The Holy Spirit Series 1
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was[a] formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
John 16: 5-15
The Work of the Holy Spirit
5 “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt[a] in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
Before we begin today, I would draw your attention to the handout at the door. I would ask that each week you bring a NIV Bible, a pen, pencil, some paper, some questions and a desire to be a part of a church that is an effective and Spirit filled Body of Christ.
Let us pray:
Holy One, Triune God of all – Father, Son and Spirit – guide our meditations this day.
Open your scripture so that they are not only new to us, but that we will see ourselves written into them in new and wonderful ways.
Open our ears, our eyes, our minds, and our spirits so we may not only catch a glimpse of you, but run hand-in-hand beside you.
The title of today’s message is “Who and What is the Holy Spirit?”
There are those here today who know, in their heart, who the Holy Spirit is – they know from their personal experience.
There are those who know about the Holy Spirit through the scriptures.
However, the fullness of the Holy Spirit in our lives is found where we immerse ourselves in understanding our experience through the Holy Scriptures. Are we open to that?
I’ll begin by telling you a little story.
A psychiatrist once had a patient who thought he was dead. No amount of argument could convince him otherwise. Finally, out of desperation, the psychiatrist came up with a brilliant plan. He decided he would prove to the patient that dead men don’t bleed. He gave him several medical textbooks to read and set up an appointment for the following week.
The patient did his homework and arrived office at the psychiatrist’s office at the appointed time.
‘Well, what did you discover in your reading’?’ the psychiatrist asked.
‘I discovered that medical evidence proves that dead men don’t bleed,’ the patient replied.
‘So if a person were to bleed, you would know he or she was not dead’?’
‘Absolutely,’ said the patient.
This was the moment the psychiatrist had been waiting for. He pulled out a pin and pricked the patient’s finger. Immediately a drop of blood appeared.
The patient looked down at his finger in horror and exclaimed, ‘Oh, my goodness, dead men do bleed!’
Maybe this has a bit of a ring of truth to it, in the same way as our children’s address about a dog with a bone.
Often we too, can easily ‘tow our mind around behind us’ to justify what we already believe.
Understanding the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit involves a way of believing that may be different to our cultural norm.
If time allows, share some of that journey for me.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that we hear of miracles of the Holy Spirit in Third World countries as a regular occurrence – where people are more open to the power of the Spirit – while in Christian countries like Australia, the overflowing of the Sprit is more like a trickle, at best.
Maybe as we read in John 14:17 – we are part of the world that cannot accept Him.
So let’s begin by getting back in touch with the Holy Spirit.
For much of my upbringing the Holy Spirit was referred to as the Holy Ghost. Ghosts are a bit scary in my experience, but there’s no substance to them and they come out at night – but nothing could be further from the truth when understanding the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost /Spirit is about light, not darkness [Genesis 1]. The Holy Spirit is not scary but very approachable [John 16] and his substance is intricately linked with the believer’s substance.
In our John 14 reading where the Spirit is the Paraclete [the helper] we are reminded that He is not only a counsellor to us [verse 16] [Greek] but paraclete also means – he is called ‘alongside us’ and is indeed in us. [verse 17]
The Holy Spirit is God and is part of the three personalities of God – part of what we call the Trinity or the Triune God. ‘Tri’ means three and ‘une’ means, one or united.
The Holy Spirit was there with the Father and Christ at the beginning, as we read in Genesis 1 and John 1.
But, as with Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to the fore in the New Testament. Indeed, as we move from the Old to New – the Holy Spirit’s role changes from being active among individual people to being a living being in all believers.
In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is only explicitly mentioned three times. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is used ninety times and a further 385 times as ‘the Spirit’.
What is the personality [or being] of the Holy Spirit? What does He do?
The answer of his being and his doing are inextricably linked.
Let’s look at it together.
- If we look again at John 14:16-17 – The Holy Spirit is described as being the Spirit of Truth. However, we also read what the Spirit does through that characteristic – The Spirit counsels us in all truth, in place of the incarnate Christ.
- Similarly in Romans 8:9 the Holy Spirit is described as being the Spirit of Christ who does the controlling of our sinful nature.
- The Holy Spirit is also described as being the Spirit of Faithfulness in 2 Corinthians 4:13, who gives us the ability to believe and speak of Christ.
- Yet another characteristic of the Holy Spirit is that he knows the mind of God and helps us to understand what God has freely given us [1 Corinthians 2:9-16] so that ‘we have the mind of Christ’ [verse 16].
- The Holy Spirit knows our minds and opens up the scriptures to us, directing us to that we may testify about Jesus and the Good News [Luke 24:45].
- The Spirit is Holy as we read in Ephesians 4:30 and seals us for the day of redemption.
- The Holy Spirit prays the words for us in intercession with God.
- The Spirit searches our hearts and helps us in our weakness as we read in Romans 8:26-27.
- The Holy Spirit also becomes part of us as John says in chapter 17, verses 20-21.
Jesus Prays for All Believers
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
And thus we see further elaborateded in other passages that the Spirit himself becomes the gift to us.
We read it famously in Acts 2:3 8 and in another passage that is one of my favourites – Luke 11:9-13:
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
In our next talk we will look at the Spirit as the giver of gifts to his people. Indeed the Holy Spirit is the gift that keeps on giving.
As we finish and people gather their thoughts for discussion in the next five minutes, consider this. The early Portuguese explorers who saw and maybe even stepped on the land we today call Australia, first called it ‘The Land of the Holy Spirit’. How much of this rings true today?