Spiritual Gifts I: The Holy Spirit
November 1, 2009
Main Point(s) of sermon:
· The Gathering is a charismatic church
· We need to seek the Spirit to empower us.
Objectives of sermon:
· To inspire our church to eagerly seek the presence and empowerment of the Spirit.
· Spirit verses.
· 029, 082, 088
· Baptism of Spirit paper, leftovers
Scripture reading: Acts 2:14-21
Intro: Purpose of series
I am looking forward to this sermon series because it is a chance both to study personally and preach about a topic that’s very important but I’ve been shy about because of controversy.
· The gifts of the Holy Spirit are a topic that has dividing churches since the turn of the 20th century.
On one hand are groups that say that the spiritual gifts (esp. tongues and prophecy) disappeared with the completion of the Bible and seem to be a little scared of the Holy Spirit.
On the other hand, there are other groups that spiritual gifts to such an extreme that they violate Biblical principles of the Bible and scare most Christians. Or perhaps you don’t even know what I am talking about – we will get there.
· The Spirit has become polarizing, which is the opposite of Jesus’ desires, because the Spirit is supposed to unite us.
And is always the case the polarization makes it hard to find s common ground and focus on what unites. It also makes it hard to look at Scripture to clearly see, as our biases get in the way.
My goal for this series is twofold:
1. To help us become Biblically grounded in what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit and his gifts.
One friend said to me that he looks forward when we teach on the gifts of the Spirit because we attempt ground everything in the Word and give a commonsense perspective.
· But that is useless information if there is no change.
2. To see The Gathering become more filled with the Spirit, more dependent upon him, and more empowered by him for life and ministry, through whatever manifestation he chooses.
Why this matter?
The first question to ask (and hopefully answer) is “So what?” or “Why does this matter?”
We could start with “Jesus said so”:
John 16:7 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
Jesus genuinely saw his leaving as best thing: If you had to choose between me staying here or getting the Spirit, you really should choose the Sprit. Why?
John 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Not that we would do better miracles than him, but that by the Sprit, we will replicate what he did to many times, places, and cultures. He is the prototype of what a life lived through the Spirit looked like.
· We see “greater things” when Peter (who had denied Jesus) boldly preached on Pentecost and had more converts than Jesus.
Put another way: If we ignore power of the Spirit, we’re living short of what God has for us, like a man digging a ditch with a shovel because he doesn’t know how to use his ditch-digger.
· I was told this at camp, but because it came in a different way than I expected (and slower too), I didn’t understand.
In few moments, we will talk how he specifically aids us, but first let me speak personally – I have been a Christian a long time (30 years), grew up in a Charismatic church, ordained with a Pentecostal denomination, but I am more dependent on the Spirit now that I have ever been, and I love it.
· Every morning I pray for the Spirit to guide me and speak through me, and I do the same at the beginning of each sermon.
· That’s why I went back and prayed last Sunday, not out of obligation but desperation.
The specific ways the Spirit works through me is hand-in-glove with my personality (which God also gave me). You won’t see standing on a street corner evangelizing, but it is very real.
That’s why I want the Spirit active in all of our lives. Imagine everyone in the church moving fully in the Spirit. We would both be growing more personally and serving the church in many ways.
Let’s begin by a very abbreviated look at the Spirit and his history (so to speak). He shows up in the very beginning:
Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Scripture makes it clear that he a person, not an inanimate force (i.e. he can be grieved and John breaks rules of grammar to call him “he” not “it” in John 14:8).
He is active throughout the OT, speak through OT prophets, empowering to complete their mission (e.g. Samson and building the tabernacle, which says something about labor as ministry), and ability to interpret dream.
· But there is no sense of the Spirit indwelling and empowering “regular” people – he more came for special events.
Yet there was a promise that that would change:
...I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. Joel 2:28-29 NIV
Then comes Jesus. After his death and resurrection, before he ascends ha says:
Acts 1:4-5 “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
This happens on Pentecost, and they understand God was fulfilling his promise in Joel, which is why Peter quoted it.
Following Pentecost, the Holy Spirit’s involvement literally explodes. He is mentioned 90x in the OT and 115x in Paul’s writings, which doesn’t seem like that much more, except the OT is 14 times longer – Paul mentions the Spirit 17 ½ times more!
If the Spirit was active in the OT era, he is (literally) all over the place in the NT era. We see him working through ever Christian in ways both mundane and spectacular.
· Shortly after the NT, there’s a decline in “the gifts” (esp. the more spectacular ones: prophecy, tongues, and miracles).
My theory is that the ambiguity of the Spirit speaking through fallible humans vrs. the certainty of Scripture caused people to grow suspicious of the Spirit’s work.
· They were right to trust Scripture over prophecy, but they threw the baby out with the bathwater.
While there were occasional “Pentecostal” experiences throughout history, things didn’t really change until the turn of the 20th century with the Azusa Street Revival.
Some historians believe that this literally saved the church. While they were initially rejected, the Pentecostals brought a thirst for the Spirit back to the church.
Three views of the Spirit’s work
That brings up to today. There are basically three different views of the Holy Spirit, particularly if he still works miraculously today as he did in the NT.
· Note: these terms are used differently by different people.
1. Cessationists: They say that these gifts ceased after the completion of the NT.
2. Pentecostals: All of spiritual gifts of the NT are still available today and Christians must go through a “Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” with the evidence of speaking in tongues, to receive them.
3. Charismatics: All of the gifts of the Spirit are still available when we are saved.
Q Which one of these do you think best describes The Gathering?
The Gathering is basically Charismatic, but this definition, though we won’t necessarily use that term because of the connotations it has to many people.
Pentecostal vrs. charismatic
Without spending too much time, I want to briefly point out that all of the elders believe the baptism of the Spirit is component of salvation, not something separate from it.
· That doesn’t mean a “Baptism” experience is invalid, but rather misunderstood and mislabeled (more later).
· A paper is available on my blog explaining the theology.
It is not in our doctrinal statement, because it is not worth dividing over. But it is important to mention for two reasons:
1. Need to know we won’t pray for a person to be “baptized” as a one-time event but rather continually “filled.”
2. The idea of “two tiers” of Christianity is both unbiblical and harmful.
Some Pentecostals will say that Billy Graham is not Spirit-filled because he doesn’t speak in tongues and think of themselves as more complete Christians because they do.
I see no Biblical evidence of there being two types of Christians: Christian 1.0 and Christian 2.0. What I do see is that many Christians, either out of fear or ignorance, failing to utilize what God has given them.
· It’s like a kid in a candy store wishing he had money, forgetting that his dad owns the store.
My hope for this series is that it will remove the fear and ignorance so you can live fully dependent upon God’s Spirit.
The work of the Spirit
We’ve talked about who the Spirit is and if he still does things, now we need to look at what he does. This will be brief and attempt to categorize similar things.
· BTW: In the same way Cessationists ignore miraculous works, Pentecostals frequently undervalue the unspectacular ones.
1. Gives assurance of salvation and adoption
Romans 8:15-16 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Whenever we doubt God’s love and acceptance, we should ask the Spirit to help us. For many people, it is hard to really believe that God loves them.
2. Sanctifies us
Sanctification is the process of becoming more holy and righteous in how we live and think. This is not something we can do on our own; we need the Spirit’s help.
Galatians 5:16-17 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want
And a few verses later he lists the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
To me, these are the best evidence of the Spirit’s work in a person’s life, but not the only evidence. I would prefer a Cessationist who is filled with this fruit than Charismatic that isn’t (and I have met many of both).
· Better yet is a person filled with the fruit of the Spirit who is working mightily in the gifts of the Spirit.
3. Teach and reveal
John 14:25-26 All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
This refers first to the Spirit’s revelation of the NT (which is the authority all else is judged by), but also to the ongoing work of teaching, illuminating, and revealing God’s truth.
· We need the Spirit to understand and apply Scripture.
1 Corinthians 2:14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
I start every sermon on my knees asking the Spirit to speak to and through me – I am desperate for him lest I bring you merely human ideas and words.
John 16:12-13 I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
The Holy Spirit guides through Scripture, through prayer, and through others.
· I have become dependent upon the Spirit’s guidance in everyday life – though I am still learning to listen well.
5. Empower for ministry
Romans 12:6-8 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
These are the spiritual gifts proper, along with others listed elsewhere, including speaking in tongues. We will look at these over the next couple of sermons.
· The key point is they’re given for the benefit of the church.
Be filled with the Spirit
As we wrap this up, I want all of us seeking to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.
Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
“Filled” is a present imperative verb, which means it’s a command to continuously be filled. You have to keep it up.
· I have talked about who the Spirit is and what he does, and hopefully you want to have him more of a part of your life.
Q How can we be filled with the Spirit? Simply ask.
Luke 11:13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
For me, becoming more dependent on the Spirit has come from the simple act of asking on a daily basis. You don’t need some special event or ceremony. Simply ask, continually.
· If you really want the Spirit to work in greater ways in your life and you give him control of your life, he will come.
For some, this will some in a series of small progressions, for others it will be a very dramatic leap forward.
At the same time, I have seen that there can be barriers to the Holy Spirit’s work in our life. Some are clear Biblically, some are rather common sense:
· Wanting for wrong reasons, perhaps for an experience, not God.
· Fear of what he might do.
· Ignorance of the Spirit’s gifts.
· Unforgiveness or unrepentant sin.
This where community can play an important role: Having people to talk to and pray with us can help.
To close: For some people the Holy Spirit is a matter of doctrine, for others he is a matter of experience. It is my desire that for us he be both.
During worship, examine yourself – is the Spirit an active part of your life? Are you seeking to be continually filled? Are you eager to have him work through you?
· I hope to see all of (myself included) grow in this.
Q & A
 Also see my blog post for explanation.