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Summary: The sermon examines the evidences of the Spirit’s work in the life of the believer.

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Holy Spirit Series 2000

The Case for the Spirit

Romans 8:15-27

Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister

First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO

I loved those old Sherlock Holmes movies I watched as a kid. The scenes were different. The crimes varied from movie to movie. The bad guys had different names. But we all knew the outcome.

The plot went something like this. A crime has been committed. The police arrive and secure the crime scene. They interrogate all the witnesses and a number of suspects. An evidence team arrives. They scour the scene looking very the smallest tell tale information about what happened. A piece of thread here; a bloodstain on the carpet; a footprint outside the bedroom window.

Eventually a suspect emerges. Everyone is convinced that they have the bad guy. A veteran of such movies knows that it’s not that simple. The camera pans to Holmes. He is puffing his pipe and scratching his chin. He’s thinking. He’s pondering some strange bit of evidence that everyone else overlooked. He spots some weird little inconsistency in the testimony of a witness. Dr. Watson watches in bewilderment.

Eventually, Holmes cracks the case. Scotland Yard’s top cop has done it again. Always, somewhere near the end, he replies to Watson’s incredulous query about how he did, “Elementary, Watson, elementary. It’s the evidence just the evidence.”

The work of the Holy Spirit may not be elementary but to understand his work we merely need to follow the evidence.

Today’s message brings us to our fourth in a series on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. We have been examining seven names, titles, or descriptive terms for the Spirit.

Our last three names or descriptive terms provide what I will call “the case for the Spirit.” Each of these three names provides a piece of the evidence that together reveal who the Spirit is and what He does. What would you site as evidence of the Spirit? What proof could you find for a compelling case for the Spirit?

Some in our day, like the other detectives in the Sherlock Holmes mystery, gather a bounty of evidence for their case but end up at a dead end because they have either gathered the wrong evidence or overlooked the real evidence. Some point to enthusiasm, sincerity, or emotional intensity as the proof of the Spirit. Obviously, the Holy Spirit can and does produce enthusiasm, sincerity and emotions. But so do a high school football game, a rock concert, and an Amway convention. No, there must be more evidence than that.

As noted in a previous study, some point to signs and wonders, speaking in tongues, or futuristic predictions as the evidence of the Spirit. I believe God can do all of those things. But I also know from the Bible and from history, that each of those things can be counterfeited and abused. Throughout history, totally pagan and non-Christian religionists have spoken in ecstatic tongues, fallen into spiritual trances, and appeared to perform inexplicable feats and amazing wonders. Nowhere does the Bible ever suggest that such things, in and of themselves, make a case for the Spirit.

If not these, then what? What is the evidence of the Spirit? What does he do when he is present? What footprints of the Spirit should we expect to find at the scene of his work?

Three terms, names, or descriptive titles will help answer these questions. The three also will highlight the past, future, and present work of the Spirit. Together they form a three strand cord around the classic Christian virtues—faith, hope, and love. If you are a born-again believer, the past work of the Spirit was to bring you to faith. He is the Spirit of Life. His future-oriented work is to remind us of the hope that awaits us. He is the Spirit of Promise. Right now, in the present, his work is to make us one, to enable us as followers of Jesus to so live together that we make Jesus look good. He is the Spirit of Unity.

I. The Spirit of Life

The first and most fundamental work of the Spirit is to bring people to a saving relationship with Jesus through faith in the Gospel. As he does this, He is the Spirit of Life. Listen to Paul’s words in Romans 8:

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.£ And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

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