It wouldn’t be long, and he knew it. For three years he had taught throughout Israel, for three years he had healed the sick and fed the hungry. For three years he pointed people to the Kingdom of God, but the time was coming, it wouldn’t be long now, and he knew it. The end was in sight, it was time for the chapter to close on his earthly ministry. But how would he explain it to his friends? How would he explain that he was leaving? Would they feel deserted, betrayed? Would they be able to see that there was a much bigger plan a much longer story then they could presently see?
Our scripture this morning was John chapter 14. It was just hours before the arrest of Christ, the group had eaten what we call “the Last Supper”, had posed for the group photo, you know what Peter said at the end of the Last Supper? “Hey everyone, you need to be on this side of the table if you want to be in the picture.”
That was free, and now Jesus was explaining the events that were about to happen. Trying I’m sure to ease their fears, to let them know that whatever happened that he was still in control and that it was all part of the plan. I’m not sure that he was all that successful.
Most of all he wanted them to know that he wasn’t leaving them alone. Really isn’t that a fear that we all have? The fear of being deserted, being left to our own devices. Lord Byron made this statement concerning growing old: “What is the worst of woes that wait on age? What stamps the wrinkle deeper on the brow? To view each loved one blotted from life’s page, And be alone on earth, as I am now.”
And so, it was almost an “I have bad news and I have good news statement.” Jesus told them that the time had come that he had been telling them about when he would have to die, but in the same breath he assured them “You Are Not Alone”
This is our second week of our “Pinkie Swear: The Promises of Jesus” and last week we began with Jesus’ promise to give us rest. This wasn’t a rest from physical labour or the daily work of life. Instead, it was a spiritual rest and an emotional rest.
The passage read this morning was Jesus’ promise to his disciples that he would not leave them alone and that same promise if for us today. The promise that even though he wouldn’t be here in a physical form that the Holy Spirit would be here to give us the guidance and comfort that we need in our day to day life as Christ Followers.
A number of years ago we received a newsletter from friends of ours who are
translators in an unnamed Asian country. We could tell you where they are at but because of security concerns if we told you then we’d have to kill you.
In the letter, our friends who we will call Rick and Sue, mainly because that’s their names, spoke about the difficulty they had in translating the book of Acts because in that particular dialect there was no word for Holy Spirit and the concept seemed to be beyond translation.
Which raises the question “How can you translate a book without a term for the main character?” The story of John Reid would have been simply another western if he hadn’t been named. . . the Lone Ranger.
And so the translators looked into the original Greek along with similar languages in the region and they tried, “God’s Good Wind” “God’s Breath” or “God’s Good Spirit.” But none of those worked, people thought they were talking about a great sailing day or just thought the concept of God’s breath as being bizarre. The people had no general term for “Spirit” they had terms for specific bad or evil spirits but nothing for a good or benevolent spirit. They tried using a more generic word, but people understood that as meaning “to have a good attitude.”
After a lot of work and prayer they came up with the phrase “God’s Perfect Spirit” and it worked. Sue said that suddenly the Holy Spirit wasn’t an attitude or force but a person, a part of the Trinity.
Now most of us don’t have a problem with the term the Holy Spirit. But do we really understand who He is and what He does? In the scripture that was read for us earlier, Jesus is telling the disciples that his time on earth is coming to an end, and it is there that we receive the promise of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Now, to be honest, the majority of us have a grip on God the Father, we know that he is our Creator. And we’ve
no problem with God the Son, we know that Jesus is our Saviour. But for too many of us, the concept of the Holy Spirit is a little fuzzy, a little vague. What or who was it that Jesus was promising?
Hopefully this morning we can add some clarity to the promise.
The first thing I want to look at this morning is: The Promise of the Holy Spirit Throughout the gospels and into the book of Acts we see Jesus promising the disciples that they won’t be left alone. Often we think that the Holy Spirit was a last minute thought by Christ, “Oh by the way. I’m leaving, but don’t be upset, tell you what I’ll leave the Holy Spirit for you.” But that isn’t the case at all. The Holy Spirit isn’t an afterthought he was part of the original plan. Early in Christ’s ministry right after Jesus taught the disciples the Lord’s Prayer he makes this comment
Luke 11:13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
As a matter of fact before Jesus began his earthly ministry he was announced by his cousin John who said Matthew 3:11 “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
And so it should have come as no surprise when hours before his arrest Jesus told his apostles in
John 14:15-17 “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know
him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.”
The Person of the Holy Spirit. The theologian A. W. Tozer wrote this in his book The Counsellor “Spell this out in capital letters: THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON. He is not enthusiasm. He is not courage. He is not energy. He is not the personification of all good qualities, like Jack Frost is the personification of cold weather. Actually, the Holy Spirit is not the personification of anything. He is a Person, the same as you are a person, but not material substance. He has individuality. He is one being and not another. He has will and intelligence. He has hearing. He has knowledge and sympathy and ability to love and see and think. He can hear, speak, desire, grieve and rejoice. He is a Person.”
If we were to do a pop quiz right now and ask you who or what is the Holy Spirit I wonder what we would get for answers? “The Third Person of the Trinity” “The Comforter” “The Counsellor” “Guide” “Teacher”. How about this: He is God.
Often times when we think of the Holy Spirit we think of him as the third person of the trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Why is that? Why do we define him in that way? To many people, the trinity is ranked Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father being the most important, then Jesus, then somewhere on down the line we place the Holy Spirit. Why is that? When asking people they will often say, “Because that’s how the bible lists them.” Does it? Well, it does in Matthew 28:19. When Jesus is giving his last instructions to the apostles he says Matthew 28:19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
But it’s interesting to note that this is the only place in the bible where the
is listed in that particular order, in other places God is listed as Father, Holy Spirit and Son, and sometimes as Holy Spirit, Son and Father or Son, Holy Spirit, Father
as a matter of fact, there are six different ways that you could list the three members of the
trinity and all six ways are used in the Bible.
Others think that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity because he isn’t mentioned until the day of Pentecost. Yet if we go back to the very beginning in Genesis 1:2 Which of course is the initial account of creation we read Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
In Psalm 51 King David is pouring out his heart in repentance over his affair with Bathsheba and listen to his prayer in verse eleven: Psalm 51:11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
It was the Holy Spirit who was present at the conception of Christ Luke 1:35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.
It was the Holy Spirit who was present at the Baptism of Christ. Luke 3:21-22 One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
The Holy Spirit is not some created being or force that “poof” magically appeared on the day of Pentecost. He always was because he is God. Nor is He some third string player waiting until late in the game to make his appearance. He has been active through the entire realm of history from day one until the present. He is God.
The Presence of the Holy Spirit Maybe the question you’re asking today is “So what”, what does that have to do with me. Everything. When Jesus made the promise to the disciples that the Holy Spirit would be a presence in their lives the promise wasn’t limited to those twelve. It is as real today as it was then and as real for you as it was for them. The Holy Spirit is not an option in the Christian life, it’s not like getting power windows and air conditioning in your new car to make it more comfortable.
Instead we need to understand that He is the engine, he is what makes it go, he is the power of our Christian experience. Jesus said The Holy Spirit is the very centre of our Christian life and you cannot live an obedient, productive, fruitful Christian life without the Holy Spirit’s presence.
So what is it the Holy Spirit does? What is it you need him to do? A lot can learned just by looking at the word that Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit. In John 16:7 Jesus says John 16:7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.
The word that I want to look at for a minute is Advocate in the New Living Translation, in the King James version the word is translated comforter, in the New King James version it’s helper Parakletos, and it can mean a variety of things, it can mean an intercessor, consoler, advocate, comforter or it can mean counsellor. But however they choose to translate the word it means someone who comes alongside to help you.
And whichever of those definitions you use, it’s good. Who wouldn’t want an intercessor in their life or a
consoler or an advocate or for that matter a counsellor?
What does He want to do for you? The Holy Spirit didn’t just come to hang around and confuse people, so let’s take a look at The Purpose of the Holy Spirit Why has the Spirit come? Why did Jesus think it was so important for the apostles to wait for the Holy Spirit? How did the Spirit’s presence affect the church then and what effect should He have on the church now? And not just the church collectively but the Christ Followers who make up the church. Let’s let the book answer: Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”
The Holy Spirit Gives Us Power
Power, what an incredible concept, power. For everyone who thinks that they don’t have what it takes to live the life that Christ expects of them let me tell you this: You’re right, you don’t. But cheer up because the Holy Spirit has buckets of what it takes and he wants you to have it. This is one of my favourite scriptures; I love the very concept of the promise that when the Holy Spirit has control of our life you will receive power. Not you might receive power or you may receive power or there’s a chance you will receive power, but you will receive power. And not just a little bit of power, but wonderful, incredible, dynamic world changing power.
The power you need to conquer bad habits, the power you need to start good habits, the power you need to tell others about Jesus, the power you need to be everything that God wants you to be. He doesn’t expect you to do it alone, as a matter of fact he doesn’t want you to do it alone, he wants to help you to do whatever it is you have to do.
Do you realize that you have the infinite power of almighty God in your life? That is his promise to you today. He’s saying: Let me come into your life and you will have power. But it’s not just a matter of power.
Romans 5:5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves
us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
The Holy Spirit Gives Us Love
Christianity places a high premium on love, after all Christianity itself is rooted in love, John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
And in John 13:35 Christ said Christianity would be defined and identified by Love John 13:35 “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Probably the one commandment that is given the most page space in the New Testament is to Love One Another. And as long as the church is made up of people that is going to be tough, especially when you use the definition of love that is given in the New Testament,
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. You cannot love people in the church like that in your own power. Because there is always going to be some Jerk that you just can’t get along with, and God still expects you to love me. And even though you can’t do it on your own the Holy Spirit can fill your heart with love. Is it any wonder that the first characteristic mentioned in the fruit of the spirit is Love.
1 Corinthians 12:4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.
The Holy Spirit Gives Us Gifts
Now I don’t know if this will come as a shock to you or not but if you are a Christian then the Holy Spirit has a gift for you, and he also has a reason why he gives it to you. If we continue along in 1 Corinthians 12:7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us . . .
and then it tells us why. . . so we can help each other.
Some of those gifts are Prophecy, teaching, evangelism, discernment, healing, hospitality, speaking in unknown languages, interpreting unknown languages. And each Christian is given at least one spiritual gift, why? As a means of helping the entire church. If you have never taken a spiritual gift test you should, you might be amazed at what your gifts are.
We all love gifts, so we should be excited to find the gifts that the Spirit has for us.
Galatians 5:22-23 Is a familiar passage for most of us. Paul has described what a person’s life is like when they are controlled by sin and then he goes on to tell what it should be like when it is controlled by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! The Holy Spirit Gives Us Character
Notice that the word fruit is singular, these aren’t several different characteristics that we can pick and
choose from, if your life is controlled by the Holy Spirit then this is how you will live. The converse is also true if this isn’t how you are living then the Holy Spirit isn’t controlling your life. It’s not rocket science.
So what’s the bottom line? Romans 8:6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
Through my thirty-seven years of ministry, time and time again I’ve heard Christians either pray or make the statement “I want more of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is God he’s not a collection of pieces. You can’t have more of him or less of him.
It’s like being pregnant you either is or you ain’t there’s no in between. And it’s not that we don’t have enough of the Holy Spirit, it’s that the Holy Spirit doesn’t have enough of us.