Life in the Spirit: The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
April 21, 2013 Series: Life in the Spirit
Topic: Holy Spirit Passage: Ezekiel 36:26–36:28
Today we’re starting a new series called LIFE IN THE SPIRIT. This topic of the Holy Spirit is probably one of the most misunderstood elements of the Christian life and yet is one of the most crucial. But unlike other doctrines that we believe, that are rooted in scripture, our understanding of the Holy Spirit can tend to come more from our experience than scripture. We can tend to lean too far one way or the other and compartmentalize the purpose of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Our mind tends to go the gifts. Some of us have little experience with the gifts of the Spirit; some have a lot. If you grew up in a more charismatic environment you may think of the Holy Spirit strictly in terms of emotional responses and outward expressions and you may now assume that if you’re not experiencing the that outward expression in daily life, something’s wrong. Or maybe you were disillusioned by the charismatic and now you want nothing to do with the Holy Spirit as long as it involves emotion, experience and the gifts of the Spirit.
There’s a problem with both of these responses. 1st-Coming to doctrinal conclusions based on experience will always lead us astray. 2nd-Overemphesizing anything above what scripture does will lead us astray. 3rd-Undermining anything that the scripture teaches will always lead us astray. We need to know what the scriptures teach us about living life in Spirit so that we can live in a way that glorifies God. God is good and has a purpose in giving us the Holy Spirit. That’s what we want to do in this series-learn together what it really means to live life in the Spirit.
Let’s read Ezekiel 36:26-28. “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
My goal for today is to give us a doctrinal foundation of the Holy Spirit and then a big picture understanding of the purposes of God carried out by the Holy Spirit. Hopefully this will help us gain a biblical perspective of what it means for us to live life in the Spirit. Let’s start by looking at who the Holy Spirit is.
1. Who is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is God; the 3rd person of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity-that God is One in 3 Persons-is found in scripture from the very first chapter of the bible. And throughout scripture the Trinity is progressively revealed.
Let me try to quickly unpack this doctrine of the Triune God.
1. God is three persons-Father, Son and Holy Spirit
2. Each Person is fully God
3. God is One
a. The Holy Spirit is a Person – He is not an impersonal force and should never be referred to as it. He is the third Person of the Godhead or Trinity.
b. The Holy Spirit is fully God – He fully shares all the attributes of God. Not different or less in any way. Eternal, omniscient, all-powerful, omni-present. Just and holy, loving and merciful, good, infinite in all His perfections.
c. There is One God – there are not three Gods. Each of them are fully God – not a third of God. One in essence.
We also need to know that each Person of the Trinity is distinct. The Father is distinct from the Son, the Son from the Spirit, Spirit from the Father. They are equal to one another and yet each have different roles, functions, differing ways of relating to each other and to the world. The Father speaks, the Son carries out, the Spirit is active in the ongoing sustaining work of God. For example: In the plan of redemption, the Father sent the Son. The Son came. Then when He ascended, He sent the Spirit to carry on the active presence of God in the world and in the church.
Let’s look at a few examples: In Gen. 1:26 God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” In Gen. 1:2 there is a reference to the “Spirit of God”, and in John 1:1-2 we see Jesus revealed in the creation account-“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So in the very beginning we see this plurality within the Godhead. Let’s skip ahead to the NT and look at a few other examples that reveal the Trinity with even more clarity: at the baptism of Jesus (Matt. 3:16-17), When Jesus gives the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19). The Trinity was intimately involved in the 1st creation and is equally involved in the recreation; the redemption of man and the continued ministry of Jesus Christ.
2. Role of the Holy Spirit?
What does the Holy Spirit do? The Spirit’s role is to manifest the active presence of God in the world and in the church; and by implication, in our lives. How? In a general sense, God is omni-present (equally, completely present everywhere always). For the believer, this manifestation happens upon regeneration. When we put faith in Christ and repent of our sin, the Spirit of the Living God takes up residence within us; dwells with us-permanently. It’s the spirit that gives life, convicts of sin, empowers us for service, encourages us, leads us, gives faith, power to overcome sin, comforts, teaches and changes us and on and on.
The Spirit also gives each believer gifts to walk in in order to benefit others; gifts like prophecy, service, administration, healing, encouragement, teaching, words of knowledge and more.
And when a bunch of believers get together with these gifts who have the Holy Spirit and a desire to worship and glorify God and preach the good news to others who are still living in the darkness that we once lived-that’s called the church. Without the Spirit there is no church.
The Holy Spirit is necessary and involved in every aspect of the Christian's walk. Yes, the gifts are important but there’s so much more that Spirit is involved in. And if we start in the wrong place (temp to start with experiential gifts) we run the risk of going astray. In this series we’re going to be looking closer at many different aspects of Life in the Spirit, like: holiness, walking, filled, fruit, life, gifts, unity.
But what I want to do right now, in preparation for the weeks to come, is step back and look what God’s eternal purpose is/has been for all of history. I think this will help us understand how our life in the Spirit fits into His plan rather than struggling through life trying to make God’s plan/the Spirit fit into our lives.
3. Big Picture:
God’s purpose and plan from the beginning has been to have a people that He would dwell among who would be called by His name and would worship and glorify Him. This was His plan from the beginning:
• God creates man and dwells with Him
• Man sins and breaks fellowship with God/separated, becomes an enemy of God
• But God’s plan will not be thwarted; Plan of Redemption begins to unfold
• God chooses a people to be His own-Abraham
• God saves them out of slavery; gives Law and presence (Tabernacle, Temple) both to identify them as belonging to Him. But Presence was contained, mediated by the priest.
• Jesus came to restore the relationship that was broken by sin. The innocent was declared guilty as Jesus took upon Himself the sin of the world. Because of our sin Jesus as separated from the Father and stood in our place, taking our punishment so that we could be restored in our fellowship with God.
• Jesus died on the cross for our sin. But He also rose from the dead on the third day, defeating death and sin (the barrier between us and God is now gone!)
• And when Jesus ascended He sent the promised Holy Spirit-poured out. (I will always be with you)
• Now, through faith in Christ, we have the Spirit of the Living God, who not only gives us knew life but also guides us to live holy lives in this life (Ez. 36:27) and is the guarantee of our eternal life with Christ.
• We now live with the permanent presence of God through the Holy Spirit and it’s His good pleasure to bring glory to Jesus Christ in the church through us. Fruit of the Spirit-Holy living, Gifts of the Spirit are to serve, edify and build up the church.
Our desire in this series isn't just to learn about the Spirit but to actually walk in the Spirit; to grow in the fruits of the Spirit and to experience the gifts of the Spirit that Paul tells us to eagerly desire. We want to wisely steward the gift of the Spirit that’s been given to us. As a church, we want to grow and mature to be built up in Christ. This is going to mean active participation, daily/personal focus, humbling self, repentance, risk, unlearning, relearning.
My hope is that we would have a greater awareness of the Spirit and therefore a greater expectancy for the activity of the Spirit and that our hearts would be stirred to cry out for the Spirit to be poured out in increasing measure in our lives and church so that more and more, Jesus is glorified.