(Intro: The last two weeks we have been examining the who of the Holy Spirit. . .this week the what, while continuing to break false stigmas about Him.)
One such stigma, or a common thought – whether conscious or subconscious – is that the arrival of the Holy Spirit occurs at Pentecost. So if you want to understand and follow the working of the Holy Spirit, you open your Bible to the book of Acts, read it. . .and maybe a few subsequent letters in the writings of Paul, and that is where you find out about the working of the Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, that stigma is about 1500 pages off, depending on your Bible, and who knows how many verses. Because if you will turn with me to Genesis 1:1, you will see that we don’t have to wait near that long to discover the Holy Spirit at work. Genesis 1:1 (through verse 2).
In fact, in the beginning is just the beginning of the written record of the working of the Holy Spirit. As we look through God’s word, it becomes clear that the Holy Spirit is not only at work in Acts, or even the New Testament works that follow Pentecost, but throughout the entire body of this book.
Anyone ever attended a “Walk Through the Bible” seminar? Today we are going to take a walk through the Bible to uncover the working of the Holy Spirit. You have another devotional guide that you can complete on the back of this week’s worship folder, and use through the week as you dive deeper into this doctrine, this truth about the Holy Spirit.
(At this point in the message, transition to Sword Drill syle of engaging the congregation in looking up the Scriptures, and reading them out. Non-competitive, but providing opportunity for congregational activity. Utilized one and done rule to allow a number of people the opportunity to participate.)
Let’s start with just some samples of the working of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament:
Here is our first sword drill Scripture. When you find it, stand up and proclaim it. Don’t compete, just engage. Genesis 41:38 (read). Who is Pharaoh talking about? (Joseph) What has Joseph done? (interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams) And by what power does Pharaoh acknowledge that he has done this? (God’s Spirit – the Holy Spirit) Alive and at work in Joseph’s life.
Next scripture. Exodus 31:1-5. Don’t worry, we aren’t going to do every book of the Bible. Exodus 31:1-5 (read). Here we see that Bezalal has been filled with gifts from the Holy Spirit. Not only gifts of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, but also the spiritual gift of workmanship, or craftsmanship.
A little further back we will find the book of Judges. Judges 3:9-10 (read). The Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit came upon Othniel, and this time for the purpose of issuing judgment, and delivering military victory for the people of God.
I Samuel 19:20 (read). The Spirit of God comes upon the messengers, and they do what? (Prophecy) Are you starting to see that not only does the Holy Spirit exist, move, and work well prior to Pentecost, but He is also administering spiritual gifts to the people of God, long before you get to the book of Acts or even I Corinthians.
One more Old Testament passage, Micah 3:8 (read). The power of the Holy Spirit was upon the prophet Micah to mediate the message of God.
So have we broken the stigma that the Holy Spirit is not alive and at work prior to the day of Pentecost? Are we at least making some headway? Let me see your swords. Don’t drop off on me. Let’s venture into the New Testament. What work do we find the Holy Spirit engaged in throughout the New Testament? Bible’s ready?
Romans 5:5 (read). How does the love of God get into us? How does it enter in to our hearts? By the Holy Spirit.
How about Romans 8:26 (read). We saw this last week when we examined activities of the Holy Spirit that are similar to human activities. He intercedes on our behalf. He goes to the Father, with your best interests in mind, and prays for you!
I Corinthians 12:4-11 (read). He is a gift giver. It is through the Holy Spirit, dwelling in our lives, that we experience the ability to do things of supernatural gifting. The Holy Spirit enters your life, and fills you with those gifts that God has appointed to work in your life.
Last one. Galatians 5:22-23 (read). When the Spirit resides in an individual, He produces the fruit of the spirit in their life.
Okay, that ends our sword drill. That gives you just a few verses to reflect on and study the context of this week. But trust me, if you are reading through your Bible this year, you will begin to notice that the Holy Spirit is everywhere in it. Watch for the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit rested upon them. You will find it all over this book.
There are two more critical works of the Holy Spirit that I want us to see today. Two works that we hold near and dear within our Wesleyan tradition as workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The first one is salvation, and we see the beginnings of this work in John 16:8. We have seen this passage in our study over the past two weeks. Let me read it to you. In John 16:8, Jesus says, (read through 11).
So the Holy Spirit brings conviction, which is our awareness of sin. Our recognition, and to be honest, rather gross feeling that we are in fact sinners. But He doesn’t leave us there.
For we read in Titus 3:5, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
If you are stuck in step one, feeling conviction and guilt for your sin. Let me encourage you, that is not the place God desires you to have to live. Through His loving kindness, He has made a way through the working of the Holy Spirit for you to be washed, regenerated, renewed. Or in other words, made new.
Jesus told Nicodemeous in John 3:5, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” There is a new birth available for those stuck in sin and conviction of sin, and it is the working of the Holy Spirit in your life. You can be born again.
And this is so important. . .if you have received the gift of salvation, if you have taken that step of new birth, and asked God’s Spirit to wash, regenerate, and renew your life. . .guess what? You are being indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8 tells us, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
Did you catch those words? If you don’t have the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, you don’t belong to Christ. Conversely, if you belong to Christ, you have His Spirit. You have the Holy Spirit alive, and available to work in your life in all the ways we have explored today. Performing all the acts we looked at last week.
I want to make sure everyone in this room hears this today. If you have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit does not have to be distant or strange thing or something reserved for believers to receive on their 65th birthday. If you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have received into your life His Spirit – the Holy Spirit.
And if you have not entered into that relationship, the only thing standing between you. . .and all this incredible stuff we see in God’s Word, all the incredible stuff we will explore when we look at the Fruit of the Spirit, all the incredible gifts we will talk about when we reflect on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. . .all that stands between you, and that incredible package of awesomeness. . .is a personal decision to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. To allow the Holy Spirit to come into your life, to indwell you. If you need to do that, you will have the chance to in just a moment.
But first. . .one more work. The second of these near and dear works to our Wesleyan tradition. 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
You see the two works. Not only the belief in the truth, the receiving of salvation, but also the sanctification by the Spirit. The cleansing. The setting out on a life of holiness. The empowering to live a life worthy of the righteousness of God which we have been called to be. “Not by might, not by power, but by God’s Holy Spirit, living and moving and having its being. . .in us!”
And believe it or not. This is not only a post-Pentecost working of the Holy Spirit either. Listen to these words from the book of Ezekiel which actually illuminate and describe what this sanctification is all about, Ezekiel 36: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations.”
Good holiness teaching from the Old Testament of all places. A place that many people do not even recognize that the Holy Spirit is alive, and well, and at work.
Well, that should give you plenty to chew on during your devotions this week. Yes?
Let’s go to prayer, and I want to return to the promise of the Holy Spirit in the work of salvation.
(Lead in prayers of salvation, and recognition of the Holy Spirit)