Summary: A 2 part message on the person and work of the Holy Spirit.


TEXT: John 14: 15-24

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Today being Pentecost, we are going to begin a series on the Holy Spirit. In preparation for today I was reading a book by Dennis Bennett, a wonderful writer, called The Holy Spirit and You. In the first chapter he tells a story about a couple who visits their neighbor. The neighbor is a Christian, but they didn’t know that. They are leaving town, the house is being sold at a sheriff sale, and they lost their car. The wife wanted to say good-bye to her neighbor whom she hardly knew. In the process, she poured her heart out about their losses, their plan to get a divorce, and the issue of alcoholism. The couple had tried everything including psychiatry, long-term counseling and A.A., but nothing seemed to work. The wife’s attitude was one of total hopelessness and despair. The neighbor said, “Don’t you know that there is an answer?” The wife asked, “What do you mean?” The neighbor asked if she had ever given her heart to Jesus Christ, and the lady looked very puzzled. She said, “We’ve tried religion. We tried to be good and we didn’t do a very good job at it.” The neighbor said, “I’m not talking about religion. I’m talking about a personal relationship with God.” The wife decided to try it and gave her heart to Christ. Two days later the husband visited the neighbor and asked what had happened to his wife. The neighbor shared the gospel with him, and instantaneously he was delivered from his alcoholism.

The alcoholism was just symptomatic of a life that was empty and without God. How do you explain a missionary going to a foreign country and spontaneously having a language that enables him to preach the gospel to that culture that he did not learn. How do you explain spontaneous acts of healing? This happens with regularity and I experienced one myself. How do you explain that in the context of worship, something you have been thinking about or arguing about on the way to church is the very thing that is spoken about in the service? How do you explain a sudden financial gift out of nowhere that met a particular need? How do you explain overwhelming peace when everything is falling apart around you, or overwhelming comfort in the midst of death? How do you explain a person who had no desire for God in his life to suddenly be transformed and then can’t get enough of God?

The answer is the work of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives. Whether you know it or not, we live in the age of the Holy Spirit. In past times, God worked primarily through God the Father, then there was a shift in which God used Jesus Christ the Son to work salvation in the world. Jesus then left the Holy Spirit behind for us to learn from. We live in the period of time in which the primary agency of God working in people’s lives is the Holy Spirit as well as His word.

What is the Holy Spirit, what has he come to do, and what will I experience? Do I have to be weird and speak in gibberish or enroll in Glossolalia 101 courses? What does God want to do with me and should I be fearful of it? Is it just the Pentecostals who have the Holy Spirit, or do Presbyterians have it too?

We are going to answer all these questions. We will begin with the question of who is the Holy Spirit. We will look at John 14: 15-18, 23, 25 and 26. One rule of thumb is if you want to learn about a certain subject in the Bible, go to where it is treated systematically. For instance, if you want to learn about love, go to I Corinthians 13. If you want to learn about salvation, go to Romans. If you want to learn about faith, go to Hebrews 11. If you want to learn about the resurrection, read I Corinthians 15. If you want to learn about the Holy Spirit, read John 14 because it is treated systematically and in-depth. Then you let all other scriptures fill in the blanks or fill in the picture from there.

The second rule of thumb is that you go to those who know the Holy Spirit. Who in the body of Christ knows the Holy Spirit? The Pentecostals and the Charismatics know the Holy Spirit. They may have other things wrong, and I believe they do. There are weaknesses in every denomination, but if you want to learn about the Holy Spirit, I encourage you to read writers who come from either the Pentecostal church or the charismatic movement. I tend to like those who are aligned with a major denomination and who have had this charismatic experience but who are also rooted and grounded in good theology. That’s important. Good theology is important because if you don’t have a good theology, you will have a bad theology, and a bad theology can be very destructive to you. Just ask the guy who put the bombs in all the mailboxes. He did it because of religious reason. Some very bad theology helped him become destructive.

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