|The first in a series of sermons:"The Spirit of New Life"|
April 3 - May 15
The following is the transcript from the March 20, 2016 service at Little Brown Church, Nashua, Iowa.
A 4-year old was visiting his aunt’s home. She was pregnant with her first child and she allowed him to place his hand on her belly and feel the baby kick. His little face scrunched and said, "How does the baby get out of there?" She wanted to keep it simple, so she said, "The doctor will help."
His eyes widened in amazement as he exclaimed, "You’ve got a
It would be so much easier for pregnant mothers if the doctor were in there helping out.
The Bible tells us that God believed our lives as Christians would be so much easier if He were inside us helping us out. So over the next few weeks we’re going to be talking about God’s presence inside us.
Galatians 4:6 tells us
“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts..."
When we became Christians God placed His Spirit inside of our hearts.
We don’t have to go to a special building.
We don’t have to wait in line.
We don’t have to wait for… anything.
If we need God He’s there right inside us.
As 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us:
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”
We don’t have to go to a church building, or a cathedral, or a prayer closet to get in contact with God. We ARE the temple of God. He’s always with us (in us) whether we’re at home, work or play. He’s always there.
Then, when Jesus came, He also promised that we would receive His Spirit.
In John 14 He said:
“the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26 And again He said: “I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” John 16:7-8
THIS was the Holy Spirit that had been promised.
Now, the reason the Holy Spirit was promised was because God hadn’t ever given His Spirit quite like this before.
In John chapter 7 we’re told that Jesus said:
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit HAD NOT BEEN GIVEN, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” John 7:38-39
You see back in the Old Testament God would place His Spirit on and in people to
1) Guide them
For example, in Exodus, when God told Moses He wanted His tabernacle built. God chose a man named Bezalel to be the General Contractor. And He placed His Spirit inside Bezalel so that he would know exactly how to construct the Tabernacle, and how everything should be put together.
2) Strengthen them
In the book of Judges, we’re told that there were times when the Holy Spirit came upon Samson to give him strength to deal with the Philistines.
3) Teach them
In I Samuel we’re told that the Holy Spirit came upon King Saul and his men. And when that happened they were able to prophesy. (I Samuel 19)
But no matter how many times God’s Spirit came upon people, or was in people - nobody in the Old Testament ever got what you and I have. God’s Spirit had not yet been given as it HAS now been given to those who have become children of God.
Ephesians tells us that when we became Christians we
“… were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession…”
No other people had ever had that privilege. But YOU have been marked.
You have been sealed. God placed His Holy Spirit inside you to say: this man/woman belongs to ME!
It’s kind of like when a couple gets married. They hold hands, light a candle, exchange vows, but one of the central ceremonies of a wedding is when they exchange rings. That ring declares to everyone: this man/woman belongs to me.
In the same way, God has placed His Spirit inside you to say everybody: you belong to Him now. Don’t mess with this child of God, because you belong to Him.
His Spirit inside you is also His assurance that He’s coming back for you.
Ephesians 1:14 says God’s Spirit
“is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession— to the praise of his glory.”
His Spirit is His Guarantee that, when He comes back, He’s coming back for you.
So obviously, this placing of His Spirit inside of us is a big deal to God.
And I got to wondering… why do it this way? Why bother to put His Spirit inside of us. God could have marked us any way He wanted, so why do it this way?
Well, I came up with three reasons that made sense to me. They may not be the ONLY reasons God did it this way, but I think they are valid.
First – He wants us always to with Him.
If our Faith isn’t on the inside of us - if our relationship with Jesus is something that is only on the outside – it might get misplaced or mislaid. It might even just rub off.
Some of you may remember that there was a small controversy over the design of the new $1 coin. Apparently somebody had the idea that it would be a good design to move the motto: “In God we trust.” from the front of the coin – to the outside edge, thinking it would draw more attention there.
But almost immediately, people began to complain.
Coin experts had pointed out that - if the motto were on the edge of the coin - it would be more likely to rub off over time, and people became unhappy with the prospect that this treasured motto might be worn away and lost.
God doesn’t want our faith to “rub off” and get worn away. He wants His Spirit INSIDE of us so that our bond with Him doesn’t become some casual thing. He wants our relationship with Him to be intense and personal.
Second – He wants to be with us all the time because He knows we need Him.
This is a hard world. And too often we feel like we’re alone in the decisions and challenges we face. God never want us to believe we’re alone and abandoned.
That’s one of the comforts of God’s Spirit being within us He loves us enough to give us the freedom to fly our own course. But because His Spirit is inside of us, we can have confidence because God is still there with His hands on the wheel as well. He never leaves us or forsakes us… because He’s always inside of us.
Third – He wanted to be inside us so that we’d realize our faith is more than a “religion”.
Christianity is more than a religion, its life empowering relationship. All other religions are based on the idea that the more rules we follow the more righteous we become. In other words: Rules change us. Rules make us better people and to some degree that’s true.
That does work - kind of. As long as we agree with the rules, as long as we’re in the mood, as long as we want to obey the rules, rules can make us better people.
But, by contrast - when God placed His Spirit within us - He did so, so His Spirit could change us on the inside.
As God promises us through Ezekiel
“…I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36:26b-27
That’s what Galatians 5 is all about. It tells us that when we walk by the Spirit - when we allow God’s Spirit to guide our lives - then our lives change.
When God’s Spirit is in control of our lives when live a certain way:
“… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...” Galatians 5:22-23
Now you may have had ALL those characteristics before you became a Christian. But when God’s Spirit entered into your life it began to fine tune those traits – to hone them into a finer reflection of the God you serve.
But of course, most people aren’t truly loving, joyful, patient, etc. when they first come to Christ. So, as His Spirit works within them, they begin to be more and more like the God they gave themselves to serve.
So then - how then do I get this Spirit of God? The Spirit is given to me when I first become a Christian. That’s what Acts 2:38 says:
And Peter responded:
“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
They believed in Jesus, and their belief in Him led them to repent of their sins and then to buried in the waters of baptism and risen up to a new life. And because they made that decision, God gave them the gift of His Holy Spirit.