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Let's Get Reacquainted with the Spirit, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
August 11, 2022 7:05 am

Let's Get Reacquainted with the Spirit, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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August 11, 2022 7:05 am

Flying Closer to the Flame

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Today from Chuck Swindoll. I am convinced we are emptying our churches with people who gather to gather a set of notes which will do them virtually no good. The teaching, or something's wrong with the one who has been listening.

Most likely not for you. But if your soul is hungry for something more and you're eager to experience all the blessings God has in store for you, stick around. Chuck titled the very first message in this series, Let's Get Reacquainted with the Spirit. Miss Johnson had a tough task. Her lesson plan called for teaching her primary kids about the Trinity. Tough enough to keep their attention, but to try to teach them about the three members of the Trinity being one in characteristic, attribute, and purpose was a tough task. So she thought the best way to do it would be to use a pretzel. A large pretzel that was interwoven, one piece of pastry, leaving three big holes in the middle. Which she held up before the class and began to point out that the first hole would represent God the Father, the second could represent God the Son, and the third would represent God the Holy Ghost. And she went over this over and over again, how it is all one unit, and yet there are three distinct holes, or three distinct parts. And she had the class repeat the names again and again, and finally she chose Johnny down front who had been paying such close attention. And she said, would you like to come up in front of the class and point out the three members of the Trinity?

And he said, yes ma'am, I could do that. And he held up the big pretzel and he said, this is the Father, and this is the Son, and this is the Holy Smoke. We laugh at Johnny, and yet even though he couldn't say it quite right, most of us would be hard pressed to explain the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

It is unclear in the minds of most Christians to say nothing of those who don't even know the Lord. And there are reasons that it is unclear. We all have fathers and so trying to identify with the concept of a father is not that difficult.

The father, at least in the healthy home, is the one who is the one that guides, he is the one who is sort of the decision maker, he is the one who is in charge, and he sort of has the final vote, he is the leader in the family. And we understand that somewhat. And then the Son of God, we have been taught of him all of our lives, all of our Christian lives, he is the one who has gone to the cross and has died for our sins, and it's clear he became a man, he became a human being like we are, and that's not hard to identify with. But the Holy Spirit, and especially in the old days when he was called the Holy Ghost, how can you understand what that means? And the role of the Father in the Bible is clear, he is the planner of all things, he is sovereignly in control, he has set in motion a plan of redemption, a plan that is working out for ultimate good to those who love God and are the called according to his purpose.

That's fairly clear. And the role of the Son, he is implementing the plan of God in the work and the act of salvation. And once again, our faith has rested upon that mediator between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus, throughout our Christian lives.

He is the one who has been raised from the dead by the power of the Father. But then it gets vague, then it's not too clear, now that the Father has set in motion a plan, and now that the Son of God has carried out his part of the plan, what exactly is the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit? Interestingly, if the Spirit is ever taught from pulpits or in classes, usually the approach is more theological than it is practical. This was illustrated to me this past week when I looked up some old notes I taught many years ago back in the 60s on the work and ministry and person of the Holy Spirit. I had a hard time finding those notes because I had filed them under some subject and it wasn't under H for Holy Spirit, it wasn't under Spirit, it wasn't under Ghost.

I found it under the letter P. Pneumatology. That ought to tell you something about how I approached the subject back in the early and mid 60s. The whole concept of the Spirit as the pneuma of God. We get our word pneumatic from it as it represents air. It's the whole idea of breath. The subject is approached theoretically. The Spirit is God. The Spirit does these sterile works. Now they're important and they especially make theologians excited. These words that men and women in theological seminaries toss around and compare and contrast.

His baptizing work, his role as deity, a member of the Godhead, his regeneration, his sealing, his filling, and of course his work as he keeps us secure. But when I looked over all of those notes, I thought all of these things are true, but they make so little difference, even if I've taught them over a period of months. Why should it thrill anyone to be able to explain the difference between grieving and quenching the Spirit? Now we should know what those words mean, but what is so significant about knowing the difference? How does it help anyone to know the root meaning of the word parakletos?

Translated comforter or in our Bibles helper. It doesn't help us. It doesn't do anything for us. Who cares if you can define the difference between the work of the Holy Spirit before Pentecost and the work of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost? There is a definite significance and the difference is of great importance, but if all you do is define and describe the difference and you still live an empty life, you still find yourself regularly ignorant of a power that rests within you. I was looking at the hymnal just before this message and I found that if there is ever one part of the average church hymnal that is vague and sort of foggy with symbolism, it's the hymns on the Spirit of God.

And all due respect for the composers, I'm sure they had good in mind when they wrote the words, but breathe on me, breath of God. What does that mean? And so what if he does? And how will I know it when he stops?

And what difference does it make as I sense his breath? I'll be very, very frank with you as close as this gets to cynicism. I don't mean it that way. We have missed it. We preachers have missed it as it relates to the teaching of the practical side of the Holy Spirit. When it is all said and done and we have gotten through with all of our theological explanations, I am convinced we are emptying our churches with people who gather together a set of notes which will do them virtually no good. If a series of messages on any subject related to the living God does not in some way change your life, something's wrong with the teaching or something's wrong with the one who has been listening.

Where are we going in this series? I've decided to go after the real side of the Spirit of God and some of the unspoken dimensions of his work because it is these things that will alter our course in a sin-cursed world. Let me show you some examples of what is on my list, though I don't have time for it to be an exhaustive list. Acts chapter 20, verse 17 will be the first reference I want to use. And I just want to mention a thought and then go to another reference. Acts 2017, from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. The he is Paul. And when they had come to Paul, he said to them, You yourselves know from the first day that I set foot in Asia how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews, how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, bound in spirit.

Look at that. Bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city saying that bonds and afflictions await me. What is this testifying inner ministry of the Spirit that is so strong in Paul, he says, I am bound in spirit. You'll notice the marginal reference in the New American Standard Bible correctly suggests it is a reference to the Holy Spirit. Bound by the Holy Spirit, there is some sense of irresistibility. There is this presence of God that is so firmly fixed in Paul that he says, I've set my face like a flint. I'm on my way to Jerusalem.

I don't know what I will face there, but I know this. The Spirit of God has testified to me, testified, he uses the word, verse 23, that there are afflictions that await me. Ever had such witness within yourself, such testifying? Look at Romans 8.

I'll move out of Acts and go into a couple or three of the letters. Look at Romans 8, verse 22. This is another unspoken part of the work of the Spirit, but very important to us.

822 of Romans, we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons of the redemption of our body. For we hope, for in hope we have been saved. But hope that is seen is not hope. For why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see with perseverance, we wait eagerly for it.

Now keep reading. In the same way as our persevering in the midst of trial, waiting eagerly for solutions in the same way, the Spirit, and this is the Holy Spirit, helps our weakness. He helps our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Ponder that. In fact, he adds, he who searches the hearts that would be God, the Lord himself, knows what the mind of the Spirit is because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

I'm intrigued by that. I don't believe I've ever had anyone address the groanings of the Spirit of God. And how in some way, in the times of deepest trials, when I cannot seem to get my thoughts disentangled so that I can put my aches into words, he is dispatched to my rescue and he interprets my garbled, emotionally drained feelings into words.

How significant. And yet, how could we have spent our entire Christian life without somebody addressing this work of the Spirit that in some ways is so powerful it's too deep for words. 1 Corinthians 2, speaking of these two things too deep for words, I thought of this example in the early part of the 1 Corinthians letter.

1 Corinthians 2, 9. These, by the way, are very intimate things, very intimate things, very personal things. There are things that are so near and dear to Cynthia's and my lives that we share them with no one. They are, therefore, the most intimate things of our relationship. There are things we have talked about as a family that are intimate among the Swindoll family. And now with our in-laws, who are part of our family, and some of these conversations are profoundly private.

And the intimacy of them is part of what binds us together as family and holds us, though we may be separated by hundreds, even thousands of miles. And I think God wants that for us between us and Himself. And as we shall see, it isn't provided by the Father, and it doesn't come through the Son. That's not the role of Father or Son. It's the Spirit's role to bind Himself around us and weave Himself among us in such an intimate manner that these things, sometimes lacking words to express, are the things that hold us as family and connect us with one another, making the fellowship of Christians the most intimate kind of thing known on this earth outside the immediate family.

I feel very deeply about this. 1 Corinthians 2, 9 and following is another example. Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him. His point is, there are things that the natural world cannot grasp and will never appreciate. To them, they are moros. They are moronic.

They're foolish. These things that are precious to us, which eye and ear cannot grasp, they are not that kind of thing, not empirical knowledge, not something proved in a test tube, they are inner, they are deep, they are intimate. All these things God has prepared for those who love Him. He doesn't stop there. Now look, for to us God revealed them through the Spirit.

How interesting. These things that eye has not seen and ear has not heard and tongue cannot express, these things are the things God reveals to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the bathos of God. The depths, the deepest things of God, the Spirit is able to probe into the mysterious mind and profound will of God.

He traffics there. He is comfortable in that scene. He knows His way around in our words. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the Spirit of the man which is in him, even so the thoughts of God? No one, no woman, no man, no person knows except the Spirit of God. And now, look at this marvelous provision. Now we have received not the Spirit of the world, but we have received the Spirit who is from God.

Why? That we might know the things freely given to us by God. You say, well, then that means I should take a course at a school where there are teachers that are able to explain the Bible. Wait, look at the next verse. Which things we speak not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

What does that mean? I'm not here today to answer all the questions I'm throwing out. I'm just raising to the level of your consciousness a dimension of the Christian life that I'm convinced few in the body ever plumb, ever approach to say nothing of experience. There are spiritual thoughts combined with spiritual words taught by the Spirit.

Let me put it this way. We place a lot of attention and importance upon the ministry of the word, and it is important, but I want to tell you there is the ministry of God that is profoundly beyond just the ministry of explaining words of scripture. And it is that which touches the heart. It is that which moves you with passion to change.

That which reproves you of wrong in your life. And it's the work of the Spirit as he probes. Having spent his existence in the deep things of God, he is able to bring those thoughts to us. Jump from 1 Corinthians way over to 1 John. Let me mention a couple more of these intimate activities that I'm so concerned that we not miss.

These are all the places we want to go in this series. 1 John 2, 18. Children, it is the last hour. And just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen.

From this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us. For if they had been of us, they would have remained with us, but they went out. In order that it might be shown that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One and you all know. In the earlier versions of the Bible, this is rendered unction. You have an unction from the Holy One.

It is rendered here anointing. It's not a special class of people. John is writing to the church at large. He is writing to Christians, we would say generically. He's writing to people in no particular geography or no particular setting.

Or if he did, it's certainly not stated in the early part of his letter. So this is to people like us. Do you know that you have an anointing of the Spirit? Do you know what that means? Does that frighten you?

It shouldn't, but it does a little. Chapter 4, verse 1. Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist.

What is? The spirit that does not confess Jesus is from God. That's the spirit of the antichrist.

Of which you have heard that it is coming and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them, because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world. You have a power. I would rather use the word dynamic. I'm weary of the word power. There's power everything. Power worship along with power ties. There were power, power. This is a dynamic.

Let's use the correct transliteration of the word dunamis. A dynamic. We have a dynamic within us. And the dynamic allows us to test the spirits to see whether they are of God. Do you test the spirits with this dynamic that is greater within you than all of the dynamic of the world?

Are you even aware of a dynamic within you? You are listening to Insight for Living and the Bible teaching of Chuck Swindoll. To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at Well, today's program features the very first message in our next series called Flying Closer to the Flame. I'm pleased to tell you that Chuck wrote a book on this very same topic.

The book, however, is titled Embraced by the Spirit, and you can purchase a copy right now by going to slash store. Bear in mind that while you're listening to Chuck's teaching today, you're joined with fellow listeners around the world. Many of them speak a language other than English. In fact, Insight for Living ministers in eight additional languages. As a result, we're hearing from grateful listeners from all points across the globe, whose stories of life change are very much like your own. These stories are made possible because people like you give voluntary donations, and only a fraction of your donation is required to help us accomplish these global efforts. So please, as God nudges your spirit to help us make disciples in all 195 countries of the world, be sure to follow his lead. And if you're among those who give, let me encourage you with a comment we received recently.

This person said, Chuck, I live with a disability, and although I have my master's degree, I'm passed up for full-time employment because of my wheelchair. Your Bible teaching and broadcast keep me grounded and faithful while I remember that man looks at the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart. Thank you, Chuck. Well, this listener expressed gratitude to Chuck, but it really belongs to those who partner with us. Your contributions truly make a difference in touching lives. To give a gift today, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888, or you can give a donation online at I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll's series called Flying Closer to the Flame continues, Friday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Let's Get Reacquainted with the Spirit, was copyrighted in 1992, 1993, and 2003, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2003 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-13 09:30:50 / 2023-03-13 09:39:34 / 9

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