So today we are concluding the series on the Holy Spirit and I will tell you, I don’t really want it to end. This is such a huge topic, it’s so big it’s hard to cover in just a couple of sermons. The Holy Spirit is so important, and what is funny is I think that the Spirit is often overlooked and can be so misunderstood. We have spent a lot of time in this series bringing you to a place where you understand that without the Holy Spirit in your life you are in really big trouble because we need the help. God knew it, and sends you and I the Spirit to dwell in us. This is why Jesus actually said that it was better that He left so we could have the Spirit.
John 16:7 But 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. NIV
You know as I read this verse to you a couple of weeks ago I kept thinking back to my times first really learning of the Holy Spirit. I would read that particular verse and I have to say it didn’t really make sense to me. Doesn’t it seem a little odd? Why would it be better for Jesus to leave? I mean if any of us had a choice, wouldn’t we all choose to spend just one day with Him? Well through this series we have learned just how true Jesus’ words were, the Holy Spirit is a big deal, and has a lot of different roles in our lives. The Spirit is described as a helper, a counselor, a comforter, and we are going to get into that some today. So yes, there is a lot to cover in regards to the Holy Spirit, but I think we need to focus on something that is extremely important today. We have looked at practical ways to live in the spirit. We have talked about the importance of following the Holy Spirit, but let’s take a step back for a moment and look at this from a bigger perspective.
Here’s the thing about the Holy Spirit, He makes God real to you and to me. You see if you wanted to I think you can explain God away. You can rationalize to me why we all came from primordial slime, or how the universe came perfectly together because two big rocks hit together millions of years ago. There are plenty of people trying to do that. You can rationalize Jesus away if you want to, you can look at Him as some part of history. You can tell me all the reasons why the resurrection was a hoax, how a few women rolled a 50 ton stone out of the way of the tomb, and how a man who was beaten to a pulp, skin ripped off, nailed to a cross, can run the from one town to the next just 3 days after a spear ripped into his side and blood and water flowed. You can do that, (not that I would buy into it but you could do it!) You could make it heady and intellectual and try to rationalize God and Jesus away, but here’s what you can’t do. You cannot rationalize, explain, or debate the work of the Holy Spirit and I really want you to see this. It’s because the Holy Spirit gives us something to see, something to touch. The Holy Spirit gives us something that you can’t explain away! Do you know what that is? It’s true life change. This is why seeing people’s lives moving towards Jesus is such a big deal, because life change can only happen through the Holy Spirit. As we see it, we see God doing something we can’t do without Him!
Look I think we all have moments of doubt. You know, moments when you wondered if there really is a God out there at all. Typically this is in those moments when life is not necessarily going the way I want it to go…but then I look back at my own life and I KNOW GOD IS REAL. Why? Because I was an angry, wounded, violent, mess and you know what, I am none of those things anymore! How can you explain that? I was selfish. I was prideful. I partied hard. I lived for myself. I was so angry and hurt that I couldn’t see the good in anything or anyone, and I don’t see life that way anymore. Now, there was definitely some work for me to do in that process but God took it from me. He took my heart of stone and has given me a new heart. He took my brokenness and redeemed it. He gave me a fresh start on life, when I pretty much ruined mine on my own! And here’s the deal, I have no way to explain my life change without God in it because I know I couldn’t have pulled it off on my own. I was dead, and now have life again. I was lost and now am found. I was a prisoner and now I’m free. I was helpless to drugs and alcohol and sins that I felt stuck in and that’s not me anymore. I am so grateful for all the God has done to heal me, redeem me, and allow me to walk in freedom from things I never thought I could be free from and I know that I can’t take any credit for this 180 degree turn in my life. I had no clue how to explain it because it was beyond me. But I get it now, it was all God’s doing. It’s God in me! There is no other explanation. I have a helper, a guide, and a friend in The Holy Spirit. God in us changes us in a way that we cannot in our own strength. Do you see it? Life change is revealing God to us! If you ever wonder if God is real? If there is a Holy Spirit? Look all around you. Look at the life change. Look at the marriages that are being reconciled. Look at the people forgiving, loving, serving, sharing, free from there selfish ways! I think that is why our Baptism services and our Christmas services are so inspiring and hit our hearts so hard. It’s because true life change makes reveals God to us. It makes Him so touchable and so real to us. You can try to explain God away, but you can’t explain away true life change. That is why I believe Jesus knew that by leaving and sending the Holy Spirit we could actually have a shot in this dark, dark world. The Holy Spirit, God in you proves that God is real, through life change and it’s this idea of life change that I really want to look at today. I want us to focus on Jesus’ words in John 16 where he is explaining to the disciples who The Spirit is and why He is so important.
John 16:1 “I’ve told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead. 2 They are going to throw you out of the meeting places. There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he’s doing God a favor. 3 They will do these things because they never really understood the Father. 4 I’ve told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you’ll be well-warned and ready for them. “I didn’t tell you this earlier because I was with you every day. 5 But now I am on my way to the One who sent me. Not one of you has asked, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Instead, the longer I’ve talked, the sadder you’ve become. 7 So let me say it again, this truth: It’s better for you that I leave. If I don’t leave, the Friend won’t come. But if I go, I’ll send him to you. 8 “When he comes, he’ll expose the error of the godless world’s view of sin, righteousness, and judgment: 9 He’ll show them that their refusal to believe in me is their basic sin; 10 that righteousness comes from above, where I am with the Father, out of their sight and control; 11 that judgment takes place as the ruler of this godless world is brought to trial and convicted. 12 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. 13 But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. 14 He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. 15 Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I’ve said, ‘He takes from me and delivers to you.’ (MSG)
So Jesus starts by warning them that life isn’t always going to be easy, do you see that? In verses 1-4 he is making it very clear…he is basically saying “Hey, just a heads up…life isn’t going to be very easy.” That is something that is really important for us to hear because so many Christians fall into this lie that because Jesus is part of our lives and because we go to church and are trying to live a Holy life that life will just be easy. Jesus makes it clear, that will not be the case! Life is hard. But here is what is really cool, Jesus builds off of that by saying, yes life is hard…but I am sending you help to get through it. Do you remember me telling you that all through scripture we get to hear the different roles that the Holy Spirit plays in our lives? Well Jesus gives us a very important one right after the warning…he says the Holy Spirit is a counselor that He is sending to guide us through life. This is huge!
John 16:7 But 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. NIV
So Jesus is explaining that in this difficult world He is sending us a Counselor to guide us through life. This is huge! When you think about that it’s almost like God has given us our own GPS to guide us through life. Aren’t GPS’s awesome? Do you remember trying to read maps? Now we just type in an address and have our phone literally guide us to our destination. What’s even cooler is that if we get off track, the GPS just lovingly guides us back on track with one little word, “recalculating!” What a nice way to travel around, with a calm voice guiding us to our destinations! I can tell you so many moments from my life when I wish I would have had that kind of guide. When my life would get completely off track, and I wish I had a warning system inside me helping me along the way. So every time I did something stupid the warning system would whisper to me, “recalculating! Hey Sam, we need to make the next turn to get back on course. You aren’t where you should be!” Boy oh boy that would come in handy! Well, what we learn in John 16 is that Jesus did send us that GPS, we have that life guide, and it’s in the form of the Holy Spirit! But and it’s a really big “but” we have to be willing to listen and follow it. Has anyone ever typed in an address to a destination and still gotten lost because they were either not paying attention and missed the turn, or just didn’t do what the GPS asked? It happens sometimes, and it’s because the GPS doesn’t steer the car, you do. It’s no different with the Holy Spirit in our lives. You still have to follow it and as we have learned throughout this series, the Holy Spirit is an amazing part of our lives…but we must be willing to obey the Spirit’s guidance, and that often is the hardest thing about it. We must allow the Spirit to guide us.
So Jesus has given us this incredible gift of the Holy Spirit and all we have to do is let God lead and we can live differently. We can experience life change. This is so interesting, the GPS can tell you it’s recalculating and try to lead you back to where you should be but you must follow it there! Remember we have talked about these two natures that we are all at war with, our fleshly desires vs God in us. A great way to know if you are allowing God to lead you, is to look at what is coming out of you! If you don’t see the fruit (love, joy, peace, patience…) of the Holy Spirit in your life there is only one reason…you have not surrendered your life to Him. Here’s the ultimate question from Paul here.
Galatians 5:18 Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence? (MSG)
The word choose is really standing out to me here! God has given us this incredible gift of the Holy Spirit, our very own GPS to guide us through life. But here’s the trick to a GPS, it only works if you choose to let it lead you! Many of us continue to walk through life doing things our own way, the GPS tells you turn left, but we know a better way don’t we! Then we wonder why we struggle, why we get lost…why we don’t see the fruit of the spirit in our lives. What a gift, to send someone to us that Jesus says is better to have than even Jesus himself! God in us, true life change…an opportunity to live a life full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All that needs to happen is to let God lead! You know what is really cool Jesus actually shares with us some of the different ways God leads in our text we are studying today. We see the first way in verse 8…
John 16:8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. NIV
So the one of the ways Jesus says that we will be led is that the Counselor will convict us of our sin. So the Holy Spirit in us makes us aware of our sin. Now this is so important for you to hear. Conviction is not a bad thing! We live in a world today that seems to have a problem with that idea, that conviction can be a good thing. We don’t like hearing that there are any ramifications to anything we do. We live in a culture that says everything should be happy. Do what makes you feel good…don’t talk about rules, and sin and things like that because that stuff seems unfair, and oppressive. We live in a culture that says live in the now and any weird feeling that you get from living like that should be ignored but here’s the deal. That conviction of sin, IS the Holy Spirit inside you saying, “Recalculating!” It’s not a bad thing. The Holy Spirit exposes your sin to you and says “Hey, Sam what is this…we need to take this to the cross and get rid of it…it’s time to get back on track! Let’s keep going because this is getting fun! Check the end of this text we have been looking at…
John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. NIV
So here we see that the Holy Spirit will also guide us into all truth. This is such big deal! Check vs 13 out again in the Message version…
John 16:13…he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. (MSG)
So when we read the Bible we see that Jesus has given a lot of instructions…he told stories, he explained everything to us…and if you remember it often left people confused regardless of how clearly he communicated…it still can today. Here Jesus says that the Holy Spirit is going to help us understand the Truth that He spoke to us! So The Spirit will literally help us understand what Jesus did, why He lived the way He lived, and how we should live too! This is a huge moment for us and I want you tracking with this, each and every one of us has a purpose. Jesus shared very clearly with you and I what we are to do as His disciples, but for whatever reason we end up wrapped up in a lot of other things. We have been called by God to something greater and The Holy Spirit brings that truth to light, it makes Jesus words so clear. Here’s the mission we are all called to, what’s funny is when I say something greater…it may not be what you are thinking of as greatness!
Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” NIV
This is the mission of Christ. This is what it is all about, helping other people experience Him as we are experiencing Him! So as we allow the Counselor into our lives we begin to understand that life that Jesus lived, the mission that He was on and we actually find our purpose and the plan for our lives in the process as we engage this greater mission.
You know each and every one of us has this pull that has been wired into us. It’s this calling, or this drive to fight for something greater and that drive has been instilled in us by God. We are led by the Holy Spirit to begin to understand that drive, and it brings us to the mission of Jesus where we find true purpose. We have been called to a great cause and the Spirit helps us dial in to this mission but we need the Holy Spirit guiding us there, if The Spirit is not leading us we end up in some pretty interesting battles because we are all geared towards finding one! I call this my Whale Wars Principle.
My Whale Wars Principle: My wife used to watch this show called Whale Wars. It was a show about a bunch of people who would give up their life savings, travel into the Antarctic Ocean and literally risk their lives trying to fight off Japanese Whalers in an effort to protect whales. While they weren’t very successful, it was a noble effort. I mean the whales needed help and they tried their best, but often as I would sit there watching these people literally risking their lives in the Antarctic Ocean I would think to myself, “Boy oh Boy, everyone needs something to fight for, and if they don’t have a guide…you can end up drowning in the freezing cold ocean, 1,000’s of miles from your home while trying to save the whales. Now before you think I hate whales, I don’t. I think they are really cool. It is a good and nice cause but without a guide we can end up directing that need to engage a battle into the wrong things. The Holy Spirit is that guide, spurring us on, helping us understand the truth of who Jesus is and what we are to do. The Spirit leads us to the mission of Christ. We are called to a battle that wages into all of Eternity! I think this is why we see so many people passionately finding fights to fight in the schools, in the youth sports programs, or wherever it may be because we have been wired by God to engage something more, but we aren’t listening to our Guide, telling us “recalculating” as we enter the Arctic Ocean…and we miss out on the greater mission at hand and end up fighting much different fights.
We see this a lot in the church itself. If I asked everyone in the building today what the purpose of MRC is, I think most of you who have been here long enough to know it, and you could probably tell me that ‘we exist to help people find God, we exist to help people who are dying in their souls, living in their own personal hell, we exist for them. We want to help them experience the redemption of Christ. This isn’t something we just randomly decided to do. This is the same mission that Jesus called us all to, so many years ago. We believe this to be true, and many of you are here and inspired by that same mission. You know what, we are so thankful to have the Holy Spirit as our guide to keep us on task because it is amazing the things that can pull our focus off of that mission. Think about church as you know it. Does it exist to help pull people out of their personal hell? For many people they look at church as a resource. It’s a place for Christians to find comfort. A place that should help make me friends. Basically it’s a place that should give to me, and help me feel taken care of, with programs and nice activities. We need the church to entertain us, to give us things to do, and let’s face it….if it doesn’t end up meeting all those things, we will go find a different church that does. There have been many times in my own ministry experiences where the Holy Spirit has spoken to me and said “Sam, recalculating!” We don’t need another program. We don’t need another club or group. What we need is more of God, what we need to do is what Jesus challenged us to do…we need to help others experience Him!
One of the most impactful moments where the Holy Spirit spoke to me guiding me back on mission was when I was running the Youth Group here at MRC, years ago. We didn’t have a building, and we moved home to home. The summer time was always our best times where we would have Pool Parties, and we were gaining a lot of momentum. Are youth group had really grown. Which wasn’t saying too much because we started with just a couple of kids, but this particular summer we were really growing. On good nights we could have 30-40 kids. My leaders were excited, and frankly it was nice to tell people we had so many people there each night. I felt great about that, but deep down, I didn’t, I actually felt convicted by the way things were going. We were having a lot of fun, but we playing for an hour and 45 minutes and doing a small lesson and I knew we needed to go a new direction, where we spent more time engaging and learning about God and less time playing. One night right before I spoke to the Youth I felt like The Holy Spirit was saying…”recalculating” I felt fear in it, because everyone liked the way things were going, but I knew what we had to do and I knew it wouldn’t be a popular decision. My team didn’t want to hear that we were going to go away from the fun and engage God’s word more. We might lose kids…but I knew what needed to be done. This wasn’t a baby sitting service, we were to help make disciples, we needed more God focus. And you know what we did lose some kids, but the kids that stayed became true followers of Christ, with a spiritual depth that mattered so much more than me telling people that we had a big youth group. Ironically, one of those kids just graduated from Liberty with a Bible degree and is now leading our Youth Group today.
You see the Holy Spirit has so many roles in our lives. He is a comforter. He is a Helper and He is a guide to lead us through this difficult life. Without the Holy Spirit living and active in us guiding us through life it would be very easy for us to walk through life and not see our sins for what they are. The Holy Spirit exposes our sin to us so that we can continue to move towards Holiness.
Without the Holy Spirit there to guide us it would also be very easy to slip off mission. We can end up very easily slipping into all kinds of other fights, other than the one that God has called us into. It would be very easy to end up drowning in the Arctic Ocean fighting the wrong fight…it would be very easy to watch the Church become more about who is doing what, who is speaking or singing. More about the movies, and potluck dinners, small groups and programs, and well just entertaining Christians. The tragedy in that is this, while good Christians who know Christ already feel good, people all around the church are dying and going to hell. People with in just miles of this building today are waking up in their own personal hell. They are in desperate need of a savior too! So every time we sway off course the Holy Spirit is there to take us by the hand and guide us back on course! When we stay on mission as a church whether as a church or individuals get to help other people experience God’s love through Jesus Christ…man there is just nothing greater than that. Not everyone will get that, to most people that seems a little out there…but it is the mission of Christ and it’s our too. Life change is a beautiful thing and it only comes with the Holy Spirit living and active in our lives…it’s in the power of the Holy Spirit that God becomes so real.
The Holy Spirit, God in us is has so many roles in our lives and as you invite Him into your life, and allow Him to lead your life everything changes because you now have a friend, a counselor, a helper, a comforter and a guide to walk through life with the key is to let your God given GPS lead your life.