21 May Why We Believe What We Believe: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Part 2 (Ep 12)
The Holy Spirit, which seals our Salvation, is a person at work. How does He empower us, fill us, indwell us? Learn more about the work of God’s Spirit in Episode 12.
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Introduction: The only way you and I will find entry into heaven is that we have been sealed by God’s Spirit to authenticate we put our trust in Christ, in Christ alone. This is why salvation is so rich because we do so little in understanding it and we do nothing to gain it.
EASLEY: You know when Jesus Christ was about to die; He’s leaving this earth, he’ll be crucified, buried, and three days later resurrected. John 14 records: We call it the Upper Room Discourse, John 14,15,16, following. These sections give us a very intimate account of Christ talking to His eleven closest friends. Early on after He’s washed their feet and participated in the Last Supper, the so called Last Supper, Judas of course is sent out. He tells Judas to do what he has to do and he goes to betray Him. So now Christ is left with His eleven closest friends and that scene is depicted in our minds with a lot of sanctified imagination, but listen to what He says in John. Again, the setting; He’s about to die and this is the last thing He’s telling His closest friends. I’ll start reading in John 16: vs. 5. But now I’m going to Him who sent me; and none of you asks Me, “Where you are going?” But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement; concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you will no longer see me; and concerning judgement, because the ruler of this world has been judged. Then He says, “I have many more things to say to you but you cannot bear them now, but when He, the Spirit of Truth comes He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak and He will disclose to you what is to come. On Jesus goes, but I want to point out a few things.
Number 1 this is the person of the Holy Spirit. He’s called the Helper; the Greek word you well know is parakletos, paraclete (Greek translation to English) literally it means one who walks alongside us and helps us in the spiritual life. He’s a person. He’s going to come and indwell the disciples after Christ’s goes. Christ will say later in that passage “If I don’t go to the Father, I can’t send Him to you.” So it’s required that Jesus’s dead, buried, resurrected, and ascended before they will receive this person and work of the Holy Spirit who will indwell them permanently. So let’s go back to the deliberate Jesus. On the night He’s going to be handed over and the next day crucified, the last thing He tells them about is the importance of the Holy Spirit’s role in their life. Let’s listen to the message and continue trying to scratch the surface of this very important topic of the person and work of God’s Spirit.
Message: Let me give you a number of concepts to think about here that are sort of interrelated but not sequential.
Number one: is the identity. When we talk about the Holy Spirit, we don’t speak of the Spirit as it. A few years ago when one of these sort of hybrid Pentecostal Charismatic movements was really sweeping across the country. There were some writers talking about the Holy Spirit as It and it got everyone up in a real lather. You can’t refer to the Holy Spirit as it. Well that’s right let me give you two passages so that you’ll understand why. In John 14:16 Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;” A very important set of terms there. He didn’t say He will send the Spirit, or He will send it. He compares another helper to Himself and so this identity from Jesus lips is a person, not an it. Also in the gifting arena in I Corinthians 12: 11, Paul writes “The Spirit distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” So God’s Holy Spirit, when a person comes to Christ is endowed with a supernatural grace gift, charismata (English translation for Greek word) grace gift and that comes from the Holy Spirit. So the idea is the Holy Spirit is a person as He distributes those gifts among the body of Christ. Well the ministry of the Spirit can be grouped in a lot of ways. Let me give you four as we conclude.
Number one: Indwelling. To be indwelt by the Holy Spirit is important in contrast to the Old Testament where the Spirit’s dwelling was temporary and selective. David said “Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.” Saul obviously loses God’s Holy Spirit. When Gideon would have God’s Spirit or Samson, the Spirit of God would come upon them. They would be able to selectively and temporarily do some pretty amazing accomplishments when they were indwelt. In Romans 8:9 we read, However you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed, or we might say since, the Spirit of God dwells in you; but if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, He does not belong to Him. I remember in college when this passage was like someone turned the light bulbs on in my head. We use a lot of these terms that are hard to put our arms around about like assurance, and guidance, and inclining, and directing, and leading, and the Spirit calling and all these sort of inventive terms we use, sometimes out of context, sometimes we just make them up to explain what the Spirits doing in our life. I remember when this verse really clicked in my head, I probably was about between a freshman and sophomore in college and I read those words, Since the Spirit of God dwells in you. The confirmation of eternal security, in large measure is because when you and I trust Christ the Holy Spirit indwells us. My experience means nothing in comparison to the knowledge that the Holy Spirit indwells us. Why is that so important? Because even the best of us on a good day, when we really feel good about our walk with Christ, we can be turned on our heels very quickly. On a bad day when things are going terrible and nobody loves us and we think we’re all alone in the world, and nobody understands our problems, and we got some terrible news about our health or someone we love or some horrible thing, or we’re just in sort of a blue mood; my experience tells me otherwise; my experience tells me God doesn’t love me; my experience tells me where is the Holy Spirit indwelling me? Experience is a hard way to live theologically. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, according to the authority of Romans 8:9, His Spirit dwells in you. When I pastored a church, I was always pretty picky about how we share the gospel with children. A lot of times people talk about accepting Jesus into your heart, inviting Jesus into your heart. Why don’t you ask Jesus into your heart? Well I think I know what all those mean, but you don’t find any of them in the Bible. Now if you tell a concrete child, “Ask Jesus into your heart.” He or she sees Jesus shrinking down, going into their chest cavity, opening a little door in their heart and sitting on a stool and Jesus is now happy in their heart. Then they say, “I have Jesus in my heart.” Now I know why we use that pedantic language. But you know what I also believe Jesus Christ called kids to Him and they came to Him and He never used the word, “I need to go into your heart.” Accept you come as these children, right? What do you do? You believe, you trust, you put your faith in, you believe Jesus at His Word. Why do we have to make the gospel something it’s not? Do we think we have to be clearer than the gospel is? Do you think Jesus wasn’t clear enough when He said, “Believe in me? Put your faith in me? Trust in me?” I think it’s a lot more secure to trust in what Jesus and the New Testament say about salvation, then how we sometimes are so creative with sharing the gospel. So when my son, my daughters, when people trust Christ. I say, “The Holy Spirit has become your permanent roommate. He indwells you.” I don’t use the stool, and heart, and chair imagery. I say, “He’s come into your life.” I don’t understand all that. But the passage says, Indeed, or since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now the rest of the verse says, But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. In other words, if the Holy Spirit does not indwell the heart, excuse me, (laughter) if the Holy Spirit does not indwell us; it’s hard language to get rid of. If the Holy Spirit doesn’t indwell us, we’re not saved;another way of putting it. So the way you know you’re saved may or may not have anything to do with your experience; it does have to do with trusting Christ at His Word; that the Holy Spirit indwells us.
The next word is very important; that’s sealing. Ephesians 1:13, In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth. You see the means by which the gospel is communicated is right in that verse. After listening. So when you and I share Christ, or open the Bible, or teach, we are telling people the message of truth, aren’t we? In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation- having also believed. So this is great! This is great evangelism theology here. Ok, the message was delivered. You believed it! You embraced it. Then Paul says, “You were sealed. sphradgtzo, great Greek word. You were sealed in Him, with the Holy Spirit of promise. That seal is very fun to study. It authenticates a document; it ensures the content of the document; it’s authentic. So when you and I trusted Christ, Romans 8;9, we were sealed. Ephesians 1:13, by His Spirit, inside us, in our lives, in our soul, in our Spirit, however trinitarian compartmental bipart man, you want to be, God has sealed us with a promise. Now the reason that’s important is because my goal in getting to heaven is not contingent upon what I do or don’t do. The only way you and I will find entry into heaven is that we’ve been sealed by God’s Spirit to authenticate we put our trust in Christ, and Christ alone. This is why salvation is so rich because there’s so little in understanding it and we do nothing to gain it. We embrace, we accept, we trust, we believe, we put our faith in, but He does all the work. It’s protection; it’s authenticity; it’s ownership, identified as God’s property. Ephesians 4:30 reads we are sealed for the day of redemption and all these of course dovetail with the Doctrine of Eternal Security and the assurance of the believer.
So we have indwelling, we have sealing, third we have baptizing. This is one that gets really fun. A lot of confusion and most of the division in the different denominations within Christianity will divide over what the baptism of the Holy Spirit means. There’s confusion on a number of issues. There’s confusion first of all how you define church. Certain traditions if church begins with Abraham vs Pentecost, you’re going to have a very confusing conversation about the baptizing role of the Spirit. There’s also confusion about what happened at Pentecost. Remember the outsiders thought everyone was drunk. They are speaking, we might say, in their mother dialectos, (Greek translation for English word) very important word in Acts chapter 2. It’s a known dialect. If I remember correctly there’s thirteen dialectos mentioned in Acts chapter 2 and they’re all hearing the message, pantheon medes; they are all hearing their mother tongue so when you go to the UN and you see everyone wearing headphones, the headphones come off. Whoever is speaking everyone is hearing, not an interpretation of it; they’re hearing an English speaker in French, German, whatever different language it is. That’s how I understand that miracle that occurred and there was this cacophony apparently so it sounded strange to those outside. Fascinating miracle that authenticates the Holy Spirit’s fulfillment of Joel Chapter 2. There’s also confusion about the role of water baptism along with when the Holy Spirit comes, when the baptizing sequences occur, how many times you have to be baptized, three, four, or some even talking about a fire baptism, and other manifestation that have to accompany this. There’s further confusion about the filling of the Holy Spirit so all these come together. Let me give you a couple observations. Number 1) No Old Testament believer is baptized the way Jesus announced it or the way it occurred in Acts 2. In other words, if you want to have a consistent Biblical theology on this baptism, you have to look at the whole and say, “What’s different in the Old and New Covenants?” What did God through Christ accomplish when He sent His Spirit and the High Priestly prayer in the Upper Room Discourse? John 14-16 teaching the Holy Spirit’s coming. What was He going to accomplish? And this baptism accomplishes a number of things I’ll mention in a moment. Secondly, we find no command or exhortation in the New Testament to be baptized with the Spirit. It’s not an obedient response to as we might talk about water baptism. So that would seem odd if it was a requirement that the New Testament wouldn’t enjoin us: “be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Well you have been baptized. You have been identified with Him when you trusted Him. Third, all believers after Pentecost are I believe indwelt with the Spirit. I Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit, you were all baptized into one body.” Right there Paul says it, “By one Spirit you’re all baptized into one body, whether Jews, or Greek, slave or free, we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” Baptism then includes in my opinion the most important issue is incorporation and identification.
Identification we saw when Jesus was baptized. This is my Son in whom I am well pleased. Set the discussion of the mode of baptism aside: sprinkle, dipped, water, front, backwards, three-four times, name of Jesus only; just set that aside for a moment. What’s really important is when God the Father says, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” The Spirit is the identifying feature of that.
So when I was a pastor I taught when you’re baptized, we did emersion in our church, and I thought that was a good depiction and accurate to the verb. But I said, “The point is not the mode, the point is you are identifying yourself as a follower of Jesus Christ, when you are baptized to demonstrate your obedience to His commands.” The baptism of the Spirit, one Spirit, all baptized into one body. Secondly, is the incorporation into the body and this of course is where we have some good tradition. When you’re baptized in the local church many churches say that’s part of membership. It’s hard to find a chapter and verse that says, “You ought to be baptized to be a member.”Right? It really is hard if you’re honest with the text. I could never do that. I’ve read some good attempts, but they fall short, but think about it conceptually for a moment. If the Holy Spirit indwells the believer and it’s called baptism, and we have this thing called water baptism where we’re obeying Christ in His command, “baptize them in the name of”; there seems to be some tandem there in my theological mind that says, “This is an identification and an incorporation with the body of Christ. In other words, I’m one of you too. I’ve been baptized by the Spirit; I’ve water baptized to identify myself to incorporate with this body of Christ. So there is some sense to the concept, not saying a church as to have that to be a member and I’ve made a whole bunch of you start paying attention now. Lastly, filling. Fifteen different times in the New Testament we have the Spirit filling, it’s noted. There are two broad categories of this filing: The first, God sovereignly fills a person for a specific time or a specific mission. We saw that in John the Baptist life; we saw it in Elizabeth in Luke 1:41, in Zacharias Luke 1:67. There is a time when God with His Spirit endows a person, old and new for a very specific mission. Secondly, filling occurs as it influences and controls the believers life. The Holy Spirit influences us and controls our life. Luke 4:1, Jesus is controlled by the Spirit; Acts chapter 6:3 the so called First Deacons, they were men full of the Spirit. Every time I read the word filled in the English Bible, I substitute the word controlled in my head because I believe the word filled in the New Testament came closer to meaning controlled the way we use the term than the first century. The key verse I like in this regard is Ephesians 5:18, Do not get drunk with wine but for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Holy Spirit. If you were to take enough alcohol in a glass and consume enough of it, you’ve taken an external substance that you’ve consumed and before long that alcohol will control you. That’s why quiet demear men will become pugnacious and fighters if they’re drunk because this substance externally that they consumed controlled them and they acted in a way that they wouldn’t act if they were sober. It’s a very good correl there to the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is an external person who when you believe on Him, He internally dwells you and the question then is: do I allow Him to control my life? Or do I control my life? That is where the whole issue of the spiritual life begins, men and women, is that when you trusted Jesus Christ you were indwelt by His Spirit whether you knew it or not. Many other things He does I haven’t even begun to talk about, but I think the most applicational part of this is are we submitting to? Are we yielded to? I like Packer’s phrase, “Are we in step with the One who’s come alongside to help us?” The parakaleo. ( The Greek word in English translation) The filling of the Spirit describes the empowering of God. Now I know again every illustration at best stands at three legs, some on two legs, but I really appreciated a illustration Bill Bright used years ago. I’ve never been able to improve on it. Let me close with his story here.
Sally was almost penniless. Her husband Jeb had died years before. His life insurance paid off the mortgage, but that was about it. The house was deteriorating around her; the car had been junked long ago because she couldn’t keep up with the repairs and insurance. She got by on a few dollars each week for groceries; her electricity was taken away; she decided to live by a coleman stove and candlelight. Sally rarely left home. How could she when everything cost money; coffee was eighty-five cents even with her senior citizens discount, a movie was three dollars; the walk to the park required shoes, and her remaining pair were threadbare. Day after day Sally was at home crushed. She sat in her rocking chair. “Life was supposed to be better than this,” she thought. It started out so great, so full of promise but that’s all past by now. This is the way she lived for years; lonely, defeated, until one day an old acquaintance called her. Miriam was heartbroken when she saw Sally’s condition. She decided to stay a few days and help Sally by straightening up the house. In the course of helping her old friend, Miriam made a discovery. Tucked away in a file drawer of Jeb’s rolltop desk was a folder that said, “For Sally.” Inside Miriam found an old bank savings book. The least entry had been made twenty two years earlier, just before Jeb had died. The bank book had a balance of 87,000$ but that wasn’t all. The folder also contained a yellow envelope sealed and inscribed with Jeb’s handwriting, “To Sally with love, forever.” “Do you know what this is, Miriam asked. Sally searched her mind. She remembered when her husband was dying the tender words that passed between them. Then the memory hit her. The grief and the heartache of those days, he said, “When I’m gone there’s something important in my desk.” Now Miriam watched Sally open the envelope carefully inside, there was single folded page and a key. It read, “My dearest love, my time with you draws short, but I want you to know I’ve provided everything you will need once I’m gone. Check the bankbook in the file, then take the key to the bank with you. In loving remembrance enjoy life to the full. With love forever, Jeb.” Sally and Miriam discovered the key was to a safety deposit box at the bank. They lifted the metal lid of the box, their eyes widened; several bundles of cash, 32,000$ in all; also a pile of stock certificates and three holders of rare coins. That afternoon the broker informed them the stock was were worth 550,000$ on the current market; a coin dealer appraised the coins at 47,000$; the bank calculated twenty two years of interest on the savings account. All told, Sally was worth 883,000$ and she had been living in misery and despair.
A little bit over the top of an illustration, I will agree. But is it really? When you placed your trust in Christ, and Christ alone for your salvation, the very person of the Holy Spirit indwelt you, and we live the Christian life so pathetically, myself included many times. And we have all the resources of the Godhead three, in your life and in my life. As David Gager began our service today, rest! Stop! Don’t stress so much! Don’t work so hard! Find the place where you work and rest! Use the resources of the very Spirit of God who indwelt everyone of us who believes in Him. After all He is a person and He’s God.
Closing: So, we’ve heard a lot about God’s Spirit. We’ve heard how He fills us, how He indwells us, how He empowers us, that He’s a person at work, and if you trusted Christ and Christ alone, He indwells in you. Unless you rest, unless you stop, unless you spend some time in God’s Word, studying God’s Spirit, it will always remain a mystery to you and you will always be confused about it. But I have confidence in His Word and in His Spirit that as you spend time there you will understand more and more His role in your life. This is Michael Easley inContext.