Faith and the Power of the Holy Spirit

May 19, 2019 Speaker: Allen Snapp Series: Only Believe

Topic: Faith Passage: Acts 1:4–1:8

Only Believe
Allen Snapp
Grace Community Church May 19, 2019

Believing in the Power of the Holy Spirit

We are in a series called Only Believe and this morning let’s talk about believing in the power of the Holy Spirit. Just to lay a brief foundation, the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is God just as the Father and Jesus are God. One God in three Persons. That is why we should never refer to the Holy Spirit as “it”, He is a Person.

We see the Holy Spirit in the Bible as early as the second verse of the first chapter of Genesis: The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Jesus lived his entire life by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ earthly ministry began when he was baptized by John the Baptist and as he came up, the Holy Spirit descended as a dove on him. The Spirit then led Jesus into the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil. After that wilderness testing, Luke records that he came back “in the power of the Spirit.” All of Jesus’ acts, his teachings, his miracles, everything he did he did by the power of the Spirit.

Just before Jesus ascended, he promised that he would send us the Holy Spirit. He told his disciples – who were amazingly well taught and had performed signs and wonders – that they weren’t ready for ministry yet, that they needed to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s read his words in Acts 1:4-8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you...Let’s pray.

The Holy Spirit brings the heat!

God has revealed things about Himself in so many ways through creation and this week I came across an insight taken from creation by Bible teacher Martin Dehaan. He points out that God has revealed something about the character of the Trinity in the rays of the sun. The sun produces three different types of rays:

Ultraviolet – these are rays we can’t see or feel.
Visible light – these are rays we see, but can’t feel
Infrared rays – these are the rays that produce heat - we can feel them but can’t see them

Dehaan writes: 'God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. We know the Godhead consists of Three Persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father corresponds to the [ultraviolet] rays of sunlight; No man hath seen God at any time. The Son, who is the light of the world, corresponds to the light rays, the One whom we can see but not feel. The Holy Spirit corresponds to the heat rays, since He is felt in the lives of believers but never seen.'"

In other words, the Holy Spirit is the one who brings the heat! It is the Spirit who empowers us to live the Christian life. It is the Spirit who gives us boldness to witness for Jesus Christ. When a person believes in Jesus and is born again, it’s the Spirit working like the wind, unseen but deeply felt. The Spirit makes the Word of God come alive in our hearts. The Spirit gives us spiritual gifts to serve the church with. The

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Only Believe
Allen Snapp
Grace Community Church May 19, 2019

Spirit whispers to our hearts that we are sons and daughters of God and causes us to cry out, “abba, Father!” When we go through trials and our hearts are burdened, the Spirit draws near in intimate, comforting fellowship. When sin has hardened our heart, the Spirit breaks up the hardened ground. When the church is dry and thirsty, the Spirit is rain from heaven. When we pray for the sick, we are asking the Holy Spirit to heal them of their infirmity. It is through the Spirit that Jesus is among us when we gather in his name. The Holy Spirit brings the heat!

Without the Holy Spirit the church becomes cold and life less. God’s word will seem like so many words on a page. Jesus seems like just another teacher who lived a long time ago like Plato and Socrates. Without the Spirit, the church becomes heavy on doctrine, light on demonstration, heavy on arguing, light on action. Without the Spirit we can talk about the love of Christ but our hearts won’t experience the love of Christ, and our lives won’t show the love of Christ.

The Holy Spirit makes it possible for the church to experience God. The Spirit brings the heat! But two questions come to mind: first, what does that heat look like? That’s the question I wrote in my journal this week (are you journaling yet?). I wrote, “what does the power of the Spirit look like in ordinary, non- apostolic, everyday believers?” And second, what part, if any, do we play in turning up the heat? Let’s begin by considering just a few ways the heat of the Spirit manifests in our lives and in the church.

1. The Holy Spirit brings the heat of Christ’s love to cold hearts

Franklin D. Roosevelt loved a good practical joke. The story is told that one day he came to the conclusion that most of his guests never really listened to what he said and decided to do a test. As he stood shaking hands of guests as they entered, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.”

The guests responded with things like, “that’s wonderful!” “great job!” “keep up the good work!” “we are proud of you!”. It wasn’t until the end of the line that someone seemed to hear him, when the Ambassador to Bolivia leaned over and whispered back, “I’m sure she had it coming.”

When we talk about loving with Christ’s love I think it’s easy for us to slip into non-hearing listening. “Yeah! Wonderful! Great idea!” But let’s pause and ask, “do I really have the love of Christ warming my heart?” How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m just speaking the truth in love” and thought, “I’m not feeling the love.”

Why are Christians sometimes the least loving, coldest people you will ever meet? Don’t get me wrong – by far the most loving, warm-hearted people I’ve known have been Christians, but the opposite is true too. Some of the least loving people I’ve met have claimed to be Christians. The fact is, Bible teaching, when it is divorced from the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts will make us Pharisees: self-righteous,

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Only Believe
Allen Snapp
Grace Community Church May 19, 2019

judgmental, unkind, and pompous.

We need the Holy Spirit to bring the heat of Christ’s love to our hearts or the best we’ll have is our love and that ain’t going to cut it when it comes to demonstrating Christ’s love to a needy world. Romans 5:5 says, God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

O that we would experience the love of Christ for us – really and deeply! Jesus wants to warm our hearts with his everlasting, unfailing love for us, and then shine the light and warmth of that love through us to those around us. He does that through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

2. The Holy Spirit brings the heat of endurance to weak hearts

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Cor. 1:3-4

The Father comforts us in all our affliction, and that comfort comes to us through the work of the Holy Spirit. Over the years I’ve seen so many believers walk through really hot fires of trials and heartaches and yet keep going, keep trusting, keep loving and keep caring. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.

One of the techniques for making metal stronger is to heat it up slowly and let it cool slowly. It’s called tempering. God tempers our character by allowing us to go through the hot heat of trials – inner and external trials while the Holy Spirit works endurance in us so that as hard as the trial is, it doesn’t destroy us, it makes us stronger.

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2--4

3. The Holy Spirit brings the heat of big answers to bold prayers

When the Spirit leads us to pray for big things, and He answers, there is a unique heat that this brings to melt away skepticism and doubt, in the hearts of believers and unbelievers alike. God glorifies Himself through awesome answered prayers. But we need to ask them before He can answer them!

One of the evidences of a faith that is atrophying is we don’t ask big, specific things in prayer. Jesus said that “whatever you ask in my name, I will do”, but atrophying faith stops asking and just says, “whatever”. Atrophying faith asks little of God, expects little from God, and generally sees little from God. But when the Holy Spirit is bringing heat to the church, one of the results will be a return to asking big prayers boldly! And expecting answers from the hand of God. The Holy Spirit brings the heat of big answers to bold prayers.

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Only Believe
Allen Snapp
Grace Community Church May 19, 2019

4. The Holy Spirit brings the heat of a bold witness to timid hearts

Jesus said the power of the Spirit would make us his witnesses. This is such an important part of the work of the Spirit and of a burning faith that I want to devote an entire message to it. But I pray the Lord will burn this truth in our hearts: the Holy Spirit brings the heat of a bold witness to timid hearts.

Turning up the heat!

Let’s close by considering the second question: what part, if any, do we play in turning up the heat? The Bible tells us that there’s an important relationship between faith and the power of the Holy Spirit. God has chosen to match the level of His Spirit’s work to the level of the faith operating in His people. Even Jesus’ ministry saw greater and lesser levels of the Holy Spirit’s power at work. When Jesus was teaching in a house one day, Luke writes, “the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.” (Luke 5:17) That implies that the power of the Spirit to heal was present in a particularly strong way. Conversely, the Bible says that Jesus could do no great miracle in his hometown because of their lack of faith.

We have a gas fireplace in our home that turns on by a thermostat on the wall. The thermostat also has a built in thermometer that tells you the temperature of the room. When we long to see more of the power of the Spirit at work in the church we need to realize God didn’t make us thermometers, He made us thermostats. The thermometer tells you what the temperature is but does nothing to affect the temperature. If our faith is weak we slip into thermometer mode – “I don’t see God at work in my life. I don’t God at work in my church. Oh well, guess there’s nothing I can do about it!” Our faith becomes passive faith – I’ll trust God to help me accept this temperature. But God made us a thermostat and wants us to turn the temperature up by faith. The thermostat doesn’t heat things up – the fire in the fireplace does – but the action of turning up the heat has a direct correspondence to the fire coming on. When we call for more heat by faith and prayer, the Holy Spirit responds by bringing the heat!

The reason the church in general isn’t experiencing as much of the Spirit’s power isn’t because God isn’t working in that way anymore, it’s because we’re not turning the thermostat up by faith and prayer all that much. Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle where they have seen hundreds and thousands of people get saved, many of them drug addicts and prostitutes, said early on in their history they decided that the barometer of their church’s health wouldn’t be their Sunday morning service, it would be their Tuesday evening prayer service.

By that measurement, most churches, ours included, aren’t that healthy. I suspect most believers aren’t that healthy, and I certainly include myself in that. This isn’t about laying guilt on us, but I believe this is a truth we need to look at honestly: if we don’t pray, individually and together, we are more thermometer than thermostat – we aren’t calling on God for more heat. I believe there’s a hunger to experience more

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Only Believe
Allen Snapp
Grace Community Church May 19, 2019

of God stirring in our hearts. Someone said to me last week, “I just want to see God answer some big prayers! See Him do great things!” I believe God is eager to show Himself strong in our midst. Let’s believe together in the power of the Holy Spirit and call for more heat by praying!

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