The Holy Spirit is Greater Than We Know

You can watch the video of the actual sermon here.

Jesus Christ lived for about 33 years upon this earth.  He lived the perfect life, died a sinner’s death, substituting His life for all who believe, rose again on the third day, and ascended into heaven.  And we would know about none of it if the Holy Spirit had not been sent.  We would not have cared about it if the Holy Spirit had not been sent.  God the Father spoke and people listened.  God the Son spoke and people listened, but the Holy Spirit seems to be the silent Person of the Trinity.  Yet, He is not.  It is because the Holy Spirit spoke that we know what the Father and Sons said.

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.  For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, (2 Peter 2.19-21, ESV).

The Holy Spirit used men to speak and to write for Him.  While He may not speak, He is not silent.

In A.D. 325, the Council of Nicaea met, and at the end of this meeting, the Nicene Creed was ratified and signed.  The point of the Creed was to formulate the doctrine in writing what had always been believed: Jesus was God the Son—”God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.”  But as time went on, there also needed to be a formulation of the doctrine that the Holy Spirit was also divine.  Another council was called in Constantinople in A.D. 381.  It was here that the doctrine, again that had been believed since the apostles, was written down.  Rather than adopt another creed, the council just added more about the Holy Spirit to the Nicene Creed: “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.”  Originally the creed simply read that the Spirit proceeded from the Father.  It wasn’t until A. D. 1014 that the creed read that He proceeded “from the Father and the Son.”  This was quite controversial (and still is).  It is known as the Filioque clause.  But why the change?  Because it is biblical.  The problem is that we tend to go to the wrong Scriptures to prove this point. We often go to John 16, where Jesus stated that He would send the Spirit.  But sending is different than proceeding from, just like sending is different than begetting.

What we must see is that just as the Holy Spirit is declared to be God’s Spirit or the Spirit of God, so He is Christ’s Spirit or the Spirit of Christ.  We see in Genesis 1:2, “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters,” (ESV).  Or again in Job 33, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life,” (v. 4, ESV).  But we see the same language but with the Son in Acts.  “And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them,” (Acts 16.7, ESV).  And again in Galatians 4.6, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father,’” (ESV)!

But there is a reason that the Council of Constantinople added that the Holy Spirit is the Giver of life.  Jesus told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God,” (John 3.5, ESV).  And then, “Do not marvel that I said you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes form or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit,” (John 3.7-8, ESV).  This is what we call regeneration.  It is the rebirth.  Physically speaking, we were born living, breathing individuals.  Spiritually speaking, that is simply not the case.  “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience,” (Ephesians 2.1-2, ESV).  If you look at verse 5, you will see that God made you alive together in Christ.  That is true, but how?  Through the Holy Spirit.  You were dead, but if you are in Christ, you first had to be born again, rebirthed, regenerated. That only happens by the power and prerogative of the Holy Spirit.  He gives life where there was once death.

And not only the spiritual life, but our physical lives at he Second Coming.  The very same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, brings us out of death.  As Paul wrote, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raise Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you,” (Romans 8.11, ESV).

Do you see how pivotal the roll of the Holy Spirit is in our lives?  He is our life!  He is the only reason we have life!  He is our hope.  Hence, He is the Truth-Teller.  Jesus told the disciples, on the night He was betrayed,

When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you, (John 16.13-15, ESV).

Here is one reason we can believe that the Scriptures are true.  It was the Spirit who revealed the truth to the apostles.  But beyond that, the reason the Bible resonates with us, and that we don’t just know, but begin to feel it deep within, is because the Spirit who revealed the truth to the apostles, is also speaking the Word of God, bringing them out of the pages of this Bible and putting them into our hearts.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.  The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.  For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?  But we have the mind of Christ, (1 Corinthians 2.14-16, ESV).

We get it; we know it; we understand it; it resonates with us, because the Holy Spirit in us testifies the same truths to us that He did to them so long ago.  On top of that, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all of the same mind—unified in thought—and to have the mind of Christ only comes to us because we have the Spirit of Truth in us!

But He not only gives us the power to understand the truths of God, but also gives us the power to be on mission—to evangelize the lost.  Jesus said, just before His ascension: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” (Acts 1.8, ESV).  We see this being played out, not only on the day of Pentecost, but in Acts 4, “And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the LORD Jesus, and great grace was upon them all,” (v. 33, ESV).

Paul wrote to the Romans that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ because it is the power of God unto salvation.  But where does that power come from?  Not from us, but from the Holy Spirit.  “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction,” (1 Thessalonians 1.4-5a, ESV).  While not knowing all the ins and outs of it, as we proclaim the gospel to others, the word of God, the very word of the Spirit is being spoken through us, and if the Spirit has regenerated the heart of the person with whom we speak, then the Spirit of truth, empowers the gospel, so that the person then believes the truth.

And in that power, He grants us gifts.  These gifts are used for the edification of the local body.  “To each was given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good,” (1 Corinthians 12.7, ESV).  And we see that in New Testament there are a number of gifts that are presented: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, interpretation of tongues, helping, administration, hospitality, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, mercy, shepherding, and evangelism.  In the Old Testament we see two more: intelligence and craftsmanship.

Each of these gifts are given so that the local body of believers can be helped, whether in the church walls or outside the church walls, whether in official capacity or not.  In other words, if you have the gift of teaching, but are not a Sunday School teacher that doesn’t mean you can’t pull someone or some people aside and disciple them.  Or if you have the gift of mercy, that doesn’t mean you can’t go and visit the shut-ins and those in the hospital just because you’re not an elder.

But the Holy Spirit is also our Advocate.  In 1 John 2:1, John has instructed us not to sin, and says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” (ESV).  You say, “Chris, that says that Jesus is our Advocate, not the Holy Spirit.”  Which is true.  But what we see in John 14.16, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,” (ESV).  The word that we have for Helper in John 14.16 is the exact same word that we have for Advocate in 1 John 2.1, just translated differently because of the nuances.  Notice two thoughts given here.  The first is that he is another Helper.  Jesus is our Helper, our Advocate.  He is our great Helper or Advocate.  The Holy Spirit is also our Helper or Advocate.  He is another Helper or Advocate.  In the same manner in which Jesus is our Helper or Advocate, the Holy Spirit is.  But the second thought is that He is another Helper.  In English, we can say “another” and it is ambiguous.  We could be framing a house, and using a nail gun. I tell you I have another tool, and go and grab a hammer.  That’s nothing like the tool we were using.  They barely have anything in common.  But in Greek, there are different words that can be translated as another.  One means another of a different kind, and one means another of the same kind.  Here the Greek word that means another of the same kind is used.  So what Jesus has said, is: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper who is just like me, except He will be with your forever!”

So we see that we have an Advocate in heaven, at the right hand of God the Father and we have an Advocate on earth, in our very beings.  He is just as much our Advocate as Jesus.  And how does He advocate for us?  The same what Jesus does.  The writer of Hebrews wrote that, “Consequently, he [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them,” (Hebrews 7.25, ESV).  And Paul wrote in Romans 8, “Who is able to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us,” (v. 34, ESV).  Jesus pleads our case before the father, interceding on our behalf.  Interceding means just that: to plead a case, the work of an Advocate.  We see this is exactly what the Holy Spirit does.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8.26, ESV).

Paul just went through the fact that creation groans, we grown, and likewise, even the Spirit groans.  The Holy Spirit bears our burdens.  He is with us always, remember?  He does not leave us when we suffer.  He helps bear the weight.  When we are too weak to know how and what to pray we need not worry.  He is still pleading our case to the Father.  So as we call the elders to pray over us and pray for us and with us, the Holy Spirit is also interceding as a good Advocate will do.  While you and I may not always be on the same page with God, the Holy Spirit knows the mind of the Father as we saw in 1 Corinthians, and the Father knows the mind of the Holy Spirit.  They are always in sync and the Holy Spirit prays when we don’t know how to pray.

So we have Jesus at the right hand of God in heaven interceding for us, and the Holy Spirit on earth, indwelling us, interceding for us as well.

He does so much, and we give Him so little attention.  He is about the Father and Son.  He is ever shining a light upon them and what they do.  But He is God.  He is worthy of our worship and praise, no less than the Father and Son.  Every single one of us owes our salvation to the work of the Trinity.  As Kevin DeYoung wrote, “It is the Father to appoint, the Son to accomplish, and the Holy Spirit to apply the one work of redemption.”

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