Summary: A sermon on how the Holy Spirit works on the heart of an unforgiven sinner (Much material taken from Dr. Jack Cottrell's book, Power From On High, Chapter 6 The Work of the Holy Spirit before Conversion, and the book, The Holy Spirit: A Biblical Study, c
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! These famous words were said by President Ronald Reagan in a speech at the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987. 29 months later the wall was torn down. Interestingly, these famous words were originally written by Peter Robinson, a presidential speech writer. President Reagan liked them and insisted on saying them despite some opposition from other advisors. Isn’t that what preachers have been doing for millennia? Taking the words of Scripture and repeating them and this produces results in sinners unto their salvation. Speech writer is the Holy Spirit and preacher is the president and the sinners are the Soviet Union.
Last Sunday night we talked mainly about the Day of Pentecost and the new age of HS
In the OT era the HS main work was to equip selected individuals for roles of service for God’s people. The HS came upon people but He did not necessarily stay. In the NT the Holy Spirit lives within us as those who have obeyed the gospel commands.
Tonight and the next few weeks the saving work of the Spirit we will attempt to explain. Tonight we are focusing on what the Holy Spirit does in the life of a sinner in order to bring that sinner into a state of salvation. Sinner tonight- an unsaved person.
How does the HS work upon the heart of the sinner? Must divide this into two parts:
How does the HS work to bring a sinner to faith and repentance?
How does the HS work upon the heart of the sinner during the moment of conversion?
Tonight we are focusing on #1. How does the HS do this? Two ways:
HS works through the Word
Ephesians 2:8: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith (also called belief)
Two parts to belief
Assent- judgment of the mind that a statement is true. Believing that something is true.
Trust- a decision of the will to act upon the truth to which the mind assents. Personal surrender to the consequences of the truth. Assent aspect is about the person and work of Jesus Christ, the trust element is a commitment or surrender to Jesus as Lord and Savior
Repentance. Literally means a change of mind. A change of mind about sin. Two aspects
An intellectual act- accepting the truth that we are sinners and under condemnation to hell.
Act of the will- change of our attitude toward sin. An inward hatred of sin and a desire to be rid of it; a commitment and determination to forsake sin.
What is able to generate such faith and repentance in the hearts of sinners? The primary instrument by which this is accomplished is the Word of God, all of it both law and gospel.
Romans 10:17- Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.
John 20:31- But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
How does the Word of God generate faith and repentance? It informs us so that we are able to give assent to the truths concerning sin and salvation. It also moves us and stirs us to act upon, to trust in, those truths. The message of how Christ died for our sins and arose from the dead has the power to stir our emotions and prod our wills to make the decisions that are necessary elements of faith and repentance. Without the Word of God, there would be no faith and no repentance, and therefore no salvation.
What does this have to do with the HS? God the Spirit is the author of everything in the Bible. Whatever is accomplished by the Word is ultimately accomplished by the Spirit.
John 16:8: When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. The word for convict means to expose, to bring to light, to convince. Here the HS plays the role of prosecuting attorney agains the world, exposing its sinfulness and convincing it of its need for a solution to God’s righteous judgment.
How does the Spirit do this? This teaching of the convicting of the Spirit immediately follows Jesus’ promise that the coming Spirit would guide the Apostles into all truth (John 16:12-15), that is, through his activity of revelation and inspiration.
This is linked together as cause and effect. The Spirit will convict the world by the means of the inspired teachings of the Apostles and Prophets.
The connection between the work of the Spirit and the power of the Word is seen in Acts 7:51-52. This implies that when the Word of God is resisted, the Spirit himself is also being resisted. On the other hand, when the Word succeeds in producing faith and repentance, it succeeds as an instrument of the Holy Spirit which he prepared for that very purpose.