LET’S PUT THE HOLY SPIRIT BACK ON OUR AGENDA.
This is the last Sunday of 2018 and I will be leaving England for Spain at the end of January 2019. On 13 January we will be holding a joint service for Matt and myself. For me (and Liz) it will be a commissioning service and for Matt it will be an induction service. I preach today, & next week.
I was thinking / praying about what to share, what would be best for you, what notable thing could I leave us a legacy that would benefit you. At the same time thinking about my future. I know that planting a church in Spain is attempting the impossible! We are under no illusions about working in Spain which is probably one of the darkest places in Europe. The average missionary last two years. The average church size is less than 30 members. It’s a dark place!
Then I had a fleeting thought about Jesus. For me a recurring one .When he was preparing to leave the disciples, do you know what he majored on? What did he want to leave them? You can read in John’s Gospel. John 13-17 is ‘the upper room discourse.’ Here Jesus discusses many things but the most prominent issue is the promise of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says more here about the Holy Spirit than he did in the entire 3 ½ year ministry! Try John 14, 15, 16 and you see what I mean. You have to search, but it’s certainly there! (counsellor, sp of truth, speak of me, remind my wds, parakletos, like me)
Further on, on the evening of the day that Jesus was raised from the dead, Jesus said to the disciples “as the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said “receive the Holy Spirit….” NB the connection here. The work and the power to do it. Not sure what the breathing was? A blowing or an open mouthed huhhh? John 20:21-22
I believe Jesus was absolutely excited about the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit. Something he looked forward to, longed for. In John 7:37-39 he was so excited about it that when he was at a great feast, on the very last day, he stood up and said, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.’
This seems so out of place here. Jesus was actually pre-empting what was to happen later, at Pentecost and in the church age. He was so ecstatically animated about it that he couldn’t help speaking out this invitation.
Then in Acts 1, we read that the resurrected Jesus taught a 40-day KOG seminar. I’m sure He could have raised many issues that were taught under the heading KOG – but He only chose one – at least only one recorded - The Baptism of the HS. NB again the connection between the work and the power to do it. Acts 1:7-8.
Now I know that there will be those here, for those who are listening online, who might already be thinking, ‘These charismatic are always beating the Holy Spirit drum.’ Well if you are a regular attender here you will know that is simply not true. A vast range of subjects. Jesus most prominent! Nevertheless, Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit should have far more prominence in our lives and in our churches than most Christians and churches today allow. A teaching
Let’s consider the place of the Holy Spirit according to the Scriptures.
Now I know that many Christians are a little nervous about the Holy Spirit. Well that’s okay, because he is God. A healthy fear of the Lord is to be recommended. He is not to be trivialised or taken for granted. But on the other hand, the Holy Spirit is a friend, a very present help in times of need, a supporter, an empowerer and a guide. And he’s always with his people as a resource to draw upon in any circumstance. So to fear the HS is fine, but you need to be familiar too!
Now, 1stly, remember that the disciples were raised on the OT. It was their staple spiritual diet! They knew the Holy Spirit was very powerful and deeply involved in the creation of the universe. They knew there were two great periods of Holy Spirit activity, one which brought salvation through Moses and one which brought restoration through Elijah. They knew the judges were empowered by the Spirit and did great exploits (Jepthah, Sampson, Samuel) and they knew that the prophets, by HS brought encouragement and hope and prophetic foresight that would bless them and their nation. Just reading the stories of the OT would lead them to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit was an absolutely essential person in the life and history of the whole nation! I hope you understand that.
He is the power behind all the champions in the Bible.
Who was the strongest man in the OT? Sampson? – no, HS – Jud 14:6 S of Lord came upon him
Who was the wisest man in the OT? Solomon? – no, HS – 1 Kings 3:12 (implied) God given wisdom
Who was the greatest leader in the OT? Moses? No – Dt 34:9-12 Filled with S of wisdom cos LoHds!
Who was the purest person in the OT? Joseph? no, HS – Gen 41:38
Summed up by Zech 4:6 Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord.
Now Jesus was saying: Now I will make this available for you!
The disciples knew that there was an age to come which will be characterised by the Holy Spirit’s presence. One day the Holy Spirit would appear on the stage of human history and show himself to be the great comforter, deliverer, empower-er and giver of gifts so that people would enjoy God’s favour. Joel 2 ‘in the last days.. I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh….
Now, these days have arrived!
And Christians need to know that the Holy Spirit is accessible and available again. Let’s not fall into the error that excluding the Holy Spirit is a spiritual thing to do!
‘Oh, but I am completely happy with Jesus! He is all I need.
When I was a new Christian I was given a job by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Camden Town, London – as a trainee in their print department. It was really a therapeutic post which they created to help me get on with my new life in Christ. Most of the staff were great evangelicals though a couple were quiet Pentecostals. It was like heaven for me! Each week they would have a visiting speaker to take a morning devotional time and a regular speaker was a real Bishop – Goodwin-Hudson, who was Vicar of Portman Square CoE church, near Oxford Street. One day he spoke on the Greek grammar of a verse (Eph 1:13) (after or when) which said that receiving the HS was a synonym for conversion and that Christians should not seek the BITS and those NT gifts etc. He said that if you had Jesus that was all you needed. Well, afterwards I spoke to him and he knew I was converted, and I told him that I received the HS after I was converted and that I spoke in tongues. His response was, ‘Your problem is that you have a ‘Jesus-plus gospel!’ Well, I said, ‘That’s not true – You have a Jesus-minus gospel!’ – minus the HS!
The Gospel in the NT includes the HS!!. A gospel without the HS is a deficient gospel.
Have you thought the gospel is not just about Jesus - but about Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Ez 36:26, 37 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Acts 2:38-39 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Gal 3:13-14 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
Also the testimonies of conversions:
Paul: Acts 9:17
Cornelius household Acts 10
Believers in Ephesus Acts 19
So, old Bishop Goodwin-Hudson was not really telling Bible truth.
And what convinces me more, that we need the Holy Spirit, are the innumerable references throughout the NT explaining what the Spirit does, how the Spirit interacts with us, how He daily partners with us, deepening our spirituality, guiding our decisions, orchestrating our daily business, protecting us from the evil one, prompting us to do the good and resist the bad, like a moral sat nav.
I know when you hear Holy Spirit or baptism in the Holy Spirit, you think speaking in tongues, words of prophecy, people falling under the power of the Spirit, hearing and all those things. But, in fact they are just a small part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry. His role is much, much greater than that.
Conversion and conviction; gifts and graces; freedom and fruit; peace and power; witnessing and worship; comfort and cleansing; guidance and gladness - there appears neither activity nor experience of believers that is not a direct result of the Spirit’s work. He should be involved in yr life.
I believe that if we set our minds and our will on being filled with the Holy Spirit in 2019 we will have the best year of our lives! If the HS is responsible for all these things – effectively the whole of my Christian life – then I need to ensure that He has access, that I am open and willing to respond, that I give Him permission daily to help me and make me all that I was destined to be. He is the Promise of the Father, (so the Father is not put out! Lk 11:13) He has been sent by Jesus to help us be good disciples, good followers of Jesus (so Jesus isn’t phased by me seeking the HS) "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. (John 16:7,8)