Sunday August 23rd
Many of you are probably familiar with the Apostles’ Creed. It was an early statement of Christian belief that has been recited by many Christians over the years.
I like the story told about a children’s class that was learning the Apostles Creed. Each child in the class had been assigned a sentence from the creed to recite.
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The first child said, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”
The second child said, “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.”
A number of other children followed with their additional statements about Jesus (I believe in His virgin birth, I believe in His death and resurrection, I believe that He is coming again etc.).
Then there was this awkward silence.
Everyone waited for the next line of the creed to be recited, which is “I believe in the Holy Spirit”.
Finally, one of the children said, “Teacher, the boy who believes in the Holy Spirit isn’t here today.”
Well, I certainly hope that everyone who is here today, boys and girls, men and women, and everyone who is watching online would say “I believe in the Holy Spirit.”
As Christians we believe in the trinity, the fact that there is one God present in three persons– the Father God Almighty, Jesus Christ, His only Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In addition to our Heavenly Father and our Heavenly savior, we have an earthly helper, the Holy Spirit, who lives right inside of us.
Christian author Francis Chan wrote a book about the Holy Spirit that he titled “Forgotten God”, because the Holy Spirit is so often overlooked or misunderstood.
If you ask someone to describe who God the Father is, they will usually have an answer.
If you ask them to describe who Jesus is, they will have no trouble giving an answer.
But if you ask them “Who is the Holy Spirit?” all you might hear is silence, accompanied by a confused look.
There are a number reasons why the Holy Spirit is harder to pin down and to describe, but we must not overlook or undervalue the Holy Spirit in terms of His significance in our Christian walk.
A lot of Jesus’ teachings on the night before His crucifixion focused on the Holy Spirit and His role in the lives of believers going forward.
Jesus definitely knew that the disciples were going to need a comforter like the Holy Spirit very soon. He understood how troubled they would be when they learned about His upcoming departure. So He starts out by reassuring them this way:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
One of the fascinating elements of these verses is that Jesus’ words reflect the words spoken by the bridegroom at a Galilean betrothal ceremony. The groom tells the bride that he will go “prepare a place for her” in his father’s house and then come back to take her with him. There is no doubt that the disciples recognized this.
But so far Jesus has only mentioned the Father, not the Holy Spirit. And He makes it clear that the way to the Father is only through following Him.
This focus on the connection between Jesus and the Father continues in verses 7-15
7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
Again, there is this complete emphasis on the oneness between the Father and the Son, so much so that if you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen the Father! And the power of the Father will flow to those who believe in the Son, so that our prayers “in Jesus’ name” will surely be answered, and we will have the ability to do even “greater works” than Jesus Himself had performed here on the earth!
But still no mention of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, in verses 16-17 Jesus says,
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.”
Jesus says “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor or another comforter.” So both the Father and the Son are working together to send the Holy Spirit. This makes perfect sense when we look at these other scriptural references to the Holy Spirit:
He is often called the Spirit of the Lord, or the Spirit of God the Father. Look at Isaiah 11:2
“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Then in Matthew 10:19-20 Jesus says,
“19 But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. 20 For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”
In Romans 8:9 He is called both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ:
“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”
Look at Galatians 4:6
Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
Look at Philippians 1:19
“For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”
And look at 1 Peter 1:10-11
“As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.”
So not only is Jesus one with the Father, the Father and Son are both one with the Holy Spirit.
That’s why Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “another comforter” or “another Helper”. Because the Holy Spirit was going to continue doing the work that Jesus had started in the lives of the disciples. The word translated as “Comforter or Helper” was a legal term for a defense attorney, or more generally it could be someone you would call upon for help in a time of trouble. Jesus had been such a tremendous source of help for these disciples until now, but after His ascension the Holy Spirit would take over the work of comforting and helping them.
Jesus also refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of truth”. Once again, this also shows that the Holy Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son. Look at Isaiah 65:16
“Because he who is blessed in the earth
Will be blessed by the God of truth;
And he who swears in the earth
Will swear by the God of truth”
And we already saw in verse 6 that Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.”
It’s very important to take hold of what Jesus is saying in verse 17 when he tells the disciples that the Holy Spirit will not only be “with you” but He also “will be in you.”
This is a life-changing reality. The Holy Spirit lives “in” believers! That wasn’t true under the Old Covenant.
Abraham didn’t have the spirit in him. Moses didn’t have the spirit in him. David didn’t have the spirit in him! John the Baptist didn’t even have the Holy Spirit “in him”.
That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 11:11
“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
This means that YOU are greater than John the Baptist!
That’s what these scriptures are telling us:
1 Corinthians 3:16
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 6:19
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
2 Corinthians 6:16
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said
Think about this for a moment – When we get saved, when we are born again, who do we say we’ve asked into our heart? We say we’ve asked Jesus into our heart, right?
So who is within us, Jesus or the Holy Spirit?
The answer is – both!
Look what Jesus says next in verses 18 and 19
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.
Some scholars believe that when Jesus is saying “I will come to you” He is referring primarily to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. After all, the Holy Spirit is also known as the Spirit of Jesus.
Look at Acts 16:6-7
“They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them.”
Those weren’t two different Spirits that were directing the path of these missionaries. The Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Jesus are one!
In the next few verses, Jesus again brings the focus back to the unity between Him and the Father, but also with us:
20 In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
In verse 23, when Jesus says, “We will come to him and make Our abode with him”, is He only speaking about Himself and the Father, and leaving the Holy Spirit out?
Obviously not. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. When you get one of them you get all three.
Look at Romans 8:9-11
“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
Who is in us? The Spirit of God. The Spirit of Christ. The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead. His Spirit.
Do you see the unity of the trinity working within you?
Jesus goes on to emphasize the key role of the Holy Spirit again in the next 2 verses:
25 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
This statement shows that the Holy Spirit’s teaching always agrees with the teachings of Jesus. The Holy Spirit ensures that the words of Jesus will be preserved in our hearts as the foundation of the church and of our individual lives.
In the remaining verses of this chapter, Jesus returns to the theme of comforting His disciples:
27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. 28 You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.
It’s interesting that Jesus tells them in verse 28 that if they truly understood what was about to happen, “you would have rejoiced”. They definitely were not rejoicing over what they were hearing.
They didn’t understand that Jesus’ departure was necessary to complete His sacrificial work on the cross.
But it was also necessary so that the Holy Spirit could be sent to live within the hearts of believers, like us.
Jesus will explain this more fully in John 16:7
“But 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.”
Let me wrap this chapter up by highlighting verses 30 and 31
I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; 31 but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.
The ruler of this world is clearly Satan. Jesus knows that the final showdown with the powers of darkness is about to unfold, starting in the Garden of Gethsemane and ending at the empty tomb. But I really love the fact that Jesus says that Satan “Has nothing in Me!”
This is a reaffirmation of Jesus’ sinlessness. If Jesus had sinned even once, the devil could have accused Him of it, and then He wouldn’t have been an acceptable sacrifice to cover our sins. Do you see why that’s so important?
And I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to say the same thing – “Satan has nothing in me!”
And here’s where it all comes together.
In order for me to be able to walk in purity and holiness – in order for me to be able to say with confidence that “Satan has nothing in me”, I need to be fully connected to the Holy Spirit!
As Paul reminds us in Romans 7:18
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
So I’m not going to be walking in holiness by the strength of my flesh. It’s just not possible. My only hope is to be walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Look at these three verses from Galatians chapter 5:
Verse 5 – “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.
Verse 16 - “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
Verse 25 – “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
In our flesh we have no hope. Through the Holy Spirit we can be victorious! Satan has nothing in you!
Let me ask you a simple question:
Is the man who believes in the Holy Spirit here today?
Is the woman who believes in the Holy Spirit here today?