Sermon series: God, The Holy Spirit
Connection to unit theme
We may be shocked when we read that Jesus said it was good for Him to depart so that the Spirit could be given. But when we come to understand the Holy Spirit's identity, Jesus' words begin to make sense to us. Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. God the Spirit is also a person who was promised. When the Spirit comes to dwell in us, He gives us God's presence.
In the 1990s bracelets bearing the letters "WWJD" became popular among Christians. WWJD stood for the question, "What Would Jesus Do?" These bracelets were supposed to remind those who wore them to live in a manner that accurately reflected their new life in Christ. Asking and considering what Jesus would do in a situation is good, but actually doing it is difficult. We may conclude it would be much easier if Jesus were walking among us today. Then we could just ask Him what to do, or watch Him live His perfect life and follow His actions.
Wouldn't it be better if Jesus were here with us today? Wouldn't we be better disciples if we lived in the first century as Jesus' disciples? Not according to Jesus: "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 go, I will send him to you."
As we understand the identity of the Helper Jesus sent us, we begin to understand why Jesus said it was better that He depart. In John 14:16-17 we see the identity of the Helper more clearly.
I. The Spirit is a person who was promised
A promise is only as good as the one making the promise. A promise from a prisoner with a rap sheet filled with extortion and perjury charges carries very little weight. On the other hand, a promise from your sweet and steadfast old grandmother means a great deal more. How much more a promise from Jesus?In John 14:16 Jesus promises He will have the Father send to His disciples another Helper. As the story unfolds we see that this is the same Spirit who was promised in the Old Testament. In the former days the Spirit would indwell people for service and then depart. Here Jesus shows that this gift of the Spirit would be different because He will "be with you forever". This is the fulfillment of God's promised recorded in Joel 2:28-29.
We see from John 14:15 that this promise is given to believers, those who "love Him" and "keep His commandments". Upon Jesus' request the Father gives this other Helper who serves as Jesus' envoy. Acts 2 (Pentecost) is the fruit of Jesus' promise. He kept His word to His disciples.
Application: Do you rejoice in the gift of the Holy Spirit? What does the gift of the Spirit mean for your life? Jesus kept this promise. Do you trust Him with His promise to restore all things?
II. The Spirit is a person that gives us His presence
Certainly Jesus' physical departure would have discouraged the disciples. As the gospel narratives show the followers of Jesus approaching Jerusalem for the final time, we see them filled with grief and worries about abandonment. This is why Jesus tells them, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." Jesus answered this promise by giving the Spirit who "dwells with you and will be in you."
The Spirit gives to us the presence of God. Believers living on this side of Pentecost probably take this for granted. The fact that God Himself dwells within believers touches every area of our lives. We derive our comfort from the indwelling Spirit. Conviction, peace, and encouragement come from the Spirit as well. When we struggle under the weight of discouragement or a lack of assurance, the Spirit of God testifies with our spirits that we are children of God.
The fact the Spirit indwells believers also points to our relationship with Him. You cannot have a relationship with an impersonal thing. You have a relationship with a Person. In the same way that people can be grieved so also can the Spirit of God. The Spirit has taken up residence in our hearts to mold us into greater conformity to Christ. This is why we are called to keep in step with the Spirit.
Application: Reflect upon all of the blessings that are yours because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Are you walking in step with Him? Are you grieving the Spirit through disobedience? How are you obeying the Spirit as he works in your life? Take some time to thank God for fulfilling His promise and giving you His presence.
Having the presence of the Spirit is like walking with Jesus in first-century Palestine, only we walk with Jesus in our twenty-first-century context. Jesus assured us that living for Him would be a difficult task in this world. Yet He also promised that, by the Holy Spirit's power, we will persevere and be more than conquerors. This is because God has lovingly given us Himself through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.