Summary: Today we hear about that most mysterious and misunderstood One of the Godhead, the "shy" member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
Sermon: The Holy Spirit
Text: John 16:5-15
Occasion: Easter IV
Who: Mark Woolsey
Where: Arbor House
When: Sunday, Apr 24, 2005
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Last month we were still in the throws of Lent. We studied the crucifixion and the people surrounding it. Since that time Easter Day has come and gone, and we have passed into Easter Season. Now that we are nearing the end of that season we look forward to the next. Today we hear about that most mysterious and misunderstood One of the Godhead, the "shy" member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
My first reaction, and possibly yours also, to the Gospel passage today is disapointment. How would you feel if God Himself was before you in the flesh, your physical ears hearing and physical eyes seeing Him, and He told you that He’s going away? Massive bummer. How could it be any better than when we can see, hear, feel, and touch Him? Yet that is exactly what Jesus says. It is to our advantange that He, Jesus, goes away, because only then will the Holy Spirit come. Who is the Holy Spirit? First of all, as a summary of everything that the church has exegeted from the Scriptures about the Holy Spirit, we learn that He is God eternal, co-equal with God the Father and God the Son. God is one in substance, but three in persons. That is, each member is not one-third of God because that would mean there are three Gods. Each member is fully God. Yet they are not just different aspects of the same God. The Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Holy Spirit. Each is His own person, with His unique will and ministry. With this foundation about who the Holy Spirit is, let us turn to our Gospel passage. Here Jesus tells us much about the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we might expect these verses to be Pneumological, that is, Spirit-centered. Yet they are not. They are Christological, or Christ-centered. Verses 13 & 14 say:
He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you.
Even though He is the One whom we worship, and to blaspheme Him is the one unpardonable sin, yet when the Spirit gets a chance to speak, it’s not about Himself, but about Christ. He is God, yet He does not even speak on His own initiative. Why is this? In their council of eternity past, this is the way that the Holy Trinity has chosen to reveal themselves to us. The Holy Spirit is second to none, not even the Father and Son, yet He humbles Himself to speak only at their initiative. Let us learn the glory and honor of submission in our own lives, that it puts us second to no one.
III. What He does.
Having stated what He does not do, Jesus now tells us what the Holy Spirit does. Given the emphasis of much of the contemporary evangelical church, we now anticipate, like an audience at a magic show, the amazing tricks that He promises to perform. Yet we are disappointed again. His great feats are not signs and wonders, but conviction and illumination. Yet herein lies His great ministry to us. Before the Holy Spirit came to the disciples, they could see the physical healings and such that Jesus did around Himself. Yet every person Jesus healed physically eventually grew old and died. Even Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, was destined to die again. But what the Holy Spirit does is show us eternal truths about ourselves and what Jesus did for us, and then actually makes them work for us by giving us faith (that is convicting or convincing us of it’s truth). Jesus’ work on our behalf was not simply to set up a spiritual bank account that we could draw from if we would, but to actually do something for us. It’s the difference between food on the table and food in our bellies - and it’s the faith from the Holy Spirit that "eats" that food. That’s why Jesus calls Him the Helper or Comforter. In this gospel passage, then, the Holy Spirit is seen giving us conviction (faith) concerning three things.
The first of these things the Holy Spirit helps us to see is sin. As Matthew Henry said:
The Spirit is called the Comforter, and here it is said, He shall convince. Once could think this were cold comfort, but it is the method the Spirit takes, first to convince, and then to comfort; first to lay open the wound, and then to apply healing medicines.