Summary: How the Holy Spirit works in the process of salvation
I’d like to begin this morning by sharing my testimony about my walk with Jesus. And then when I finish, I want to ask you some questions about that testimony.
My walk with Jesus began as an infant. Although I obviously don’t remember it, I was christened at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church here in Tucson as a baby. Our family continued to attend worship and Sunday School there throughout my childhood. But eventually we quit going to church. By the time I got to high school and even through my first year of college, I really didn’t have anything at all to do with church or even with God.
But, as I know I’ve shared with you before, one day I was sitting on the grass mall at the U of A when another student approached me and asked me if he could share about his faith in Jesus. I listened carefully to all he said and was convinced that I was indeed a sinner who was headed for hell one day if I didn’t place my faith in Jesus. And since I didn’t want to go to hell, when he asked me if I wanted to pray and ask Jesus into my life, I said “yes” and I prayed the prayer that he led me to pray.
That summer, I took a job as a student host at the U of A, where I met Mary. I still remember the first time I saw her in Student Union building before our first training session. We got to know each other a bit during the couple of weeks that we worked together and had some time to hang out with the other student hosts outside our work hours. After that, Mary kept coming by the Lucky Wishbone where I worked – always, it seemed, when I was off work - which is really amazing considering how many hours I was working over the summer. Some of my fellow employees began to ask me about this good looking girl that kept coming by to buy a soda and ask if I was working. Now I’ll admit that I was a little slow, but I finally got up the courage to ask her out.
As we began to date steadily, Mary asked me if I would go to church with her. Even though I wasn’t real comfortable with the idea, I liked her enough to give it a try – at least once. But church was nothing like what I expected. They actually taught the Bible there in a way that was interesting and relevant for my life. And over time I began to understand more about what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.
So one Sunday during the altar call, I walked down front and told the pastor that I had given my life to Jesus. Not too long after that I was baptized in that same church. But I later realized that at that time I really never focused much on the idea of repentance. I was a lot more interested in staying out of hell than I was in really following Jesus in my day-to-day life. But over time, I came to understand what it meant to repent and turn from my own ways and follow Jesus instead. And I’ve spent the rest of my life attempting to do that the very best that I can.
So here are two questions that I want to ask you this morning:
1. When did I become a Christian? Was it when I was christened as a baby? When I was attending church on a regular basis as a child? When I prayed the “sinner’s prayer” that day on the mall at the U of A? The day I walked down the aisle in response to the altar call? When I was baptized? Or when I finally understood what it meant to repent?
2. When did I receive the Holy Spirit into my life? At which of those same points in my life did the Holy Spirit come to dwell in my life?
The reason that I shared my testimony with you and that I asked you these two questions is because I’m convinced that those are two questions that all of us need to ask and answer in our own lives.
This morning’s message on the Holy Spirit is going to be quite a bit different than I first thought it would look like when I started working on it last week. Although I occasionally skim through other pastors’ sermons in my preparation in order to get some ideas about how to approach a topic, I almost never listen to or watch an entire sermon. But for some reason this week I was drawn to a sermon on the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan. And as I began to watch the video of that sermon, I couldn’t stop watching. I felt like God was speaking directly to me through his words.