You Asked for It 2008
Shyness of God
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
August 31 2008
At the beginning of the Service:
Play Song – “HOLY SPIRIT” by Third Day
on this morning, we’re going to be talking about the Holy Spirit. Often
it seems like the Holy Spirit kind of gets pushed to the shadows. He
doesn’t get a lot of mention. He doesn’t get the air-time that Jesus
does, or that God the Father does. We’re going to talk a bit about why
But right here off the top, I thought we’d take a few
minutes to talk about who the Holy Spirit is. Because there are some
common misconceptions about the Holy Spirit.
is that the Holy Spirit is referred to as the third person of the
Trinity, so He must be third in importance. But is that true? Of course
not. As we talked about last week, all three members of the Trinity are
equal… God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We’ll talk a
little bit more about that later this morning.
misconception, and perhaps the biggest one, is that the Holy Spirit is
not a person; the Holy Spirit is just some sort of impersonal force. In
fact, over 60 percent of people believe that that the Holy Spirit is
just a symbol of God’s presence or power.
Take a look…
VIDEO – LEE STOBEL AND WILLIAM LANE CRAIG – HS A FORCE OR A PERSON?
according to what the Bible teaches, the Holy Spirit is not just some
impersonal force. He feels, He thinks, He listens, He guides, He
instructs, He can be grieved, He can be lied to, He can be spoken to…
He has all the qualifications of personhood.
And He’s essential
to the life of the believer, because He guides us, He convicts us, and
He transforms us into the people God has called us to be.
We’ll get more into that a little bit later. Right now, I’m going to
invite Derek to lead us in prayer…
Sunday, in case you missed it, we all came to a perfect understanding
of the Trinity; now there’s nothing left for us to learn.
maybe that’s not true. No, we didn’t fully explain the Trinity. We
didn’t fully explore everything there is about the Nature of God. We
didn’t totally define who God is in His very essence.
didn’t explain away the mystery of the Trinity; we merely articulated
it. You and I will never fully understand God and what His nature’s
like. If we could, that would make us gods ourselves. God is simply too
vast, too grand, too great for you and I to fully comprehend.
what we did discover is that the Bible describes God the Father as
being God, Jesus the Son as being God, and the Holy Spirit as being
God. And yet the Bible clearly tells us that there is one and only one
God. That’s what the Bible tells us, that’s what the early believers
believed, and that’s what Jesus Himself taught. Three persons, but only
one God. And we would eventually come to call this understanding of the
nature of God: The Trinity.
But how can this be? Isn’t that a contradiction? I mean, there are
three, but there’s only one? Does that really make sense?
what we discovered last week is that it may be a mystery, but it’s not
a contradiction. Because we’re not talking about three and one in the
same sense. If we were talking about three persons and one person, that
would be a contradiction. If we were talking about three natures and
one nature, that would be a contradiction. But we’re not talking about
them in the same sense. We’re talking about three persons, one nature.
Three persons, one essence. Three persons, one God.
And these three persons exist within the community of the Godhead as
I know that even with that explanation, it’s still difficult to grasp.
And it always will be. And that’s because we’re trying to describe God.
We’re trying to define the undefinable. To contain the uncontainable.
So what we realized is that even though the doctrine of the Trinity may
go beyond our reasoning, it doesn’t go against reason. It may go beyond
logic, but it doesn’t go against logic. And that’s okay.
So that’s what we talked about last week.
you know that every year here at Sunrise during the month of August
I’ve taken requests from you to speak on various topics or passages of
Scripture, and we generally get a wide range of requests and I do my
best to address them here on a Sunday morning.
though, we had a couple of requests that were closely related. So we
talked about the mystery of the Trinity last week. This week, we’re
going to talk about the other request: we’re going to talk about the
And specifically, we’re going to talk about why the
Holy Spirit always seems to be in the background. Is He not as
important as the other two? Is He not as powerful? What’s the deal?
imagine what conversations must be like within this community of the
Trinity. God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are having a
conversation… what are they going to talk about? Are they going to
argue about who’s the greatest of the three?
In the 20th
century, there was an athlete who was famous for saying he was the
greatest. Who am I talking about? Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali always
boasted that he was the greatest. Well, there’s a story about Muhammad
Ali getting on an airplane one day, going to his seat and sitting down
and waiting for the plane to take off. One of the flight attendants
came over to him and politely said to him, “Sir, you’re going to have
to fasten your seatbelt.” Muhammad Ali didn’t want to do that, so he
said, “No, I’m not going to.”
“But sir, you have to fasten your seat belt.”
“No, I don’t want to and I’m not going to.”
“Sir, it’s federal regulation that you have to fasten your seatbelt.
We’re not going to take off until you do.”
Ali looked at her and said, “Look, I’m Muhammad Ali. I’m the greatest.
I’m Superman, and Superman don’t need no seatbelt.”
At which point the flight attendant replied, “Superman don’t need no
Ali claimed he was the greatest. Even among the original followers of
Jesus, one of the more common arguments they had was about who was the
greatest among them.
But what would it be like within the
Trinity? Do they argue about who’s the greatest? Do they bicker about
who’s the most all-powerful, about who’s the most all-knowing, about
who’s the most all-present, about who’s the most eternal? Are those the
kinds of conversations they have?
No, I don’t think so.
a New Testament scholar by the name of Dale Bruner who wrote a little
book called, The Holy Spirit: The Shy Member of the Trinity. This is
what he wrote…
“One of the most surprising discoveries in my own
study of the doctrine and experience of the Spirit in the New Testament
is what I can only call the shyness of the Spirit…
What I mean
here is not the shyness of timidity but the shyness of deference, the
shyness of a concentrated attention on another; it is not the shyness
(which we often experience) of self-centeredness, but the shyness of an
other-centeredness. It is in a word, the shyness of love.”
~ Dale Bruner, in The Holy Spirit: Shy Member of the Trinity
me show that to you. In the Gospel of John, just shortly before Jesus
would be arrested and taken away and executed on a cross, He’s talking
to His disciples. And Jesus knows that all of this is about to happen.
He knows He’s going to die, is going to rise from the dead and come
back for a short time, and then is going to ascend and rejoin His
Father in Heaven. But He wants His followers to understand that He’s
not going to abandon them. He’s not going to leave them alone. This is
what He says…
John 14:26 (NLT)
“But when the Father sends the
Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach
you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
And then a couple of chapters later…
John 16:13-14 (NLT)
the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will
not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell
you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he
receives from me.”
So what was the Holy Spirit going to do? He
was going to represent Jesus. He was going to remind them about Jesus.
He was going to teach them about Jesus. He was going to glorify Jesus.
of you attended the Leadership Summit last year and you heard John
Ortberg as one of the key speakers. Well, John Ortberg talks about this
same shyness of the Holy Spirit that Dale Bruner talks about. Take a
look at this…
VIDEO – ORTBERG SHOWING HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT POINTS TO JESUS
[Alternatively, show this on flipchart…
a picture of Jesus. And what you can picture the Holy Spirit doing is
this… Standing behind in the background, reaching around and pointing
to Jesus. “This is Jesus. Look to Him. Listen to Him. Obey Him. Love
Him. Worship Him. Follow Him. Serve Him. Be devoted to Him.”]
The Holy Spirit’s constant preoccupation is to help people become
totally immersed in the person of Jesus.
But that doesn’t seem fair, does it? I mean, why should Jesus get all
the attention? Well, Bruner writes about that, too.
often been said that the Holy Spirit is the ‘Cinderella of the
Trinity,’ the great neglected Person of the Godhead. But the Holy
Spirit’s desire and work is that we be overcome again, thrilled again,
excited and gripped again by the wonder, the majesty, the relevance of
Jesus. The Holy Spirit does not mind being Cinderella outside the
ballroom if the Prince is honored inside his kingdom.”
~ Dale Bruner
you see, the Holy Spirit points to Jesus not because He’s inferior but
because that’s His purpose. He’s here to remind us of Jesus. He’s here
to represent Jesus. He’s here to guide us to Jesus. Jesus is not
greater than the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit willingly points
So it seems like Jesus gets all the attention,
doesn’t it? But here’s the interesting thing. When you look at Jesus,
you don’t see someone who struts around declaring, “I’m the greatest.”
No, what did Jesus say?
John 8:54 (NIV)
"If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing.”
Mark 10:45 (NLT)
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and
to give his life as a ransom for many.”
So Jesus submits Himself to others. After Jesus was baptized, we’re
Mark 1:12 (NLT)
The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness…
When He prays, He tells God the Father…
Luke 22:42 (NLT)
“I want your will to be done, not mine.”
not only is the Holy Spirit shy, but Jesus is shy, too! He points to
God the Father! And He submits to the Holy Spirit. And He came to serve
And we can keep going. How about the Father?
twice in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) we hear the
voice of God the Father… at the Baptism of Jesus and at what we call
the Transfiguration. And both times the voice says [in brackets only in
Matthew 3:17 [& 17:5] (NIV)
“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. [Listen to
So God the Father is shy, too! Bruner writes about this, too, and he
is worth noticing that the voice from Heaven does not say, ‘Hey! Listen
to Me too! Don’t forget about me! Don’t be too taken up with my Son!’
…God the Father is shy, too. The whole blessed Trinity is shy. Each
member of the Trinity points faithfully and selflessly to the other in
a gracious circle.”
~ Dale Bruner
VIDEO – ORTBERG DISCUSSES HIS EARLY VIEW ON GOD AND THE HUMILITY OF THE
was raised in some ways to think of God as a proud, almost arrogant
being who could get away with his pride because he was God. The
doctrine of the Trinity tells me it is not so. God exists as Father,
Son, and Spirit in a community of greater humility, servanthood, mutual
submission, and delight than you and I can imagine. Three and yet One.
Oneness is God's signature.”
~ John Ortberg, in Christianity Today
every member of the Trinity is shy. Not a shyness of self-centeredness
(as we often think of shyness) but a shyness of other-centeredness…
withdrawing in order to point to the other.
So what does this
mean for you and for me? Well, I think there are a couple lessons we
can learn from this shyness that we see in the Trinity.
As children of God, we also must possess this shyness of
much of this world shapes us and expects us to be self-centered… to
look out for ourselves first. But a distinctive mark of Christianity
since the very beginning has been a willingness to submit to others, to
love others, to honour others, to sacrifice for others even at great
The Father showed this when He sent His only
begotten Son to earth and learned what it means to be a brokenhearted
Father. The Son showed this when He willingly gave up His life and died
a painful death for you and me. The Holy Spirit shows this even now by
agreeing to reside with us and risk being ignored, abused,
misunderstood, slandered and grieved day after day, year after year,
century after century.
The early believers showed this by
selling their possessions and giving to those in need. By doing the
dirty work of caring for the sick and dying while others ran away in
fear. By risking their lives to spread a message of hope.
Philippians 4:1-4 (NLT)
there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his
love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and
compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with
each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and
purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble,
thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for
your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
know what we can learn from the shyness of the Trinity? We can learn to
live, to love, to serve together in humility. How? By being willing to
submit to each other. By being accountable to each other. By working
together and not caring who gets the credit.
I came across a
blog by a guy named Kevin Queen. I don’t really know anything about
him, but I think he’s right on in what he says here…
shyness of the Trinity we see perfect relationship. The Spirit points
to Jesus. Jesus points to the Father. The Father sends the Spirit.
There is not a hint of competition. No unresolved conflict. No
undercutting. No clamoring for rights. No scrambling for center stage.
~ Kevin Queen
That’s the kind of unity you and I need to have. That’s the kind of
unity Jesus prayed for us to have.
John 17:20-23 (NLT)
am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever
believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one,
just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you…
May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that
you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
Since the Holy Spirit is carrying on the work of God today, we must
listen and submit to Him.
If we are followers of Christ, we will be submissive to the work and
leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Philippians 2:13 (NLT)
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do
what pleases him.
Romans 8:14 (NLT)
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
conversely, if you are not led by the Spirit, then you are not a child
of God. Because the Spirit is working in you to help you live as a
child of God.
Okay, so if you want to listen and submit to the
Holy Spirit, you’ve got to know what the Spirit’s doing, right? So how
do you know what He’s doing?
What's in a
• He speaks in and through the Scriptures
This is the clearest and perhaps the most frequent way that the Holy
Spirit speaks to us.
2 Peter 1:20-21 (NLT)
all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the
prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those
prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.
writers of our Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit. They were moved
by Him. He spoke through them, and He continues to speak through them
today. If you want to know how the Holy Spirit is leading you and what
He wants to accomplish in your life, it starts right here. Read your
• He guides us in the day to day business
this is a little harder to describe. Because the Holy Spirit deals with
each person individually. The way He communicates with me may not be
the way He communicates with you.
Now, there are times when
the Holy Spirit speaks audibly to people, like He did in the Bible with
Phillip and with Peter. But that doesn’t seem to be the norm.
I think most times He speaks to our hearts and our minds through
impressions… through leadings. And these leadings will always be
consistent with Scripture. So the more and more you get to know God and
His Word, this more frequent these leadings will become in the day to
day business of life. And the easier it is for you to recognize them.
1 Corinthians 2:10,16 (NLT)
his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets… We
understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.
And it’s the Holy Spirit who’s shaping the mind of Christ in you.
• He convicts us of sin and convinces us
of our need for God
works in people’s lives even before they become followers of Jesus to
show them their need for God. Now, He’s not pushy… He doesn’t force His
way in where He’s not welcome… so people can reject what He’s trying to
do. But He’s working hard to prepare people to receive Christ.
John 16:8 (NLT)
And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s
righteousness, and of the coming judgment.
even after you become a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit continues to
work in your life to show you areas of sin that need to be dealt with…
to convict you through your conscience of what is wrong.
Galatians 5:16 (NLT)
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing
what your sinful nature craves.