May 19, 2018

I Believe In the Holy Spirit (Pentecost 2018)

Belief in the Holy Spirit is something we all affirm in our Baptism and every time we say the Apostles Creed. But what does this “belief in” mean? Do we (like Satan) believe in Jesus and the Holy Spirit in only acknowledging their existence? Do we know them personally and understand them? Do we really put our trust in them? For the rest of the church year the readings are supposed to help us get to know the Holy Spirit personally so we can really believe in the Holy Spirit.

1. Personal experience is essential to believing in the Holy Spirit
In my just published autobiography “Going Spiritual” I share the long and painful story of my discovering and experiencing the Holy Spirit over 30 years after my baptism. Sadly I did not really discover the Holy Spirit through the hundreds of sermons I heard in churches.
  • It took the crisis of a divorce to drive me to read the whole Bible and cry out to God with that wonderful prayer “HELP!
  • It was through attending special charismatic worship and teaching services, led by anointed visiting clergy that I learned about and experienced the gifts of the Holy Spirit
2. The Work of the Holy Spirit is to Guide us into Truth
The Gospel of John (16.13) tells us “But when he, the Holy Spirit, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” 
  • Truth is an essential part of our faith because only believers in the truth about Jesus as Saviour are promised salvation and the gifts of the Holy Spirit
  • There is the gracious possibility but no assurance of salvation for good men and women in the Bible
  • False teachers of the Bible are severely condemned in the Bible - you can’t help noticing these bits are rarely selected for public readings  
3. So “what is truth”?
The Gospel reading (John 15.26 - 16.15) teaches us that the Holy Spirit (as “Advocate” / lawyer) “…will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement.” (16.8) As Tony my beloved Italian barber used to say were “inna trouble!” 
  • Wrong “About sin because people do not believe in me;” (9) 
      • Everyone believes that Jesus was a real person
      • Very few trust in Him for forgiveness / right-relationship
  • Wrong “About righteousness because I am going to the Father where you can see me no more” (11)
      • Many people (including me) were never taught that we had to be in a right relationship of obedience, trust and holiness with Jesus - so we could be in the presence of God who is holy
  • Wrong “…about judgement because the prince of this world stands condemned.” (11)
      • We live in a world where Satan has authority to deceive and tempt us
      • Those who try to “be good” and compromise with the world in order to avoid personal conflict will be harshly judged
      • Those who believe in Jesus and the Holy Spirit have made a serious choice to be different - and to face persecution
4. Good news is that Holy Spirit guides, heals and comforts us
One of my most profound discoveries is the realization that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus.
  • We are not alone - Jesus is with us in the form of the Holy Spirit
  • Experiences of Holy Spirit = experiences of risen Jesus
  • Jesus speaks to us through the Holy Spirit 
    • Words of knowledge, prophecy
    • Comforting gifts of love, joy and peace
    • Convicting us of our sins so we can seek forgiveness
    • Healing us physically, emotionally and spiritually

Experiences help us believe in the Holy Spirit!

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