2006-03-12_Mighty Inner Strength_Sermon On The Mount Intro 3_Past Work of HS
Mighty Inner Strength
The Holy Spirit, Part 2 | Shaun LePage | March 12, 2006
1. When I was a boy, my father owned an old Ford pick-up. He spent a lot of hours restoring it. My brothers and I helped sand it down to prepare it for painting and my Dad spent many hours in the garage under the hood. At one point in the process, he had pulled the engine and was having trouble getting it back in. So, he put the engine in the back of the truck—in the bed—and, with the help of a chain and one of our other cars, pulled the truck to the shop of a friend to get help putting the engine in. As I recall, my mother drove the car and my Dad steered the truck. As we pulled up to the shop, the chain disconnected and when my Mom pulled into the shop, the truck—with my Dad at the wheel—was left sitting in the street. A man driving down the street stopped, rolled down his window and surveyed the situation. He saw the truck sitting in the street. Dad was sitting at the wheel of the truck. The engine of the truck was in the bed of the truck. He then said—very matter-of-factly, “That thing’ll work a lot better if you put the engine up there in the front.”
2. That picture illustrates for me what we are trying to do today. We are studying the Gospel According to Matthew and we’ve come to the Sermon on the Mount. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve explained that the Sermon on the Mount is for the disciples of Jesus Christ. The standards of moral and ethical living presented in the Sermon on the Mount are only possible for the followers of Jesus Christ. But the question is, “How are we supposed to live out the commands of Jesus in this sermon?”
a) The first answer to that question is grace—we must be strong in the grace of Christ. The Sermon on the Mount is law—a higher law. A law for those who have been ushered into the kingdom of Christ. We cannot hope to obey these commands apart from the grace of Christ. We cannot hope to live the abundant, Christian life apart from grace. The grace of Christ provides the strength we need. Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1, “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” We are to be strengthened by the grace of Christ. We must recognize that apart from Christ, we can do nothing, and then live in total dependence upon Him. I believe this grace comes to us as we “abide” in Christ. As we walk with Him. As we believe Him. As we obey Him. So, first of all, if we are going to live out the Sermon on the Mount, we must be strong in grace.
b) The second answer to the question, “How do we live out the Sermon on the Mount?” is by walking in the Spirit.
c) Charles Stanley has assessed the situation well in his book, The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life: “For too many believers the Christian life boils down to simply doing the best they can. There is no dynamic, no power, and there is no real distinctive that can be attributed to anything other than discipline and determination. I meet believers all the time whose doctrine can be summed up in two statements: 1. Nobody’s perfect. 2. God understands… Jesus let it be known, however, that God was looking for more than our best. He was looking for a life-style and attitude that superseded our best, a life-style and attitude that we could never attain through our own efforts. And so He said, ‘But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you’ (John 16:7). Think about this. If we don’t need any help, why send a Helper? The promise of a Helper presupposes that we need help. The promise of a Helper was Jesus’ way of tipping us off to one of the most profound truths concerning the Christian life—it’s impossible! The quality of life Jesus expects from His followers is unattainable apart from outside intervention.” (pgs. 3, 8)
3. We want to be a people—a church—that lives out the kind of life Jesus describes in the Sermon on the Mount. In order to do that, we must have the engine, the power, the Holy Spirit in the front—in His rightful place. We must know Him and be in relationship with Him and be led by Him in order to be the people—the church—that our Lord, Jesus Christ, desires us to be. We can do our best, but that’s about as effective as if my Dad would have started pumping the gas pedal on that old Ford. Until the Holy Spirit is providing the power, we will struggle to get nowhere.
4. How do we get that power—that “mighty inner strength” Ephesians 3 speaks of? How do we walk in the Spirit? We begin by taking a fresh look at the Holy Spirit—we reintroduce ourselves to the Holy Spirit. Last week, we looked at the nature of the Holy Spirit—that He is a Person (not a force) and that He is God. Because He is a Person, we can have a relationship with Him. You can’t have a relationship with a force. But, you can have a relationship with a Person. Because He is God, that relationship is more than significant. That relationship requires that we understand His work because much of what it means to be in relationship with the Holy Spirit is to simply let Him work and cooperate with Him as He works in our lives.
II. Body—A lot can be said about the work of the Holy Spirit, and we will not cover everything today. In fact, I intend to spend at least the next three weeks exploring the subject. For lack of a better way of describing it, let’s call today’s study “What the Holy Spirit has done.” Past tense. Next week, we’ll look at what the Holy Spirit is doing in the daily life of a believer. But before we go there, we have to understand some other things.
A. The Holy Spirit’s work in creation.
1. Genesis 1:1,2.
2. Genesis 1:26,27. I’ve heard lots of explanations for why these are not references to the Trinity, but none are satisfactory. A plain reading of these verses reveals the first indications that God is One, but three Persons in the One Godhead.
3. Job 33:4.
4. So, the Holy Spirit—as God—fully participated in the work of creation.
B. The Holy Spirit’s work in revelation.
1. Ezekiel 2:1-4. This is Ezekiel’s call to the ministry and clearly, God spoke through Ezekiel after the Spirit of God entered him.
2. In 1 Samuel 10, when Saul was anointed as king of Israel, we’re told that “the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied…” He spoke for God.
3. David—in 2 Samuel 23—after being described as the “sweet psalmist of Israel” was quoted as saying, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.” In other words, The Holy Spirit wrote the Psalms.
4. The New Testament confirms this. 2 Peter 1:20,21 tells us the Holy Spirit “moved” the writers of the Bible. He used their pens and their personalities and their vocabularies, but the Holy Spirit moved them to write it exactly as He desired so that it is without error.
5. So, the Holy Spirit worked to reveal God’s Word for us.
C. The Holy Spirit’s work in the Life of Christ.
1. As we’ve seen in our study of Matthew, the Holy Spirit was constantly at work in the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit at His baptism. He was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil.
2. We’re also told that that Jesus was empowered by the Spirit to do His miracles (Matthew 12:25-27), His teaching was done in the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14, 18-21) and at one point, we’re told that He “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Luke 10:21)—now that’s a picture of a Spirit-filled life.
3. So, the Holy Spirit worked in the life of Jesus.
D. All three of the above are truly past tense. These are three of the most significant works of the Holy Spirit that are past tense. For the rest of our time, I want to explore the work of the Holy Spirit that is past tense for each believer, but future tense for you if you have not yet believed in Christ for salvation. Let’s look at … The Holy Spirit’s work in salvation. This is what I want to spend the majority of our time on today.
1. The Holy Spirit convicts unbelievers. In other words, the Holy Spirit shows the world its need for a Savior.
a) John 16:7-11.
b) Here, Jesus called the Holy Spirit parakleto"—“The Counselor” or “The Helper”. “The world” in this context means unbelievers. So, the idea here is the Holy Spirit proves to unbelievers that they are sinful. He helps them understand that they are in need of “righteousness” and face “judgment” if they do not “believe” in Jesus.
c) The obvious application, then, is Believe!
(i) If you are an unbeliever, the response the Holy Spirit desires of you is belief—trust in Christ for salvation.
(ii) If I asked you whether or not you knew for sure you’d go to heaven if you died today, and your answer was either “no” or “I hope so,” please consider whether the Holy Spirit is convicting you this day of your need for salvation in Jesus Christ. If you understand and believe that you are a sinner and you agree that you can’t be good enough on your own and you believe there is a hell waiting for anyone who does not believe in Jesus, the message for you is simple: Believe! The Holy Spirit is convicting you of your need for Jesus. It’s very real and it’s eternally important. Trust Jesus right now. If you are unsure about all this, I invite you to see me immediately after the service.
2. The Holy Spirit regenerates believers. In other words, the Holy Spirit causes people to be born again.
a) Titus 3:4-7. The Greek word translated “regeneration” literally means “genesis again”—born again. The Holy Spirit causes us to become believers.
b) Why? Because of our goodness—because we earned it? No! The whole point here is that God saved us because He is merciful and generous. Only through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit can anyone hope to be “born again.” The phrase “born again” is a picture of the impossible. Even though it is impossible for us, nothing is impossible for God (Luke 18:27).
c) Even though this is a work entirely of the Holy Spirit, this does not mean we should just say, “Isn’t that interesting” and go on our merry way. There is a response God desires from us because the Holy Spirit has regenerated us apart from our works. What is it? Work! Good deeds. Write this in there somewhere: Do good works for the glory of God. Look at v.8 of Titus 3. The logical response of those who really understand grace is do good works which glorify God.
(i) Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Our good works don’t get us saved, but they do bring glory to the One who saves us.
(ii) Ephesians 2:8-10. We were created “for” good works. We’re regenerated by the Holy Spirit so that we can do good works for the glory of God.
3. The Holy Spirit baptizes believers.
a) 1 Corinthians 12:13. When Paul wrote that we were “all” baptized, he was referring to “all” Christians. 1 Corinthians was written to Christians—carnal or fleshly or immature Christians, to be sure. But it was definitely written to believers. So, baptism in the Holy Spirit is something that takes place at the time of salvation. Some well-meaning Christians teach that the baptism in the Spirit happens later in the Christian life—at different times for different Christians. But, Paul could not have confidently said “we were all baptized into one body” if that was the case. But, if baptism takes place when a person becomes part of the “one body” (the Church), then Paul’s statement makes sense. He made a similar statement in Galatians 3:27 as well.
b) It’s true that in the Book of Acts, some believers—especially the apostles—were baptized by the Spirit after they were saved. But, it must be remembered that Acts was a transitional time in history and their experience is not necessarily the normal Christian experience. The normal Christian experience is primarily derived from the epistles—the teaching of the apostles, not just their experience.
c) Romans 6:1-5. Notice that in this passage, Paul wrote of how we were “baptized into Christ Jesus.” This is the same thing as Holy Spirit baptism. Notice also that Paul clarifies the word “baptized” in v.3 with “united” in v.5. So, to be “baptized” by the Holy Spirit is to be “united” with Christ.
d) Even though this is a work entirely of the Holy Spirit, this does not mean we should just say, “Isn’t that interesting” and go on our merry way. There is a response God desires from us because the Holy Spirit has baptized us. Read on in Romans 6:6-10. What is the natural response to being “baptized into Christ Jesus…united with Him in the likeness of His death…and resurrection?” Read vs. 11-13. Consider and present yourself as one who is alive to God! Consider—realize, recognize, remember—who you are in Christ. You are alive—not dead! Sin is not your master! Christ is your master. It doesn’t make sense for you to just go on sinning thinking you can’t do anything about it. Your Spirit baptism united you with Christ in His death and resurrection, so consider yourself death to sin and alive to God. Sinless perfection? No, but a new creation who can choose not to sin? Yes!
4. The Holy Spirit indwells believers. At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit comes in as a resident in the life of a believer.
a) John 14:16,17. Notice at the end of v.17, Jesus described the indwelling work of the Spirit: “He abides with you and will be in you.”
b) But don’t miss what He said in v.16—the Holy Spirit—the Helper—will “be with you forever”! In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was not promised to believers “forever.” The Holy Spirit left King Saul, for example, when he disobeyed God. But one of the great promises of the New Testament—from the mouth of Jesus Himself—is that we get the Holy Spirit “forever!”
c) Even though this is a work entirely of the Holy Spirit, this does not mean we should just say, “Isn’t that interesting” and go on our merry way. There is a response God desires from us because the Holy Spirit indwells us. Turn to 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. Why should we “flee immorality”? Because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. He “indwells” us. Write this down: Glorify God in your body.
(i) “Immorality” in v.18 refers to sexual sin—fornication. But, I don’t think it would be a misapplication of this passage to teach that glorifying God in our bodies extends to many areas. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” How we use our bodies. What we put into our bodies. How we take care of our bodies. These are all opportunities to glorify God in our bodies.
(ii) The basis of Paul’s argument is this: Your body is not your own. Your body belongs to the Holy Spirit. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, therefore it should be used for worship. That which brings glory to God.
5. The Holy Spirit seals believers.
a) Ephesians 1:13. The “promised Holy Spirit” is described as “a seal.” This is a financial or economic metaphor. We have been purchased (by Jesus at the Cross) and our owner (God) stamped us with a mark of ownership (The Holy Spirit). His constant indwelling presence is a guarantee that God will accept us and we will always be His.
b) Even though this is a work entirely of the Holy Spirit, this does not mean we should just say, “Isn’t that interesting” and go on our merry way. There is a response God desires from us because the Holy Spirit seals believers. Read on in Ephesians 1 to see this desired response. Ephesians 14 tells us two very important things. First, “pledge” literally means “down payment.” In other words, the seal of the Holy Spirit is a deposit which guarantees our inheritance of salvation and heaven. It guarantees us that the taste of heaven—i.e., God’s presence—that we experience through the indwelling Holy Spirit is “a view to the redemption” we will experience when we finally get to heaven someday. The Holy Spirit is a taste of heaven on earth. Secondly, v. 14 tells us what all this is supposed to result in: Praise! To the praise of His glory! Write this down: Praise God for the guarantee of heaven. The believer is eternally secure and the seal of the Holy Spirit is the proof.
6. The Holy Spirit gifts believers.
a) 1 Corinthians 12:7-12. The Holy Spirit gives every believer at least one spiritual gift at the time he/she is saved. Did you know this? This is the work of the Spirit. We should never feel pride because of our spiritual gifts and we should never feel inferior because of our spiritual gifts. The one who is gifted with more prominent gifts did not choose those gifts. He did not earn those gifts. The Holy Spirit sovereignly gave those gifts. The one who is gifted with less prominent or less impressive gifts was not given those gifts because he is not as smart or not as beautiful or not as important. Paul goes out of his way here in the verses which follow in 1 Corinthians 12 to tell us that every member’s gifting is important. We should never say someone is not as important to the body because their gifts may seem less important.
b) Even though this is a work entirely of the Holy Spirit, this does not mean we should just say, “Isn’t that interesting” and go on our merry way. There is a response God desires from us because the Holy Spirit gifts believers. We’ll talk about gifts more later in this series of messages, but today let’s look at one important response by asking why—why did the Holy Spirit give each of us a gift or gifts according to 1 Corinthians 12:7? “For the common good.” This means we are supposed to use our gift for the “body” (v.12). We are to use it to serve others. The point is that we should always be involved in a church and help out where we can, using our giftedness for the common good. You are a “member of the body” and if you don’t do what the Spirit gifted you to do, everyone suffers. Write this down: Discover and use your gifts for the good of others.
1. All these things we’ve just looked at happen instantaneously and simultaneously when we are born again. When we trust Jesus for salvation, we are flooded by the work of the Holy Spirit—He regenerates, baptizes, indwells, seals and gifts those who trust Christ for salvation. We must remember and appreciate these works and understand who we really are in Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
2. One of the keys to finding the “mighty inner strength” we need is found in simply understanding the initial and permanent work the Holy Spirit has already done in our lives. But, the Holy Spirit continues to work in our lives in a constant and intimate way. We’ll look at His continuing work in the life of a believer—if the Lord wills—next week.
3. I feel it would be appropriate to close this message by praying Ephesians 3:14-21 (NLT). I invite you to bow or sit or kneel or stand as you feel led by the Spirit this morning. “…I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. 17 And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. 21 May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen.”