What the Bible affirms about. . .The Holy Spirit

Throughout the centuries, Christians have struggled to articulate the doctrine of the Trinity. In the first sermon of our new series we discussed what the Bible affirms about God. We said then that the Bible reveals God in three distinct personalities, yet they inseparably are one. The Bible never uses the term, but Christians for centuries have called that doctrine the “Trinity.” In the third sermon concerning Christ we said that Jesus Christ is divine, and we looked at several verses from the New Testament that call Him both Lord and God. This morning, I must say the same thing concerning the Holy Spirit. He is divine. Maybe we need a little better understanding of the Trinity although we may not have a complete understanding. If we could completely understand the complexities of God, I seriously doubt that He would be God. Augustine of Hippo, a Christian theologian from the 4th century said something to the effect of if you can get your mind around it, it cannot be God (McGrath, 244). Thus, we must acknowledge that we are finite and God is infinite; all we have to work with are words which are seriously limited. I would like to give you a few analogies that have been used by Christians to understand God a little better. These are simply analogies and are imperfect, but maybe you can choose one of them and it can help you.

1. Patrick, the evangelist to Ireland (St. Patty’s Day), is said to have used the shamrock to illustrate the Trinity. The clover is a single leaf with three elements.

Gregory of Nyssa, a theologian during the 4th century, used several analogies:

2. A fount and a stream of water flow from one another, and they both have the same substance, water. Different aspects of the water may be distinguished, but they cannot be separated. We may distinguish the three persons of God, but not separate His unity.

3. There are many links in a chain, and to be connected to one is to be connected to them all. For example, if someone encounters the Holy Spirit, they have also encountered the Father and the Son.

4. When we see a rainbow, we can distinguish different colors, yet there is only one beam of light. God’s glory shines in the persons of Father, Son, Spirit, but they blend seamlessly into one another. (These are taken from McGrath, 252-253).

The Holy Spirit is divine. The Holy Spirit has been involved in the world from the beginning of history. The Scripture says in Genesis that the Spirit hovered over the waters at creation. The Old Testament shows that the Holy Spirit moved the prophets to proclaim and write the word of God. He also came upon the first kings of Israel to anoint them for a great responsibility. He has always been involved in the world, and He has continued His work today. This morning we will find out what the Bible affirms about the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our current world.

We should differentiate between the Spirit’s two ministries. He works in both the unbelieving world and the lives of Christians. We can talk about His ministry of conviction on the one hand and His ministry of regeneration and sanctification on the other. We can also talk about the gifts that He bestows to individual believers to benefit the church as a whole. To conclude today’s sermon we will attempt to answer how we can know that the Spirit of God is in us.

We must acknowledge that the Spirit is divine. He was involved in creation and He saves us.

Ministry of Conviction (John 16:8-11)

The Spirit will specifically convict the world of three things: sin, righteousness, and judgment. The word “world” must not mean “all people on earth” as it sometimes does because of the context. Jesus has already determined the meaning of “world” in the discourse when He contrasted the world with the disciples. The “world” must be unbelievers who by nature hate the Christ and His people. Thus, the Spirit’s ministry of conviction is spoken of here as being carried out in the world of unbelievers. People must be convicted of their sin of unbelief in order to repent and come to faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit seeks to do just that.

Regeneration and Sanctification

Not only does the Spirit convict us of our sin, but He is the One that brings the initial cleansing and renewal in the repentant person (John 3:5-6). He welcomes us into the kingdom of God. One must be born again to enter the kingdom, born from above by the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, I see no better time for a repentant person to be born again by water and the Spirit than in baptism. When someone repents, believes, and is baptized, God the Spirit meets them there at the water. The Holy Spirit starts a new work in the person. There He makes us new creatures, the old has gone the new has come.

The Holy Spirit is also the One who continues to sanctify us (Romans 8:13-14). The Spirit wills and works in us to bring our sin to its end. He wants to put sin to death in our lives. If we continue to follow the flesh (that is, the sinful nature), then we will die; but if we follow the Spirit’s lead, we will slowly-but-surely be changed and we will live. This is called transformation or sanctification. What is the verse that we all know about transformation? The Apostle says to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. It is the Spirit who does this according to the accomplishments of Christ in the atonement and in accord with the Word.

Spiritual Gifts

Let us first notice from (1 Corinthians 12:11) that it is the Spirit who gives to each Christian a gift for the uplifting of the church. Next, we can look at a few examples of the gifts that the Spirit gives to us (Romans 12:5-8). Therefore, we may summarize a few things about gifts of the Spirit:

1. Gifts are not for private use, but for the body

2. We do not all have the same gifts

3. Gifts are to be used in a biblically ordered manner

4. Gifts are a godly responsibility

How can I know the Spirit is in me?

The Holy Spirit is very busy in the lives of Christians today. He convicted us of our sin, He welcomed us into the kingdom of God, He is putting to death the deeds of our flesh, and He is gifting each of us so that we may build up the church. There is no question that we need Him to minister in each of us. False teachers claim all sorts of wild things for the Holy Spirit which the Bible does not affirm. The Spirit never acts to either glorify Himself or us. He lives to continually bring glory to Christ. He wants to make Christ look great. Some have falsely insisted that He will cause all Christians to speak in a heavenly tongue. They claim that a person is not a true believer if they have not been baptized with the Holy Spirit, apart from immersion, and if they have not spoken in tongues. The Bible never declares that the gift of tongues is something given to all believers. It is never considered a sign or seal of salvation.

There are many Scriptures that force us to question whether the Spirit of God is dwelling in us (Romans 8:9). Why is it important for us to ask ourselves this question? (Ephesians 1:13-14) tells us that the Holy Spirit is our seal of promise, and He is the guarantee of our inheritance. In contrast to the claims of false teachers and in light of what the Bible affirms, I will propose three ways that you can know that the Holy Spirit is in you:

            1. Baptism (Acts 2:38)

            2. The fruit of love (Galatians 5:22)

            3. His Spirit tells your spirit (Romans 8:16)