Communion With the Spirit ~ 20151115 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
11/15 Communion With The Spirit ; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20151115_communion-with-spirit.mp3
We are looking at the primary thing that sets Christianity apart from all other religions, and that is who God is. God in the Bible reveals himself as Father, Son and Spirit, three distinct someones; yet the Bible is just as clear that there is only one true God who eternally exists. Christians have coined the word 'trinity' or 'tri-unity' to summarize this biblical teaching.
1 John 1:3 tells us:
And the benediction of 2 Corinthians 13 prays that:
We have looked at our fellowship with the person of the Father, the person of Jesus the Son, and today we will be looking at our particular communion or fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Who is the Holy Spirit, why is he called that, and what is our unique relationship with him?
Again, this will be a broad overview. Entire volumes have been written on this subject, so think of this as a kind of primer to stimulate you to do your own study as you enjoy your relationship with this third person of the triune God.
The Holy Spirit
Why is the third person of the triune God called the Holy Spirit? First, we must say that the name 'Spirit' does not refer to his essence. The Spirit is not spirit in contrast to the Father and Son, who are material beings. No, the Bible teaches that God in his essence is spiritual, he is not physical, not subject to the limitations and confines of matter. The name 'Spirit' applied to the third person refers not to his essence (because all three share the same spiritual essence), but to his relation to the Father and the Son. The word 'Spirit' comes from the term 'spirare' to breathe; we recognize the root in the words 'aspirate' or 'respiration'. The Old Testament Hebrew word Ruach means breath or wind. The New Testament Greek word for Spirit is Pneuma, which also means breath or wind. Jesus symbolized this when in John 20 he breathed on his disciples and said 'Receive the Holy Spirit'
Just as we say that the Son is begotten or eternally generated by the Father, so the Spirit is eternally spirated or breathed out or proceeds from the Father and the Son. More on this later.
In a similar way, the Spirit is called Holy, not because he is holy and the Father and the Son are not (because God in his essence is perfectly holy), but the Spirit is called Holy because his person is particularly responsible for producing holiness in us. Again, more on that later.
A Distinct Divine Person
In the Bible, the Spirit is called the Spirit of God (Gen.1:2; Mt.3:16), the Spirit of the Father (Mt.10:20), the Spirit of Christ (Rom.8:9, Gal.4:6; Phil.1:19), and the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7). Why do we believe that he is his own distinct person and not merely the spirit of another person?
There are several passages where the Holy Spirit is listed alongside the Father and the Son in a way that would be awkward and misleading if they were not three distinct but equal persons. We already looked at the benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14, which lists the Lord Jesus Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit. Look also at the baptismal formula Jesus gives us in Matthew 28.
This is one singular name, yet it is the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We can illustrate how significant this is by trying to insert something else in the place of one of the three. 'Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the archangel Michael and of the Holy Spirit', as the Jehovah's Witnesses teach. Or 'in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the force or the power of God'. No, an angel or an impersonal force would be entirely out of place in this threefold name. The Holy Spirit is just as personally distinct and fully divine as are the Father and the Son. We see the same think at Jesus' baptism, where the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, and a voice came from heaven addressing Jesus as 'my beloved Son'.
In Luke 4, we see Jesus full of the Holy Spirit, and in verse 14
If the Spirit is merely the impersonal power of God, this statement is redundant. He is not saying that Jesus returned in the power of the power.
When Ananias and Sapphira lied to the apostles about their giving, Peter confronted them.
The Holy Spirit is a person who can be lied to, and to lie to the Holy Spirit is to lie to God. The Holy Spirit is God. Throughout the book of Acts we see the Spirit active in the daily life of the believers. In Acts 13,
The Holy Spirit responds to the worship of the Lord, and gives direction. He speaks, and he refers to himself as 'me' and 'I'. He calls. He sends. He is a person.
John 14-16; The Spirit Sent
When we look at what Jesus says in John 14-16, we begin to see his relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Here we see Jesus asking his Father to send the Helper, the Comforter or Advocate, the Holy Spirit. Jesus calls him another Helper. Jesus is about to leave his disciples. But he promises another Comforter, another of the same kind as himself. Jesus tells his followers that they know the Holy Spirit because he dwells with them. He will dwell in them.
Jesus has taught his followers the words his Father gave him to teach. The Father sent Jesus, and the Father will send the Holy Spirit in Jesus' name. The Spirit will bring Jesus' words to remembrance. And the Holy Spirit will teach you all things. As Jesus was a teacher, so the Spirit will be a teacher.
When we get to chapter 15, we see something different. Where in chapter 14, Jesus asked his Father to send the Spirit, Here in chapter 15 Jesus says 'I will send the Spirit to you from the Father'. The Spirit proceeds from the Father. The Spirit is sent by both Jesus and his Father. The Spirit is here called the Spirit of truth, and he will testify or bear witness about Jesus.
In John 16 Jesus says:
Jesus again claims that he will send the Spirit to his followers. But they are filled with sorrow because Jesus is leaving them. Most followers of Jesus would trade anything to have the physical presence of their Lord Jesus with them. But Jesus says 'it is to your advantage that I go away'. It is better, it is more profitable, it is preferable that Jesus go away. It is to your advantage. How can this be? The way Jesus would go away is to die on the cross as a substitute for our sins. As a result of his finished work for us, he would send the Spirit into his followers, not just to be with them, but to be in them. It was prophesied of Jesus that he would baptize his followers with the Holy Spirit (Jn.1:33). Listen to how Jesus describes the work of the Spirit.
The Spirit will convict the world. Jesus taught the multitudes, but very few believed in him. There will be an inward work of the Spirit that far surpasses even the preaching of Jesus himself. In the book of Acts, after the Spirit had come, Peter preached to the crowds, and 'they were cut to the heart' (Acts 2:37). They responded 'Brothers, what shall we do?' and about three thousand received his word and were added to the church.
Jesus goes on:
The Spirit will guide the apostles into all the truth. Just as Jesus claimed to speak not on his own authority, but only what the Father told him to speak, so he says the Spirit will not speak on his own authority, but only what he hears. He will declare things that are to come. He will glorify Jesus, by taking what belongs to Jesus and declaring it to you.
So we learn from John 14-16 that the Spirit is a Comforter or Advocate, he will dwell in believers forever. He is the Spirit of truth, who will teach us all things, remind us of what Jesus taught, and guide us into truth. He will bring inward conviction to the world. He will bear witness to Jesus and glorify Jesus.
Communion With the Spirit
What else does the bible tell us about our particular relationship with the Holy Spirit?
We are invited to ask for the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is given to us freely.
The Spirit is poured out on us richly.
The Spirit sanctifies or sets us apart to belong to God.
The Spirit gives life
The Spirit seals every believer in Jesus as his own.
The Spirit communicates God's love to us
Romans 8 is packed with precious truth about the Spirit. The Spirit brings life and freedom.
Believers walk according to the Spirit, live according to the Spirit, set their minds on the things of the Spirit, and life in the Spirit brings about life and peace.
The Spirit dwells in every believer.
By the Spirit we are able to put to death the deeds of the body.
We are led by the Spirit.
We have received the Spirit of adoption as sons. The Spirit bears witness that we are children of God. God's glory is about to be revealed in us!
We have the firstfruits of the Spirit. We have a deep inward longing for the consummation of our adoption, when our bodies are redeemed.
The Spirit helps us to pray. The Spirit himself prays for us.
The Spirit illumines God's truth to us.
The Spirit gives gifts to the church.
The Spirit produces fruit in our lives and makes us holy.
Resisting, Quenching and Grieving
Although as believers the Holy Spirit will never leave us, there are some clear warnings against thwarting his work in our lives. Acts 7 is actually addressed to unbelievers.
Unbelievers resist the Holy Spirit by not taking to heart the Spirit breathed words of Scripture.
1 Thessalonians is addressed to believers.
We can quench the Spirit by despising his truth. With that there is a warning to test the spirits to see if they are from God.
Ephesians 4:30 comes in the context of corrupting talk and bitterness among believers. These things grieve the Holy Spirit.
Worshiping the Spirit
Should we direct our worship toward the Holy Spirit? Is it appropriate to pray to the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is fully God, and therefore worthy of our worship and adoration. He is no less God than the Father or the Son, and no less worthy of honor and praise. We ought to recognize his unique work in us and thank him for it. We should take to heart warning from Jesus that we not blaspheme or speak against the Holy Spirit (Mt.12:31-32). This would imply that we are to honor the Holy Spirit just as we honor Christ. However, we should also take caution from the fact that nowhere in Scripture do we see worship clearly directed toward the Spirit. This is likely because the role of the Spirit is to bring us to Christ and to glorify Christ.
We worship by the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God sets us apart and makes us new and regenerates us and awakens in us a heart to worship God. We most honor the Spirit by responding to his conviction, by believing in Jesus, by putting to death the deeds of the flesh and walking with him in the freedom of righteousness that Jesus has purchased for us, by following his desire to draw attention to Jesus and glorify Jesus.
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org