The Gospel According to Star Wars, Episode II
May the "Force" Be With You?
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
May 15, 2005

 

Main Passage: Acts 2:1-13 (NLT)

Last week we began a three-part series on the Gospel According to Star Wars. We talked about how one of the themes of the Star Wars saga is the conflict between the forces of good and the forces of evil. We saw how this theme resonates with the audience and contributed to the success of Star Wars because we all face a similar struggle in our own lives each and every day. And we looked in depth at the power of temptation and saw how God always offers us a way to overcome the Dark Side and maintain our commitment to the Light… to Jesus Christ.

Today we’re going to expand on this and look at another theme that you’ll find in Star Wars… another theme that contributed to its remarkable success: the theme that we are not on our own but that we can tap into something more powerful than ourselves. The movies sum up this theme with the simple words, “May the Force be with you.” And it appeals to the desire in each person to connect with something bigger than themselves… To believe that we can have a supernatural resource to guide us through the crises of life. In Star Wars, this sense of the supernatural is represented by The Force. Star Wars creator George Lucas told Time magazine…

“I put The Force into the movie for a reason. I put The Force into the movie to awaken a certain kind of spirituality in young people.”
~ George Lucas

And here’s the amazing thing: If these movies do succeed in pointing people toward spirituality and toward God and the Bible and toward discovering the real life counterpart to the fictional Force, then what they will find is something even more spectacular, even more astonishing, even more awe-inspiring than all of the special effects of the Star Wars movies. Because, as amazing as George Lucas paints The Force to be, it absolutely pales in comparison to the incredible adventure story that the Bible paints about the Holy Spirit.

References to the Holy Spirit and His deeds are found throughout the Bible and especially in the New Testament. And He goes by a variety of names and titles and descriptions. I have two full pages, but here are just a few of the references to the Holy Spirit…

He’s the Breath of Life, He’s the Breath of the Lord, He’s the Counsellor, He’s the Eternal Spirit, He’s the Wind that comes and goes as He wishes, He’s the Fire that refines us, He’s the Spirit that Rains down on His people, He’s the Spirit of Truth, He’s the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, He’s the Spirit from whom streams of living water flow…

And so this morning we’re going to talk about this third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. We’re going to talk about who He is and what He does, and we’re going to compare the Holy Spirit to the Force of Star Wars and see what the similarities and differences are.

Now, I just mentioned that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. That means that He is God. The Bible teaches that there is only One God, but that He exists as three Persons… God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit. It’s a mystery of God that theologians and scholars have struggled to explain for centuries. We don’t have the time to go into that this morning, but what you do need to understand is that the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity and therefore is Himself God. And He has played a pivotal role in history and continues to do so in the life of the believer today.

So let’s talk about some of the pivotal acts of the Holy Spirit… first of all in history:

 

Pivotal Acts of the Holy Spirit:

A. His Acts In History

  • He created the entire universe.

    The Bible teaches that all three Persons of the Trinity were involved. The world was created out of the Father, through the Son and by the Holy Spirit. In fact, we encounter the Holy Spirit in the opening scene of the Bible, the very second verse which says…

    Genesis 1:2 (NLT)
    The earth was empty… And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface.

    And in Job…

    Job 26:13; 33:4 (NLT)
    His Spirit made the heavens beautiful… For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

     

  • He enabled Mary to give birth while still a virgin.

    Not exactly an everyday occurrence. The Holy Spirit made it possible for God the Son to become a man and set in motion a course of events which ultimately enabled us to be forgiven, to know God, and to receive eternal life.

    Matthew 1: 18 (NLT)
    But while [Mary] was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit.

     

  • He raised Jesus from the dead.

    Actually, once again the Bible teaches that the entire Trinity was involved.

    Romans 1:4 (NLT)
    And Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit.

     

  • He inspired the writing of the Bible.

    The word “inspire” literally means “to breath life into”, and that’s just what the Holy Spirit did with the writing of the Scriptures. He breathed life into a variety of writers and guided them… enabling them under His direction to create the most important, the most profound, and the most practical Book ever written… a Book that introduces us to God Himself. Paul’s wrote…

    1 Corinthians 2:13 (NLT)
    When we tell you this, we do not use words of human wisdom. We speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.

     

  • He birthed the Church.

    Bev read about it earlier. It’s what we celebrate today, the Day of Pentecost… 50 days after Easter. Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended into Heaven, and had left instructions for His followers to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. So on the day of Pentecost, we’re told that the disciples were all together praying and waiting. And then it happened. Acts 2 says…

    Acts 2:2-4 (NLT)
    Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them, and it filled the house where they were meeting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit…

    And because of that event, the church was born and began to thrive.

 

That’s the role of the Holy Spirit in history. But what does He do today? How does He work in your life and mine? Well, this very same Spirit of God who created the universe and raised Jesus from the dead takes up residence inside every single follower of Jesus Christ where He does an inside job of recreating them over time to become more and more like Jesus.

 

B. His Acts In You

  • He enters your life to make you more like Christ.

    1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NLT)
    Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? … For God’s temple is holy, and you Christians are that temple.

    So in the most profound sense a follower of Jesus Christ is never alone. The Holy Spirit takes up residence in the life of every believer. He enters your life to support you and encourage you and guide you and direct you. His purpose in you is to help you become the person you were meant to be, transforming you into the likeness of Christ. To help you act more like Jesus would act, to respond more as Jesus would respond, to make choices as Jesus would make. Which leads to…

     

  • He gives you guidance and comfort.

    This is reflected in some of the other references to the Holy Spirit… He’s our Counsellor, He’s our Advocate, He’s our Comforter, our Helper, our Guide. Jesus promised His followers…

    John 14:26 (NLT)
    “But when the Father sends the Counsellor as my representative--and by the Counsellor I mean the Holy Spirit--he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you.”

    In fact, believe it or not, it was actually a good thing that Jesus left and ascended back to Heaven so that the Holy Spirit could come. Listen to what Jesus said when He told His disciples that He would be leaving them…

    John 16:7 (NLT)
    “But it is actually best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Counsellor won’t come. If I do go away, he will come because I will send him to you.”

    What Jesus was saying was that the Holy Spirit would come and would carry on Christ’s ministry in an amplified way. When Jesus was physically with His disciples, they could talk with Him and interact with Him. But He was always exterior to them so they could only get so close. But He said the Holy Spirit would take up residence inside of them and enter their hearts and relate to them in a much closer, much more intimate way without any barriers. Jesus was promising that they would get to know Him even more closely by the Spirit within them than they could by His own presence among them. And the same is true today for you and me.

     

  • He gives you spiritual gifts.

    What are spiritual gifts? They are special abilities given by the Holy Spirit to every believer to accomplish things for God that we could never do by our own talents or our own abilities.

    1 Corinthians 12:4, 7 (NLT)
    Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all… A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.

    So He gives every follower of Jesus a special gift. It could be a spiritual gift of administration, helping you to organize and lead ministries. Some receive the gift of administration, some don’t. Some can’t even organize their sock drawer. For you, it may be a gift of leadership and He’s going to equip you to lead a small group, to lead a church, to lead a ministry. Or it may be the spiritual gift of mercy where God gives you a divine ability to reach out with compassion and love and encouragement and comfort to hurting people. Or maybe the gift of helps, which enables you to minister in important ways behind the scenes.

    The Bible actually says there are a number of different gifts. And they are all distributed by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit. Every believer receives at least one. And when you use your God-given spiritual gift in ministry you will discover that you will be both effective and fulfilled.

    [For more on spiritual gifts, read Romans 1:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4:1-16, and 1 Peter 4:8-11]

     

  • He develops spiritual fruit in your life.

    The Bible promises that He will produce nine specific qualities inside of us that human beings could only experience on a superficial level without the Holy Spirit. This is referred to in the Bible as the Fruit of the Spirit. You see it described in Galatians 5… read this with me…

    Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
    He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

    Those are the very qualities we need most in life, aren’t they? And He’s there to help them develop in your life.

     

  • He confronts you with your sinfulness.

    Referring to the Holy Spirit, John 16 says…

    John 16:8 (NLT)
    And when He comes, He will convince the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.

    For the pre-Christian, He’s there to show you your sinfulness so that you realize that you need God… so that you recognize that you’re not perfect and that you need to experience the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of your Creator. For the Christian, the Holy Spirit shows you your sinfulness not to condemn you, but to challenge you to change and to live the way God wants you to live, becoming more like Christ every day. And He’s there to help you do just that.

 

Now, that’s just a brief summary of what the Holy Spirit has done throughout history and what He does in your life today. I wish we had more time to look at each one in detail. But I want to move on and compare the Holy Spirit with the Force of Star Wars. And I want to do this because there have been a lot of misunderstandings, a lot of misconceptions, a lot of confused people about the identity and the role of the Holy Spirit, partially because they confuse Him with something like the Force. I’m not going to blame a movie for our Biblical illiteracy, but I do want to clarify some things to help you understand who the Holy Spirit is and what He does. So here are some contrasts between this fictional Force of Star Wars and the real Holy Spirit.

 

How is the Holy Spirit unlike the Force?

1. The Force is impersonal; the Holy Spirit is a Person.

If you’ve ever seen a Star Wars movie, then you know what the Force is. You probably even remember Obi-Wan Kenobi’s description of it…

“The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”
~ Obi-Wan Kenobi

Sort of like electricity or magnetism. And some cults use the same type of description to explain the Holy Spirit. But is it true?

It reminds me of story about Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln once asked his children, “If you call a tail a leg, then how many legs does a dog have?” And they all chimed in, “Five.” He said, “Wrong. There would still be four legs because calling a tail a leg does not make it so.”

And calling the Holy Spirit a Force does not make it so. Because the Bible shows that the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal Force; He is a person. He has all the qualities that make a person a person. He has character, personality, He has a will, an intellect, emotions, and He has the ability to communicate. The Bible says the Holy Spirit can be lied to. He can teach. He can be outraged. He can be grieved. How is this possible? Because He is a Person. Those things would not be true of an energy force or an energy field.

Have you noticed that the Bible always refers to the Holy Spirit with personal pronouns? It never refers to the Holy Spirit as “It”. The Bible always refers to the Holy Spirit as “Him” or “He”. For example…

John 15:26 (NLT)
“But I will send you the Counsellor--the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will tell you all about me.”

Notice this verse used the pronoun “He”, not “it”. And what is He going to do? He’s going to tell you about Jesus. A force field can’t even tell you about cabbage. That requires intellect… communication abilities. So there’s two ways that verse shows us the Holy Spirit is a person. And examples like that are scattered throughout the Bible.

We can know about the force of magnetism but we can’t know the force of magnetism. But because the Holy Spirit is a person, we can know Him personally. We can interact with Him and commune with Him. We can relate to Him. And He can personally respond to us.

 

2. The Force’s divinity is uncertain; the Holy Spirit is God.

“I would hesitate to call The Force ‘God’.”
~ George Lucas

So we don’t know if it’s supposed to be God or not. But the Bible clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit’s divinity is certain. It is clear that He is God. He is equally God along with God the Father and God the Son, and the three of them together make up the Trinity. This is illustrated a number of ways in the Bible. One example where Peter is confronting a guy called Ananias and says…

Acts 5:3-4 (NLT)
“You lied to the Holy Spirit… How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God.”

The Holy Spirit is God. Why is that important? Because it means when you are going through times of trouble, when you are in need of comfort, when you are in need of encouragement… it means He’s more than a good friend that sits next to you and sympathizes with you. That’s all your friend can do… feel bad for you and commiserate with you. But because the Holy Spirit is God, He has the power to make an actual difference in your life. So it’s important that He is God.

 

3. The Force is both good and bad; the Holy Spirit is all good.

In Star Wars, you have the good guys… the Jedi knights… and they access the positive side of The Force. And then you have the bad guys, like Darth Vader and the evil emperor, and they receive power from The Dark Side. This is a concept that’s taken from Eastern philosophy where God is considered to be both good and bad at the same time. And it’s a scary thought to think that an all-powerful God could be both good and bad. But the Bible tells us that isn’t true. The Bible tells us the Holy Spirit is God, is only good, and opposes evil.

Psalm 34:8 (NLT)
Taste and see that the LORD is good.

And so you can count on Him to always do what is ultimately in your best interest. You can trust Him to always do what is good and what is right.

 

4. The Force calls people to rely on their feelings; the Holy Spirit invites testing.

You see this over and over again in Star Wars. Young Anakin Skywalker is told, “Feel. Don’t think. Trust your instincts.” And at another point, Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke Skywalker, “Trust your feelings, Luke.” Listen to the way George Lucas explained the thinking behind this…

“Ultimately, the Force is the larger mystery of the universe and to trust your feelings is your way into that.”
~ George Lucas

But that is a very, very dangerous message. Because feelings shift, feelings change, feelings get contaminated by evil and by self-interest and by ego and doubt and deception. Feelings are notoriously unreliable.

Let me show you where that road leads. Since we just celebrated V-E Day, there have been numerous articles in the newspaper and features on TV about Hitler. But didn’t he just do what felt right? Or how about the child molesters we’ve all seen on the news in recent days. Aren’t they just following their feelings? They were doing what they felt they should do. But just because they felt it was right doesn’t make it right. This is the danger of relying on feelings.

1 John 4:1 (NIV)
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

So don’t just go by your feelings and don’t believe everything you hear… “That feels right” or “That sounds good.” Test it. Check out what the Bible says and use that as your measuring stick to see if you can trust someone or not or if you can believe something or not, because the Holy Spirit will never contradict something said in the Book.

 

5. The Force is reserved only for the elite; the Holy Spirit is for everyone.

“Through the Force, a Jedi Knight can see far-off places, perform amazing feats, and accomplish what would otherwise be impossible.”
~ The Star Wars Encyclopedia

But that’s just the elite… that’s just the Jedi knights. But the Holy Spirit is not just reserved for a select few. He is available to all… to each and every person who turns from their sinfulness and by faith receives Jesus Christ as the forgiver of their sins. That means He’s available to you!

1 Corinthians 12:13 (NLT)
But we have all been baptized into Christ’s body by one Spirit, and we have all received the same Spirit.

Why is this important? Because it tells us that all Christ’s followers have the Holy Spirit. No one is exempt. And there are no super-spiritual people who have more access to the Holy Spirit than the rest of us. There’s no need for you to feel inferior or superior to anyone else.

 

Understand, the Force is just an entertaining invention of Hollywood. And that’s fine… I enjoy the movies and I already have my tickets for Thursday night when the final Star Wars movie is released. I love seeing all the action and special effects. But I know that’s just make-believe; the Holy Spirit is real. And He is available to help you and encourage you and comfort you and empower you and enlighten you and guide you and teach you. God has personally offered you all of the Holy Spirit. So the question I have for you is, have you offered the Holy Spirit all that there is of you?

Ephesians 5:18 (NLT)
Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.

If you are a spiritual seeker and you are investigating Christianity… let me ask you something. Don’t you sense something in your life, a desire inside of you, to be intimately connected with the God of the universe? Isn’t there something inside of you that wants to be connected with something more powerful, more holy than you? Don’t you just sense that there’s something missing from your life?

Or maybe you’re riding high right now. Maybe things are going great. Maybe you’ve been successful and things are wonderful. Don’t you still have a desire to tap into something or Someone greater? I want you to know, you can do it. Your life may be fine right now but the Holy Spirit still says, “I can make it better because I can give you meaning and give you purpose beyond what you’ve ever experienced.”
 

 

 

 

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