Who is Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit was involved in creation:
' In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters .' Like a bird hovering over her nest, waiting. And the Spirit of God was about to bring something new into being. The whole Trinity were involved in creation. God the Father, the Creator, created the world through Jesus by his Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings – out of the chaos he brings the cosmos; out of disorder he brings order; out of confusion, harmony; out of deformity he brings beauty; out of oldness, he brings newness.
He brings life to human beings:
Genesis 2, verse 7: '… the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life , and the man became a living being.'
The Hebrew word for the Holy Spirit in Genesis 1, verse 1 is rûah [רוח .[ And it's a very similar word to the word that's used here for `breath'. And in fact generally speaking the word `breath' in the Old Testament is translated by the Hebrew word rûah — the same word for `breath' and `Spirit'. So that, just as when God gave human beings physical life, he breathed on them his rûah , the Spirit of God.
Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, `Receive the Holy Spirit.' And one of the things that happen when the Spirit of God comes to live within …
Sometimes you can almost see it on people's faces. You can see almost — sometimes there's almost like a deadness in people's eyes, and then the Spirit of God comes to live within them and you can see it's like life comes into the person's face.
In the Old Testament,
the Spirit of God came upon particular people at particular times for particular tasks.
For example, on Bezalel — Exodus chapter 31, verses 1-5: 'Then the Lord said to Moses, "See I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts — to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. ”' So here the Spirit of the Lord came upon a person for artistic work.
The Spirit of God comes on particular people — on Bezalel, and then on Gideon for leadership — Judges chapter 6, verses 14 and 15: 'The Lord turned to him [that is, to Gideon] and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?” “But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” He felt inadequate, ill-equipped. And God says to him, `No, I want you to go. I want you to go and set the people free.' Now, how can he do that? Judges chapter 6, verse 34: ' Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon ' — and that is what turned him into a great leader. When the Holy Spirit comes upon a man or a woman, he can transform us.
Then on Samson for power and strength — Judges chapter 15, verse 14. Still, this is particular people at particular times for particular tasks. Here the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson — second half of verse 14: 'The Spirit of the Lord came upon him [that is, Samson] in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands.' So often we find that what is described in the Old Testament in a physical way is true in the New Testament in a spiritual way. The Spirit of God wants to set us free.
And then Isaiah for prophecy. Isaiah chapter 61, verses 1-3: 'The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners , to proclaim the year of the LORD'S favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.' Prophecy in the Bible is not so much foretelling; it's more forth-telling The experience of the Holy Spirit is not just that we should have some 'nice, warm feeling in our hearts and feel good'! The experience of the Spirit is in order that we should go out and make a difference to our world.
HE WAS PROMISED BY THE FATHER
And as we go on through the Old Testament there is a rising sense of anticipation: that God is going to do something even more amazing. And this is referred to as `the promise of the Father'. In one sense you could sum up the whole Old Testament in one word: `promise'.
So what exactly is this promise? Would you like to turn to Jeremiah chapter 31, verse 33?: '“This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbours, and say to one another, `Know the LORD,' because they will all know me , from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”’ Under the old covenant, the Old Testament, the people of God were given the law. And the law was written on tablets of stone. And they looked at these laws and they said, `Wow, they're great laws — don't kill, don't steal, don't commit adultery, don't covet, don't want things that belong to somebody else.' They said, `These are great laws. If we lived like this, we'd have a great society.' And then they tried to live like that, and they found they couldn't. And so the law, instead of becoming a blessing, it was just this great burden on them — they were trying desperately to keep it, but they were failing constantly. And God says: `I'm going to do something new. This is my promise. Instead of the law being outside — something that you are trying to keep but fail,' he said, `I'm going to put it inside so that you really want to do it, it comes from your hearts.'
How can the promise of the Father be fulfilled? In Ezekiel 36:26, God says this: 'I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you a heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.' That's how he does it — by the Holy Spirit coming to live within us.
To whom does this promise apply? To whom is this promise going to be fulfilled? Joel chapter 3, verse 1 — this is what God says: 'For afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy [it's regardless of sex], your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions [it's regardless of age]. Even on my servants [it's regardless of background, race, color, rank], both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.' — it's for everyone!
On all people. The promise of the Father. Yet this promise remained unfulfilled. The people were waiting. And they waited and they waited. They waited for hundreds of years! And then, with the birth of Jesus, it's like a trumpet sounds. And everybody connected with the birth of Jesus is filled with the Holy Spirit. In Luke chapter 1, verse 15, John the Baptist, who was to prepare the way for Jesus —'he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth' . In Luke 1, verse 35. The angel said to Mary, the mother of Jesus: 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.' Elizabeth: the moment that she came into the presence of Jesus, still in his mother's womb — verse 41: 'When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. ' Even Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist — verse 67: 'His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied …
JOHN THE BAPTIST LINKS PROMISE OF FATHER WITH JESUS
In Luke chapter 3, verse 16: 'John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I'm not worthy to untie. He [that is, Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."' Baptism with water is important, but it's not enough. Jesus is the Spirit baptizer. In the secular Greek, the word `baptize' meant `to overwhelm, to immerse, to plunge , to drench'. It was the word that was used of if a ship sunk — it was baptized, it was overwhelmed, water everywhere, inside. And that's what the Spirit wants to do — he wants to drench us, overwhelm us, fill us.
Jesus himself was completely full of the Holy Spirit–chapter 3, verse 22: 'The Holy Spirit descended on him' — that is, on Jesus — 'in bodily form like a dove'. Chapter 4, verse 1: 'Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit …' Verse 14: 'Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit …' Verse 18: He says, 'The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he's anointed me to preach good news to the poor. '
JESUS PREDICTS HIS PRESENCE
And then Jesus predicts the coming of the Spirit — John chapter 7, verse 37: 'On the last and greatest day of the Feast, — this was the Feast of Tabernacles that Jesus had gone to — Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flowing from within.'
Water, of course, in that context there — this is a society living on the edge of the desert. They knew that they were reliant on water for plant life, animal life, every kind of life! And water symbolizes life. And Jesus is saying the Holy Spirit brings life.
'I'm going to send you what my Father has promised' — the promise of the Father — 'but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.' And then Jesus ascended, and still, the promise had not been fulfilled. And they waited. Acts, chapter 1, verse 4: 'On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you 've heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit ."
Verse 8: 'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.' People's reactions were mixed. In chapter 2, some people said, 'Oh, that's absolutely amazing! This is wonderful!' — verse 7. Others — verse 12 — were 'amazed and perplexed' they thought: `Wow, this is amazing, but it's a bit perplexing!' Others said , "Ho!" They 'made fun of them' — verse 13: 'They've had too much wine.' 'These people are drunk!' In other words, something amazing was happening and they didn't know how to explain it, so they gave a natural explanation that was something actually supernatural. And Peter gets up and he says, 'Let me give you the true explanation!' He said, 'Let me explain this to you … These people' — verse 15, he says — 'These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine o'clock in the morning! No, [he says] this is …' the promise, this is Biblical, this is what was promised in the Old Testament: 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.' And then he says something even more amazing. He says: 'This is for you.' Verse 37: 'When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"' 'Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."' '"The promise is for you" — every one of you — "and your children" — not just those standing there, but the next generation — "and for all who are far off" — "for all whom the Lord our God will call."'
This is the amazing promise of the Father – the gift of the Holy Spirit is no longer just for particular people at particular times for particular tasks; it's for everyone. It's for you, and for you, and for you, and for you! Because we now live in the age of the Holy Spirit.
In John, chapter 3 and verses 3–8. This is Jesus talking to Nicodemus: 'In reply, Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.” “How can anyone be born in old age?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother's womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
And Jesus is saying as well as physical birth we need a new spiritual birth. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit living within them. And until we come to Christ, of course, the Spirit created us, the Spirit is convincing us about our sin, our need for Jesus; but there is a different type of relationship that we have with the Holy Spirit when he comes to live within us. It's qualitatively different.
And so it is when we come to Christ, when the Spirit of God comes to live within us — that's not the end, that's the beginning . And what I want to look at in this session is what happens when the Spirit of God comes to live within a man or a woman. What is the impact of that? What's the effect?