Ezekiel 36:24-28Romans 8:26-30
I probably ought to apologize right up front before I start today’s message. Modern sermon proponents state that a good sermon should only have one main point (or purpose). And, todays has two. The first will be to complete our look at the Trinity (how God has interacted with creation). The second will be my final thoughts as your pastor.
The word, Trinity is an attempt to explain something that only happens in God. The prefix, “Tri,” means three. The root word is “unity” or one. And, that is the uniqueness we are trying to name. As Christians we believe that there is only one God. And yet, we have experienced God in three different ways; three distinct persons and yet only one God. We give these persons the names God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Today we finish our exploration of these three persons. What do we mean when we try to differentiate between them? What makes each person unique? And, why is any of this important at all? What’s the point?
We first dealt with the first person of the Trinity, God the Father. He is the source of all creation. He is our Heavenly Parent. He is the Almighty, Everlasting God, creator of Heaven and Earth.
Last week, we looked at the second person of the Trinity, Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. He is the Divine Word who speaks God’s truth throughout time. He is the Messiah, God’s Anointed, who came to redeem the world from sin. And, he is calling us to allow him to be our Lord and Master; that we may choose to live our lives for him.
Today, we are going to focus upon the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. This is probably the hardest of the three to try and define. We can’t point to an image. We can’t point to a historical figure. This person of the Trinity floats in and out of the Bible. His name is Pnuema, which implies “wind,” “air,” and “Spirit.” And even though the Holy Spirit is the toughest to quantify or qualify, we can get some understanding. We can figure out some of who he is and why he is so important for our faith journey.
The Holy Spirit is our Advocate. He takes up residence in the faithful’s soul and works on our behalf. When we sing the song, “Since Jesus Came Into My Heart,” we really have it wrong (sort of). Our love for Jesus may have overwhelmed our lives and our hearts are overwhelmed with joy. But, it is the Holy Spirit that enters us and takes up residence in our hearts.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, but it is the through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to direct our prayers directly to God. Jesus opened up the channel. The Spirit takes the message to God.
In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul tells us of how the Spirit works:“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not
know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes
for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26, NIV)
When we don’t know what to pray, when we aren’t sure we even want to, when all we can do is cry out, the Holy Spirit hears us. The Holy Spirit knows and understands our needs, our pains. He takes our desires to God (even when we don’t know what they are).
The Holy Spirit is the one that prods and leads us on to Christian perfection. He is the one that shows us the imperfections in our lives. Those places where we need to grow in our faith. Those sins that we need to outgrow, remove the very fiber of our being. As it says in the book of Ezekiel:
“ And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow mydecrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:27, NIV)
It is the Holy Spirit that does this work. It changes us from the inside out. It changes our attitudes. It changes our hearts. It changes our perceptions. The Holy Spirit is the conduit through which a spirit-filled life is lived.
It is the Holy Spirit that gifts us with the fruits of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control). He is the one through which the gifts of the Spirit emerge. He is our teacher, our advocate, and our guide.
In the gospel of John when Jesus tells his disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit to arrive because he will testify about Jesus. The Holy Spirit will teach those who are followers of Christ who Jesus is and what it means to follow Christ. But, he doesn’t stop there. Jesus goes on to say:
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from theFather—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he
will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been
with me from the beginning.” (John 15:26-17, NIV)
And, this really sums it all up. Our lives must testify about our faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will be with us, giving us the power to speak and act in a way that praises God. This is not an option. It’s not a suggestion. Your life must testify about God’s love, grace, and mercy. It must share the gospel of Jesus Christ and if necessary use words.
And, I guess this is as good a place as any to jump from our discussion of the Holy Spirit and begin with my final thoughts (and they sort of go together). I considered it an honor to have been your pastor for the last five years. I appreciate what we have done together and I have been privileged to be a part of each of your lives. The words I will leave you with are:
1) Stick to the Mission – Stay focused on “Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.
2) Keep reaching out to your neighborhood. The church has great potential to make a difference in this neighborhood.
3) Give your new pastor, Debbie Smith, the same love, grace, and cooperation you have shown me and my family. Give her the opportunity to learn who you are as a church and as individuals.
4) Let God the Father continue to create within you. Allow Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior, and let the Holy Spirit empower and guide you. God Bless you all.