undermine your faith and your assurance of salvation. Our behavior among you was proof of our integrity and of the reliability of our message. . .” Paul, Silas, and Timothy were focused on this new church receiving the gospel and teaching them foundational doctrines, not on their own welfare.
How is it that people know that we are genuine believers who only want others best interest? It’s not enough just to present the gospel, how the presenter shares it is also incredibly important. These missionaries had integrity and were a worthy example to follow. They were genuine in their faith and in their intention to see people saved for Christ. They practiced what they preached (genuine), and their concern was truly for others receiving the gospel (compassionate), “to be among you for your sake.”
(v. 6) “for you received the word in much affliction” – The word “affliction” outside of the Bible usually means pressure, and that of a severe kind. The word was used of pressing grapes in the winepress until they burst, and so metaphorically means very great trouble. Paul, Silas, and Timothy had been run out of town for their preaching, and now this young church was also being “afflicted.”
“The city was the home of two of the recognized mystery religions that were to be found everywhere throughout the Hellenistic, or eastern, half of the Roman Empire. These were the religion of Dionysus the dying and rising god, and Orpheus . . . Both of them were fertility cults . . . Further, at that time emperor worship was becoming actively practiced. . .”
“The refusal of new Christian converts to participate in “normal” social and cultic activities and the exclusivity of their claim to worship the only “living and true God (1:9) would have left non-Christian friends feeling offended, resentful, or betrayed; similarly, family members would have viewed a refusal to maintain ancestral traditions as evidence of an appalling lack of concern for family responsibilities.
Moreover, since civic peace, agricultural success, and freedom from natural catastrophe were thought to lie in the hands of the traditional gods, it was considered extremely dangerous to ignore or offend them.”
Martin Luther once said, “If Christ wore a crown of thorns, why should His followers expect only a crown of roses?”
The Gospel is Powerful to Change Others (vv. 7-10)
7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
The Thessalonians not only had the Word come to them, they not only had received the Word of God, but their salvation was manifested in their life and testimony. Their trust in Christ resulted in a transformed life that even other believers could follow their example. The result of the faithfulness of these Christians was that they became an example to other believers.
If we are to win the world for Christ, it won’t be with words only – “the evidence must come from our lives. The church must be ablaze with the divine nature, and the living Christ must spring into attractive vitality in the lives of its members. In them the vision must be verified, and Word made flesh. “Christ who lives in me.”” (Gal. 2:20)
(v. 7) The Thessalonian church were imitators of Paul, Silas, and Timothy, and they “became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia”
“the word of the Lord sounded forth from you” – “Sounded” means “to sound as a trumpet, to thunder, to reverberate like and echo.” Even with all the persecution, and attacks, and inexperience, this church has found a way to transmit the gospel like a radio station to those all around them.
Paul didn’t have to tell others about what God was doing Thessalonica, “your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.” “The city was on a major trade route, the people passing through Thessalonica came into contact with the aggressive evangelism and testimony of these Christians who lived there.”
(v. 9) “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” – The word “turned” here is given in the aorist tense, meaning a definitive decision made once. It was not a turning process, not “turning to” God – In a single, deliberate choice, they turned to God from idols. “There was a complete turn-about in the direction of their lives.” That turning to God resulted in their serving Him.
Many say that Christians are intolerant and dogmatic – Here Paul says very clearly that Christianity, by its very nature, is intolerant. Paul is advocating the faith, not a faith. The Romans had no problem with Christians saying, they were on more religion, operating among the other religions. They had a problem when Paul quoted Christ, when He said, “I am the way, . . .no man comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the only way.
(v. 10) “to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” – The Lord’s coming back is mentioned in every chapter in 1 Thessalonians. Paul tells them they have a present work to do now, share the gospel, continue to live out a life as an example, but also there is a future hope.
The word “wait” is given in the present tense. They had turned to God in one deliberate choice, but there remained the constant day-after-day expectation. They were constantly looking for the return of the Lord. But not as the early disciples who sat by Jesus’ tomb, the angel told them, Acts 1:1-11 “And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?” Serving the risen Lord, and waiting for His return go together.
Paul reminds us that Jesus died for the sins of mankind (delivering us from the wrath to come) on a Roman cross and was placed in tomb, where he then was raised from the dead, and has returned to Heaven. Now we who have turned to God through faith in Christ wait for His return.
“from the wrath to come” – Paul closes chapter 1 with the reminder that there is a day of judgment that is to come. God is going to judge this sinful world. You don’t have to talk with people about Jesus, or share the gospel very long before you will hear someone says, “If God is all powerful then why is there sin in the world today.”
They will give an example of a horrific sin, and then say, if God is all loving then why would He allow an innocent to suffer in that way? (the Jewish Holocaust, child sex trafficking, rape, murder, etc.)
It’s because God has given people the dignity and freedom of choice. If nothing bad would ever happen as a result of those decisions, then there is no true freedom to choose. There is also the result of sin that caused the world to be fallen, so we have mental illness, disease, cancer, etc. There will come a day when all of the results of sin will be made right again.
Paul tells us here that judgment of sin is coming – there will be a day when the wrath of God will be poured out upon mankind for all those sinful decisions. But, “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come . . .” These believers in Thessalonica can rest in the peace that God has provided a plan for them to escape from that wrath, through their faith in Jesus Christ.
The word used for wrath is When discussing God’s wrath John the Baptist used this same word (Matthew 3:7). He saw this wrath as a desert fire, everywhere, before which snakes would flee. Where can one find safety from a desert fire? Where the fire has already burned. Where may one find safety from God’s wrath, You can find safety where God’s wrath has already been poured out at its’ worst, at Calvary.
Our deliverer is Jesus, “the historic, crucified, risen, ascended, and returning Son of God.”
 John F. Walvoord, The Thessalonians Epistles (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Dunham Publication, 1968) 7.
 A better translation is “for you all” – or “all y’all”
 Romans 5:1-5; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Galatians 5:5-6; Colossians 1:4-5; Hebrews 10:22-24; 1 Peter 1:21-22 – all have the triad of faith, hope, and love. Also, when these three words are given, the author usually places them in an order where the emphasis of the author is on the last word. Here, hope is given last and with the mentioning of Christ’s return in every chapter, hope of His return is emphasized.
 Michael w. Holmes, The NIV Application Commentary, 1&2 Thessalonians (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1998) 48.
 Clifton J. Allen, General Editor, The Broadman Bible Commentary, 2 Corinthians-Philemon (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1971) 265.
 Ibid, 265.
 Leon Morris, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians (Grand Rapids, Michigan; WM. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984) 53.
 Allen, 265.
 Ibid, 266.
 Morris, 56.
 Concepts of Spirit and power going together; Romans 1:4; 15:13, 19; 1 Corinthians 2:4; Galatians 3:5; Romans 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:7,8.
 Walvoord, 15.
 William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Thessalonians, Timothy and Titus (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Publishing, 1987) 50.
 Ibid, 50.
 Morris, 58.
 George Arthur Buttrick, General Editor, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 11 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1955) 245.
 Homes, 48.
 Buttrick, 261.
 “to ring out” (execheo), found only here in the NT.
 Allen, 268.
 Walvoord, 16.
 Hendriksen, 51.
Two weeks ago I preached a sermon that dealt with a general broad study of the Holy Spirit, and the following is a response from a member of DBCC. I asked him if I could post it, and give my response as a blog entry. So, thanks Billy for a great question, and for letting me share it.Â My responses are given in italics.
I just wanted to say thank you for today’s sermon.Â It was one of those little triggers that helped a lot of different things click into place for me in terms of my understanding of the core aspects of central doctrine.Â If you don’t mind I’d like to run a quick version by you to check that I haven’t mixed anything up – mainly in reference to the Holy Spirit as that was the topic of today’s sermon and also because I don’t want to make this an essay of epic proportions.
In short, I tend to think of creation, God’s plans, & etc. in terms of logic and engineering. Maybe that’s weird, but I think we all have to have some sort of parable or framework with which to aid our minds when we ponder the infinite.Â I know this framework doesn’t work for everyone, but it seems compatible with the description of our creator in Proverbs and elsewhere (he had his reasons for what he did and they were wise and well thought out).Â As an example: I’ve managed to grasp the concept of sin as a deviation or perversion of God’s intent or design (because design intent is something engineers work up all the time).
When you were going over the many titles of the Holy Spirit (Spirit of: holiness, knowledge, might, truth, grace, judgment, adoption, revelation, etc…) it struck me that the Holy Spirit is the essence of these things: the standard by which the designs of God the Father are defined.Â Just as there’s a big platinum sphere by which a kilogram is defined, the Holy Spirit is love, is truth, is the very aspect of God’s design by which we recognize the goodness of God.Â Taking the greatest fruit, love, as an example: the Holy Spirit’s defining capacity is made most clear when it comes alongside of us and, as much as our own acceptance of the Spirit allows, we can see love in the light God defines it as.Â In fact – it is only then that we may comprehend true love enough to understand the purity and magnitude of the love Christ had for us when he died on the cross and respond appropriately.
Of course, the Holy Spirit is far more active than just a set of definitions and design parameters.Â You said that the Holy Spirit is responsible for renewal and regeneration.Â I’m quite a bit less sure about this next set of thoughts, but as I see it, there was no greater feat of renewal and regeneration than the resurrection of Christ – was this the work of the Holy Spirit (as opposed to God the Father or Christ himself)?Â It would make sense logically as Christ had surrendered divinity (or the form of Godliness) while a man, and God was viewing Christ in light of our sins which he took upon himself, so this alienation needed a third party to act.
Since it is not Billyâ€™s intent to focus on the divinity of Christ, or the idea of Christâ€™s incarnation I will just point to this article, especially the section â€œEmptied His Glory?â€ http://kenosis.info/index.shtml I especially like his remark about going on vacation with your family — do you want your wallet to be concealed or empty? The only way for Christ’s death to be a substitution for the sin of mankind would be if He were fully divine. Christ concealed his divinity in flesh, he did not cease to be divine.
Also, as a church, for the Christmas series we are memorizing John 1:1, 14a — I wish that I would have encouraged the church memorize all of 1 John 1:14, because it goes on to say, “
I know there are passages that talk about Christ raising himself from the dead and stealing the keys & etc… so it’s entirely possible that he resumed his form of Godliness just after the point of death (likely for some of these events) but there was still a breach which needed someone to say “those sins died with Christ, but since he was innocent they couldn’t stick through with his resurrection – so look at him now” (I imagine there was probably more technical lingo and quite a bit more fanfare than that).Â Could this be right?Â Is it even close to how the Holy Spirit had a role in our most pivotal point in history?
Mankind’s sin is described to us as being a debt that is owed to God. Mankind can not repay this sin debt, so God in His love provided a way (the only way, John 14:6) through the substitutionary death of His Son Jesus. Jesus was fully God, and fully man. We see in Matthew 3:16-17 Jesus’ baptism, “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;  and behold, a voice from heaven said, â€œThis is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.â€Â (ESV) The Holy Spirit, in that Jesus was a man, rested upon Him, empowered Him, counseled Him, etc. and was with with him (paraclete) even through His death on the cross, and resurrection. We do not see any indication that once The Holy Spirit “rested upon Him” that He ever left Him. even in His death.
Romans 6:3-4 says that “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”Â (ESV) So if we are discussing the Trinity, and who did what regarding the substitutionary atonement of mankind’s sin, The Father was the one who sent the Son and raised Him from the dead by His glory, The Son became flesh and lived a perfect sinless life and took the sin of the world upon Himself Â and died in its’ place, and the Holy Spirit who strengthened, counseled, and walked beside Christ through it all. God (as a Trinity) is the only hero in the salvation story, the Father who gives, the Son who endures, and the Spirit who strengthens — the God who is love.
In light of the Holy Spirit’s activities with believers, I think serving as the design parameters fits well with why it is the Holy Spirit who is responsible for renewal, regeneration, and sanctification.Â What better than the definition of holiness to transform us to be more and more like that standard by which God designed.
Anyway, thanks again for the sermon.Â I really appreciate it when they get a little technical and you rattle off a lot of cross references and points to consider.
Also, if you’re taking requests for the Christmas series – I’ve always wanted to hear it according to Revelations 12.Â Matthew and Luke have some great stuff, but nothing strips away the sentimentality of a baby in cold weather (and the resulting trees, ornaments, gifts and etc…) than dragons, the heavenly D-day and our continuing war.
I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
Let me know what you think,
PS – carbon copied to Heidi since she had to miss the sermon.
Heidi and Billy faithfully serve at Daybreak Community Church, and are great friends. Thanks again for you for your question and encouragement.
So, is there life after death? The Bible is clear in that the soul is eternal, and that it will spend eternity in one of two places. One is to have eternal life, or heaven. The other is to be eternally separated from God in hell. What does the Bible say about ghosts, angels, demons, witches, and spirits? Listen and find out.