Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, June 12, 2011

Ephesians 3:14-21, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

This morning, as we open our Bibles to study the Word of God together, I want to thank my daughter, Phoebe, for playing the piano for our worship service this morning. Thank you, Phoebe, you did very well. But, I also want to thank her for the songs she selected for the praise medley portion of our service. I don't know if you noticed it or not, but all three of the songs she picked for the praise medley were songs that related to the person and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as Christians. “Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me...”, “Spirit of God, descend upon my heart...”, and “Come, Holy Spirit, I need you...” Three songs, really, like this passage here in Ephesians chapter three, three prayers that God intends for Christians to pray, in order that they might be strengthened and supported and yes, even shaped in and through the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit.

This morning, having paved the way through the use of these songs, these prayerful hymns, I'd like to take God up on His offer. I'd like to take God at His Word and allow Him to teach us in the way in which we should go, and to guide us with His eye. Psalm 32:8 – What does the Word of God teach us regarding the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit?

There are many important truths to be learned about the Holy Spirit, many ways for God to teach us and guide us in knowing more about His Spirit, but listen, allow me to say this right up front, God's plan, His desire and will for you and me, if we are indeed His children, is not so much that we know ABOUT the Holy Spirit, but that through the Spirit's good and gracious work in us, we come to know HIM, we come to know God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ!

Look again at this incredible prayer penned by Paul the apostle. He says, “for this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ [and on my knees in prayer, I'm asking that] according to the riches of His glory, He would strengthen you with might by His Spirit in your inner being...” But why? What outcome does Paul look forward to as he watches and waits for God's answer?

He prays, he pleads, he beseeches God to answer His prayer for “Christ to dwell in our hearts by faith” and for God's people to be “rooted and grounded in love...” Why? Verses 18 & 19, “[So that we] may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height [and] to know – to KNOW – the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that we might be filled with all the fullness of God...” Let's meditate on all of that for a while, shall we? Wow! What a prayer! And, what an amazing BLESSING the Lord gives us when He answers a prayer like that! Come back to our original question with me for a moment, will you please? What does this Book, God's Holy Word, have to teach us regarding the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit?

Well, without being simplistic or redundant, let me say, first off, that He is a Person. False groups and false teachers would have us to believe that He is not a Person, the third Person of the Triune God, but an 'it, a 'force', the IMpersonal 'power' of God. But, if I may, allow me to remind you quickly, that FORCES, IMpersonal 'its' cannot be grieved, as Ephesians 4:30 says the Holy Spirit can. And, IMpersonal 'forces', 'its' cannot be vexed, as Isaiah 63:10 says He can. Furthermore, IMpersonal 'its', sheer 'forces' that have no personal qualities and characteristics, cannot be tempted as Acts 5:9 says the Holy Spirit can. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, He is a Peron. He is not an 'it.”

Secondly, allow me to remind you or inform you that the Holy Spirit, God's Spirit, has a 'job', in fact, He has many 'jobs', and unlike some folks we may know, He is busily at work carrying out the tasks and responsibilities of those 'jobs'. What does the Bible have to say about the PERSON and WORK of the Holy Spirit?

First of all, allow me to tell you that when we're dealing with the PERSON of the Infinite and Eternal Spirit of God, we're entering into a study that could very well take us the rest of our lives, and even then, not be fully thorough and complete. Don't let that discourage you or dissuade you from such a study, but just know that going in, okay?

Secondly, please remember that what we know for sure, for certain, about the Holy Spirit, is what we have - right here – in this Book, given to us through the Agency of God's Holy Spirit. Remember the passage? 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired of God”, literally, God, through His breath, His Spirit, breathes out His Word to make Himself know to us. So, whatever men, like this man, tell you or try to teach you about the Spirit of God, always, ALWAYS, check it out here, in the Book!

Earlier, I gave you some indication of how we know that the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus is a Person. He can be grieved. When we, the people of God, persist in patterns, sinful behavior, things like lying, stealing, evil speaking, unrighteous anger, and sexual impurity, we grieve Him. We make He sad. We break the heart of the One God gave us to seal us unto the day of redemption. And, Isaiah 63:10 tells us that when God's people – that's you and me – rebel against God's Spirit, He is vexed, He is angered and frustrated, because we are resisting His will, rather than submitting to it. Furthermore, as Acts 5:9 shows us, like Ananias and Sapphira, we can try to lie to the Spirit of God, but listen! Don't do it! Because to do so is to tempt Him, to test Him in ways, as Ananias and Sapphira found out, you don't want to be testing Him! What does the Bible have to say about the PERSON and WORK of the Holy Spirit?

If I were to try to summarize for you what the Bible has to say about the WORK of the Holy Spirit, I think I would have to boil it down to three main aspects for you to know and understand. Here goes:

What is the Holy Spirit's work, His 'job' so-to-speak? Number one, His job is to EDIFY, to build up the saved. The Holy Spirit, right no, is at work endeavoring to EDIFY the saved! Are you saved? Then know that the Holy Spirit is at work in you to “strengthen you with might, with power, in the inner being.” Secondly, in the way of a quick summary, I urge you to know that as this message draws to a close in a few minutes, and you perhaps begin to sense a strong tug at your heart, convincing you of what God's Word has said, and convicting you of your sin and your need for a Savior, know this, that the second major job of God's Holy Spirit is to EVANGELIZE the lost! That strong, almost irresistible tug, that deep felt, gnawing feeling in your heart, is not there because you ate spicy food before you came, but because God's Spirit is at work in you, to lead you the the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Then, thirdly, and I believe most importantly, please know that the Holy Spirit's job, His persistent and patient work in the church and in the world is that of EXALTING, lifting up the Savior! Jesus said it this way, in John 16:12-15. Read it with me, will you?

John 16:12-15, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

I'm looking at the clock, and realizing that we won't be able to explore all three of these aspects of the Work of God's Holy Spirit, but before we close, allow me to take a few moments to focus on at least one of them, the Spirit's Work in edifying the saved. How does the Holy Spirit edify? How does He build up the people of God, the saved? Romans 5:5, please find that passage with me, will you? In a section of Scripture where the apostle Paul depicts of the numerous benefits of being justified through faith in Jesus Christ, blessings like peace with God, access by faith into God's grace, joyful expectation to see God's glory, even glory, joy in tribulations because of what God does in us through those trials. In this section that actually begins back at chapter 4, verse 24, notice where the section ends: with this powerful insight into the Peron and Work of the Holy Spirit: God gives us His Holy Spirit, He actually pours out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit – why? To validate our hope! To make certain, to help us know for sure that the hope we have, the eager expectation that we have to one day see and take part in God's glory, God's given us His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God works in God's children, to solidify that hope and to solidify them IN that hope, when tribulation, tests and trials might otherwise shake and even shatter that hope!

God's Holy Spirit in God's child to solidify him or her in the hope of the glory of God, Romans 5:5.

Secondly, Romans 8:26-27 – How may of you have ever been so confused, so discouraged, so distressed that you simply COULD NOT pray, that you simply didn't know what to say to God? Romans 8:26-27 – Look at what this passage has to say about the job of the Spirit of God.

Romans 8:26-27, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

Psalm 46 begins with these words: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present HELP in trouble..” Ever wondered how God fulfills that portion of His Word in your life? He does so, Romans 8:26-27 tells us, by way of His Holy Spirit! The Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, is the One God gives to us, to make good on His promise to be our ever present help in trouble!

Then one more, as we prepare to close, what is the Holy Spirit up to as He works in the saved? Ephesians 5 & 6 – Take a look beginning at verse 15 of chapter 5. In that text, the apostle Paul urges Christians to walk circumspectly, to be careful how they live, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time! Now here's a question I want you to consider: How? How are folks like you and me, God's people, yes, but weak in the flesh, how are we to live carefully, to act wisely, to walk circumspectly? More specifically, Men, how are you and I to love our wives as Christ loved the church, how are we to learn to love them as much as we love our own bodies? And, Ladies, how are you to submit to us, your husbands, as the Church submits to Christ? And you, young ones, how are you to obey your parents in the Lord? How are you to go about honoring your Mom and Dad? And, Dads (and Moms), how are we to bring up those precious little ones in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and not provoke them to wrath?

The answer for all of these questions is one and the same:

Ephesians 5:18, "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.”

Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me, melt me, mold me, fill me, use me, Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me...”

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