In John 14 Jesus is speaking to his disciples for one of the last times before his death. He knows he is going to leave them, and they are – rightfully – afraid of being left alone. But Jesus says, “I’m going to send somebody. And that somebody is going to help you. That somebody is going to comfort you for when I am gone. They are going to quiet down your fears. They are going to empower you and give you power that you don’t have. That somebody is going to do things you can’t do”. That somebody is the Holy Spirit.
I Believe in The Holy Spirit
Nic Kyalangalilwa delivers his sixth in a nine week sermon series unpacking the foundations of the Christian faith – working through the Apostles’ Creed, a statement of belief penned in the 4th Century AD.
The Apostles’ Creed is really the foundation of what a Christian believes.
“It’s really the foundation of what a Christian believes. This is what makes the difference between what we would call a Christian faith, and a non-Christian faith.”
This sermon looks at the sixth section which refers to the Holy Spirit. Nic focuses on three key questions: who is the Holy Spirit, what does he do, how do you get him – followed by a section on how we can apply this to our lives.
Who Is The Holy Spirit? What Does He Do?
“The Spirit of God empowers, it gives life, it gives power to serve. The Spirit of God purifies. And the Spirit of God reveals the words of God to us – it makes it clear. We understand the Bible better, we are ready to live it. The Spirit of God guides us into all righteousness. It helps us see where is it that God wants us to be. The Spirit of God provides assurance for our salvation. The Spirit of God teaches us. The Holy Spirit of God brings us together.
The question is, will you let him?”
Understanding The Apostles’ Creed
Find the other sermons in this series here:
- I Believe… In God, The Father Almighty
- I Believe… In God The Creator
- I Believe… In Jesus’ Incarnation
- I Believe… In Jesus’ Death & Resurrection
- I Believe… In Jesus’ Ascension & Return
- I Believe… In The Holy Spirit
Text: John 14
Date preached: 15 May 2016
Location: Le Phare Church, Bukhavu, DRC-Congo
Now most of you know that we’ve been doing a series of teaching in the Apostles’ Creed looking at different foundations of the Christian faith. And today we will be looking at the topic of the Holy Spirit.
Before I do that I will invite us to read through the Apostles’ Creed which will be projected behind me and as we are reading it I will highlight our section for today, and then I will move back into the talk. Thank you. Let’s read together.
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the place of the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father,
I believe he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy universal Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
I believe in The Holy Sprit
So today we are looking at the section which says I believe in the Holy Spirit. Now, most of you know, today is Pentecost Sunday. It’s the Sunday when people celebrate the pouring out in a physical and a mighty way of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit of God descended in a mighty and a visible way after Jesus had gone to heaven.
The Spirit of God descended in a mighty and a visible way after Jesus had gone to heaven.
So if you go to Acts 2, the first few verses tell you that the Spirit of God descended in a mighty and a visible way after Jesus had gone to heaven. And so around the world the Church is celebrating Pentecost Sunday, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And it’s only fitting for us to actually study this Holy Spirit that we are celebrating.
Who is the Holy Spirit? What does he do? How can one get him? Is he just for some people? Is he for all of us? Now what does it mean when we say we believe in the Holy Spirit?
Now you will notice again in the Apostles’ Creed it starts with, “I believe in God the father” and then, “I believe in Jesus”, God the son, and then eventually it comes, “I believe in the Holy Spirit”, and then we will go on with the Church and so forth.
How Do I Know The Holy Spirit is Present?
Now let me ask you, how do you know the Spirit is at work? How do you know there is the presence of the Holy Spirit? If you go into any church, if you meet any pastor or any Christian, how do you know they have the Holy Spirit? How do you know in that church there is the Holy Spirit?
Dancing & Falling?
Well, we live in an area where people believe, and I think wrongly, that if you have the Holy Spirit you have to be dancing and falling apart and jumping up and down. So if you go into a church where people are moving and it’s really, really hot and people are falling, then yes – there is the Holy Spirit. And then I ask, if you go to any concert [of various local artists] and people are falling and jumping and there is such an atmosphere, is the Holy Spirit present?
Speaking in Tongues?
Some people believe that when people speak in tongues and they are mumbling words that nobody can hear, then the Holy Spirit is available. And of course they will remind me that in Acts 2 that’s what happened, isn’t it? That they started speaking in tongues. And so if you see people speaking in tongues and they mumble things nobody can actually tell what it is, then there is the Spirit.
I wonder, what do you think? How do you know that the Holy Spirit is at work? How do you even know that you have the Holy Spirit?
There is No Spirit?
On the other side we have people who reject this whole view. They are so against the whole thing of the Holy Spirit that they say, “You know what? You can’t really tell if the Holy Spirit is there”. So it’s really dead church. There’s no reality of the Spirit. It’s all about what you can do as men, and what you can plan, and what you can work out. It’s never really about the Spirit at work in people.
Part of our faith, is that there is such a thing as the Spirit of God.
So I think these questions are very important for us and I think it’s good for us to ask those questions because most of us here, who claim to be Christians, part of our belief, part of our faith, is that there is such a thing as the Spirit of God that we call the Holy Spirit. So we are going to look at who is the Holy Spirit, what does he do, how do you get him and then we will try and apply this into our lives.
Now I am sorry again if this looks a little bit more like a lecture, and I will try my best to apply it into our daily lives.
Who Is The Holy Spirit?
Now who is the Holy Spirit? Now the Bible is very clear that the Spirit is a person. Now some people think it’s a force – it’s some form of power – a little bit like the wind and the hurricane that moves. Well the Bible doesn’t say that it’s an impersonal thing. The Bible insists it is a personal thing. It is a person. It’s actually the third person of the trinity. The third person of the godhead.
The Bible insists the Spirit is a personal thing. It is a person.
Now come with me to the passage that was read to us. John 14:16-17 it says “I will ask the father and he will give you another helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
The Spirit Is A Person
Now you can pick up a few things from those verses. Now I did say it’s a person. Holy, divine, but it’s a person. And therefore, he can be seen. John 14:17, the world doesn’t see him. The world can’t see him. Now I mean, can you see a force? Can you see the wind? You can’t. So if we say that the Holy Spirit is just some power, some force out there, but you can’t see him, here Jesus seems to say you can see him.
Actually Jesus even gives a qualification, almost a name, he calls him the helper, the Spirit of truth. It’s a person. John 14:17: the world does not see him; the world does not know him. I mean you can’t know a spirit, you have to know a person. If it’s some wild spirit that you can’t see, you can’t know it. The knowing here, it’s a personal knowledge.
Now, English people play with words. And I’m gonna try and play with words here for a little while.
You Can Know Someone Personally
You can know about somebody, and you can know somebody. You can know of somebody, or you can know somebody. Now you can know about Nicolas, but you’ve never met Nicolas. So they will you, “Nicolas, you know, he is married, he is like this, he’s like that…” but you’ve never met Nicolas. Now how many of you know President Kabila? How many of you know President Obama? Well we know a lot about him, we don’t know him! We don’t know what he eats for breakfast, we don’t know what he likes. We don’t know whether he limps on the left… we don’t know much about him!
It’s possible to know the Spirit just like you can know your friend.
The Holy Spirit Can Be Known
So it is possible to know the Spirit just like you can know your friend; just as you can know your family members or the person you work with. It says there, you can know him: he can be known.
Now a force can’t be known, but a person can. Notice again he says there, “You know him for he dwells in you and he will be in you.” The Holy Spirit can do action. He can dwell. And as we will see later on he can teach, he can warn, he can do things just like a person.
So let me remind us again. Who is the Holy Spirit? Well it’s the third person of the godhead – that’s what the Bible says. It is a person who can be known.
The Spirit Is Part of The Godhead
A wonderful passage is in Matthew 3 after Jesus’ baptism. This is what he says, Matthew 3:16. It says, “When Jesus was baptised immediately he went up from the water and behold! The heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved son, whom I am well pleased”.”
What do we have here in this passage? We have a wonderful family picture. We have the father who is speaking, we have God the son who has just come out of the water, and we have the Holy Spirit who is dwelling on the son. We have God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit.
Now I don’t have time to explain how their relationship works, but one of the famous creeds of the Christian Church is the Nicene Creed. And in the Nicene Creed they try and explain the relationship with the son and the father and the Holy Spirit. And so the son comes from the father – he is not born but he is actually coming from the father; begotten but not born. And then the Holy Spirit comes from the father and the son. That’s how Christians see it and I am not going to discuss it that much because that is not the point here.
The point is simple: it is the third person of the trinity. It’s God, it’s divine, holy – that’s why we call it the Holy Spirit – it’s personal. The Holy Spirit is personal. He is a personal agent. He can be known and he can dwell in somebody. He can be seen. One can have a relationship with him to some extent. It’s not a disembodied spirit.
What Does The Holy Spirit Do?
Good. So let’s move onto the second question.
What does the Holy Spirit do? Now you can pick that up already from our passage here. John 14:16, what does it say? Tell us. He is a helper. Right! The Holy Spirit is a helper. Another word for the helper is advocate and comforter. If you play around with the word you will see in your version that where you have helper they will have a small little thing that points you down to the annotation which says a helper, advocate and comforter.
The Helper, Advocate & Comforter
So it says, “I will ask the father and he will give you another helper to be with you forever”. In John 14:25 it says, “these things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the helper – the Holy Spirit – whom the father will send in my name will teach you all things and bring to remembrance all I have said to you.”
The Spirit is an advocate. The Spirit is a helper. He is there not only to tell us what is it that God thinks: an advocate, and defend, but her is there to help us. Now, you don’t get a helper when you can do things by yourself, can you? If you can do things by yourself can you get a helper? You only get a helper to do the things because you can’t do them.
The Holy Spirit is going to do the things you can’t do because you are weak!
So in your house you get a helper to help clean, because you maybe don’t have time to clean. And some people they don’t even know how to clean! You get a helper because he is going to do the things you can’t do. And Jesus is saying the Holy Spirit is going to come, and go along with you, and he is going to do the things you can’t do because you are weak!
The Disciples We Helped By The Spirit
Now remember he is talking to his disciples. This is one of the last speeches he is giving to his disciples, and he knows that his disciples – they’ve lived for three years with this extraordinary man who can stop the wind, who can chase the demons. I mean when they are with Jesus they feel very secure. When they are with Jesus they feel unconquerable – nobody can touch them! Now Jesus says, “I am gonna go.” And they are like, “What! When you go what’s gonna happen to us?” They are fearful, they are scared. They are starting to realise that in the end they are just mere humans. There isn’t much they can do without Jesus.
And Jesus says, “I’m gonna send somebody. And that somebody is gonna help you. That somebody is gonna comfort you for when I am gone. That somebody is gonna quiet down your fears. That somebody is gonna empower you and give you power that you don’t have. That somebody is gonna do things you can’t do. And that somebody is the Holy Spirit.
The second thing the Spirit does – so the first thing is the Spirit helps us and comforts us.
The second thing that the Holy Spirit does is that he is a teacher. He teaches. He is a convicter: he shows you where wrong has been done.
John 16:7-11 says, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
In 1 John 2:27 it says, “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.”
What Will The Spirit Teach?
So one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is not only to teach and give people the word from God and let me say here it’s not new revelation. And this is where some people get it wrong. When they see the anointing will teach you all things, people are thinking, “Well, the Spirit will reveal to us a new thing”, as if the revelation of God is not a closed revelation in the Bible.
Now come with me to the verse that was read earlier on: John 16:14 says, “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
It’s not new revelation. The Holy Spirit only takes what Jesus taught and makes it clear to the disciples.
So the Holy Spirit does not bring any new revelation. The Holy Spirit only takes what Jesus taught and makes it clear to the disciples. And yes, maybe along the way the disciples might have forgotten some of what Jesus taught. Well, the Holy Spirit will make sure they remember. And the Holy Spirit will make sure they remember because we have the Bible.
The Spirit Teaches Christians About The Word of God
A friend of mine asked me once, “Well how do we know that what the Bible says is true? Because it was never really written along the way. It was written a few years after – the Bible was given after Jesus has died 30, 40 years.”
Well I said, “My friend, if the Holy Spirit is true and the Spirit of God was there to help the disciples, then surely they remember everything that God wanted us to remember.”
So what the Holy Spirit does is it teaches the Christians. It teaches them about the word of God.
So sometimes you might be reading the word of God, you might be reading the Bible, and you don’t really understand it. Next time you come to the same verse and now it clicks – you can understand it! You can see that it’s alive. So what has just happened my friend? Well it’s not that you’ve become clever. The Holy Spirit has just opened your eyes. Now you can see things clearly. Because that’s the job of the Holy Spirit. To teach. To take what is from God and make it plain and clear to the Christian.
Now, in relation to the non-Christian, what the Holy Spirit does is it convicts of sin and judgement. So this morning I was having a conversation with somebody coming here and I said to them, “When you see somebody starting to ask themselves questions about their life, when you see somebody realising that their life is not good and they are not into God and the wanna change, trust me! It’s not just that they are having a bad conscience. It’s a work of the Spirit of God. It’s the Holy Spirit that is convicting them of their sin. And it’s convicting them of their need to be right with God and it’s convicting them of the judgement that is awaiting them.
None of us would have been Christian if the Holy Spirit did not work in us and convict us of our sins.
You still have many of your friends who are non-Christians, they’ve done the same things as you. They went to the same church as you. Why is it that you are more convicted and you are more serious about this than them? Well it’s not because you are a good person, it’s because the Spirit of God was working in you and convicting you.
Unless the Spirit opens their eyes, unless the Spirit convicts them, nothing will happen.
So that’s why we encourage our friends here at Le Phare, we say, “Before you invite your friend to church, before you invite your non-Christian friend to come to Jesus, before you even share the word of God with them, before you even share the gospel – this wonderful news of Jesus who died for him – you have to start praying for him. Because unless the Spirit opens their eyes, unless the Spirit convicts them, nothing will happen.
We Are Looking For The Wrong Thing
And that’s unfortunately a problem. Why is it that people are fighting in our churches? Why is it that pastors are hitting each other, and they are stealing money from each other? Why is it that Christians are no different from non-Christians? It’s because we have forgotten that the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict. And so what we find is that we are looking for highs; we are looking for a time where there is so much noise, and people can fall, and we are not looking for the conviction that only the Holy Spirit can do.
We have forgotten that the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict.
Now in my work as a pastor, you know, I preach – that’s my job. What is interesting is that I might have prepared a sermon, and I worked on it, and I thought, “Hahaha, this is very difficult”. I come here and I put it here and I read and I do my things – you know? And then I sit. And then two days later somebody phones me and says, “Can I see you?” and I say, “Well yeah. We can meet.”
And he says, “It looks like you were talking about me”. And I am like, “Sorry, I was not talking about you.”
Yes! And he starts telling me, “Well, you know in my life on that day or before that day, a, b, c, d and f happened.”
Well I didn’t know any of those things! So what happened? The Spirit took the word of God and convicted that person.
This Is The Spirit Working
That’s the job of the Holy Spirit. Not only to help us in our weaknesses, not only to encourage us in walking with Jesus, not only to comfort us and give us strength when we are weak, to give us hope when we are hopeless, to give us courage when we are fearful. But at the same time the Spirit is there to teach us. To take the word of God as Christians and put it in our hearts so as we can grow to know Jesus. And when we’ve gone into sin, or when we are not believing in Jesus, it will convict us.
The Spirit is working when you see people on their knees, declaring that Jesus is God, wanting to forsake their sins.
How do you know when the Spirit is working? Well you know the Spirit is working when it is convicting people, isn’t it? Not when they are falling. You know the Spirit is working when you see them coming on their knees, declaring that Jesus is God and they wanna forsake their sins. Not when the church is packed.
The third Job of the Spirit is the witness. Acts 1:8, it says, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses”.
Now the Spirit becomes the thing that allows Christians to be witnesses. Now there is something else in Romans 8 – and that’s where I want us to go if you have your Bibles open. Because not only does the Spirit give us power to be witnesses, but the Spirit also witnesses to our heart that we are truly children of God.
The Spirit Gives Us Assurance
So the one other job of the Holy Spirit is to say to Christians to give them the full assurance of their salvation. To say that, “Yes, you believe in Jesus, but it’s not just some mere belief. It’s true. And look, you are a child of God.”
Romans 8:9: “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him”. You can’t belong to God if you don’t have the Holy Spirit.
In the Bible you are either a Christian and you have the Spirit, or you don’t have it.
Now I know some brothers say, you know what, you can be baptised and you can be a Christian and not have the Spirit. I say that’s not in the Bible. In the Bible you are either a Christian and you have the Spirit, or you don’t have it. You can’t say I am a Christian and I am going to heaven but I don’t have the Spirit. It doesn’t work like that.
Christians Have The Holy Spirit
And so he says, those who have the Spirit are those who belong to him.
Romans 8:10: “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
The Spirit testifies to our hearts that we are truly children of God.
What is Paul saying here? Paul is saying here that when you receive Jesus he give you the Holy Spirit – we will see that later on in Ephesians 1. But he gives you the Spirit as a guarantee that you are his child. And so as long as you have the Holy Spirit you know that your salvation is true. Later on in those verses he will say, the Spirit cries in us, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit testifies to our hearts that we are truly children of God.
We’ve sung the song, Before the Throne of God Above and at some point one of the verses says: “When Satan tempts me to despair”. When sometimes I look at my weaknesses, and I look at my sin, and I look at how bad my heart is and how bad some things that I’m doing are wrong, well what is it that reminds you again that you have been saved by grace and that Jesus has done everything on the cross, if it’s not the Holy Spirit?
You Are Part of The Family of God
It’s the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit in us will say, “Yah, I know. You are weak. But remember, he did it for you. Don’t despair. Don’t lose hope”. The Spirit witnesses to my spirit, to my soul, to my heart, that I am a child of God.
To give you a physical proof of your belonging to the Christian family, we will baptise you.
And it’s not man. Now when you come to church and you say, “I believe in Jesus”, it’s a custom of the Christian faith, to give you a physical proof of your belonging to the Christian family, we will baptise you. Now, whether they put you in too much water or too little water that’s not the point. The point is that they will accept you into the family of God.
So, physically you know: I belong to the family of God.
Physically once a month you will be called to join in the communion – the Lord’s Supper – because you belong to the family of God. But what speaks to your heart? It’s the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit says into your heart, “You are a child of God”.
The Spirit Speaks To Us
Man speaks to you, but the Spirit speaks louder. And maybe man will not speak to you, but the Spirit will still speak to you, and say you are a child of God. So the Spirit’s job is not only to help us in our weaknesses, it’s not only to convict us of our sin and teach us about righteousness and about Jesus. The Spirit’s job is to remind us along the way that we are God’s children: that I belong to God, that I am a child of God, that nothing will separate me, that my salvation is secure, that my salvation doesn’t depend upon me.
Now it doesn’t matter what the world says, it doesn’t matter what anybody says! I know I am a child of God. And I say to people, the Spirit gives you the assurance of salvation.
Where Will You Go When You Die?
Let me do a small little test before I move on.
If you die today where do you go? Now I am not saying if you die now, because many of you will say, “I will go to heaven because I am in church”. Right? “And I’ve just listened to the sermon”.
Let’s say you walk out of here and you go to your house and you die. Where do you go? Well let’s rephrase it and say if Jesus came back now, tonight, would he take you with him?
If Jesus came back now, tonight, would he take you with him?
You see many people are not sure if they are actually, genuinely, children of God. Many people, they try hard and they say, “Well, if Jesus returns when I am in church then yah, I will go to heaven. If he returns when I am having my prayer at night then I will go to heaven. But you see if Jesus returns at night I don’t know what dream I will be having at that time, so I don’t really know where I will go.”
Well my dear friend, you don’t have the assurance of salvation – you are not sure that you are saved. Well, let me say that the Spirit of God gives assurance of salvation. So those who know that if Jesus comes back today, and they go to heaven, it’s not because men told them – it’s not because Nicolas told them. It’s because the Spirit spoke to them and there’s something that they know in their heart that sometimes they can’t even express.
The Spirit witnesses to our heart that we are children of God and that we belong to Jesus, no matter what’s the realities of our lives.
The Spirit is very active in our sanctification – which is the next job of the Spirit. The Spirit helps us to be more like Jesus.
Now look in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18: “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
The Spirit wants to make us look like Jesus, and it’s changing me.
One of the jobs of the Spirit of God is to change us to be more and more like Jesus.
So why is it that I am being changed every day? How is it that I am just realising that my life is changing? Well it’s because the Spirit is at work. The Spirit wants to make us look like Jesus, and it’s changing me; transforming me into the same image from one degree of glory to another.
The Fruit of the Spirit
That’s why Pauls says in Galatians, he says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is…” Now it’s interesting that Paul doesn’t say, the fruits of the Spirit are. He says the fruit of the Spirit is because it comes as a package. You can’t have love and not have patience, you can’t have kindness and not have gentleness. No, no, no. The Spirit gives a full pack!
You can’t have love and not patience; you can’t have kindness and not gentleness. The Spirit gives a full pack!
Now they come in degrees and so your love degree with increase, your patience will increase, your kindness will increase all the time. But they come in a packet. You can’t have the one without the other.
And Paul says when you have the Spirit this is what the Spirit of God brings. And all those things look a little bit more like Jesus, isn’t it? It makes you look like Jesus. That’s one of the jobs of the Spirit. It changes me. It sanctifies me. It transforms me to be like Jesus.
Now let me stop here and quickly move onto something else.
The Holy Spirit Helps To Us Be Like Jesus
This is our last question really. Now, I hope by now you’ve realised that in the Bible there is nowhere where they mention the Spirit as the presence of the Spirit as a place where there is so much disorder that people are falling and people are jumping and people are high.
It looks to me like the job of the Spirit is really not only changing people from their sinfulness, but then bringing them to the likeness of Jesus. That’s what it looks to me. So the job of the Spirit, if I am to summarise everything that I’ve said, it’s almost to say, the Spirit is there to help people be like Jesus.
So where did we get it, that the work of the Spirit is really to make noise and make people fall and all sorts of funny things. Where did we hear that? Now how do you get the Spirit, or how does the Christian know that they have the Spirit? How do you know you have the Spirit or how do you get it?
How Do I Get The Spirit?
Now let’s look at Ephesians 1, and this is the passage I want us to read, because I think it will help us a lot.
Now there are people who think that you get baptised, but you don’t have the Holy Spirit. Then you go into fasting and praying and it takes so much time! Because one day then you will get the Spirit. And it has to be some strong experience. Well look at in Ephesians 1:13.
Paul starts in Ephesians 1:3 and says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”. And then he starts giving us the options of those blessings.
Now in Ephesians 1:13 he says: “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, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
The Moment We Believe, We Receive The Spirit
What is Paul saying here? Paul is saying here that the moment somebody hears the gospel, the moment somebody believes the gospel, they receive a down payment – they receive a proof that they are God’s children. And the proof that they are God’s children is the Holy Spirit.
Now when you buy your books at school what is the first thing you put in your books? You write your name, isn’t it? You write your name. Now in the old times they didn’t write names they had the seal, they had a cachet. And they would take the stamp – the seal or the cachet – and they would put it in their books. And they would say this belongs to Nicolas.
I am a sinner but Jesus has given me life, and from now onward Jesus will be my Lord and my saviour.
So when you seal you know this belongs to Nicolas. And Paul is saying that when you believe in Jesus, when you accept the gospel, when you accept that you are a sinner and that you could not help yourself – that your work could not help yourself – and that you deserve God’s punishment, and that Jesus died on that cross in your place, God sent his son – a perfect one who never sinned to die on that cross in your place – so as you don’t die anymore. When you say I believe that’s true: I believe I am a sinner but Jesus has given me life, and from now onward this Jesus will be my Lord and my saviour, Paul says at that time you receive a seal, you receive a cachet, you receive a stamp. And that stamp is the Holy Spirit.
It testifies that you belong to God. It testifies that one day you will be with God. It’s a physical proof of something to come.
Now where do we get this idea that after believing you still need to get the Holy Spirit? Where did we get that from? Because everywhere in the Bible it is clear that the Spirit is the one who testifies that we belong to God!
We Get The Spirit by Faith
So I don’t think that you get the Spirit by fasting for seven days. I don’t think you get the Spirit by going on the mountain and killing yourself! You get the Spirit by believing in the gospel! You cannot believe in the gospel and not get the Spirit, and you cannot have the Spirit if you do not believe in the gospel.
So It’s by faith, isn’t it?
You can’t believe in the gospel and not get the Spirit and you can’t have the Spirit if you don’t believe in the gospel.
Romans 8:15: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
My dear friend, it’s the Spirit that tells us we are children of God. It’s the Spirit that opens your eyes to see the wonderful truth of the gospel. It’s the Spirit that leads you to believe in this gospel.
How do you receive the Holy Spirit? Well it’s a gift from God, isn’t it? It is as you come to faith in Jesus that you receive it.
How Do I Know I Have The Spirit?
How do you know you have it? Well the Spirit testifies that you are a child of God and so you know. If you have actually believed in the gospel, then you have the Spirit. The proof is you see your life being changed and transformed day in and day out.
The proof is you see your life being changed and transformed day in and day out.
Let me say that it is possible, my dear friend, to resist this Spirit. I is possible to resist the change of the Spirit in our lives. It is possible, when the Spirit is guiding us to be more like Jesus, to resist this. Like a small child – the parent is dragging them and they don’t want to go – and they are holding, but they are going and they are moving. It is possible.
The question is, are we letting the Spirit change us into the likeness of Jesus or not?
Do You Have The Spirit of God?
I am going to stop there and say, do you have the Spirit of God? Do you know that you have the Holy Spirit? You can’t have the Holy Spirit if you don’t believe in Jesus, so do you believe in Jesus as your Lord and saviour?
And if you do believe in Jesus as your Lord and saviour are you letting the Holy Spirit change you? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to change you, day in and day out, to be like Jesus. Are you letting the Holy Spirit comfort you when you are weak? Give you strength when you are fearful, hope when you are hopeless? Are you letting the Holy Spirit teach you about the wonderful truth of the gospel? Are you even obeying this wonderful truth?
Are you letting the Holy Spirit open your eyes onto the spiritual things so that you might grasp them and look more like Jesus? Are you hearing the Spirit witnessing to your heart that you are a child of God?
You see if the Spirit is a person then there will be that kind of knowledge and conversation.
How Do I Connect With The Spirit?
Now what I think our friends get wrong is that sometimes you can hinder the work of the Spirit if you are not connecting with it. Now I think that that’s true. I think that if you are not open to the Spirit guiding you then yes, you will hinder it’s work. But I don’t think that Christians need a second experience of the Spirit. And I think that if Christians are close enough to the Holy Spirit, then they will hear it more – they will hear the voice of the Spirit more and more.
It’s through prayer and reading your Bible. That’s how you connect with the Spirit.
And how do you do that? Well it’s through prayer. Through reading of your Bible. That’s how you try and connect with the Spirit. But it’s not that the Spirit is not with you, it’s that there’s too much noise in your life.
The Spirit Is At Work
So when we say we believe in the Spirit here at Le Phare, we believe that this work of the Spirit of God is still active. We believe that the Spirit of God is still there to convict people of sin. That’s why I stand here every Sunday and I preach from the Bible.
I don’t make gimmicks. I don’t try and find the best thing out there and maybe what every preacher is looking for and pray for blessing upon everybody because that’s what everybody is liking. I don’t care about that! I believe that the Spirit can convict. And that’s why I preach from the word of God. Because as the word is preached, the Spirit is working, it’s teaching and it’s convicting.
As the word is preached, the Spirit is working, it’s teaching and it’s convicting.
When we invite people to pray with us, why is it that we are inviting people to pray? Why is it that we are inviting people to read the Bible with us during the week? Because we know the Spirit is at work! And as we sit under the word of God and we call upon God to be there, his Spirit is there. It will teach us. It will convict us. It will strengthen us. It will lead us.
Now it doesn’t mean that I don’t make plans for the church. It doesn’t mean that we don’t make plans for our life. But it just means that we are listening to the Spirit and seeing the guidance of God through his Spirit.
Now I don’t know what you learned from our discussion this evening. I don’t know what you learned from my talks this evening. But if anything, I want to say that the Spirit is a person and the Spirit is there to help us be like Jesus – to apply the work of salvation onto our lives – sanctify us and lead us into all righteousness.
So what do you believe?
When The Spirit Is (and Isn’t) There
I don’t believe that when people are falling in church that’s the work of the Spirit. I believe that when in the church lives are being changed, when in the church people are leaving sin and following Jesus, I believe that’s where the work of the Spirit is.
I believe that in the church when you see people are able to forgive one another, people from different tribes are able to live together, people from lower income are able to live with people from high income, and people from high income – with a lot of money – are not guided by their money and their love of money, but rather they are putting their money down to the work of God, that’s where the Spirit of God is!
When you see the world in the church the Spirit of God is not there.
But when you see people fighting in churches, the Spirit of God is not there. Because the Spirit of God is a Spirit of unity. When you see people in church are hypocrites, the Spirit of God is not there! Because the Spirit of God is meant to change people. When you see that in churches it’s become a nexus for sin and all the wrong thing in society – like this musician says, you know, Patrice – he says, “I go into the world and I don’t see anything. I come in to the church and I see the world”. When you see the world in the church the Spirit of God is not there, because the Spirit of God is not changing them into the likeness of Jesus.
I’ve met people and you see that they’ve gone for three days fasting and prayer – or they go into the prayer chambers and they are praying. And then they come out of the prayer chamber and then you see them fighting on the streets.
Now I ask, what have you been doing there? That’s not the work of the Spirit! Because if anytime you spend time with God and the Spirit is there, he will convict you and change you into the likeness of Jesus!
Nothing Else Can Change You Like This
But when you see more love, more patience, more kindness, more joy, more and more, more gentleness, then you know the Spirit of God is at work.
So my dear friend, don’t go looking out for very high points in your life. Don’t think that, “Ah, when I’ve sung so much, and I’m crying, Oh! There is the work of the Spirit!” My dear friend, you are just lying to yourself. That’s not the work of the Spirit. Any Nigerian movie that is sad enough can make you cry, well at least for me.
You realise that you are now loving yourself less and loving others more.
But when you realise that you are now loving yourself less and loving others more, when you realise that you are not pursuing money anymore but you are actually pursuing God and God’s plan more, when you and I are realising that actually you are loving the word of God more and you really want to be in it, and you are understanding it, and it’s changing you, my dear friend, that’s the work of the Spirit. Nothing else can do that.
Look For Transformation, Not Experiences
And so we have changed what it means to be Christian, and we have made people looking for experience like drug addicts or people who drink – you know when they haven’t drunk they don’t feel good. We are looking for experiences. You don’t need to look for experience, look for transformation.
So let me say to you that even if you speak in tongues, if you are not being changed into a likeness of Jesus, that’s not the work of God. Even if you can pray and people fall near you, if you are not being changed into the likeness of Jesus, that’s not the work of God. That’s not the work of the Spirit. I don’t know what spirit it is, but it’s not the Spirit of God.
The Spirit of God empowers, it gives life, it gives power to serve. The Spirit of God purifies. The Spirit of God makes clear, reveals the words of God to us – it makes it clear. We understand the Bible better, we are ready to live it. The Spirit of God guides us into all righteousness. It helps us see where is it that God wants us to be. The Spirit of God provides assurance for our salvation. The Spirit of God teaches us. The Spirit of God brings us together.
The question is, will you let him?
Let’s bow our heads.