I Believe in the Holy Spirit
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit.
This morning we come to the third “I Believe” statement of the Apostle’s Creed: I believe in the Holy Spirit. This part of the creed give us the completion of our profession of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who works in us to bring to bear all the benefits of Christ’s redemptive work on the Cross and to make us into a new creation.
In this message I want to explore the work of the Holy Spirit in the world and in the believer's life.
Most of you are familiar with the Charles Dickens' story A Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Scrooge is miserly humbug of a man who does not contain a shred of compassion for the plight of others. His only concern is himself and his wealth. But his life is going to change dramatically. On Christmas Eve he is visited by three spirits who help him understand the true spirit of Christmas, and of Christ. In quick succession the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Future all call upon him. After these erstwhile visits, Scrooge is a radically changed man. At the end of the tale we’re told: “He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them ... “
As Christians we do not believe in ghosts, but we do believe that there is a Spirit Who has radically changed us, and is at work in our lives each day helping us to be more like Jesus. He was at work in our lives before we became a Christian. As believers, the Holy Spirit is at work in your life this very moment securing the saving work of Christ He wrought in your life. And the Holy Spirit will be at work in our future as the day of resurrection arrives and the Holy Spirit changes our mortal bodies into resurrection bodies in the twinkling of an eye.
Let's look at our text this morning to see these things.
I. THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT PAST: REVEALING THE PURPOSE OF GOD
- "And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ," (Ephesians 1:9, NIV)
- most people like a good mystery
- especially those where you're not really sure what the outcome will be until the last few pages
- mystery is fine for novels, but not very good when it comes to our eternal life
A. THE MYSTERY OF GOD'S PURPOSE HAS BEEN REVEALED IN CHRIST
- the word mystery is one of the Apostle Paul's favorite words
- he uses it throughout his writings 20 times
- the word we translate mystery does not have the same idea we commonly give it in our culture
- to our culture a mystery is something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain
- in the New Testament, the word mystery means an "open secret" and refers to a previously hidden truth that has now been disclosed
- the mystery Paul is referring to is none other than salvation through faith in Christ for both the Jew and the Gentile
- why has God revealed this mystery?
- Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—"(Romans 16:25-26, ESV)
- God’s desire is to bring about the obedience of faith in the lives of lost sinners
- FIRST through revelation
- All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."(2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)
- For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."(2 Peter 1:21, NIV)
- the Scriptures have been provided as a record of God's activities and His truth
- they are infallible and inerrant and will never lead us astray
- this same Spirit that revealed the Scriptures to Prophets and Apostles, also reveals their truth to us
- We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us."(1 Corinthians 2:6-12, NIV)
- without the Spirit of God at work in the life of the unbeliever, the Scriptures are just noble words on a page
- without the Spirit of God illuminating them the Scriptures are only classical history
- without the Spirit of God illuminating them the Scriptures are only interesting philosophy and good moral advise
- but the Holy Spirit turns them into undeniable truth that changes our lives and our destiny
- 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. 8When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned."(John 16:7-11, NIV)
- in revealing the purpose of God, one job of the Holy Spirit is to make the sinner feel really rotten about their sin
- ILLUS. Adrian Rogers tells the story of a man who came to him after a worship service and said, "Pastor, were you preaching at me?" To which Adrian responded, "Sir, I was shooting down a hole. If you were in it, there's nothing I could do about it."
B. THE MYSTERY OF GOD'S PURPOSE HAS BEEN REVEALED IN THE FULNESS OF TIMES
- "to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ." (Ephesians 1:10, NIV)
- God's timing has always been perfect
- He has always provided just the right amount of revelation at just the right times
- at just the "right time" He delivered Israel from Egypt
- at just the "right time" He raised up prophets to call the people back to God's law
- at just the "right time" He send John the Baptist to prepare Israel to receive the Messiah
- and now, God reveals His purpose and will about salvation in Christ
- and he reveals Christ through the Spirit
- "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me." (John 15:26, NIV)
- the only reason any of us knows Christ, is because the Spirit reveal the truth of Christ to us
II. THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT PRESENT: KEEPING THE CHRISTIAN SECURE
- "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption." (Hebrews 9:11-12, ESV)
- ILLUS. We are living at a moment in history were Americans are wondering about their financial security. People are seriously asking, “What’s happening with my 401k Plan?” “Are my bank accounts safe?” “Will I able to get a house loan, or a car loan?” “Will I have a job next month.” Government officers repeatedly assure us that our savings are secure, and that the economy will eventually turn around. But let’s be honest, a lot of Americans are living with some real insecurity right now.
- God, however, does not want you to feel insecure about the transaction He has wrought in your life through the redemptive work of His Son
- the bible tells us in Hebrews 9:12, that the atoning work of Christ on the cross has secured for us an eternal redemption
- the work of the Holy Spirit is to guarantee that redemption
A. THE SEAL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE ASSURANCE IN OUR SALVATION
- "In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit," (Ephesians 1:13, ESV)
- after the gospel of salvation became a living reality in your life through faith in Christ, you were sealed securely by God's Holy Spirit
- after the Holy Spirit comes into the believer's life He has a number of important tasks to accomplish
- He becomes our teacher—leading us to truth
- He becomes our comforter—ministering to us in joy and sorrow
- He empowers us—giving us victory of sin and Satan and self
- He fills us with the Fruit of the Spirit
- but the Spirit's most important task is sealing us and keeping us eternally secure until the day we stand before Christ
- ILLUS. When you go to the Post Office ans send a letter via Registered Mail, that letter or document is sealed until delivery. Only two persons have access to it: The one who mailed it and the one to whom it is addressed.
- only God can break the seal
- the devil cannot break the seal
- even our own sin cannot break the seal
- "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?" (Romans 8:33-35, NIV)
- "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39, NIV)
B. THE DOWN PAYMENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT SECURES GOD’S PURCHASE OF OUR LIFE
- "who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:14
- the KJV uses the term "earnest"
- it’s the idea of a down payment toward the ultimate purchases of an item
- in Paul's day, the term was closely associated with Phoenician traders and referred to a down payment that binds the bargain and guarantees the full payment later
- according to the Scriptures, believers are the item that has been purchased
- the Holy Spirit is the DOWN PAYMENT that our ultimate and complete purchase is thoroughly guaranteed
- our eternal life has been bought at the price of the blood of Jesus Christ
- God then "validates" our salvation by giving of the Holy Spirit to live in us
- that sealing takes place the moment we “Lord Jesus, be merciful unto me, a sinner.”
- The Work of the Spirit Present: Keeping the Christian Secure
III. THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT FUTURE: RAISING US IN THE RESURRECTION
- Paul speaks of the Spirit's sealing being "unto the day of redemption"
- "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." (2 Corinthians 1:21-22, NIV)
- what is it that "is to come?"
- "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you." (Romans 8:11, NIV)
- “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:23, NIV)
- "because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God." (2 Corinthians 4:14-15, NIV)
- death holds no terror for those who are in Christ, Jesus
- ILLUS. John G. Paton, was a nineteenth-century Scottish missionary who felt called to go to the South Seas, and preach the Gospel to the Islanders of the New Hebrides—many of which were cannibals. He met opposition from family and friend alike. A well-meaning church member moaned to him, “The cannibals, the cannibals! You will be eaten by the cannibals!” Without hesitation, Paton replied, “I confess to you that if I can live and die serving my Lord Jesus Christ, it makes no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals [while I live] or by worms [after I die]; for in that Great Day of Resurrection, my body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer!”
In Dicken’s classic story, The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future each had a work to do in Scrooge’s life. The end result was a life that was radically changed.
Like the three spirits who visited Scrooge on Christmas Eve, the Holy Spirit of God has a work to do in our life. It’s a work that involves the past, the present, and the future. Is the Spirit of God at work in your life? Has He revealed the truth of Christ’s redemptive work to you? Is He giving you confidence in your faith and walk with Christ? Do you look forward to the day when He will transform your mortal body into a resurrection body?