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September 12, 2009
Man’s Best Friend – Part 1
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
John 16: 5-15
Scripture: 
Topics: 

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In this series of sermons, Philip De Courcy warns the church not to settle for two-thirds of God. Christians often fail to grasp that through faith in Christ, they were not only given the gift of eternal life, but they were also given the giver of eternal life—the Holy Spirit—as a further gift. That puts the Christian at a great advantage because the Holy Spirit lives to bring God, vast as He is, within the narrow circumference of our lives.

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Transcript

I want to begin this morning a series of studies on the Holy Spirit I’ve entitled, You Have The Advantage. I want us to read from a very critical section of God’s word regarding the person and work of the Holy Spirit. We’re going to begin this sermon this morning. It’s entitled Man’s Best Friend, and I think it’s going to spill over into next week. I want to lay a foundation. I want us to understand fundamentally who the Spirit is before we begin to really get our teeth into the things that He does in the life of those who have come to Christ. And there’s so much confusion today about His work, and you and I want to have a Biblical and informed understanding of who the Spirit of God is in Himself and in us.

John 16:5, “But now I go away to Him,” this is Jesus speaking about the Father. “Now I go away to Him who sent me and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away for if I go not away, the helper will not come to you. But if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment of sin because they do not believe in me, of righteousness because I go to my Father and you see me no more, of judgment because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth.”

“For He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears, He will speak and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify me for He will take of what is mine and declare it to you. All things that the father has are mine therefore, I said that He will take of mine and declare it to you.” Well, we trust God will bless His word to us this morning. I like the story of the old boy who wanted to clear a field of trees on his property pronto. And so he visited the local general store and while he was there, he stumbled across an advertisement for the latest chainsaw. It promised to cut through a 20-inch log in 20 seconds. He thought to himself, “One inch per second. Wow. I’ve got to get myself one of these newfangled chainsaws.”

Week or so later, he comes back into the general store. He looks all sweaty and frustrated. He’s got a couple of days growth and steam’s coming out his ears and he takes the clerk the task saying, “You know what? This thing is a piece of junk and I’m going to sue you for false advertisement. I’m still working my way through some of those first couple of trees.” The clerk was rather confused. He took the chainsaw from the man, check the fuel, pulled the cord and the thing roared into action. The old farmer stepped back a few feet exclaimed, “What’s that noise?” The old farmer. The old farmer reminds me of so many Christians and so many men in Christ that I know that fail to understand all that they have when they have Christ.

They’re living beneath their God-given privileges and potential. They’re trying but failing. They’re like that farmer because they’re trying to do God’s work for Him when in reality God wants to do His work through them by the Holy Spirit. And what they have failed to grasp and be gripped by is that through Christ they not only receive eternal life, but they receive the giver of eternal life as well as the gift. It’s interesting. In Acts chapter 2:38, we have Peter preaching and evangelizing and he calls those under his charge, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” With the gift of eternal life comes the giver of eternal life.

When the Christian receives Christ, he receives the Holy Spirit who lives in him and lives out from him on behalf of Christ. In fact, in this Gospel of John, back in chapter 7:37, Jesus said, “On the last day that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, ‘If any man thirsts let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me as the scripture has said, out of his heart, will flow rivers of living water.'” But look what it says. Here’s the commentary of John through the Spirit, “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit whom those believing in Him would receive for the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

When we receive Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit as a gift. And the life of God abides and presides in the life of a man who has been regenerated and redeemed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:13-14 of the Ephesians and how they trusted in Christ after hearing the gospel and they were then sealed by the Spirit until the day of redemption. It’s an astounding thing. The implication of the gospel is this, the life of God in the life of man. Think about that. That’s promise of the gospel, the life of God in the life of man. Bethlehem was God dwelling among us in Christ. Pentecost and the coming of the Spirit after the ascension of Jesus Christ is God dwelling in man.

Second only to the matchless miracle of the incarnation of Christ is the descent of the Holy Spirit to take residence in the life of the believer. In Christ God tabernacled among us. By means of the Spirit, God makes us a tabernacle. It’s an astounding fact. Christ and you, the hope of glory. In the Old Testament, God had a temple for His people. In the New Testament, God has a people for His temple. What does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” The life of God in the life of man. Wonder of wonders as the old writers put it in the Garden of Eden, God had been with man. In the Old Testament, God had appeared to man. In the tabernacle God dwelt among men. In the history of Israel, God had spoken through man. In the Gospels, God was visible as man, but at Pentecost, God came to dwell in man.

That’s the progression of redemptive history and it’s marvelous. And you know what? It’s a game changer. The reality of that should change us radically, and yet so many men are living defeated and powerless lives. They’ve committed their lives to Christ, but they press on in their own strength only to repeat a cycle of brave attempts and sad failures. They live without power and they soon find out that pulling up their socks and gritting their teeth won’t do it in the Christian life, you cannot live the Christian life by sheer willpower. We need the power of God. We need the power up in the Spirit. What did Jesus say in Acts chapter 1:8? “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come upon you.” You and I want to know that life. The Holy Spirit is God’s dynamo and God’s dynamite in the life of the Christian because we see in the biblical record that before Pentecost the disciples find easy things hard, but after Pentecost they find hard things easy.

As Adrian Rogers used to put it, “When the child of God realizes that he’s inhabited, he will be less inhibited.” We need to power up in the Spirit. We need to realize that the Spirit of God is man’s best friend and through Him there will be no fear in witnessing because of His baptism. There will be no weakness in temptation because of His encouragement. There will be no fumbling in prayer because of His intercession. There will be no insecurity in life because of His sealing. There will be no ignorance of the Bible because of His illumination. There will be no drowsiness in worship. So we begin this morning, this series on the Holy Spirit and we’re only going to make a beginning, but we want to challenge ourselves. We want to gain a knowledge of the person and work of the Holy Spirit and we want to pray that that knowledge becomes experience.

We want to avoid the sin of the church which is ignoring the Holy Spirit. In fact, someone has said this, “If the sin of the world is rejection of God’s son, the sin of the church is rejection of God’s Spirit.” High true. I think it was J.I. Packer in his classic book, Knowing God, who said that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is the Cinderella of Christian doctrines. So I want us to embrace this study with enthusiasm. I want that the Holy Spirit would become more than a synonym for warm feelings. I want us to understand that because the Spirit has come and He has come to dwell in us by God’s grace through regeneration and baptism in Him that we can live in an advantage. That’s why I’ve called the series You Have The Advantage. Jesus said, “It’s to your advantage that I go and He comes.”

And we’ve got to stop living defeated lives. We’ve got to stop retreating. We can be more than conquerors through Christ. Now, there’s three things I want to say about the Spirit. We’re not going to cover one of them this morning. We want us to consider the centrality of His person and then next time we’re together, we’re going to look at the character of His person and the comfort of His person. But even before we get to the first thought, I want to give you five reasons why you need to hang in with us in this series of studies. Five reasons why a study of the Holy Spirit is so critical for your Spiritual health and holiness. Number one, if you’re taking notes so you can get the CD and go back over this, you need to hang in on this series because this series will teach you that living this side of Pentecost is a distinct privilege.

It’s a good thing to be alive in this dispensation. We are the most privileged of all of God’s family across history. We are the most graced of all the saints because the coming of the Spirit after the ascension of Christ was an historic watershed in redemptive history. After Pentecost, there would come an inwardness and an intimacy with God through the work of the Holy Spirit that was hitherto not known, certainly not experienced in the life of the Old Testament saint. Jesus says here in John 14:17 these words, and I want you to mark a transition in thought. John 14:17. In fact, we’ll back up into verse 15, “If you love me, keep my commandments and I will pray the Father and He will give you another helper that He may abide with you forever. The Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him or knows Him, but you know Him for He dwells with you.”

That is their experience up until this moment before Pentecost prior to the ascension because remember the Spirit in all His fullness with this new inward work that He’s going to do in the life of the Christian, the Spirit had not come because Jesus was not ascended. And like the Old Testament saints, those who were living through the time of Jesus, they knew the work of the Spirit, but it was a work from the outside in. He dwelt with Him, but what does Jesus say? “But you know Him.” In the verse 17, “For He dwells with you and He will be,” future, anticipated, “He will be in you.” The life of God and the life of man permanently, powerfully. There’s coming up a hinge point in history called the day of Pentecost when the Spirit would come and come to indwell us, to tabernacle in us and turn us into a portable temple for the worship and the work of God.

Unlike the Old Testament saints, the New Testament saints were indwelt, baptized and sealed by the Spirit of God. In fact, we won’t turn to the next chapter 11:15. I think it’s interesting when Peter is approached from some man from Joppa and God’s beginning to reach out into the Gentile culture and into the Gentile world, and all of a sudden they’re baptized and the Spirit and the Spirit comes upon them in a spectacular and supernatural fashion. It’s interesting that as Peter watches this happen in them, he says, “The same thing happened to them, happened to us.” And what’s interesting, he uses this word, “At the beginning.” The beginning of what? The beginning of a new dispensation. The beginning of a new era, an economy and the work of God.

Pentecost was a watershed moment and you and I are living on the other side of it, graced and privileged beyond measure. Listen to these words by Charles Ryrie, “No other portion of the family of God has ever received so many of the ministries of the Spirit as has the church of God since Pentecost. His permanent and dwelling of every believer was not experienced before. His work of joining believers to the risen Christ was impossible before the resurrection of Christ and the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost. His teaching ministry, His comfort, His intercession are benefits that all Christians may experience without restriction today. This is truly the age of the Spirit and none of the people of God have been as greatly privileged as Christians in this age.”

You need to grasp that it’s an exciting thing to be living in this dispensation, the age of the Spirit when we have the intimate and inward company of God in our lives. This is a glorious age we live in. We don’t live during the fading glory of the law, we live during the unfading glory of the Gospel in the new Covenant. And in 2 Corinthians 3:8 we’re told, “How much more glorious is that through the Spirit?” A while back during the inauguration of President Obama, I was watching Fox News and they were discussing the legacy of George Bush. He was unpopular at the time, but he hoped that history would be kinder as people would look back and see how he had brought safety and security to the homeland.

But Brit Hume, one of the Fox commentators kind of pitched in and he said that. He says, “That’s what Bush’s legacy is going to be. That’s what he’s hoping historians will look at him with some greater fairness, no domestic terrorism since 9/11.” And then he quoted something and I was struck by and I wrote it down that day. He said that President Bush once said this to Brit Hume, “On the 12th of September, everybody went back to their normal lives, but I did not.” There are moments in history when life has changed irrevocably. We think of days like Pearl Harbor, we think of days like September 11th and you know what? In the economy of God, such a day was that day have Pentecost. You can’t go back to your normal lives after the day of Pentecost.

We’re living privileged lives as New Testament Christians. That’s why you need to come hungry and get your head around and your heart around this thought of who the Spirit of God is to you and in you. Here’s the second reason why you need to stay with us in this series. You’ll be able to better understand the Spiritual inheritance that is yours in Christ. You got more than forgiveness when you received the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember that day you received, remember that time when the Spirit of God came upon you and opened your eyes and brought life to your dead soul? It’s a wonderful time, and no doubt at that point people emphasized all that Christ had done for you on the cross and there’s no more marvelous news than sins forgiven and imputed righteousness and a perfect standing before God justified in Christ.

That is wonderful. But you know what? When you receive Christ, you got more than forgiveness, as fantastic as that is. We won’t go back to it. I quoted it to you, Acts chapter 2:39, Peter says, “Hey, repent and trust Christ for the remission of sins that you might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Too often our evangelism and our early discipleship is focused on the cross and the saving benefits of the death and resurrection of Christ, and who would argue? But I would argue this, we’ve got to move beyond that in the sense that we’ve got to help people understand that salvation happens in three tenses. The moment we trust Christ, we are saved. Where there’s therefore now no condemnation, the penalty of sin has been lifted because we have come by faith to understand that all our sins were led on Him, the Lamb of God and He bore it away. Hallelujah.

We are saved, but God intends also to save us some more. We’re not only are saved from the penalty of sin, we’re being saved from the power of sin. Christ wants to break the cycle of defeat and disobedience in us. He wants to turn rebels into servants and He wants to move us on so we live lives of holiness and godliness and Christ’s likeness and that’s progressive. That’s over a lifetime and it’s incomplete and it’s a struggle, but it’s a glorious struggle to perfection in the Lord Jesus Christ. But even there, one breath away from death, we realize we have been saved, we are being saved, but we’re yet to be saved as God will glorify us and we will wake up in His likeness.

God’s salvation is a glorious thing and greater than we can imagine, and sometimes we get stuck on the entry point. Maybe that’s where some of you’re at. “Pastor, I know I’m saved and I’ve come to Christ and I’m rejoicing in His forgiveness,” but you’re stuck. You don’t know the victory. You’re not living in the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit. Sin is not being subdued in your life. The flesh is not being put to death. And we need to come to understand the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification, using the word of God to bring us into likeness and conformity to the Son of God. And you need to get your head around the fact that with the gift of eternal life, you were given the gift of the Holy Spirit and He will baptize you, seal you, fill you, illuminate you, encourage you across a lifetime. Possess your possessions and I hope this series will help you to enjoy that.

Peter says to some of his writers, “Don’t fall short of the grace of God.” There’s so much more grace beyond the grace of forgiveness. There’s the grace of victory, the grace of overcoming strength in the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s a fabulous fact that God didn’t just come to put us in heaven, He came to put heaven in us. Listen to these telling words by J.I. Packer. If there was one book I would recommend you to study beyond everything else, it’s Knowing God and here’s what he says in his book, Knowing God in the chapter on the Holy Spirit, “It’s an extraordinary thing that those who profess to care so much about Christ should know and care so little about the Holy Spirit because with Christ we got the Holy Spirit, with all the attendant blessings and challenges that come with that.”

Here’s the third reason you got to hang in for the long haul in this series and number three, we will be in a better position to assess the truthfulness of our salvation and if you and I can be sure that God’s at work in us, we will live with assurance. We will live with confidence in a settled peace that all is well. You see, it is the Spirit of God who causes us to cry Abba Father. It’s a work of the Spirit of God not only to bring us into union with Christ and into the family of God, but He will reassure us through His work in us and for us. Listen to Romans chapter 8:15, “For you did not receive the Spirit of bondage,” again, the fear, “But you receive the Spirit of adoption by which you cry, ‘Abba!’ ‘Father!’, the Spirit Himself bearing witness with your Spirit that you’re a child of God.”

I’m going to say something and you need to think this through. You cannot be a Christian and not have the Holy Spirit. You just can’t be a Christian and not have the Holy Spirit. You say, “Pastor, where do you get that?” It’s there in Romans 8:9, what do we read? “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now, if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not of His.” Now we’ve got to be careful. You can have Him and not know him and that’s why you need to learn about Him. Yet at the same time across a lifetime, if you have no evidence of His communion, His fellowship, His power, the fruit of the Spirit producing Christ’s likeness in your life, at least step back and begin to ask yourself some serious questions because if you have not the Spirit of Christ and He doesn’t show up in your life, then you are not Christ’s.

How important then is the study of the Holy Spirit? Because there I see the privileges of living this side of Pentecost. There I see that, you know what? There’s so much more to being in Christ than that early and moment of faith and through the full orb, the work of the Holy Spirit in me, I will live as a confident assured Christian. I will sense Him and producing in me holy impulses and religious affections towards Christ causing me to cry out the Abba Father and sharing the Father in Christ with other people. It’s a challenging, isn’t it? Listen to what 1 Corinthians 12:3 says regarding this. “Therefore, I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed and no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”

You know that people can recite creeds in a very empty fashion. What that means, nobody can say Jesus is Lord and mean it without the Holy Spirit. If you see someone in love with Christ serving Christ, living like Christ, that’s the Holy Spirit showing up and that’s a wonderful thing. The truly regenerate man will walk by the Spirit, be led by the Spirit and be filled by the Spirit. When the Spirit of God lives in a man, it shows. That’s going to be convicting, it will show. Others will see it and the man himself will know it. I like the story of the little boy. He was confused by something the pastor had said on a Sunday morning service, and so he caught up with the pastor in the car lot.

And he said, “Sir, can I ask you a question about your sermon?” Pastor said, “Yes, son, go ahead.” “Well, you said that I could ask Jesus into my heart.” Pastor said, “That’s right.” But said the little boy, “Jesus is a man in a man’s body.” Pastor said, “That’s right.” Little boy said, “But I’m just a little boy.” Pastor said, “That’s right.” Little boy was puzzled, looked again at the pastor and then he said, this betraying his ignorance of truth, “But if I’m just a little boy and Jesus is a man and if He comes to live in me, He’ll be sticking out all over.” And the pastor said, “That’s right.” The simple somewhat silly story, but the truth is profound. If Christ lives in you, He will stick out all over. The Spirit of God will show up in power and Christ-like character and giftedness for service.

I hunger to know more of Him. I hunger that others would see more of Him in me. Do you not? How important is this series? What a shame that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit has been the Cinderella of Christian doctrine. What a shame as Francis Chan entails his new book on the Holy Spirit, “What a shame that He is the forgotten God.” Here’s a fourth reason, will be better placed to make a judgment on what constitutes a genuine work the Spirit. Remember this, the New Testament encourages us as Christians that have a healthy skepticism about things Spiritual or about those who claim to be doing the work of God. In 1 John 4:1 through 3, what are we told? “Test the Spirits.”

In the world of the Spirit and in the Spiritual world, you and I need to be very discerning for not all that glitters is gold in God’s kingdom. We’re told, aren’t we, in 1 Timothy 4:1 of deceiving Spirits and doctrines of demons? We’re told in 2 Corinthians 11:13 through 14 that even Satan himself comes in disguise as an angel of light. Everything that has the name of Jesus tied to it doesn’t belong to the kingdom of God. Everything that is said to be of the Holy Spirit is not necessarily of the Holy Spirit. And you and I need to be discerning and this series will help us as we get to know Him and as modus operandi, how much better will we be placed to make good sound judgments? Test the Spirits. “Test them by what, pastor?” Great question. Very clear answer. Test them according to the street edge of God’s infallible word.

Why do I say that? Quite simple. Follow the logic. According to 2 Peter 1:21, the Spirit of God produced the word of God. The prophets of old were carried along by the Holy Spirit when they wrote that sure word of prophecy. We’re told by Paul in 2 Timothy 3 that all Scripture is inspired by God. God breathed out. One of the metaphors and motifs of the Spirit is that His breath, the breath of God, the wind of God. The Spirit of God superintended God’s will upon those who wrote the Scriptures ensuring that all that God wanted to say they said without error and without confusion. Therefore, it follows, doesn’t it? If the Spirit of God wrote the word of God, and you and I want to determine with clarity what is a work of the Spirit of God, line it up beside the word of God.

A study of the person and work of the Holy Spirit has presented in Scripture will therefore help us to test the Spirit because the Spirit of God will never, I say never, lead us to violate the Bible. The Spirit of God who authored the Bible will lead us to the Bible. Help us to understand the Bible and help us live by the Bible. Thomas Watson, the Puritan, “The Scripture is the library of the Holy Spirit and an exact model and platform of religion. The Scripture contains in it, the credenda, the things which we are to believe and the agenda, the things which we are to practice.” I like that. The Holy Spirit is no independent contractor, but He works within the constraints of Scripture for to feel, to do so would be to contradict Himself. Imagine writing one thing and doing another. Human authors have done that.

What about William Bennett, conservative commentator. We all sat down with our children and we read them The book of Virtues written by a man who we wasted $8 million gambling in Las Vegas, give fodder to the other side. What a contradiction. Writing about virtue and showing no self-restraint, no self-control. Hear, this human author practiced one thing and preached another, but not the author of the Bible. See, the one author is fallible. William Bennett is a mere man with all his faults, but the Holy Spirit is infallible. There’s no contradiction, no corruption in Him and what He says He will do and He will never do what He tells us not to do and He will always do what He has told us will be His modus operandi. Footnote, this is a kind of second test that kind of spins off here. The Bible tells us, remember, okay, we’re going to measure what the Spirit does against the straight edge of God’s word and we are given one explicit purpose of the Holy Spirit and that is to shed light on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Go back to John chapter 14, John chapter 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said.” What about John 16:13? “However, when the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you in the wall truth for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears, He will speak and He will tell you things to come. He will,” what does it say? “Glorify me for He will take of what is mine and declare it to you.” Two texts of recognizing an authentic genuine work of God, the Holy Spirit. Does it measure up to the word of God and secondly, does it testify to the glory of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ? That’s His work.

Nothing has the stamp of God’s Spirit that diminishes or distracts from the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, we read in John’s Gospel here that the Spirit was sent by the Father in His name, in Christ’s name. He’s Christ’s deputy. He is the true vicar of Christ. The true vicar of Christ is not the Pope of Rome, it is the Holy Spirit and how audacious for a wee man in Rome to call himself the vicar of Christ. The Father sent the Spirit in His name. He is Christ’s deputy. He works under Christ’s authority and He will make Christ apparent and glorious to us. He will glorify Christ as the head of the church. He will glorify Christ as a mediator between God and man. He will glorify Christ as the fullness of God and bodily form. He will glorify Christ as sinless and impeccable. He will glorify Christ as the only begotten Son of the Father.

He will glorify Christ made in the exact image of the Father. He will glorify Christ as the one and final sacrifice for sin and He will exalt Him as the soon returning king of the earth. That’s what the Spirit of God will do. He will testify of me. Write this down and think about it. There is no such thing as the gospel of the Holy Spirit. There is the gospel of Jesus Christ whom the Holy Spirit will both preach and promote. The Spirit of God cannot be where Christ is denied as Redeemer and Lord of all. The Spirit of God will not lead you to or encourage you to stay in a mainline denomination that denies the virgin birth, that steals Christ of His glory and robs them of His deity, that poo-poos the substitutionary death and makes a joke of the physical resurrection of Christ.

He will not lead you there and he will not encourage you to stay there. The Holy Spirit stands outside the cults of Mormonism and Jehovah Witnesses because they deny the inherent deity and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will not lead others, as was said of the Catholic Charismatic movement, to a greater love of Mary as the mother of God and the co-mediatrix and the co-mediator between Christ. Now, the Holy Spirit doesn’t produce that. He produces that which glorifies Christ singularly and solely. If Jesus is the truth and He is, John 14:6, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, John 15:26, then the Spirit of God will always speak truth about the son of God. He is a perpetual floodlight. Number of old commentators and present writers help us to kind of get a sense of the work of the Holy Spirit.

He said to be God’s floodlight in Christ. I mean, if you go to a concert of music, you don’t spend the night looking at the lights on the stage. You spend the night looking at the stars on the stage who are floodlit and spotlit by those lights and in no way to diminish the full deity or the need for us to love and even worship the Holy Spirit. You and I need to grasp that He is a floodlight on Christ. And just as the Son submitted to the Father, so the Spirit submitted to the Son and the Father and He has come to testify of Christ. There’s a humility to the work of the Spirit in relation to the Son. Let’s be challenged by that. Here’s a fifth reason why it’s good to study the Spirit of God, but not just to study Him but to pray fervently that the knowledge would become an experience.

This series will protect you and me from an overreaction to charismatic chaos. The sloppy theology of a second work of grace in Spirit, baptism evidenced by tongues, the non-biblical experiences of so many that claim to be enjoying the work of the Spirit with a laughing revival in which people barked and vomited in the Spirit, the false unverifiable claims of healing. All of those things that are part of charismatic chaos in our day, if we’re not careful, could cause you and me to run from a very real and a very authentic and a very biblical experience of the Holy Spirit because out of concern we are in danger of always being tempted to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water.

Their out of control fervor pushes us to passivity. Their subjectivism scares us away from that which is experiential and biblical. Their lack of a proper theology tempts us into turning the Holy Spirit into a debating point and forgetting that rather He is a dynamic for living and all we ever do is score points in a theological debate about Him and we’re never marked by His power and by His presence. That’s why Vance Havner, the old Southern Baptist said, “We are so frightened to get out on a limb as it relates to the Holy Spirit that some of us won’t even attempt to climb the tree.” I think that is our danger. Our church’s theological position is cessationism. That is that we believe that the sign gifts are not normative for today, but died out in their normal use with the Apostles.

But we’re not saying that the Holy Spirit died with them. He is very much alive. We’re living in the era of the Spirit post-Pentecost and the Spirit has baptized us. The Spirit has sealed us and the Spirit wants to illuminate Christ to us. The Spirit wants to fill us. The Spirit wants to produce fruit in us. He wants to comfort us in our sorrow and bring wisdom in our confusion. But because of the charismatic chaos, sometimes we are driven by fear rather than by faith. And our theology of the Spirit, as Daniel Wallace says, and from Dallas Seminary in a book entitled, Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit? As cessationists, we become reactionary and reductionist.

Isn’t that the sin of the Pharisees? Remember in Matthew 23:23-24, Jesus said, “Hey guys, you’re majoring on the minors and minoring on the majors. You’re swallowing camels. Come on, get this thing sorted out. Get it into proportion, get it into balance.” And the same is true of us and the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Here’s my prayer as we close this morning and with a finish with the story. My prayer is although some may know us and even speak of us as standing against certain things, I want this to be known just as much that we are a church marked by the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, by the liberty of the Holy Spirit and by the power of God, the Holy Spirit. Of course, there’s some things to be stood up against. There’s some things that I think the sermon leads us to be very cautious of, but as well as being known for that, I want us to be known as those who seek his power.

And do not grieve Him, do not quench Him, but indeed pray and invite Him to take control of us as individuals and us as a church. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great London Baptist preacher was once a guest of a man who had made all his virtues known to everyone. His virtues was the chief topic of conversation, and it was always negative. He was virtuous because he didn’t do this and he didn’t do that, and all his virtues consisted of the bad things he didn’t do. Spurgeon was kind of getting fed up with this and disgusted by the man’s self-righteousness, and so Spurgeon said to him, “Why, man? You are simply a bundle of negatives. You don’t drink, you don’t gamble, you don’t swear, but what in the name of goodness do you do?”

I think that’s a great illustration. Sometimes when it comes to the Spirit of God, we can be just a bundle of negatives. We’re against this, we’re against that. We’re going to stand opposed to the other thing, but what for goodness do we do? Are we filled? Are we discovering our giftedness and Spiritual abilities and applying them to the body of life of our church? Are we living in the power and of the presence of the Paraclete who has come alongside us so that we don’t have to retreat or accept defeat? We can be more than conquerors through Him that loves us. Let’s pray. Oh God, this morning we pray that you’ll keep us from becoming a bundle of negatives, that we stand in opposition to this and we’re enlightened of that.

But oh God, help us to embrace all that we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to realize that we are privileged and graced beyond measure this side of Pentecost. Help us to understand the fullness of our salvation and your intent to turn us into little Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit. We thank you. You have saved us, but we thank you you are saving us. We thank you you will save us. Help us to submit. Help us to open our lives to the filling of the fullness of God through the Holy Spirit so that we might sing to ourselves in Psalms and hymns and Spiritual songs, that we may not be an embarrassment to Christ in the workplace because as Spirit filled, we are good husbands, we are good fathers, we don’t provoke our children and we don’t indeed ever find ourselves on the wrong side of our boss.

We want to live lives of dynamic difference in this world for Jesus Christ and so, oh God, the Holy Spirit, keep us from becoming a bundle of negatives. Help us to be discerning. Help us to test the Spirits. But oh God, at the same time, help us not to grieve you. Help us not to allow our knowledge of you to be a substitute for really knowing you experientially. May you be more than a stranger. May you be more than a distant cousin to us, but may you make Christ all the more real to us as you become all the more real in us. We repent of grieving you and quenching you. We pray, oh God, as these months unfold and in these studies and our times together in small groups said, oh God, we will become a bond of man whose heart the Lord has touched. And everybody said, Amen.

Amen.