For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Apostles' Creed: Part 6 - We Believe in the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is the focus of the next line of the Creed. For many, the Holy Spirit is a mystery and unknown. Often the excesses of Pentecostalism create a fear of the Holy Spirit that is completely unfounded. The full activity and presence of the Holy Spirit are no more to be feared than the presence of God the Father or God the Son. After all, Jesus said, "If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13). Many of us would benefit from a prayerful examination of the major Bible references to the Holy Spirit. Such a study would produce incredible transformation in our lives. Let me lead us through just two verses that will begin to unlock the richness of the NT teaching on the Holy Spirit.

If you love me you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth" John 14:15-17
Jesus promises to give the Spirit to those who love him. Jesus tells us that he will be a "Helper" or "Counselor" or "Advocate." These three translations of the Greek word all provide insights into the role of the Holy Spirit, but we must also consider the word "another." The Spirit will be "another Helper" indicating that there was a similar Helper already in the lives of the disciples. Who was that? In the context of John 14, Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure. The Spirit is being given to replace Jesus in their lives. Jesus would be going to heaven and the Holy Spirit would take his place.

The disciples had lived with Jesus for three years. With rare exceptions, they had traveled and ministered together as a group. Now Jesus was leaving and the Holy Spirit would be with them forever. Unlike the physical presence of Jesus, the Holy Spirit could be with them individually wherever they went. They could split up to take the gospel to the nations and have the presence of the Holy Spirit with them wherever they went. So essential was the Holy Spirit in fulfilling their mission that Jesus would tell them that they should wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit had come upon them (Acts 1:8).

The disciples walked with Jesus. As we read the book of Acts, we see that the presence of the Holy Spirit mentioned in almost every chapter. The epistles of Paul are almost incomprehensible if the real and experiential knowledge of the Holy Spirit is not possible (Romans 8:1-39; Galatians 5:16-26). When Paul found some believers in Ephesus he noted that they did not seem to know the vibrant presence of Holy Spirit in their lives. There was something missing in their Christian experience: the Holy Spirit! (Acts 19:1-6).

When the Creed says that "we believe in the Holy Spirit" it is not talking about some abstract force or mere theological doctrine. It is saying that we believe that the Holy Spirit is present to empower, counsel, and secure the believer and that the believer can know this in practical experience. If a person is a follower of Christ and does not know the presence of the Spirit, they should ask the Lord for this (Luke 11:13). As followers of Christ, we are to walk in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit!

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. Satan is the father of lies. The Holy Spirit is an exposer of lies and a revealer of truth. He inspired the writers of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17). He is also the one who enables us to recognize truth as we read the Bible (John 16:12-15). We can find the Bible dull and uninteresting if we treat it like an ordinary book. It is important to ask the Holy Spirit to be the teacher and to reveal his truth to us in the Word.

Another aspect of the Spirit as the Spirit of truth is that he convicts the world of sin (John 16:7-11). Ananias discovered the foolishness of deceit (Acts 5:1-6). If we think that we can hide our sins from God we are deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:5-10). It is important that we live in obedience to his commandments if we want to know and enjoy the ongoing ministry of the Spirit in our lives.

All of this leads to the question: Do you know the person of the Holy Spirit? Not the doctrine or theory...but the Person of the Holy Spirit? Is the Holy Spirit part of your daily experience? If not, pray that God will fill you with the Holy Spirit!

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