Summary: In introducing the gifts we need to understand and desire the giver of the gifts more than the gifts themselves. This is a sermon about who the Spirit is (God) and some of what he does in us.
ILL: Jason was a friend who was one of those people who seemed good at everything. He was artistic, outgoing, smart, a good preacher. I was glad to call him my friend, but boy, did I feel inferior! Do you ever feel like that around others?
We may not all be Jason’s, but the reality is every believer has been gifted in some way to serve God’s church. So we’re beginning a new series on the gifts - what they are and how to discover yours.
But if we are going to understand the gifts, first we need to know the giver - the Holy Spirit. The ministry of the Holy Spirit the subject of a lot of misunderstanding, but he’s a greater gift than any ministry gift we may be given.
THE SPIRIT IS GOD
So who or what is the Holy Spirit?
As Christians we understand that there is one God and that God is one. So one of the most basic declarations about God in the Old Testament is found in Deut 6.4, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one."
And yet God in his essential being is three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Bible doesn’t come straight out and say this and so some people want to argue the point, but we really aren’t left with much choice when we get into it. Let’s look at some of the simplest.
In Matt 28.19 Jesus commands us to make disciples and to "baptise them in the name of the Father of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." A Jew hearing this would have understood Jesus as saying the Son and the Spirit are equal with the Father.
In 2 Corinthians 13:14 Paul says, "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." This is Paul signing off a letter and asking God to bless them. And get this, Jesus comes first in the list, not "God". So we begin to build up this picture of the Triune nature of God.
Finally, Gal 4.6 says, ’Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."’ Again we see that something of the Triune nature of God is being expressed here as each one is part of the other.
ILL: Perhaps the closest analogy is to our human nature. You are a single, integrated being with a spirit, a mind and a body. You are not three beings in one or one being divided up into three. We know that when our minds are sick, our body is affected and vice versa. In fact, what happens in our spirit affects our mind and body as well and researchers have found that people who pray regularly are generally happier and more positive than those who don’t. This leads some people to believe that spirituality is all in the mind, or that it’s just our neurons doing what they’re hardwired to do, but that’s not true. It’s because we are spiritual beings and that spirituality is an integral and indivisible part of who we are. It also explains why psychology and biology will never be sufficient in understanding our humanity, they both leave out the essential ingredient of spirituality.
Like all analogies you will probably find lots of holes in it, especially since God is something completely other than us. But my point is that God is one - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And this means that the Holy Spirit is God. He was not created by God. He is not inferior to the Father or Son. He is not some impersonal force given to us by God to use or manipulate. He is the sovereign Lord, creator and life giver who we rely on for every breath and to whom we must submit.
But he does have a particular role in the Godhead, and this morning I want to pull out just three that Paul touches on in this passage on the gifts.
THE SPIRIT ENABLES US TO CONFESS "JESUS IS LORD"
Paul writes in v.3 that, ’No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. But surely anyone can say it, it’s just three words! So what does he mean?
In Matt 7.21 Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, ’Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven." The words are meaningless if they are not accompanied by a faith commitment. And incidentally, so is any ministry we might perform!
Paul says in Rom 10.9-10, " If you confess with your mouth, ’Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."