Hey, you know, when I first came to faith in Jesus Christ, I started going to church and, of course, I kept hearing people in church talk about the Holy Ghost. Now, I was born and raised Jewish and the only ghost that I'd ever heard of was Casper the Friendly, you know what I'm saying? And so I was totally confused about all this talk about some Holy Ghost.
Now, maybe some of you guys are in the same boat that I was in. You've heard about the Holy Ghost, that's the King James Version's translation, or better translation, the Holy Spirit. But really, you're not all that sure who and what the Holy Spirit is and you're confused about the whole thing.
Well, this is what we want to talk about today in part 10 of our series, How Firm a Foundation. We want to talk about the person and the work of the Holy Spirit. Now, before we can talk about what the Holy Spirit does, we first need to make sure we all understand who the Holy Spirit is.
The Bible has two very important facts that it gives us in this regard. Number one, the Holy Spirit, first of all, the Bible says, is a person. The Bible says the Holy Spirit can be lied to, Acts Chapter 5. The Holy Spirit can be resisted, Acts Chapter 7. The Holy Spirit can be obeyed, Acts Chapter 10. The Holy Spirit intercedes in prayer for followers of Christ, Romans Chapter 8. And the Holy Spirit's feelings can be hurt. He can be grieved, Ephesians Chapter 4.
Friends, you can't grieve an it. An impersonal force can't pray and intercede in prayer for people. The point is that the Holy Spirit is a he, he is not an it. The second thing the Bible tells us that's very important for us to know about who the Holy Spirit is, is secondly, that the Holy Spirit is God himself.
He's as fully God as is God the Father or God the Son. We know this, number one, because every attribute that the Bible attributes to God, it also credits to the Holy Spirit. The Bible declares that the Holy Spirit is omnipresent, Psalm 139. That the Holy Spirit is omnipotent, Isaiah Chapter 40. That the Holy Spirit is omniscient and he knows the deep things of God that only God knows, 1 Corinthians 2.
And that he is sovereign, 1 Corinthians 12. But second of all, the Bible also declares that every work that God did, that the Holy Spirit did that work as well. For example, the Bible says the Holy Spirit took part in the creation of the world, Genesis 1, verse 2. That the Holy Spirit took part in the writing of the Bible, 1 Peter Chapter 1. And that he was responsible for the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus, Luke Chapter 1. All of these are things that the Bible attributes to God and God alone and also attributes to the Holy Spirit. This explains why Jesus said, Matthew 28, 19, go ye into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name, singular, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The reason that name is singular here is because there's only one God. But notice this God, Jesus said, exists in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is why the Council of Constantinople, 381 AD, put forward the theological understanding we have of the person of the Holy Spirit.
When the bishops there wrote, and I quote, we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the life-giving one who is to be glorified equally with the Father and the Son, end of quote. Now, if this is who the Holy Spirit is, well, then that leads us to ask, well, what does the Holy Spirit do? And when we talk about the work of the Holy Spirit, we're talking about a subject that is so broad we can't possibly cover it in one message. In particular today, I'm going to leave out a discussion of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. We're talking about tongues and healings and miracles and prophecy and private prayer language and all of those things. And the reason I'm omitting them is because I've already preached on them and taught on them. And we've codified that into a 12-CD series called Tongues, Healings, and Miracles, A Biblical Perspective. And in this series, we go over every issue dealing with the charismatic gifts, what they are, how they operate, whether they're still around today.
And you can pick that up in the bookstore right after we're done. But let's get back and talk about the work of the Holy Spirit and say that the Bible teaches that in the church age where we are today, that this age is almost exclusively the age of the Holy Spirit's ministry. To put it another way, almost all the work of God that is going on in the world today is not being done by God the Father or by God the Son. It's being done by God the Holy Spirit. So what are some of these jobs, some of these ministries that the Holy Spirit is carrying out in the world today, the 21st century?
Well, I've got a few to share with you. Number one, the Holy Spirit is the one who convicts people, convinces people that they're sinners and facing the judgment of God. You know, you and I can argue with people all day long trying to convince them that they're spiritually lost and they're facing God's judgment. But the Holy Spirit is the only one who can convince people that this is really true in their case. This is why Jesus said, John 16, 8, He that is the Holy Spirit will convict the world regarding sin and righteousness and judgment. This is the work of the Holy Spirit and no one ever comes to faith in Jesus Christ without the Holy Spirit doing this convicting work in their heart. Number two, the Holy Spirit is the one who regenerates us into followers of Jesus Christ. Remember talking to Nicodemus, Jesus said to him, you must be born again by the Holy Spirit. Titus chapter 3 says that God saved us, verse 5, by the regenerating and rebirthing ministry of the Holy Spirit. When you and I repent and we turn to Jesus Christ in faith, it is the Holy Spirit that seals the deal and actually turns us into new creatures in Jesus Christ. Number three, the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us assurance of our salvation. Romans 8 16, the Spirit himself, the Bible says, bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. Hey, as a follower of Christ, you know that feeling that you know that you know that you know that you belong to Jesus way down deep inside of you. Well, friends, that confidence comes from the Holy Spirit's direct ministry to our heart every moment of every day. I remember when I was a brand new follower of Christ in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and all my old drug buddies and drinking buddies kept trying to convince me I was wrong, telling me about all these so-called contradictions in the Bible that they claimed.
Well, you know what? At the time, I didn't have enough knowledge to refute all those so-called contradictions. But I'll tell you what, I knew that I knew that I knew that Jesus Christ had come in my life and I belonged to him.
How did I do that? That was the ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life. And if you've got that in your life, it's because the Holy Spirit is giving you that same assurance way down deep in your soul every day. Number four, the Holy Spirit is the person of the Godhead who indwells every follower of Christ. 1 Corinthians 6, 19 says, don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and thus you are not your own. Number five, the Holy Spirit fifth is the one who illuminates our minds and our hearts so that we can understand the written word of God, the Bible. 1 Corinthians 2, verse 14 says, the unbelieving person cannot grasp truth that comes from God for it is foolishness to him because it must be spiritually discerned. But we who are followers of Christ have received the spirit which is from God so that we can understand the truths freely given to us by God. Hey, you've probably heard people say, and I've heard people say, you know, I read the Bible, but I just don't get anything out of it.
It's like reading hieroglyphics for me. Maybe some of you even had that experience before you came to Christ. And then suddenly after you come to Christ, man, the Bible just springs to life. I mean, you can't believe the spiritual truth that's there that you read before and didn't get.
Well, what happened, friends? What happened is when you and I come to Christ, God puts the Holy Spirit in our life and he begins illuminating spiritually our hearts and our minds so we can understand spiritual truth. If you read the Bible and you get it when you read the Bible, you can thank the Holy Spirit every single day for that. Number six, the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us spiritual gifts to serve God and the supernatural power to use them effectively, 1 Corinthians 12. Number seven, the Holy Spirit is the one who comforts us in the trials of life, John chapter 14. Number eight, the Holy Spirit is the one who restrains evil, Satan and his forces in our world so that the work of God can move forward in this world, 2 Thessalonians 2.
And I've got one more for you, and this one is really cool. Number nine, the Holy Spirit is God's down payment on us as followers of Jesus Christ. You say, I don't understand. Well, listen, hey, we all know what a down payment is, right? A down payment is a deposit that somebody makes as a promise that they're gonna follow through and close the deal, right? Okay, now watch, Ephesians chapter 1. After you believe, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is God's down payment, guaranteeing our inheritance. And exactly what is our inheritance that the down payment of the Holy Spirit is guaranteeing? Well, 2 Corinthians 4 says, we know that he who raised Jesus will raise us also so that our mortality will be swallowed up with eternal life. Now this is our inheritance. The chapter goes on, listen, now he who prepared us for this very purpose is God.
What very purpose? For the very purpose of having our mortality swallowed up by eternal life, watch, and he that is God gave us the Holy Spirit as a down payment. Friends, what the Bible is telling us is that the indwelling Holy Spirit is God's guarantee, God's promise to us, God's pledge to us that as followers of Christ, we are going to get heaven and we are going to get eternal life precisely and exactly as God promised us.
God doesn't make down payments unless he is serious about closing the deal. Now, if that don't pick your day up, I don't know what will. Amen?
All right. Now, all I can say is thank God for the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our age. Thank God for the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Now that's as far as we want to go, however, in the theological treatment of the person and work of the Spirit because we want to stop now and we want to ask our most important question. And you know what this is, so nice and loud. Here we go. Ready? Ready? Ready? Okay, here we go.
One, two, three. So what? Yeah, you say, Lon, so what? You say, all right, that's really good and I appreciate all that theological information, but I mean, what kind of Monday to Saturday difference does this make in my life? I mean, make this Monday to Saturday practical for me, will you?
I love to do that. You say, you know, the thing you told me really applies all that much when I walk out of my house on Monday morning. Well, I got one more ministry of the Holy Spirit to tell you about and I promise you this one is going to be intensely practical.
Number 10, the Holy Spirit is the person who lives the Christian life through us as followers of Christ. You say, no, no, no, no, that's not right. Christians live the Christian life. No, I'm sorry, that's not correct. You say, I don't get it. Well, what I want you to do now is I want you to put your thinking caps on, okay?
Put them on and I want you to follow me and let's talk about this. The Holy Spirit lives the Christian life through us. All right, Galatians chapter five, verse 17. For our sinful nature desires what is contrary to God's spirit, the Bible says, and God's spirit desires what is contrary to our sinful nature. These two forces are in conflict with each other so that we often do not do what we wish. Now listen, the Bible says that when we become followers of Jesus Christ, that doesn't mean that our sinful nature disappears.
Oh no, no, no. The Bible says our sinful nature is still alive and well, thank you, and that it's just as passionate and just as unruly as ever. This is why as followers of Jesus Christ, we all tend to eat too much, drink too much, sleep too much, spend too much, talk too much, gossip too much, lose our temper too much, be selfish too much, and drive too fast on the beltway.
This is it. And what's worse, as hard as we try to control them, these sinful passions inside of us are simply stronger than we are. Now the apostle Paul talked about this conflict internally. Here's what he said, Romans chapter seven. He said, for what I want to do, I do not do, but what I don't want to do, that's what I do. For, he says, I have the desire to do what is right and obey God, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do, no, he says, rather it's the evil that I do not want to do, that's what I keep doing. Now for the vast majority of Christians, this is our story. We want to do right, we try to obey God, but our sinful nature is just too strong and so we keep on failing, and then we get discouraged, and then we get defeated, and then we start feeling guilty. We read a verse like John 10-10 where Jesus said, I've come that you might have life and you might have it abundantly. And we say, well, I don't know who he's talking about, but he's not talking about me, because my Christian life certainly doesn't have the power and the joy and the vitality and the victory over sin that he's talking about. You say, well, thank you, Lon, now I'm really depressed.
Well, now wait a minute, wait a minute, we got a solution for this. You see, the problem here, don't miss this, is that most of us were taught to live the Christian life wrong. Most of us were taught to live it incorrectly.
You see, God gave us the indwelling Holy Spirit to provide the power we need to subdue these sinful passions inside of us so that we can live the abundant Christian life that the Bible talks about. But as I said, so many of us were taught to live the Christian life incorrectly. We were taught to live it by depending on the power of our own human effort and our own human works instead of by depending on the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let me show you. Galatians 5 16, the Bible says, if we live, say the next three words with me, by the Spirit, we will not gratify and carry out the desires of our sinful nature. The Bible says that if we want an abundant Christian life, we have to, what, live by the Spirit. But as I said, most of us were not taught to live the Christian life this way. I wasn't. I was handed the wheel illustration when I first came to Christ and I was told that if I did Bible study, the Word, prayer, witnessing and fellowship, do these four things I was told and you'll have a vibrant Christian life. So I did them for years and guess what? It didn't work.
It didn't work. Now please don't get me wrong. Bible study and prayer and witnessing and fellowship, these are all great things. These are all important things. But look here, they are meant to be the overflow of an abundant Spirit-filled life, not the cause of a Spirit-filled life. Friends, the cause of a Spirit-filled life is not Bible study, prayer, witnessing, fellowship or any other human thing.
The cause of a Spirit-filled life is the Holy Spirit himself. But just listen to so many Christians talk. Listen when they're struggling in their Christian life. What do people say?
You hear it all the time. They go, oh man, my Christian life is really not going good. I need to read the Bible more. I need to pray more. I need to get to church more.
I need to fellowship more. Now we may not realize it when we're saying that, but what we're really saying is that we are relying on these religious works. They're not bad things. They're good things.
But we're relying on them to give us the abundant Christian life instead of relying on the Holy Spirit himself to do it. I had a lady come into my office a few years ago, and she was telling me about her growing up years, and she said, you know, my father used to go into his room and spend two hours a day having his quiet time, and then he would come out of his room and immediately blow his stack with my mom and me and all the kids. Okay, so now what did this gentleman need? Did he need two more hours of quiet time?
Is that what he needed? Well, no. Listen, the Christian life is a supernatural life. The Christian life is a supernatural life characterized by supernatural joy, supernatural peace, supernatural patience, supernatural self-control, supernatural love, and supernatural boldness in witnessing. If the Christian life were a natural life, then we could produce it on our own with Bible study, prayer, witnessing, fellowship, and other stuff, but it's not. It's a supernatural life, which means it can only be produced by a supernatural being, which means that the supernatural Holy Spirit inside of us is the one who has to produce it inside of us. You and I cannot do it.
And that's why God gave us the Holy Spirit living inside of us so that we could live this supernatural abundant life. You say, all right, all right, all right, all right, all right. I got the point.
Hello, you all okay out there? All right. But you say, Lon, how do you do this? Make it practical.
Put some handles on this for me. All right. Galatians 2.20, what did the apostle Paul say? He's gonna tell us how to live the Christian life in the power of the Spirit. Watch what he says. He says, I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ and the person of the Holy Spirit who lives in me and the life that I now live in this body, I live by faith.
You say, what does that mean? Well, what's faith? Faith, friends, simply means depending on God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Depending on God to do for us what we can't do for ourselves.
Now, follow my logic. The Christian life began by faith, right? With us depending on Christ to do something for us we couldn't do for ourselves by His work on the cross to gain forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to God in eternal life. We couldn't do that for ourselves, right?
He had to do it. Now let's go all the way to the other end, to the end of our Christian life. At the end of our Christian life, it's also gonna be by faith. We don't know where heaven is. We don't know how to get there. We're gonna have to depend on the Lord to do something for us at the end of our Christian life we can't do for ourselves, which is get us to heaven.
Everybody agree on that? Okay, so if we start the Christian life by faith, and if we end the Christian life by faith, why would God change systems in the middle to a human work system? Bible study, prayer, witness and fellowship or anything else. The answer is He doesn't. The answer is it's all by faith. We started by faith, we ended by faith and we live it in between those two points by faith. By depending on Jesus every day to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. To give us the patience, the joy, the self-control, the love, the boldness and witnessing and everything else we need that we cannot generate on our own. That's what Paul said. Galatians 2 20, I live by faith.
I go out of my house every day, Paul says, consciously depending on the Holy Spirit to do for me what I cannot do for myself, to give me the power I need moment by moment, to subdue my sinful passions so that I can rise up and obey God every moment of every day. You got it? You understand what I'm talking about? Hello? Yes? All right.
Let me give you an example. A few years ago I had the privilege of being in New York City for two weeks with Jews for Jesus on summer witnessing campaign. And what we do on summer witnessing campaign is for a month we send out teams on the streets of New York four times a day, two hours per time with the track bag. And we hand out tracks. We go to the subways. We go on, you know, up on the streets. We go everywhere down by Battery Park and we're wearing big, bright, bold T-shirts that say Jews for Jesus.
Now, when you go out on the streets of New York like that, friends, sparks are going to pop is all I got to tell you. And I went out every day with the team. I was up there as the chaplain but I went every day for two weeks out with the teams. And I got to tell you, it was an interesting experience. I got cursed out royally right in front of Macy's. I mean, I heard words I have never heard before and it was a woman who cursed me out, not a man.
I was in education hearing what that woman had to say. I was spit on, literally threatened, pushed around, shoved, insulted. I was ridiculed. I was laughed at.
I was mocked. One day I was right in front of Wall Street at lunch handing out tracks and this gentleman came from behind me. I never even saw him coming from my left. I still remember very well which side it was. And all of a sudden I saw something coming towards me and I turned just in time to catch his fist right smack on the left side of my face. He knocked me completely on the ground.
I never even saw this punch coming. Now, you know, I realized that I was over my head in New York City, out on the streets. I realized I couldn't go out every day and do this in my own power and so I didn't even try. I went out every day not trying to have the kind of love I needed to have for all these people but asking the Holy Spirit to produce that love supernaturally in me every day. I went out every day not trying to have patience with the folks on the street but asking the Holy Spirit to produce that in me every day. I went out not trying to have boldness in sharing Christ but asking the Holy Spirit to give me a supernatural boldness to share Christ on the streets and I am here to report to you that the grace of God is sufficient for the streets of New York City. Amen?
Now, listen. It was easy for me to realize out on the streets of New York City that I was over my head and that's why I went out trying to live the Christian life the way it ought to be lived, by faith, by reliance on the Holy Spirit. I didn't go out every morning from the building saying, I will not lose my temper, I will not get discouraged, I will not end up in jail by punching one of these people. No.
No. If I had gone out like that, I'm guaranteed to lose trying to do it in the energy of the flesh. I went out and said, Lord Jesus, I can't do this but you know what?
The Holy Spirit can do it in me. And you know, God had a very interesting lesson for me during those two weeks because when I was headed home, I remember clearly Him saying to me, Now, Lon, you remember how you felt completely over your head on the streets of New York City? He said, Well, son, what I want you to understand is you're just that much over your head back in Washington in your everyday life. When it comes to patience with your children and patience with your wife and self-control in your life and driving on the beltway and returning love to people who treat... You're just as over your head, son. It may not be quite as much of a crisis but you can't do it there any more than you could do it in New York. And so you need to come back to Washington, Lon, with the same dependence on me day by day and moment by moment to do everything you do in Washington that you had in New York City. Wow. May I say to you, you're just as over your head in Washington, D.C. in your everyday life as you would be if you'd have gone out on the streets in New York City.
You can't do it either when it comes to everything from patience with your children to your attitude on the beltway. And so I got an assignment for you this week. Here's what I'd like to suggest. I'd like to suggest if you're a follower of Christ here this week because some of you don't believe me that this will work. So here's my assignment for you. What I'd like you to do is I'd like you to pick one specific area of your life where you've been struggling to obey God and you've been losing, okay? You've been losing, whether it's eating or cursing or looking at women lustfully or Internet pornography or gossiping or losing your temper, whatever it is, okay? And then what I want you to do is I want you to start going to every day this week actively and consciously relying on the Holy Spirit's supernatural power to give you victory in this area of life.
Walking out of your house every day and saying, Lord, I'm not going to rely on my own strength, my own energy, my own resources to beat this today. But 10 times a day, 20 times a day, 50 times a day if necessary, I'm going to cry out to you and ask for you to give me the power to do what is right, to resist what is wrong. Lord, I'm going to live today dependent on you in this one area of my life. And when they put that piece of chocolate cake in front of you at lunch, you're going to say, Oh, Lord Jesus, help me. Oh, Lord Jesus, give me the power I need right now just to say no.
Now we laugh, but you know what? I got to tell you for some people here, this is the biggest struggle we have every day. This is serious. When you're tempted to sit in that night in front of that computer and go places late at night that you got no business going, this is when we need to bow our head and say, Lord Jesus, this is wrong. I don't want to do this, but I'm powerless. This is stronger than I am. Lord Jesus, right now, I'm asking you, give me power through the Holy Spirit. Squash this inside of me and give me the power I need to stand up and go to bed. When somebody cuts you off on the beltway or your teenager presses your patience to the limit, to be able to say, Lord Jesus, I need supernatural patience here, Lord, give it to me. When that beautiful blonde comes walking right down the hallway, right towards you, man, to be able to say, Lord Jesus, help me not to do what I know I'm supposed to do here.
Help me look at the ceiling or the wall or the floor or something. But Lord Jesus, not at her. I mean it, Lord, give me power right now. This is how practical this is. And listen, I want to tell you, if you have to do this a hundred times a day, do it. We ought to be involved in an everyday running conversation moment by moment with the Lord Jesus anyway. So if you need to break that conversation and say, Lord Jesus, I need power, break it and do it.
And you know what will happen? I promise you, you will see that this new way of living the Christian life, test God and see. This new way of living the Christian life, doesn't work a whole lot better for you than the way you've been doing it. Now listen folks, you won't be perfect in doing this.
Nobody ever is. I mean, there are times I say, oh my gosh, if I'd have stopped at that moment and asked you for power, I wouldn't have eaten that piece of cake, Lord. What was I thinking? But I'll tell you what, if you begin doing this area by area by area until it becomes the habitual way you live your Christian life, I promise you that you're gonna do a lot better than you're doing right now. You're gonna have a lot more victory in your life than you've got right now. And your Christian life is gonna become the abundant thing that the Lord Jesus Christ said that He died on the cross to give you and me. Friends, the Christian life lived correctly works. The Christian life lived correctly works. But to live it correctly, we gotta live it by faith. We've gotta live it by depending on the Holy Spirit to live the Christian experience through us. We've gotta depend on the Spirit to do for us what we can't do for ourself. And when we do actively rely on the Holy Spirit's power instead of our own, I'll tell you what, the abundant life Jesus talks about, you'll get it.
It'll work. And I'll tell you something else, too. Your Bible study, your prayer, your witnessing, and your fellowship will take on a whole new dimension because now you're not trying to do them as a duty to try to earn some kind of abundant Christian experience, but now you're doing them as the overflow of a Spirit-filled, Spirit-energized, Spirit-driven life, and they become fun and there's a joy and a vitality to them that you didn't have when you were doing them to try to create a Spirit-filled life.
Trust me, you'll enjoy them more. Now, many of us walk into church every week and we look around at everybody else and we go, wow, you know, gee, the Christian life's obviously working for them and it's just not working for me. Something must be wrong with me. And what we don't realize is all these other people are walking in looking at you going, wow, the Christian life must be working for her, but it's not working for me.
Something must be wrong with me. And we're all just pasting it on. How are you? Praise the Lord. God bless you.
How are you? Praise God. And it's just plastic. Let's be honest and admit that for a lot of us the Christian life's not working and we're not having the kind of victory and the power and vitality that we think we should be having. Friends, there's nothing wrong with you. And there's nothing wrong with your faith in Christ. Somebody taught you to live the Christian life wrong based on human works. And if nothing else, at least I hope we've explained to you today how to live it right.
If you live it right, it works. And I hope that just being here today and sitting under the teaching of the Word will change the way you live your Christian life this coming week. Let's pray together. Lord Jesus, we are very grateful today for you explaining to us the power of the Holy Spirit in so many arenas, but particularly in the arena of giving us the abundant life that Jesus said He died on the cross to give us. And Father, I pray for many people today that this will have been a revolutionary message and a revolutionary teaching from the Word of God. And that it will give us an entirely different and correct approach to living the Christian experience, one that is based in the power of the Holy Spirit and not in the power of human works, even religious human works. Father, change our lives because we were here today and bring to us a Spirit-filled abundant experience that the Lord Jesus died on the cross for us to have and yearns for us to know here on this earth. Change our life because we were here today, Father. And we ask these things in Jesus' name. In God's people said, amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-30 10:33:31 / 2023-01-30 10:47:23 / 14