The Personality of the Spirit John 14:15-27

The following is the transcript from the April 10, 2016 service at Little Brown Church, Nashua, Iowa. 

A missionary once told of being given car that wouldn’t start without a push. After pondering his problem, he devised a plan. He went to a school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them give his car push to get it started. As he traveled around the area, he would either park on a hill or leave the engine running. Sometimes he would ask other people to help him push it to get it started. He used this ingenious procedure for 2 years.

However, he needed to return to the states because of health problems and a new missionary came to replace him. Of course, the car stayed with the new missionary, and so he began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started. As he did so, the new man began looking under the hood. 

“Why, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable.” 
He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the switch and to his astonishment, the engine roared to life.

For 2 years, the only trouble with that car was a loose connection. The power was there all the time. It’s just that he didn’t realize how to access it.
There’s a power source for the church. There’s a force that electrifies the Christian. And the Bible tells us that power that force, that energy is the Spirit of God.
That is why Paul prayed in Romans 15:13; 
“…that (the Christians there) may overflow with hope by the POWER of the Holy Spirit.”
God has given us His power and His power comes through His Spirit that dwells inside of us.
That is why John marvels when he writes,
“…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
We have received a powerful and life changing gift. The Spirit of God is a marvelous power in our lives. 
And yet… it’s really kind of surprising how little the Bible tells us about Him.
There are far more passages in Scripture that deal with the Father and the Son. By comparison the teaching about God’s Spirit in the Bible is disappointingly meager. 
But Jesus seems to be telling us here in John 14 that it wouldn’t make any difference how much the Bible told us about God’s Spirit – most people wouldn’t understand much about Him anyway. 

Look again at John 14:16-17 
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” 
The world can’t accept God’s Spirit. It doesn’t see the Spirit… nor know Him. This implies to me that God’s Spirit isn’t the easiest thing for mortals to comprehend. 
In fact, this idea (that the Spirit IS hard to understand) is best shown in the difficulty that many people have in accepting that God’s Spirit is person. That He is a He. 
Even in theological circles there are often many who have trouble accepting that God’s Spirit is a person (He). 

Well is He? Is the Spirit of God a “He”? Well, yeah. All you have to do is look at our passage today: 
John 14:17 tells us; 
“The world cannot accept HIM, because it neither sees HIM nor knows HIM. But you know HIM, for HE lives with you and will be in you.”
Jesus tells us - the Spirit of God that lives inside of each Christian - is a He… not an it.
Now, there are many people who have trouble with that. They visualize Him as being a variation on “The Force from Star Wars. They see Him as impersonal and inanimate. 
But by contrast, Scripture tells us that God’s Spirit is a living, personal piece of God that lives in us. He has feelings and character. We are told that the Spirit can: 

1. Speak to us. 1 Tim. 4:1
2. Teach us. John 14:26
3. Guide us. John 16:13
4. He can be grieved. Eph. 4:30
5. He can be lied to. Acts 5:3
6. He can be resisted. Acts 7:51 

God’s Spirit has a mind. He has feelings. He’s not some remote, distant power… He is God - inside of us. 

And what is more, He is of what Christians refer to as being part of the Trinity. The word “trinity” isn’t found in Scripture… but the concept is.
rinity comes from the idea of God being a Tri-unity. One God – three parts. Or as Colossians 2:9 refers to it as the “Godhead.” 

We know this is true, because the three identities of God show up in several passages:
In Mt 28:19 we’re commanded to 
“… go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” 
The Bible teaches the concept of the Trinity. But there are some people have trouble with that idea. After all, how can God be ONE (God)… and still have three separate personalities? 
It’s a good question. 
Now, I can use common physical things in our world to help me visualize the trinity. For example there’s the phenomenon of light. Scientists tell us that light has three characteristics. There’s VISIBLE light - light from the sun and from lamps and flashlights. 

Then there’s INVISIBLE light - infrared.
Then there’s HEAT such as we get from the light generated by light bulbs.
Thus, there are three traits that make up this thing we call light. There’s light we can see, light we can’t see, and light we can feel.

Now there are theologians that quibble that this illustration is imperfect. That’s OK…I don’t care what they think. All I care is that this simple illustration helps me wrap my mind around a concept of the Trinity that I know is taught in Scripture. The illustration doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be helpful in knowing more about God. 
But there’s an even bigger question here, something deeper and more profound than theology. And that question is this… why would God place Himself inside us to begin with? 
As I was thinking about this question it occurred to me that God had put Himself within His people before… back in the Old Testament. 

When God led His people out of Egypt He guided them in a very unique way. Do you remember how He showed His people where to go? That’s right - A Pillar of cloud by day, a Pillar of fire by night. Whenever the pillar moved – the people were to move. Whenever the pillar stopped – the people stopped.

And when the Tabernacle was built, we’re told

When the Temple was built, I Kings 8 tells us it happened again. 
“… it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place (Temple), that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.” 1Kings 8:10-11
When the cloud was present, the people knew God was in their midst. They knew this was not just any ordinary cloud that passed overhead in the sky... this was God come down among them. And the Jews came to refer to this cloud as the Shekinah Glory.

The word Shekinah comes from the Hebrew word that means: “settle”, “inhabit”, or “dwell”. The Shekinah glory assured His people that God was there. He had settled amongst them. He was dwelling with them. His cloud comforted His people with the knowledge that He was WITH them. 

And so – when God wanted to give His Christian children a comforter to be with them, He didn’t send a substitute. He didn’t give them an impersonal presence. He sent a part of Himself – His Holy Spirit. 

And that’s one of the major reason He’s called the COMFORTER. (KJV)
He comforts us because He is God’s promise that He’s always there.
Now, earlier in this sermon I marveled that the Bible didn’t tell us more about God’s Spirit. I noted that there were far more Scriptures dealing with Jesus than there were of the Spirit and His work within us. 

Why would that be? Well, I’ve often noticed that when God wants to stress one thing more than another in the Bible, He often focuses far more attention on that item. Thus, God wanted us to pay more attention to His Son, than to His Spirit. Not that the Spirit is unimportant, but to focus more on Him than on Jesus is to miss the point.

Scripture tells us where our focus should be – on Jesus. In John 14:15-17a Jesus said 
"If you LOVE ME, you will OBEY WHAT I COMMAND. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.” 
When we focus on Jesus and what He did for us, then we’ll receive His Spirit. That’s part of the reason, on Pentecost, Peter told the crowd "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.” Acts 2:38 
In our baptism we focus on what Jesus for us. In baptism, we reenact the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. And upon our confession that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, we rise to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.