Summary: Having the Holy Spirit within you is better than having Jesus beside you.
Engage with the Holy Spirit
Rev. Brian Bill
October 22-23, 2016
Eric Metaxas mentioned in a recent Breakpoint Commentary that if Americans took a theology exam, their only hopes of passing would be if God graded on a curve.
LifeWay Research released results of a survey last month in which 3,000 participants were asked a set of 47 questions about foundational Christian beliefs. Here a few highlights, or should I say, lowlights…
• 69% of Americans agree there’s only one true God—one in essence, three in person: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
• Evangelicals, by definition, believe trusting in Jesus is the only way of salvation. Yet two-thirds of evangelicals—more than Americans as a whole—claim Heaven is a place where all people will ultimately be reunited with loved ones. Nearly half agreed that, “God accepts the worship of all religions including Christianity, Judaism and Islam.”
• But if evangelicals sometime misunderstand doctrines about Jesus, the third member of the Trinity has it much worse because 56% believe the Holy Spirit “is a divine force but not a personal being.”
Our topic this weekend is, “Engaging with the Holy Spirit.” As part of my preparation my mind went back to a book I read a couple years ago called, “The Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit” by Francis Chan. Here’s something he said: “From my perspective, the Holy Spirit is tragically neglected and, for all practical purposes, forgotten. While no evangelical would deny His existence…there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year. And many of them do not believe they can.”
Pastor J.D. Greear believes evangelicals generally fall into one of two extremes.
• Some seem obsessed with Him, relating to Him in strange, mystical ways. Their experiences with the Spirit seem to coincide with an emotionally ecstatic moment.
• Other Christians react to that perceived excess by neglecting His ministry altogether. They believe in the Holy Spirit, but they relate to Him the same way they relate to their pituitary gland: grateful it’s in there; know it’s essential for something; don’t pay much attention to it.
Let’s be honest and admit that many Baptists fall in this second category.
There’s no doubt the Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood and ignored member of the Trinity. I recognize that we cannot possibly cover everything the Bible says about Him in one message so we’re going to ponder the promises that Jesus gives us in John 14-16. We’ll lock into four passages that will help us understand and engage with the Holy Spirit. After learning about the person of the Holy Spirit we’ll conclude with ways we can live in the power of the Spirit.
Here’s some brief background to put these texts into context. Jesus has just announced that He will be leaving His disciples and they are now distraught and no doubt disappointed. They are extremely unsettled and so the Savior takes three chapters to assure them that they will not be left alone.
Before we jump in, I want to draw your attention to the word “Helper” that is used to describe the Holy Spirit in all four of these passages in John 14:16; 14:26; 15:26 and 16:7. “Helper” literally means, “One who comes forward on behalf of and as the representative of another; one who is called alongside to assist.” It’s meaning is rich and deep and can be translated with words like: “comforter, counselor, attorney, encourager, adviser, pleader, proxy and advocate.”
Let’s start in John 14:16-17 – “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
• Notice the entire Trinity is involved here – Jesus asks the Father who gives another Helper, the Spirit of Truth. I love how God is described in our Articles of Faith – “…That in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - equal in every divine perfection and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.”
• The word “another” means, “one of the same kind or quality.” The idea is that of “sameness.” Jesus is saying the Holy Spirit will be like Himself and will take His place.
• The Helper will be us forever. In the Old Testament the Spirit is mentioned nearly 100 times and came upon people to enable them to accomplish God-given tasks and then would depart. That’s why David prayed in Psalm 51:11: “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” We don’t have to worry about that now because the Holy Spirit comes in at conversion and stays forever. In John 14:18, Jesus says, “I will not leave you as orphans.”