Summary: Beginning with Romans 8, the sermon provides an overview and introduction to the biblical ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Meet the Holy Spirit
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
I want to introduce you to the Holy Spirit. This topic is so vital that Scripture says: If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ (Rom 8:9). Yet this is a topic about which there are many questions, doubts, and confusion. I want to introduce you to the Holy Spirit and in the process answer questions, lessen the doubts, and overcome confusion. Let me introduce you to the Holy Spirit.
Why the questions, doubts, and confusion? Part of it is natural, almost necessary. There is always more of God than we can understand. “His ways are not our ways,” Isaiah said (55:8). If we understand everything about our God, then our God is a man-made God, an idol—a product of our imagination.
Another reason for the questions is the character of the kind of society we live in. We are programmed to be materialistic. We are led to believe that if we can’t touch it, see it, hear it, or taste it, then it is not real. Such a notion not only eliminates major portions of the creation God made, it is also quite unsatisfying. Our God put eternity in our hearts. We have a hunger for something more. Something that only the supernatural can satisfy.
Consider this quotation:
In our own time the doctrine of the Holy Spirit has aroused an interest which seems likely to grow and extend as attention is increasingly fixed on the spiritual side of human nature. It is possible that modern life, as it escapes from the control of crude materialism, may be led to seek the solution of its perplexities in the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit working in the world and in man. (H. B. Swete in the late 1800s: The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church, Baker reprint, 1966, p. 7).
This was true then and doubly true in the 21st century.
Some of the confusion also comes from the efforts of the Enemy to deceive, distract, and destroy the people of God. In our day, the combination of the hunger for something more coupled with an almost total ignorance of the Bible, far greater than in our grandparents’ day, has led many to be tossed about by every wind of doctrine, every claim of spiritual reality that blows down the pike (cf. Eph. 4:14).
Scripture warns, “that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Tim 4:1). Jesus said that before his return, “false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible” (Mt. 24:24). Paul taught that the end times would be accompanied by “counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing” (2 Thess. 2:9-10).
Let me introduce the Holy Spirit. As with any would be friend or acquaintance, an introduction begins with the name. “John, let me introduce you to Bill. I think you will like him when you get to know him.”
Today I want to begin the introduction to the Holy Spirit by telling you his name, or I should say names. A careful reading of Scripture reveals seven names or titles for the Holy Spirit. Each teaches something vital about who he is and what he does.
Curiously the Bible associates the Holy Spirit with the number seven:
From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits£ of God. (Rev 4:5)
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
From his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
The Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and of power,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD— (Isa 11:2)
I take these to be references not to seven different Holy Spirits but as a poetic way of describing the fullness of the Spirit; something about his completeness. While the seven different names I will highlight do not exhaust what we can learn about the Holy Spirit, they are a beginning—an introduction.
Let me introduce the Holy Spirit---
The most common name is the Spirit of God.
First, let’s look at the word Spirit itself. Older English translations used the phrase Holy Ghost. Unfortunately this wording conjures up images of Casper and spooks. Such was not the original meaning of the term Ghost. Some derivations of the word relate it to our word “guest,” and unseen guest.
The old English Ghost, the term Spirit, and the Hebrew term (ruach) and the Greek term all have similar backgrounds. They all are related the terms for breath, breathing, breeze, or wind. Ghost came from older terms related to words like gasp. The Greek word for Spirit is pneuma. From it we get the medical term pneumonia and concepts like pneumatic tire.