Summary: A sermon on what the Holy Spirit gives (or wants to give) to the church (Material adapted from Daniel Overdorf's book, Rediscovering Community, chapter 9 Spirit Empowered)
Imagine Clark Kent living his whole life without knowing he was Superman. Can we picture Clark Kent on his deathbed, looking down and muttering, “What’s that big “S” on my T-shirt? Superman? What’s that?” How sad! Even sadder is the fact that figuratively many Christians on their deathbed will look down and say, “What’s that big “HS” on my T-shirt? The Holy Spirit? What’s that?”
The confines of one sermon will not allow a thorough teaching on the Holy Spirit. Rather, in keeping with this series on the church and community, we will mainly talk about the role of the Spirit in the life of the community of God’s people, today that is the church.
A.W. Tozer: “If the HS was withdrawn from the church today, 95% of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the HS had been withdrawn from the NT church, 95% of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”
We often wonder why today’s church fails to experience the excitement, adventure, and growth that the early church experienced. Perhaps we should look at the absence of the Spirit in our conversations, teaching, and planning. Consider this- if we were to write a history of this local church, would the term “Spirit” appear in the historical account as frequently as it occurs in the book of Acts?
Perhaps we lack the enthusiasm of the early church because we lack their reliance on the Spirit. We rely on our own power, logic, and creativity- tackling only those things we know we can accomplish on our own- rather than depending on the Spirit to empower us.
Going back to Jesus, we find that His public ministry began with his baptism, at which time the Spirit descended on Him like a dove. Luke points out that He returned from His baptism “full of the HS” and from his temptations “in the power of the Spirit ” (from Luke 4). He then went to the synagogue in Nazareth and proclaimed ““The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”” Luke 4:18, 19, NIV.
As was mentioned last week, Jesus commissioned the church to continue the mission of advancing His kingdom. Jesus promised that the Spirit- the same Spirit that empowered and led Christ’s ministry- would empower and lead our ministries: “But 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, NIV.
In addition to empowering Christians to fulfill Jesus’ mission, the Spirit also arranges circumstances and prods Christians to missional opportunities. In Acts 8, the Lord led Philip to the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. As a chariot approached that held the Ethiopian eunuch, “The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”” Acts 8:29, NIV. Philip obeyed and told the eunuch about Jesus, then baptized him. Afterward, “the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away” Acts 8:39, NIV. Jesus gave us the Spirit to empower and instruct us toward the fulfillment of this mission.