Summary: As Christians we have the Holy Spirit but aren’t necessarily "filled" with the Spirit because we quench the Spirit’s work. Sermon concludes with an invitation to be filled with the Spirit, through prayer and annointing with oil.
Have you ever thought to yourself: “I read the Bible and go to church, why don’t I see any positive changes in my life?” “Why am I still struggling with a particular sin or sins even though I keep trying to repent and give it to God?” “Why am I not seeing healing whether physically, spiritually, emotionally, or relationally?” “Why isn’t God working in our church like he did in the book of Acts or like other places I hear around the world?” “Why do I feel spiritually parched, dry, or why does my relationship with God seem stale or non-existent?”
All of these thoughts are symptoms pointing to the same source, the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is often the most overlooked person in the trinity (three-in-one God). We talk about God the Father and we talk about God the Son, yet God the Holy Spirit is the agent of change in our world, he is the worker bee of God. God the Father and God the Son are in heaven, but the Holy Spirit is present here and now. When we say God is with us, we are referring to the presence of God through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts us of our sin (John 16:8), He speaks God’s truth to us (16:15), and teaches us God’s word, He changes our hearts, attitudes, and actions, who gives us comfort and peace. It is the Holy Spirit who produces fruitfulness of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (the hallmarks of a Christian life) (Gal. 5:22-23). It is the Holy Spirit who brings healing, who brings spiritual refreshment to our souls. He is the power source of the Christian life. He is the spiritual energizer bunny to help us keep going and going and going in the face of adversity. Before Jesus ascended into heaven he told his disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you: and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).” Yet for many Christians, their personal experience with the Holy Spirit is not one of power, healing, increasing spiritual fruitfulness, changed lifestyle including obedience to God and diminishing occurrences of sin.
Today is Pentecost Sunday, a significant day in the Christian calendar because it marks the day the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples like tongues of fire (which is why the United Methodist cross has the flame on it) and the church began. Without the filling of the Holy Spirit, Peter and the rest of the disciples wouldn’t have had the courage to testify to the Good News of Jesus. Without the Holy Spirit they wouldn’t have been able to heal a man born crippled. Their belief in the risen Christ, the Son of God, gave them the gift of salvation, eternal life with God, but the power of resurrection came to them through the Holy Spirit. No Holy Spirit, no power. If we aren’t seeing the power does that mean we are not filled with the Spirit?
1. Every Believer Has the Spirit
Peter was very clear on that Pentecost morning who receives the Holy Spirit, Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).” That promise is for every person. Every person who repents (turn from their sin), and is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (which implies a belief in Jesus as Lord and Christ), is given the Holy Spirit as a sign of God’s promise. The Bible says he is God’s deposit guaranteeing our eternal inheritance (Eph. 1:14). You might say the Holy Spirit is God’s collateral, his down payment until we reach heaven. The Holy Spirit gives us a taste of God’s kingdom right now. For Christian believers, the question isn’t whether we have the Spirit of God living within us, the answer is clearly, yes.
If every believer has the Spirit why don’t we see the power? Why don’t we see changed hearts and fruitful lives? Why don’t we see large numbers of people coming to Christ? First, we need to realize that the Spirit works in powerful, instantaneous ways, and also in gradual, perhaps even imperceptible ways to some. God’s ultimate goal is that we would be in relationship with God (now and forever) and that we would be like him, to be Christlike, to have God’s character, which is a lifetime’s work. Obviously when the Spirit works in powerful instantaneous ways like he did in the Bible, it gets attention. He brought healing to the broken, he convicted people of their sin and brought them to repentance (3,000 on the day of Pentecost), he used people in their weakness in amazing ways (think of fishermen from Galilee changing the world).