Saved: The Gift of the Spirit (Inscription 52)
May 15, 2011
· Baptism of Spirit paper
· Skim LO
· Sunday School
· Grounds keeping
Scripture reading: JOhn 16:5-7 (“It is good...”)
Q How many of you grew up in a Pentecostal type church?
Q How many of you know what it means to be “slain in the Spirit”? How many of you have been?
I have, I actually grew up Pentecostal, and I have seen some pretty weird stuff, and read about weirder. But perhaps the most enduring (from hindsight) is the 15 minute song.
· I know of no one else that can sing, “Our God is an Awesome God” long than a Pentecostal. (Story spring retreat in LA).
· Radio ad for Copland conference, “flexible schedule.”
What happened to me? Speaking broadly, people tend to be more led by their heart and emotion or their head and reason. Neither is better, they both have advantages and disadvantages.
· Pentecostal churches tend to be filled with those on the emotional side, so I felt out of place.
Looking back, I am glad I grew up Pentecostal, otherwise I might not have a pulse now. In fact the Pentecostal movement, with all its abuses, was God’s gift to the church.
A Gift of Salvation
This is the final in a three part series on salvation from John, not as a starting point, but the entire journey. First we talked about being saved from condemnation and guilt, then how we are saved from the destruction of sin.
I struggled on what to preach this week. At first it was going to be “saved to good works,” and talk about the positive change, but I decided that was getting ahead of thing. We first need to learn more about the power to live.
· We don’t typically think of the Spirit as part of salvation, but in Acts, that was actually the telltale sign of salvation.
If you asked a good Jew if he was saved, he would say “Sure, that happens on Yom Kippur.” The mark of followers of Jesus is that they had received the Holy Spirit – that was something new.
· That is why Peter say “Repent and be baptized...and you will received the gift of the Spirit” not “be saved.” (Acts 2:38)
The Gathering’s stance
There are some finer points that Christians disagree on here, but here the stance of The Gathering:
We believe and expect that the Holy Spirit works in Christians and that his gifts are part of the normal Christians; the Spirit didn’t start working part-time when the Bible was finished. However, you need to seek him to make use of it.
· In that sense we might be call Charismatic.
On the other hand, we don’t teach you need a second event after salvation (i.e. baptized in the Spirit and speaking in tongues) in order to receive this gift; it’s a part of salvation.
· In this sense we are not Pentecostals.
It’s okay if you disagree on that, the big deal is that as your pastor I want you to become more aware of, dependent on, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
A little afraid
In this room, I know there are a variety of backgrounds, but my guess is that the majority of you don’t think a lot about the Holy Spirit. He is like the redheaded step-child of the Trinity.
It’s like if your Christianity were a movie poster it would say “staring The Father and Jesus Christ; cameo by the Holy Spirit.”
· Maybe you have seen some of the craziness and are avoiding it; maybe you simply have never thought much about him.
Regardless, I hope to see that shift a little. You up for that?
Don’t worry, we are not going to have some old fashioned Pentecostal revival, with people being slain in the Spirit, or laughing, there won’t be any gold dust.
It is better
But this sermon is driven by the conviction that most of you are missing out on something.
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.
To put it bluntly, if you are not leaning into all that God offers us through the Holy Spirit, we don’t really believe Jesus on this point.
· Illustration of man on a voyage, skimping on food.
I am convinced that if we ignore the Spirit, we do so to our own expense. This sermon will simply be an exploration of some of the stuff you are missing out on it if you ignore the Spirit.
· We will begin in John and branch out.
Let me ally your fears, Pentecostalism maybe more of a head v. heart thing, but the Holy Spirit is not. I am less Pentecostal, less inclined to seek emotional experiences, but I think that I am more dependent on the Spirit than before.
1. Comforted by the Spirit
John 14:15-18 15 ¶ “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 ¶ I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a counselor, comforter, helper. When it “I will not leave you,” it means sending the Spirit. It says much the same thing in vrs. 23:
NIV John 14:23 My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
Here’s the big idea: If you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit, God himself, dwelling in you. You are never alone, even if you feel alone. This is what he means when he says:
John 14:27 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
The Spirit is God’s agent of peace. Peace doesn’t mean everything is calm or denying reality, it means that we have peace in the midst of storms.
· This peace is the ability to say that because God is in me, it is well with my soul.
But he comforts us in another way: Over the past weeks we’ve talked about how salvation frees us from condemnation, but many of us don’t feel forgiven. The Spirit gives assurance that we are accepted and loved.
· In Romans, he called “The Spirit of sonship,” which is cool:
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.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
· Illustration of hearing boy calling “Abba” in Jerusalem.
He is also called a deposit (2 Cor. 1:21-22), meaning that he is like an engagement ring. Jesus gave him as proof that he loves us and will never leave us.
Here is what to do with these truths: In the midst of the storms and doubts, stop for a while and pray:
“Holy Spirit, be my comforter. I know that I am forgiven, accepted, and loved, but I am having a time believing it. Speak it to my soul, do soul surgery”
· As long as you doubt God’s love and acceptance, you will keep hitting a block in your walk.
2. Guided by the Spirit
NIV 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.
Jesus is saying that the Spirit would guide the Apostles to write the Bible, but also guide us we read the Bible.
Q Have you ever had the experience of understanding something in a whole new way, and you can’t take credit?
We might be reading the Bible and he help us understand it, or listen to a sermon, or just driving along and you understand something new.
· I used to me annoyed when people a person’s favorite part of the sermon is something I didn’t even say, but now I love it!
The Holy Spirit continues to help us remember, understand, and apply the Bible to our everyday life.
· My routine is to listen to “Veni Sancte Spiritus” before writing sermons, as a reminder and a prayer.
That’s a great prayer for you: “Spirit, as I read your Word, help me understand it, apply to my situations, and live it.”
· When I think of how much more I have learned and understood, I wonder how much you are missing out.
Led by the Spirit
But he doesn’t just lead us in reading the Bible. Throughout Scripture, the Spirit lead his people in their everyday life.
I did a whole sermon on listening the Holy Spirit, but I want to summarize the big idea:
Every day, you wake up and there is a world of possibilities before you. You don’t know what will happen, who you’ll meet, what trial, temptations, or opportunities you will encounter.
· But the Spirit does, and he is waiting to walk beside you and help you.
I want to live in eager expectation of his help. It is amazing to watch the way he guides. (EG: Conversation with Jacob).
Start your day with the prayer: Guide me today, help listen and obey.
I know this can be abused: I have seen “God told me” becomes a trump card to defeat any objections, from shoddy work, bad theology, or just plan stupidity.
· I mean, how do you respond to that? “I think He was wrong.”? Better yet, “No because he does better work than that.”
Here’s the thing: God is infallible and perfect, but me and my ability to hear him most certainly are not. Doubting our ability to hear him is not a lack of faith, it’s a lack of arrogance.
· There is a lot of interference between you and God (it’s like a cell phone) and it is foolish to think else wise.
Don’t think of it as a “Yes or No” thing, but a percentage thing – Most of this was from me, but part of it was from God.
Q So how do we know for certain if what you heard was God, and what parts of it were him?
You can’t but there are some ways you can be more confident:
· Test of Scripture
· Test of counsel
· Test of confirmation
· Test of time – continuing peace (give God time, a lack of planning on your part...)
Mistakes are ok, but arrogance is not.
3. Empowered by the Spirit
Another thing the Spirit does is give us the power to change from the inside.
NIV John 14:15 If you love me, you will obey what I command.
Here is the thing – Jesus knew he was asking for the impossible. Even when motivated by love, we are still incapable of obeying God’s commands. We need divine intervention, literally.
To obey Jesus’ commands required far more than behavior modification, it requires heart change. We can only keep God’s commands motivated by God’s love and empowered by the Spirit.
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 describes that life:
Galatians 5:22-25 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 ¶ Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
This stuff is all internal, not external. But if this is happening inside of us, we won’t need worry about external, “against such things there is no law.”
· I am always talking about how to live different because of Christ, but this is where it begins.
Paul doesn’t say “work really hard on this list,” he calls it fruit, that which naturally occurs in a healthy tree. As you allow the Spirit to lead you, these things change.
This is a process first of all of dependence, an ongoing need for the Holy Spirit to work in you. It is the habit of when you are in the midst of a struggle you ask the Spirit for help.
But secondly it is lived out by small acts of obedience:
Q Have you ever thought that God told you do something, like talk to someone?
Did you obey? What happened? It’s not the results that matter as much as the obedience. Better to obey and it not be the Spirit than disobey and it is.
4. Equipped by the Spirit
There is one final thing, what we call the “gift of the Spirit,” these are skills, abilities, and gifts that God equips us with to care for others:
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.
Notice the flow between what seems to be supernatural gifts and ordinary gifts. The fact of the matter is that no gifts are ordinary, if they are augmented by the Spirit.
This list (and ones like it) is not meant to be exhaustive. All of you gifts and skills were given by God, and they become spiritual gifts when you invite the Spirit to work through them supernaturally to God’s glory and the benefit of the church.
For instance, we don’t think of “art” as a spiritual gift, yet in the OT, it says that the Spirit filled the craftsmen who made the Ark and the Tabernacle so they could do really good work.
That is not to say that there aren’t some pretty clearly miraculous thing, like healing, but I think it best to start by thinking of your regular gifts.
Think about what you are good at:
· Making people feel comfortable.
· Working hard.
· Caring for others.
· Sowing (Cf. Santo Poco)
This is how you make that a spiritual gift:
“God I know this is a gift you gave me, but I tend to use it for my own benefit. I give it to you, to be used for your glory. Take it, and use it in supernatural ways.”
· Then watch to see how God uses it.
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.
The two ideas that sum this up for me:
1. Complete dependency
2. Eager expectation
Through prayer, keep on confessing you dependency on the Spirit. Then expect him to work. It may not be the way you expect, but he will work.
Q & A
· Start each day this week praying for the Spirit’s guidance and help.
· List gifts and ask Spirit to “anoint”