The Holy Spirit part 1
Is the Holy Spirit?
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
May 31, 2009
That passage in that
video is about what we celebrate today in the Christian Church as the
Day of Pentecost. It’s the day we recognize as the birthday of the
Church… the day the Holy Spirit descended on that group of Christ
followers who were meeting together.
But actually, the day of
Pentecost goes back much further than that. In the Jewish Community,
the Day of Pentecost is celebrated as the day Moses met with God on
Mount Sinai and was given the Ten Commandments. From the day of the
Passover, when God freed the Israelites who had been living in slavery
in Egypt, until Moses met with God at Mount Sinai covered a span of 50
days. Thus, the Day of Pentecost… Pentecost literally means “fiftieth
Well, you may remember that the crucifixion and
resurrection of Jesus took place during the Jewish celebration of the
Passover. Then the resurrected Jesus spent 40 days with His followers
and appeared to hundreds of people before He ascended back to Heaven.
Well, 10 days after that, the events we talked about earlier took place.
was the Jewish celebration of Pentecost, and the followers of Jesus
were all gathered together in one place, and they were talking about
everything that had taken place over the past 50 days, they were
praying, they were ordering take-out, they were trying to figure out
what was going to happen next, and then it happened…
Acts 2:2-4 (NLT)
there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm,
and it filled the house where they were sitting. 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…
these followers of Jesus… about 120 of them… went out into the streets,
and they started telling everyone they met about Jesus. And even though
this was a celebration and there would have been a lot of people from
other nations and other languages visiting Jerusalem at that time –
here on PEI we call them CFAs or Come-from-awayers – even though all
these foreigners were there, everyone understood in their own language
what these Christ-followers were telling them.
Pretty amazing, really. And we’re told that on just that one day, 3000
people placed their faith in Jesus Christ.
why we call it the birthday of the Church… it’s the day the Holy Spirit
descended on the followers of Jesus and empowered them with the ability
and the courage to proclaim the Good News about Jesus – the forgiveness
and life that is only available through Him.
So it’s fitting for
us here at Sunrise, on this Pentecost Sunday, to kick off our new
message series talking about the Holy Spirit.
And as we start
into this, I want to try something. I want you to turn to the person
you came with, or turn to the person sitting next to you, and answer
this question: What comes to mind when you hear the words “Holy
Spirit”? It might be one of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit, it
might be something you believe about the Holy Spirit, it might be
something you don’t believe but you’ve heard someone else say. Just
take a little bit of time and talk about the Holy Spirit.
so we are talking about the Holy Spirit, and what I think some of you
just discovered is that there’s lot of ambiguity… a lot of mystery… a
lot of misunderstanding about just exactly who or what the Holy Spirit
is. And that’s been the case for quite a while.
decades ago, in the first half of the 20th century, there was a man
named A.W. Tozer who was a very godly man and a popular preacher. He
wrote more than 40 books, including the Christian classic, “The Pursuit
of God.” He pastored in several churches including a long stint in
Chicago and his final church in Toronto. And his tombstone simply says…
“A.W. Tozer – a man of God.”
Of course, I’ve told you before that I want my tombstone to say – “Get
off of me.”
Well, speaking from all of his experience, this is what A.W. Tozer
observed about our understanding of the Holy Spirit…
“The idea of the Spirit held by the average church member is so vague
as to be nearly nonexistent.”
~ A.W. Tozer
sad, isn’t it? And I think that’s still true today. Many people… even
people who regularly attend church… get confused about who or what the
Holy Spirit is. So this morning we’re going to talk about some pretty
basic things. And we're going to talk today about things we've
discussed here before, and then build on that over the next few weeks.
So let’s start with that very basic question: Is the
Holy Spirit a “Who” or a “What”?
Now, a lot of people get the
idea that the Holy Spirit is just some kind of energy or an impersonal
force like you might find in Star Wars, and you’ve just got to learn
how to manipulate that power. Other people think that the Holy Spirit
is the personification of all good things, kind of like Jack Frost is
the personification of cold weather. Not really real, but symbolic.
Still others think that the Holy Spirit is the consciousness of
everything in the universe.
But when you look at what the Bible
actually says about the Holy Spirit, you quickly discover that the Holy
Spirit is not any of those things, because the Holy Spirit is not a
thing. The Holy Spirit is not a “What”, He’s a “Who.” (And not the kind
of Who that comes from Whoville.) No, the Holy Spirit is a person.
That’s in your notes…
The Holy Spirit is a person.
an all-powerful, everywhere-present, all knowing, eternal and divine
person, but He’s a person. In fact, He’s who we know as the “third
person of the Trinity.”
The reason I know He’s a person is that He possesses all the attributes
of personhood. The Holy Spirit…
• Possesses Intellect (1 Cor. 12:11)
• Experiences Emotion (Romans 15:30)
• Has a Will (1 Cor. 12:11)
• Can be lied to (Acts 5:3-4)
• Lives with believers (John 14:16-17)
• Provides guidance for believers (John
• Teaches and Comforts (John 14:26)
• Experiences sorrow (Eph. 4:30)
• Is referred to as “He”, not “it” (John
fact, in just three chapters… John 14, 15, and 16… Jesus talks a lot
about the Holy Spirit and uses refers to the Spirit using words like He
or Him or Whom at least 24 times. Never “it”… always referred to as a
Now, the Bible paints an incredible picture of who the
Holy Spirit is. And He’s in both the Old and the New Testament. The
difference is, in the Old Testament it’s as if He was making guest
appearances and in the New Testament He was added to the cast. Just a
few of the references to Him describe Him this way... the Bible says…
the Breath of Life, He’s the Breath of the Lord, He’s the Counsellor,
He’s the Eternal Spirit, He’s like 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…
He’s described as God Himself.
Now, I already mentioned that we
know Him as the third person of the Trinity. The Bible teaches that
there is only One God, but that this One God has three centers of
personhood… God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the
Holy Spirit. That means that the Holy Spirit really is God.
talked specifically about the Trinity during our recent message series
on The Faith, so we’re not going to get into it this morning. But if
you missed that message, you can find it on our website.
what we do understand is, as the third person of the Trinity, the Holy
Spirit has played a pivotal role in history and He continues to do so
in the life of the believer today.
The Holy Spirit has acted in history.
How has the Holy Spirit acted in history? What are some of the things
He has accomplished? Well, let’s cover some of the highlights…
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)
earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And
the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
the Holy Spirit, present right there at the beginning. The Holy Spirit
took part in the creation of everything that exists, partnering
alongside God the Father and God the Son.
And then in the Old Testament book of Job… believed by many scholars to
be the oldest book in the Bible…
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.
the Holy Spirit is responsible for all of Creation, from the very
beginning right up to today. He made the earth, the moon, the stars, He
made the trees, the birds, the flowers, and He made you and He made me.
He enabled a virgin (Mary) to give birth.
there’s something that doesn’t happen everyday. The Holy Spirit made it
possible for God the Son to be born as a baby, and by doing so He set
in motion a course of events which ultimately led to the crucifixion
and the resurrection, which enables us to be forgiven, to know God, and
to receive eternal life.
Matthew 1:18 (NLT)
This is how Jesus
the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to
Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a
virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.
He raised Jesus from the dead.
once again the Bible teaches that the entire Trinity was involved.
There are verses that talk about how God the Father raised Jesus, there
are verses about how Jesus raised Himself from the dead, but since
we’re talking this morning about the Holy Spirit…
Romans 1:3-4 (NLT)
[Jesus] was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
you have it… the greatest event in all of human history… and the Holy
Spirit was responsible. And we still reap the benefits and feel the
repercussions of it to this very day.
He inspired the writing of the Bible.
that I don’t say “He dictated the writing of the Bible.” Because He
didn’t. He didn’t dictate it; instead He allowed the people who were
writing the books that are now compiled in our Bible to write from
their own perspective, and with their own stylistic flair, and even
with their own emotions coming into play. The Holy Spirit didn’t
dictate Scripture, but He did guide the writing of it. He did inspire
The word “inspire” literally means “to breath life into”. By
contrast, if you expire, you’re dead. Well, the Holy Spirit inspired
the writing of Scripture. He breathed life into a variety of writers
and He 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)
we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human
wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the
Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.
He birthed the Church.
is what we’ve already talked about. Jesus had risen from the dead, and
He spent 40 days with His followers. And then in Acts chapter 1, just
before He ascended, He instructed His followers…
Acts 1:4-5, 8 (NLT)
not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as
I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you
will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” … “You will receive power when
the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling
people about me everywhere…”
And then on the day of Pentecost, it happened. The followers of Jesus
were all together and waiting. And then…
Acts 2:2-4 (NLT)
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…
because of that event, the church was born and began to thrive. The
believers spread out onto the streets, and thousands of people came to
faith in Jesus, and the Church has continued to grow and expand ever
Okay, so the Holy Spirit is a person… the third person of the Trinity…
and He has acted in a variety of ways throughout history.
what does He do today? How does He work in your life and mine? We’re
going to talk a little bit about that right now, and then over the next
three weeks we’re going to go a little deeper, talking about what He
does in your life and my life and the life of any Christ-follower today.
the truth is, 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.
In your notes…
The Holy Spirit works in the lives of Christ-followers today.
VIDEO – PC/Mac Parody – Holy Spirit
maybe having the Holy Spirit in your life isn’t quite like that. So how
does the Holy Spirit work in our lives? Well, as I said earlier, we’re
going to explore how He does that over the next few weeks. So let’s
just talk in basic terms today. First of all…
He shows me my need for God.
other words, He shows us just how depraved we are and how sinful we are
and how lost we are without God. He shows us just how desperately we
need to turn to God for forgiveness and hope and stop relying on
ourselves. Referring to the Holy Spirit, Jesus said in John 16…
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.”
the person who is far from God, for the pre-Christian, this means 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, to receive God’s forgiveness, and
to live the way He wants you to live. And the Holy Spirit is there to
help you do just that.
He enters my life to make me more like Jesus.
is actually what we’re going to talk about next week… what we call
being “filled with the Spirit” or the “indwelling of the Spirit.”
That’s kind of a churchy phrase and we’ll explore what it means next
week, but you can see it right here in these verses…
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NLT)
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 are
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
Jesus. To help you act more like Jesus would act, to respond more as
Jesus would respond, to make choices as Jesus would make.
He gives me guidance and comfort.
is reflected in some of the terms used to refer 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)
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.”
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)
in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the
Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.”
Jesus was saying was that the Holy Spirit would come to stay 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 because he had come in a physical body, He was always
exterior to them and they could only get so close. But He said that
when He was gone, 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 physical presence among them. And the same is
true today for you and me.
He develops “spiritual fruit” in my life.
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)
the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and
self-control. There is no law against these things!
the very qualities we need most in life, aren’t they? And He’s there to
help them develop in your life. And we’ll be talking more specifically
about these qualities a lot more in two weeks.
He equips me with spiritual gifts.
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)
are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the
source of them all. … A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can
help each other.
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.
Watch for more on spiritual gifts in three weeks.
that’s all I really wanted to get into this morning… The Holy Spirit is
a person… the Third Person of the Trinity… and that means He is God…
and He has taken part in the most significant events in all of history,
going all the way back to Creation itself straight through the
redemptive plan of God accomplished through the crucifixion and
resurrection. And even today, He is alive and active in the world,
drawing people to Christ, and working in the lives of Christ-followers
making them more like Jesus.