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October 10, 2009
Man’s Best Friend – Part 2
Pastor Philip De Courcy
John 16:5-15

Purchase the CD of this sermon.


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.

More From This Series


Let’s take our Bibles and turn to John 16:7. And I want to just carry on a little this morning in our series on the Holy Spirit. We’ve started a series together on the Holy Spirit entitled Man’s Best Friend. Through the Holy Spirit God becomes man’s best friend. We started looking at John 16:7 last week, and I want to pick up and get a little bit further into it. Nevertheless, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away. For if I do not go away the helper will not come to you, but if I depart I will send him to you.”

Before Augustine became a bishop in North Africa he was a rather profligate man. He indulged every desire, he sought to satisfy every lust. He had a child out of wedlock. And while he was in Milan, Italy God got ahold of him, and he was brought to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and a tremendous transformation took place in his life just like the story we heard this morning. So much so that when he got home … He was walking the street one day when an ex-girlfriend of his saw him, not realizing the [inaudible 00:01:18], she sought to make contact with him. She shouted “Augustine in his eye, Augustine in his eye.” He realized who she was, he realized what role she had played in his life, and so he kept his head down, kept walking but she pursued him and continued to shout “Augustine in his eye.” At a particular point Augustine stops, he turns around, and he says to her, “But it is no longer I.”

And what Augustine was doing was he was drawing from Galatians 2:20, a verse that speaks of the transformation and the change that comes into a man’s life who has come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. What does Paul say in Galatians 2:20? He says this, “The life that I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. It is no longer I that liveth but Christ that liveth in me.” That’s the gospel. When a man gets saved, when a man comes to know Jesus Christ authentically and really, that man will have Christ living in him through the Holy Spirit. His life will be changed dramatically and definitely. And that’s the wonder of the gospel, that through the Holy Spirit God becomes man’s best friend.

When the Christian receives Christ, the Christian receives the Holy Spirit who comes to live in him and live out through him. Christianity is the life of God residing in the life of man. That’s the marvel of the Christian faith. At Bethlehem, God came to dwell among us. At Pentecost, God sent the spirit to dwell in us. Through Bethlehem, God made his home among us, but through Pentecost God made a home of us. That’s an amazing thing. That if you and I profess the Lord Jesus Christ as our savior we indeed are in dwelt by His spirit. And I want to pick that theme up because that should revolutionize our lives. To so many Christians the Holy Spirit is the forgotten God. To the church, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is the Cinderella of Christian doctrines. And I don’t want that to be the case here at Kindred Community Church.

This morning we’re going to learn a little bit more by way of introduction as to who the spirit of God is. Here in John 16 we’re introduced to the thought that the Lord Jesus Christ is about to leave, his departure back to the Father is imminent following his death and his resurrection. The glory that he once had is going to be his again. After the ignominy and suffering of his death will come the glory and the exaltation of his resurrection, and he will leave the mockery of man for the worship of angels.

And he tells his disciples that and he says, “I’m going to go away.” And that hits them like a ton of bricks, It takes their breath away. And to settle their nerves and massage their aching hearts Jesus tells them that while he’s going from them, in one sense he’ll also be coming to them. Now that’s not a contradiction and it’s not a paradox. Go back to chapter 14:18 and you’ll see that the Lord Jesus Christ says, “I will not leave you orphans I will come to you.” But hold on a minute you said you’re going and then you say you’re coming, which is it?

Well, both of those things can be true. Because in his departure Jesus Christ will send the Holy Spirit. And in a real sense, because Jesus Christ is God and the Holy Spirit is God, in getting the Holy Spirit we get Christ. In fact, their relationship is so closely linked that the spirit is called, in the book of Romans, the spirit of Christ. They are distinct but they share the same nature as God. To have one is to have the other. And the Lord Jesus tells his disciples here, “Actually you need to grasp the fact that my going is for your good. It’s to your advantage that I go away.” The Savior’s leaving is not a bad thing, the Spirit’s coming is a wonderful thing. And I still want us to grasp that.

We saw last week that you and I are living on the other side of Pentecost. We have been graced and privileged like no other believer in the history of God’s redemption. We have an advantage and I want to explore that. As time allows me I want to at least cover two points in relation to the Holy Spirit on his person. I want us to look at the centrality of the person of the Holy Spirit, and if time allows us we also want to look at the character of the person of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s begin to look at the centrality of his person. In this verse here in John 16:7 we’re brought to see the importance and centrality of the Holy Spirit. And his importance and his centrality is seen in the fact that the Lord Jesus tells his disciples here that in his going and the Spirit’s coming they will be better off than worse off. And that’s an amazing statement. The Lord Jesus Christ is saying, “For me to go away you’ll be better off.” This was a turning point in the unfolding of redemptive history. The disciples weren’t being short-changed in the departure of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And I want to explore that thought for a few moments. Jesus is saying in this verse that there was no real loss in his departure and the Spirit’s coming because they were of the same nature and essence. Listen to what Jesus says in John 14:16, this is an important verse. He says this. “And I will pray the Father and he will send you another helper that he may abide with you forever.” And that other helper is who? The Holy Spirit.

Now you want to circle the word another. Is that another of a different kind or is that another of the same kind? There’s two Greek words, heteros meaning another of a different kind, and allos meaning another of the same kind. And the word being used here is allos. Jesus is saying, “I’m going to pray that the Father sends you another helper of the same nature in essence and kind as myself so that it’s a straight swap, you’re not being short-changed. You’re going to be better off not worse off in my departure.” If I could illustrate the difference in the words.

They’ve usually used the Greek word heteros. Here’s what you’re saying. Can you give me another wrench? That one doesn’t do the job. It’s another of a different kind, another size, or with another capacity to do the job. But if you say to someone, “You know what? I enjoyed that ham and cheese sandwich, could you give me another?” You’re using the Greek word allos. And Jesus is saying to his disciples, “Look, in my leaving the Spirit is going to come and you’re not going to be short-changed.” In a real sense and with the absence of one you have the presence of the other. And that’s the backdrop to what the Lord Jesus Christ is saying here in the Upper Room Discourse.

You can maybe illustrate it in thinking about the fact that you know what? Maybe your favorite teacher calls in sick, and you go in that day … And you always enjoy that teacher, that’s the one period in the class schedule you look forward to. The rest of the teacher’s drone on causing you to look out the window and long for the sign of the bell. But there’s this one teacher, he’s animated, she’s animated, they know the material, they’re engaging, they engage you, they don’t talk down they talk across. And you go in and there’s a substitute but the substitute’s nothing like the teacher, they drone on. And you can hear every tick of the clock and you wish that you know what? Somehow the body snatchers would visit your classroom and take your teacher somewhere far away.

But Jesus is saying, “You know what? When I go you’re going to get a substitute that’s just like me.” This will be to your advantage, this is expedient, this is profitable for you. There would be no loss in Jesus going. In fact, it would come a new inwardness and a new forwardness to God’s work among them. This other helper is going to be with them just like Jesus but he’s also going to indwell them. This is a step forward this is not a step back. The point is simply there would be no loss in Jesus’ departure to heaven. That’s an amazing thought. Get your head around that.

Does that not speak to the centrality of the Holy Spirit? He’s of equal importance to the church as Jesus Christ. He’s not a junior partner of the Trinity, he’s not something less than God, something less than Jesus Christ. Surely his ability to replace the Lord Jesus in the lives of his disciples without loss is a rather striking thought. In fact, Jesus is saying that the Holy Spirit is better for them than the Son of God in his glorified incarnatsy. How important is the Holy Spirit? They’re trying to hold on to Jesus and he’s saying, “Look guys, let me go. It’s to your advantage that I go because someone’s coming who’s of the same nature as myself, so much so that I can say I’m going but I’m also coming. You’re not going to get short-changed.”

And just for a moment or two, I want you to think about the fact that the Holy Spirit is a colossal figure in biblical revelation. There are over 250 clear references to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament alone. In fact, it struck me recently that the second verse in the Bible, it reduces us to the Holy Spirit. We read about the Spirit of God hovering over the waters straight after. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And also in Acts 1 … 2:14, the first Christian sermon centered on the gift of the Holy Spirit being given which was spoken about by the prophet Joel. He’s introduced to us in the second verse in the Bible and he’s the theme and subject of the first Christian sermon. He is, I call, a very important person. When Jesus left that wasn’t a step backward it was a gargantuan leap forward because the Holy Spirit is no marginal figure in history.

Listen to these words by Tony Evans. Let me give you some idea of the importance of the Holy Spirit’s work beginning right at the beginning. “If there was no Holy Spirit there would be no creation. If there was no Holy Spirit there’d be no human race because there would be no principle of life operating within us. Without the operation of the Holy Spirit there would’ve been no virgin birth because Jesus was born of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit. There would be no victory over Satan in the wilderness for Jesus because it was the Spirit who led him there to be tempted of the devil.” Again, if there were no Holy Spirit there’d be no Christians, no Bible. No wonder Australian’s sin in our world and no expectation of the return of Jesus Christ. Without the Holy Spirit, frankly, there would be nothing.

Do you see his centrality not only in his ability to replace the Lord Jesus Christ fully and even to the disciples advantage? But if you study him throughout scripture you’ll see that there would be no creation, no mankind, no bible, no virgin birth, no Savior, no Christians, and no church existing. That means that we need to heed the words of D. L. Moody to a young Christian when he said, “Young man, honor the Holy Spirit.”

Have we not at times slighted the Holy Spirit, caused them to shrink from us because of our irreverent half-interest? He’s a footnote in our theology, he’s a minor key in our worship, he’s a second thought in our mind, and yet here we find him at the very heart of New Testament Christianity. “Guys I got to go but don’t be crying, don’t mope, don’t worry because I’m going to send you another comforter, the third person of the Holy Trinity. I have existed eternally and equally with him as he with me, and he’s going to come. And although I’m incarnate in a body, he’s going to indwell your body. And this presence of God is going to be disappeared throughout the world in the radiance of the changed lives of Christians.” You see the centrality of his person?

Let’s move on. Secondly, to look at the character of his person. I want to establish, and hang with me for a few minutes, that the Holy Spirit is a real person. According to the Lord Jesus the Holy Spirit is more than a synonym for warm feelings. He’s not some spiritual force field like you’ll find in George Lucas’s Star Wars movie. Neither is he a ghost-like emanation, some green fog. Did you know that the famous atheist, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, used to take great delight in describing the third person of the Trinity as the spook? The Holy Spirit is not a spook, he’s not a ghostly figure, he’s a person. You can know and love, and be known by him and loved by him. He’s to be worshiped, and adored, and honored. Of course, he’s a source of power, a dynamic source of power because Jesus said in Acts 1:8 what? “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon.” Of course he’s a power but he’s a person. You must remember that.

The reason sometimes we tend to think him as this impersonal, ethereal entity is because sometimes in our minds, because we live in human flesh and we tend to define life from our perspective, we associate personality with corporality. When we think of a person we automatically think of someone in a body. But that’s a dangerous thing to do theologically. We tend to think that if something isn’t in bodily form it’s intangible, it’s impersonal. But think about this. There’s coming a day in our lives when we will exist outside of our body. There’s a bet among theologians, what happens after death towards the Christian?

Well, we know the Spirit separates from the body, right, absent from the body, present with the Lord, but are we given some intermediate body? We’re not sure. There is an argument that we will stay disembodied until the resurrection. But do we cease to exist? Do we become less than human? Do we cease to be a real person made in the image of God? Of course not because God himself is a disembodied spirit. He took to himself flesh in the miracle and marvel of the incarnation. But God is a person but he’s a Spirit. So we’ve got to be careful that we don’t associate personality with corporality. And the Holy Spirit is a Spirit but he’s no less a person. He still feels, he still thinks, he still acts.

And we must stay away from heresy that has marked the church. It started with Aerius in the fourth century, the Bishop of Alexander, who taught basically the Holy Spirit was not a person he was simply the exerted energy of God. He is a person. Two things. He’s a distinct person. He’s a distinct person. Let’s just spend a few minutes establishing the fact that he’s a person. And I think I can give you reasons. Jesus establishes him as such and so does his apostles.

I think we can establish the fact that he’s a real person in the fact that he can replace the Lord Jesus. Not with any loss but actually it’s a step forward. It’s an advance. It’s an advantage for the Spirit to come. And they interacted with Jesus as a person. And the implication is that if he sends another helper, that’s going to be no loss to them, they’re going to be able to interact and relate to the Holy Spirit just as much as they did with Christ. And the implication is, just as Christ related to them as a person, the Holy Spirit will relate to them as a person. The absence of one will be the presence of the other. In fact, as some theologians say, the Holy Spirit is Jesus other self.

Secondly, if you look at this Upper Room Discourse you’ll see that the Lord Jesus Christ often describes the Holy Spirit with masculine pronouns, masculine pronouns. Let me give you a couple examples. Look at John 14:16. “I will pray that the Father, that he will give you another helper. That he,” that is the helper, “May abide with you forever.” He, the Father, will send him the Holy Spirit to dwell in you. Get your heads around this. Because there are still those today, in the cults and then apostate Christianity, that deny the person of the Holy Spirit. We see it also in verse 26 of the same chapter. “But the helper, the Holy Spirit, him the Father will send in my name. He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things I say to you.” And there are others but we’ll leave it there.

Another evidence of the distinct personhood of the Holy Spirit is that if you study scripture, he possesses and expresses all the essential traits of personality and personhood. We feel, don’t we? We think, we act as human beings. We have intellect, emotion, and will. The same is said of the Holy Spirit. In Romans 8:29 we read of the mind of the Spirit. In Ephesians 4:30 we read that we can grieve him, hurt him, affect him in a sense emotionally. And we read in Acts 13:2 of his will. That the Holy Spirit said to the apostles, “Separate under me, Paul and Barnabas. Here’s what I want done, here’s my will.” He’s got a mind, he’s got emotion, he’s got will. He thinks, he acts, he feels. He’s a person. And that’s why you can be talking to the Holy Spirit and know him, and be loved by him, and love him.

If you look at his actions throughout the Bible, again, it’s the actions of a person. According to John 14:26, he teaches. According to Romans 8:14, he guides. According to Genesis 6:3, he strains. According to Acts 8:29, he directs. And according to Romans 8:26, he performs miracles. He is a distinct person. Finally this morning he is a divine person, he is a divine person. The writers of the New Testament want us to know that the Holy Spirit is not only distinct but he is divine. He is God. Just like Jesus Christ he is God in nature and essence. That’s why Jesus is able to say, “He’s another of the same kind.”

He’s not less than God. He’s not something other than God, he’s not an emanation from God, he’s not a third part of God in that sense. He possesses all the attributes of deity and all the fullness of the nature of God. Now, the Holy Spirit could be a person without being God but he’s not. You and I are a person without being God. You can be a person without being God but this person is God, and it’s important that you and I grasp that. The Holy Spirit is not 1/3 God or 1/3 God, he’s the third person within the Godhead. Can we establish his deity?

Also, I’ll throw some things your way. And we’re speeding like a train in here because I want to get to a point to finish. If you look in Acts 5:3-4, you’ll see that text asserts the dead of the Holy Spirit. Read it later. Get the CD and go back over these references. It’s the story of Ananias, Sapphira, they lie, right? They try to juke the apostles. Here’s what the text says. “You’re lying against the Holy Spirit.” And then it goes on to say, “And you lied against God.” They lied against God, the Holy Spirit. His name is coupled with the name of God. Take the baptismal formula of Matthew 20:19. What are we told to do? We’re told to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Did you notice something? Did it say into the names? No. Singular, into the name of Father, Son, Spirit. They’re of the same nature. The Holy Spirit is just as much God as the Son, and the Holy Spirit is just as much God as the Father. You see that the Holy Spirit’s got the divine attributes.

We read about the eternal spirit in Hebrews 9:14. We read about the fact that we cannot escape his presence. He’s omnipresent in Psalm 139. In verse seven we read of his omnipotence, the power of the Spirit, the sins of Mary, and Jesus Christ is virgin born and immaculately conceived. We read in 1 Corinthians 2:10 of his omniscience. He knows man better than man knows himself. And finally, we see him do divine works. We’ve already established that he is the author of inspiration. He was involved in creation, he produced a miracle of the virgin birth. We see him doing the works of God. The Holy Spirit is most definitely God. Is this not nice?

That means that he’s the greatest gift that God could give us. The Holy Spirit is the greatest gift God could give us and I’ll tell you why. Because God can’t give any more than himself. Amen. He gives of himself. I’m going to go away and another of the same nature as myself, one who I have enjoyed and loved an intertrinitarian fellowship for eternity, he’s coming. And I made a home among you but he’s going to make a home of you. I tabernacled among you, he’s going to turn you into a tabernacle. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. How marvelous is that? God in man. If that’s real we can’t be what we once were. You can’t be what you once were. If God is in you his life, and his presence, and his power will be seen through you. We don’t need to live discouraged lives, we don’t need to live defeated lives, we don’t need to become a slave to sin any longer because God is in us, the hope of glory.

Two implications, just a couple of minutes. Number one. When we look at the centrality and the character of the spirit of God here’s one implication. The Holy Spirit is someone, not something. The Spirit is not an it, the Spirit is a him or a he and that means something. It means this. He’s therefore a person to be known, not a thing to be used. If you listen to a lot of preachers and a lot of teachers, you get this impression the Holy Spirit’s come … Some kind of thing, some kind of power trip. But he’s not a thing to be used he’s a person to be known.

You would get the impression from some charismatic teachers that the Holy Spirit is some celestial gas pump and you go there simply to get a tiger in your tank. Well, now he is a source of power, we’ve established that, but foremost he’s a person. And the Holy Spirit is to be loved, he’s to be honored, he’s to be trusted, he’s to be prayed to. And maybe next week we’ll look at the fact he may even be worthy of our worship and can be praised. We can grieve him by wanting what he has, and never to take time to think about the glory of who he is. Like a child that wants his father’s gifts but not its Father. Sometimes we want what the Holy Spirit gives rather than what he is in and of himself, the greatest gift.

Remember Simon the Sorcerer? That was his mistake, right? He makes a profession of faith. Before that he was into the black magic and the dark arts. Some even would argue he may be the founder of the Gnostic Movement. I don’t know all about that but we know this, he dabbled in spiritual power, dark and Godless. And then he sees the apostles come and trump anything that he’s done and he’s enamored. He says, “I want a bit of that. Give me a piece of that.” And he goes to the apostles he says, “Can I buy what you’re selling?” He actually offers them money for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Was Simon saved? That’s a debatable point. He professed. But actually, Peter curses him and warns him about damnation. To think that the gift of God could be bought.

Oh my friend, God wants us to enjoy the Holy Spirit, God wants us to be filled by this Holy Spirit. God wants gifts of the Spirit to be exercised in our life. But as we seek those things, let us seek the one who gives those things because he’s the greatest gift of all. If we’re not careful you can go to some Christian meetings and you know what? As the Spirit is invoked and certain demonstrations are said to take place, it almost like the worship service becomes a rave party and the spirit of God becomes an ecstasy pill, but he’s a person to be honored and worshiped.

And the second thought is that we receive him as a person. If he’s a person and we received him at conversion, that means … Listen, this is important. We got all of him the moment we got saved. He’s a person. He’s not a thing that you can get in installments. You get him in dribs and drabs. And you listen to people, you get that impression of the Holy Spirit. I got saved, I got the Holy Spirit. But then some years I got this of the Holy Spirit and I got that of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit evidenced himself in my life, and his baptism, and the speaking of tongues, and that kind of thinking. Be very careful with that. Because when you receive him you receive all of him, and that’s an important thought. There’s one baptism received by all Christians at conversion. There’s not a subsequent or a second work.

The fact is you cannot have more or less of a person. How weird would it look this morning if you were coming through this door and you said, “You know what? I think I’ll go through the door. I think I’ll put my foot in first.” And then you decide, I’ll put my arm in next, and then I’ll kick my head in after that. You come in as a person. And when the Holy Spirit comes in he comes in as a person. Hello. Well, you cannot have more or less of the person, you certainly can have more or less of his love, or intimacy with him. And I believe that’s the case. When you and I received the Holy Spirit we received all of him.

The question for me, as we close this morning, for you, everyone here this morning, has he got all of us? And that’s the challenge on any given day, has He got all of us? We’ve got all of him, that’s beyond question. We were baptized into one body by the Spirit. We got all of him, as a person, but he’s got to get all of us, he’s not a guest. But he didn’t come into us as a guest. Some of our people are hosting some of the Master’s college students as guests. I’m sure there’s still parts of that home that they want certain privacy in so the students are saying, “You know what? You can use this bathroom. Come down at this time and we’ll have breakfast here.” I don’t think they’re given the keys to the house to waltz into the bedroom and do anything they want. Go at night to different rooms and look in the drawers and see what’s it all about. They’re a guest.

And sometimes we treat the Holy Spirit like that. He’s not a guest. We are his temple. He is God, he owns it all. We’ve been bought with a price, the very blood of Jesus Christ. And you know what? There’s not one toe or one finger in my body that doesn’t belong to him. What I see, what I think, how I act it all must come under his control. I can’t have any more of him. But I know this this morning, I speak for myself, I know he’s got to get more of me. I’m not all that I should be, I long to be more than I am.

The greatest story I think relating to this is D. L. Moody. Pastors were meeting to talk about an evangelistic campaign they were going to have and they kept talking about inviting D. L. Moody. And the young minister, Ken Okoki, he listened to this and he stood up and said, “You know what? I hear you guys talking an awful lot about D. L. Moody, is he our only choice?” And D. L. Moody was this Billy Graham of his generation, about a generation or two back. And he said, “Is there no one else we should be looking at? I mean, to listen to you guys, you would think that D. L. Moody had a monopoly on the Holy Spirit.” An old minister got up and said, “Young man, we are open to what God might want to do. But I’ll tell you this, I don’t believe that D. L. Moody has a monopoly of the Holy Spirit. But the reason I want to bring him is because I do believe the Holy Spirit has a monopoly of D. L. Moody.” Amen.

That’s the beauty of the Christian message, that’s the wonder of the gospel. Augustine, it is I. Yeah but it’s no longer I that liveth but Christ who lives in me. What a story. Let’s pray. Though God as we learned this morning, help us to understand the centrality of the Holy Spirit. May he be central to everything we do here because he is central to everything you want to do here. Though God help us to honor his person. Let us not treat him as some ecstasy pill, some gas pump where we go and buy $20 of the Holy Spirit, but we have all of him. God, indwell in us. But oh God, forgive us this morning, there are still areas of resistance, there are still rooms we’re not letting him into. May he have more of us day by day. And we praise you for that. And everybody said, amen.