Summary: Using the story of the transformation of Walter Lewis Wilson, this short sermon challenges people to want to be full of the Holy Spirit in order to impact our town for Jesus!
John 15: 26-27 and 16: 4b-15
Walter Lewis Wilson was an American doctor born towards the end of the 19th century. He was a faithful Christian who often hosted visiting missionaries to his church. One visitor from France didn’t mince words, asking him, “Who is the Holy Spirit to you?” Wilson’s answer was doctrinally correct: “One of the Persons of the Godhead … Teacher, Guide, Third Person of the Trinity.” But it was an empty and rehearsed response. His friend pushed him harder, challenging him, “You haven’t answered my question.” Wilson opened up: “He’s nothing to me. I have no contact with him and could get along without him.” The following year, Wilson listened to a sermon at church from Romans 12 on the challenge to offer his body as a living sacrifice. The preacher called out from the pulpit, “Have you noticed that this verse doesn’t tell us to whom we should give our bodies? It’s not the Lord Jesus. He has his own body. It’s not the Father. He remains on his throne.
Another has come to earth without a body. God gives you the indescribable honour of presenting your bodies to the Holy Spirit, to be his dwelling place on earth.” Wilson was struck to the core and rushed home to seek the Lord. He fell on his face and pleaded with the Lord, “My lord, I have treated you like a servant. When I wanted you, I called for you. Now I give you this body from my head to my feet. I give you my hands, my limbs, my eyes and lips, my brain. You may send this body to Africa, or lay it on a bed with cancer. It’s your body from this moment on.” The next morning, Wilson was working in his office when two women arrived, trying to sell him advertising. He led the two women to faith in Jesus Christ. The previous night’s surrender had enabled him to access new power from on high. From that day onwards, his life entered a new dimension of evangelistic fruitfulness. He went on to pioneer a church plant, a mission organisation, and a Bible college, as well as becoming a best selling author.
Who is the Holy Spirit to you? Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Counsellor, sent from the Father, the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus (15:26). It is the Holy Spirit - not over zealous preachers - who exposes the guilt of the world in regards to sin and righteousness and judgement (16:8-11). It is the Holy Spirit who, when he comes, will guide the disciple of Jesus into all truth (16:13), and it is the Holy Spirit who brings glory to Jesus by revealing truth to the disciples of Jesus (16:14-15).
Who is the Holy Spirit to you? You may have often heard it said that Jesus has no body on earth, no arms and legs other than yours and mine. I agree with that statement. However, the Bible tells us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). God’s Holy Spirit desires to live and move and work in and through us for the glory of Jesus, for the blessing of the poor, feeding the hungry, ministering to the sick, caring for widows and orphans.
I am not standing here this morning wanting to heap guilt or condemnation upon anybody, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! But I have to ask myself am I like Wilson the first or Wilson the second? Are you a Wilson first or a Wilson the second? When I came to faith in Jesus in 1985 the vicar at the church was another Wilson, Harry Wilson, not Harold Wilson! He told us his story of believing in Jesus, being selected for ordination training and heading off to college. Whilst at Bible College he realised that he was empty and powerless to do or change anything. One night in his college bedroom he got down on his knees and asked the Holy Spirit to fill him, change him, and use him for the glory of Jesus. From that night onwards he too was a changed man, leading several churches into renewal and growth.
If each one of us is willing to be a Wilson the second, filled, inspired and led by the Holy Spirit, God will use us to impact this town powerfully. What do you say?