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Communion Presbyterian Church ARP

Spirit of the Living God

!  I just love how the Holy Spirit is the lynchpin for how the Christian faith literally accomplishes the fullness of salvation.  By the HS, I have applied to me all the benefits of being a child of God, and I love how the Spirit connects me to the family of God in the church – to all who believe in this room and beyond – to God’s people from all cultures, all places and even from all ages of history!  By the Spirit, I have become a part of God’s purposes on earth.

 

NOW, think about that – about how God has decided to run this universe. From our vantage point, this world is a very physical one.  There are a lot of THINGS here: mass – matter; and there are a lot of physical forces here: gravity, electromagnetic, strong and weak [ right? So there’s a lot  of physical stuff here, and we have physics to measure it] – but could there also be “spiritual” forces at play in the universe, and could God be using “spiritual realities” to accomplish his plans for the universe?  Maybe these spiritual forces are variations of the physical forces we haven’t measured yet…, maybe something altogether different…

 

Here’s my point, “forces” are holding all of this together, and the Bible says that everything is being held together for a reason –-> so that we would acknowledge God, honor Him and glorify Him accordingly.

 

Well everyone isn’t doing that, are they?!  What will it take for everyone to be convinced that God actually rules over all creation including us? 

 

Well that can be a tough question, not just as a scientific one, but as a personal one -- Especially when we consider that this world is a pretty difficult place in which to live sometimes.  People cheat, lie, and steal!  People are subjected to every manner of natural and human trial and tragedy.  Why should we blame people when they become cynical about God’s rule over everything?

 

Well, the Scriptures acknowledge a fallen world, and it also acknowledges a savior who was sent to redeem this world.  He came to us in a very physical form, but he had spiritual origins.  Likewise the program to redeem the world has both a physical AND spiritual dimension.  This redemption has spiritual implications that will impact physical realities.  And again, this redemption happened on a physical plain but it also impacts spiritual realities.  Jesus was the redeemer who died on a cross, but it was a message made to all the spiritual realms that exist.  BUT, when Jesus redeems an individual, it will produce physical effects, lives will change, families will change, churches, societies, nations, will change. 

 

This is all a discussion about how God has decided to run this universe.  NOW Jesus came and said, “I’m here to establish God’s kingdom – but if you want to see it, you need to be ‘born from above.’  So Jesus was here physically, but he was establishing something that was spiritual – because only the spiritually born could see it!!

 

But now in John’s gospel, he is telling his disciples that he is going to physically leave them!  But God will take care of the disciples because God has a spiritual solution for their desire to have Jesus physically with them.

 

NOW Is this all true, or is this a religious day dream?  Well, it’s just a new reality.   And the crowning reality of the Gospel is that God would send His very Spirit to dwell with and within believers in order to direct them and give them proper convictions, passions and perspectives on how they are to live under the rule and presence of God.

 

NOW, hold on> God gave us a book, We Presbu’s say that God has given us a church government, God has even given us prayer and fellowship and academic disciplines – but all of these physical expressions of religious devotion are completely ineffective for accomplishing God’s ultimate plans if they are not………? Empowered by God’s Spirit! Made “effective” by the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

Sorry to be so textbook with you here; but I am amazed at God’s plan to establish His redeeming, reforming, transformational agenda upon the earth by accomplishing something that is both spiritual and physical.  God’s plan is to rule a kingdom, and when we want to locate that rule, where do we look?   ROME?  HOME?  We first of all locate God’s rule BY acknowledging an internal power to change individuals who are praying for a domino effect over the entire globe!  It’s an internal plan that will have external impact.  It is an eternal plan that cannot be thwarted by physical, temporary forces.  IT IS FOOLPROOF! …  

 

John 14-17 is an extended passage that teaches us this truth, And we will today, simply proceed by identifying in a more systematic way what Jesus says about the Holy Spirit of God who will accomplish the very plans and purposes of God in those who believe.

 

Last week, we showed that the context for this section of John is his preparing the disciples that he is going to leave them, but that His leaving would actually contribute to something very glorious.  So in that leaving, Jesus says in

 

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

        - parakletos = comforter, encourager, counselor, helper, intercessor – all of these concepts help to define the activity of the HS in our life.

        - and how would the HS be all these things to us? ONE by “teaching.”

                - Praise God that I’m not the only one teaching here!  I love the fact that the Spirit can take all my meager meanderings, and inform your hearts specifically regarding what God wants to teach you!  Recall, that Jesus was a teacher – so a defining role of the Spirit is to continue and reflect that aspect of Jesus’ ministry.  Christians want to be taught, the HS not only assists in that, but creates the desire for it!

        - SECONDLY the HS will help us to remember the things we ought.  The first sign of dementia, forgetting everything.  And you know what, some people have spiritual dementia, and they forget to remember important lessons in life – there is great value in the HS helping us to remember what is important and true—mostly the words and works of Jesus to and for us!

 

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

        -  What would be the source of this peace?  The fact that though we might have troubled hearts, and they are VERY EASY to trouble, I can get on edge about everything!  Are my kids safe? Am I making a good impression?  Is this my best use of time?  Have I studied enough?  Just be careful with my heart people… But the Spirit brings peace to us by comforting, encouraging, counseling, helping, interceding – it’s as if the Lord, by His spirit, makes me aware that He’s got this big program under control – do what you can; but trust God for the results…

        - Chapter 14 ends with Jesus telling his disciples to be at peace because of what they were about to witness regarding his trials, suffering and persecution.  Jesus TEACHES the disciples that the devil will have no hold on him – although it will REALLY LOOK LIKE IT.  But Jesus will want them to REMEMBER to have PEACE

 

CHAP 15 = the discussion of the vine and the branches and our need to abide -- to remain connected to Jesus.  All this language of abiding only makes sense because of the role of the HS.  How does “being connected” to Jesus work?  And again, there may be many physical things you can do as a church member to appear “connected” to Jesus – many of these things are HIGHLY recommended – but if they are done apart from the work of the Spirit, they will not have lasting value. Therefore, by the spirit, we have the ability to produce the fruit of Christ’s life through us.  The fact that we would produce actions and attitudes resembling Jesus simply means that we have the spiritual genetic information of Jesus sapping through our veins, and out will pop spiritual fruit that looks and tastes like Jesus!

 

One aspect of this fruitful life is that we would be asking God for things in Jesus name –

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

        - Notice where the asking of God will be based upon, being connected to Jesus, and having HIS words in us.  What would our asking be like if we were only enamored with Christ and his words?  Would it be, “I wanna go to Hawaii, I wanna go to Hawaii…?”  NO, the truly spiritual Christian would ask, “How can I send my pastor to Hawaii…?”

- Actually we would be praying for more of Jesus to be revealed in our lives, homes, and culture; because this is Jesus’ plan is for the world:  All of our lives to glorify God, not JUST the spiritual parts, but every part (v.8!!)

15:8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

        - It is the goal of the HS to have as our chief end, to only glorify God, and to bare the kind of fruit in our lives that mark us out as being different from the world.  Most of us struggle with how we can fit in – Jesus wants us to prove only one thing to the world:  That we belong to him!!  And the HS gives us that motivation

 

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

        – and what is the result us ASKING for God’s GLORY and for our NEW IDENTITY as DISCIPLES?  It will bring us a personal JOY to see God rightly honored and represented! 

- Two things about that.  I think it sounds a little self serving for us to glorify God because it ultimately brings us joy!  Well what a tremendous concept!  TO experience a life of Joy, all I must do is foist my entire honor and praise upon someone else, and find it nowhere in anything I do or am.  The only thing that I am is a redeemed and transformed God praiser and there is something eternally satisfying about that! 

- Second point:  Does this even make sense to someone not filled with the spirit?  That we exist for one reason, to glorify God!  And the person without the spirit says, “I can’t relate to that!  I think I exist to be happy with myself first, and then maybe I can work on being something to others…”  Whereas Jesus says, “No, who you are, and what you think, is the problem Mustafa!  When we worship God in spirit and truth, we will be rewarded with the joy of knowing our place in the entire universe.”  John 16.22 goes on to say that it is a joy that no one, NO ONE, will be ever able to take away.

 

Another fruit of being indwelt by the spirit is how we view our relationship with Christ. 

15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends,

Yes we worship and obey Jesus; but not as a fearful servant who is compulsively fixated on losing our position.  We regard Jesus as a friend!  The HS transforms our perception of our relationship with Jesus.  Jesus is not a distant ascended spiritual guru of antiquity -- He is literally a friend that we cherish.  Jesus is not a master that we fear may disown us for our inadequacies; he is shepherd who is laying down his life for us!   He is a friend who actually shares his heart with us, not a drill sergeant who cares not for our personal well being, but only our performance.  This type of friendship with Jesus is often preached in the pulpits of today; but if this language is disconnected from the indwelling and abiding spirit – then it is only sentimental platitudes!  Again, we believe these things of Jesus because his Spirit convinces us that we are to be loving as he is.

 

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you …

15.16-27 – Jesus tells us that the spirit will confirm within us God’s electing grace.  That God, in Christ, has indeed chosen us to live a life directed by His spirit.  WHY would we need this kind of knowledge?  To know that we have been chosen of the Lord, that we are specially loved more than someone else?  I’ll tell you why!  Because of the context of all these election passages!!  Election passages are typically place next to suffering passages!! As Disciples, we have been called to suffer, to serve, to sacrifice, and to be societal misfits!  And because we will endure such trial, we will wonder if indeed God really loves us?!?  The HS has a blessed ministry!!  He gives confidence to followers of Christ at those times when we wonder if we should even be called a friend of Jesus.  And especially when the world hates us for the special relationship that we do have with the Lord.  We’ve been chosen to endure and to persevere, while at the same time, chosen to reveal the grace and goodness of Christ to the world.

 

This is why we read in the beginning of John 16:1 "I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.

– The spirit of God provides for us the assurance that God will finish His plans for us and that we could never fall away from Him.  His Holy Spirit perseveres with us and protects US from abandoning the project of redemption.

 

John 16 predicts that we will encounter many trials for being followers of Jesus.  And in verse 4 Jesus says, I didn’t have to tell you all this because I was with you, I was able to protect you from the storms of life – but I AM going to leave you now, and you will need to remember that I will be with you; but in a different way – not in a body, but by God’s Spirit dwelling with you…

 

16.7 Nevertheless, 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. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

 

Here begins a profound section related to the work of the HS and what the spirit will accomplish in the world.  We should admit that Jesus had a pretty controversial ministry because some people were very uncomfortable with his claims to be the only way, truth, and life – well, apparently, the HS is going to continue that same tradition… Making the world uncomfortable  Convicting the world about…

 

- Their own sin!  Their own sin of unbelief will be a matter of personal confliction – why?  Because the world will hear the truth of the gospel message, they will hear that their decision to refuse the Lordship of Jesus Christ will have consequences, they will have to rationalize why they reject the words and way of Jesus for their own life -- and the only way they can do this is to rest on convoluted irrationality that will only find it’s satisfaction in the following phrase, “Just leave me alone, I don’t want to hear about Jesus anymore!  That’s all you guys talk about… I don’t need Jesus for anything – except to cus.”

- Their definition of righteousness, the world’s morality code is completely inconsistent without the spirit of righteousness in their hearts.  So, they will find some benefit in the morality of the Bible, when they can judge others with it -- but they will never credit it as divine in nature.  Worse than that, they will decide that it is better to save the whales, save the seals, save whatever cute and squeals, but they’ll kill that thing that’s in the womb because, “We don’t want no baby boom…”  Who you tryin’ to kid, kid?  And when they are confronted with the inconsistencies with their standards of righteousness, they will say, “Just leave me alone…

-  Their knowledge of a final judgment day weighs heavily upon those who do not have the spirit because the spirit will speak and minister through those who present the gospel – who share the good news – and those who hear the good news properly will understand that it is only “GOOD” because Jesus has provided rescue for the punishment of our sin and guilt.  But they will attempt to suppress this truth and will speak very callously about their destinies with words of pride and defiance.  But all those without the spirit will be judged just as the defiance of the devil will be judged! 

And so we pray that God will be gracious and merciful to those we know who are only reacting out of ignorance and unbelief.  That the spirit of God will not only convict them of sin, righteousness and judgment, but will take that conviction to the cross of Christ in order to be a redeemed vessel of wrath and become transformed to recognize that Jesus has saved them from their sin by his righteousness and that his judgment of sin and death, and the devil was done to spare his own from this eternal and spiritual reality which is ever present on every heart – it’s a spiritual force in our world!

 

John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. :14 He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

 

Here is some very enlightening language about the Trinitarian salvation that we understand in the Christian faith.  I will be taking up this section of Scripture in more detail in our Sunday School class, so join us.

 

I’d like to conclude with reading John 16:25 "I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father.

Contextually, Jesus has described for them the emotional state of a mother who gives birth.  There is a lot of pain associated with birth, but that pain is replaced with joy when the baby finally arrives.  Jesus uses this figure of speech to say that we too will be, for a time, on the painful end of suffering; but the result, because we have the Spirit, will be the possession of  great Joy

 

– This all speaks to how the HS will transform our way of thinking about the savior – Jesus did not avoid painful circumstances – and under the spirit’s power, neither will we.  How often the world says, “This is too hard, I’m out of here!”  All manor of commitments and relationships abandoned because it was “too hard” – where is the Spirit in that?  Now I’m not asking for people to endure bodily dangers, I’m just wondering that if the spirit is working to establish God’s plan and presence on earth – Is it only going to happen with people who already know how to get along?  Maybe if the church embraced a little pain once in awhile instead of the Disney’s Magic Kingdom church model, where the environment is so manicured that the park characters have permanent smiles on their faces (except grumpy…) maybe the world would really see JOY and PEACE and CONVICTION when it really counted!

 

Of course, I’m preaching to the choir, thanks for suffering with me in a little church plant!  May we all be a physical demonstration of the spirit’s presence here for this is how God has decided to rule the earth.

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