Faithlife Sermons

The Gift 1

The Gift
Part 1
"The Holy Spirit is a Gift"
Acts 2:38 "Peter replied, '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.'"
Now, most church folks know a lot about God the Father, and probably even more about God the Son, but we understand least about God the Holy Spirit.
Acts 19 records the story of Pauls first visit to Ephesus where he met some disciples of John the Baptist.....When he asked if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed, they replied with total honesty,
No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit” (v. 2).
Many contemporary Christians would say virtually the same thing.
In this series I want to impress upon your heart our great need to:
understand Who the Holy Spirit is, and
how badly we need His power!
Now we are told in our text that the Holy Spirit is a "gift."
That means He is freely given...
So His coming into our hearts is not acquired by merit or entitlement...He is a GIFT.
The book of Acts records that when the wicked sorcerer Simon "...saw that through the laying on of the apostleshands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, 'Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.'
And Peter replied, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!" (Acts 8:18-20)
It's hard for us to wrap our minds around a GIFT that is simply RECEIVED--not earned, not purchased, not worked for.
The ONLY prerequisite to receiving the GIFT of the Holy Spirit is to repent and believe on Christ Jesus for your salvation!
The Holy Spirit as a GIFT is then sent into the heart and life of the believer.
The Holy Spirit freely given is the direct result of Jesus praying to the Father on our behalf:
John 14:16-18 "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you."
The gift of the Holy Spirit is promised in many O.T. Places...
Probably the best known example is Joel 2:28-29,
And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days."
When Peter preached his famous Pentecost sermon he said, "This is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel."
Now, the gift of the Holy Spirit is given to the believer for 3 basic, very important reasons.
First and foremost...
That we might receive a new nature by being born again...
Titus 3:4-5 "When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit."
One night a highly respected religious leader came to Jesus named Nicodemus...
Without much fanfare, Jesus quickly said to him:
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).
Nicodemus was understandably taken aback and said:
"How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mothers womb and be born? (Vs. 4)
"Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water (natural birth) and the Spirit (the 2nd birth), he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh (the natural birth), and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (the spiritual birth). 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again(Vs.5-7).
Jesus then went on to describe how the Holy Spirit operates...
He compares Him to the unpredictable blowing of a wind in the way He will suddenly, out of nowhere, touch a person's heart with conviction and bring them to repentance in Christ...
"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit" (vs.8).
So Jesus is totally clear that we are born again by the operation of the Holy Spirit.
It works like this:
When the Spirit of God comes to live inside of us we are brought to life spiritually...
Eph. 2:1 "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins..."
He performs in us a spiritual heart transplant...
In the O.T. The Prophet Ezekiel prophesied of this very thing when he wrote,
"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations" (Ezek 36:26-27).
Without this experience you CANNOT go to heaven!
ILLUS: Diving suit "suits you up" for living underwater...Without it you will drown because you weren't made to live underwater.
This is why the Bible says, "I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable" (1 Cor 15:50).
So, the gift of the Holy Spirit is given so that we can receive a new nature by being born again!
Then secondly, the gift of the Holy Spirit is given...
II. As a mark of ownership that we belong to God...
Eph. 1:13 "And when you believed in Christ, he identified you (marked you) as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago."
Notice the words, "He identified His own" because if makes a really important point...
It's telling us that, while we are all God's creation, we are not all God's children.
God created the human race, but until we come to Him by placing faith in Christ we are not a child of His...
We know we are His child when the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in our hearts!
The Bible says in Romans 8:15, "....the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him (the Spirit) we cry, "Abba, Father."
Paul went on to tell the Roman Christians, "But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all)"--Romans 8:9
One day it got really real between the Pharisees and Jesus:
The Pharisees said to Him, "...we have one Father—God.”
Jesus replied, If God were your Father, you would love Me. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do" (John 8: 42, 44).
What was Jesus saying? Until you're born from above, God is not your Father! Only after being born again can you truthfully look up and say, "Abba, Father!"
Now---the Holy Spirit living within us is not just a mark of ownership, it's a guarantee that we are already signed for, sealed, and delivered to heaven!
Eph 1:14 "The Spirit is God's guarantee that he will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify Him."
ILLUS: I recently sent a valuable package to my sister in Houston.
I took it to the post office, put it in a box, wrote her address, paid for it's delivery, and walked away knowing it was signed for, sealed, and delivered to my sister.
She called me that day and said, "Did you sent it?" And I said, "It's as good as there!"
When we receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts by turning to Christ, we are paid and signed for by the blood of Jesus, sealed with the Holy Spirit, and delivered to heaven---we're as good as there!
Now lastly, the gift of the Holy Spirit is given...
III. To give us the power to live the Christian life...
One of the things that really concerned me when I heard the gospel was that I would NEVER be able to live it....that I would mess up instead of living up to the high standards of a Christian life...
And I was right!...
I couldn't perfectly live up to the Bible's expectations, but I didn't understand at the time the Holy Spirit and the power He gives us to obey God.
Jesus said, "You shall receive POWER after the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:8).
LISTEN: The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to enable and empower us to crucify our sinful flesh and walk in obedience to God.
Paul told the Roman church, "But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God" (8:13-14).
Here's what I have learned:
Christianity is not a burdensome set of rules we must "try" to do, it's a supernatural life lived out through the power of the Holy Spirit.
ILLUS: Bike and training wheels
When I finally got rid of the last training wheel, I discovered that a whole new "law" was holding me up--the law of gravity.
Once I learned to lean on that law, I never needed the training wheels again!
Listen to Paul again:
Ro. 8:2 "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
The Father is saying in love to some of you today, "Get rid of the training wheels and lean on My Spirit!"
So, the gift of the Holy Spirit has been given:
That we might receive a new nature by being born again.
As a mark of ownership that we belong to God, and...
To empower us to live the Christian life
Next time: The Holy Spirit is Not An 'It'
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