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The Holy Spirit

John Streszoff

John 15:26-27 and 16:4-15

The time of Jesus’ ministry on this earth is coming to an end. And there were two great themes which occupied His heart. The first was to reveal to His disciples the secrets of His own life, the great principles which enabled Him to function as He did: to act in the unforgettable way which was His. The secret, He said, was his relationship to the Father. The Father was in Him, and He was in the Father. The second great theme He was seeking to impress upon these disciples was the relationship they would need in order to handle life after He had left them. It would be the coming Holy Spirit who would make available to them the same principle of life by which He himself had lived. Then it would be the Son in them, and they in Him. This was to be the secret of their life. So, much of this passage deals with the ministry and message of the Holy Spirit.


Jesus explains that unless he returns to the Father; however, the Holy Spirit will not be able to come to them.


But even before Jesus gets into who the Holy Spirit is and what his role is, he kind of sets the stage first. He tells the disciples that they will be persecuted, the world will hate them, death would be upon them. Jesus is brutally honest with them – and as the saying goes – He will call it as He sees it … even if He’s deaf, blind and dumb.


A collective groan can be heard from the disciples.


But then Jesus offers up the anecdote: The Hold Spirit. Yep, there’s nothing like having someone hang you from a cliff, only to come back around to be the knight in shining armor and save you as well. You will be persecuted and hated by the world, but I will send help – in the form of the Holy Spirit.


Jesus returns to heaven.


Enter the Holy Spirit…


And I’m sure the disciples are thinking to themselves, “Great, how is this “spirit” supposed to help us?


Although in the world today, at least in the United States, we might not have to fear imminent physical harm or threat to our lives because of our proclamation of faith in Jesus Christ, we still ask the same sort of questions. How does the Holy Spirit work? What does he have to offer? What is his purpose? How do we know when he is actively working in our lives? These are all excellent questions!


#1 The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin and guilt.


What does this mean?


Through a show of hands, how many of you hate being told, “You’re wrong!” Well, me too. One time, back in 1997, I was wrong about something and was told so. And I didn’t like that either, but, like I said, it was only that one time.


And now to create problems at home for each of you this afternoon, by show of hands, how many of you men out there have nagging wives who constantly point out every fault you have and every mistake you’ve ever made since the day you met them? Are there any wives out there who feel their husbands do the same?


If your answer was a resounding, “Yes!” then you’ve had a taste of what it’s like to have the Holy Spirit convict you of your wrong-doings.


We learn more about who the Spirit is by understanding what He does. The Spirit reveals our disease (sin) and guides us to our remedy (Christ). Not only does he point us to Jesus initially, but He also continues his Christocentric work by purifying us (making us more like Christ) and empowering us for service. But this first step of course, if convicting us of our sins.


#2 Even though Jesus is not physically on this earth anymore, He still has much more to say to us.


The Holy Spirit does not speak to us on his own, instead Jesus speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. In 2003, I was challenged by a colleague of mine to read the Bible from cover to cover – no skipping around – but instead read it with an open mind about what the Scripture is telling you. I’m a slow reader, and I have to admit that it did take me several years to complete, but through the process I saw the Scriptures in a different light and learned a great deal of insight that I had not considered before. Preconceived notions I had or misunderstandings I might have been taught during my Bible classes at the Christian school I attended from 4th grade through high school graduation were clarified during this process.


So naturally, my only conclusion after completing the Bible was, “I need to go back and start from the beginning again to see what else the Holy Spirit will reveal to me through the Scriptures.


When you are open to hearing Jesus’ voice through the Holy Spirit – either by reading the Bible, praying, going to church, Bible studies, or just living your best Christ-like life – you will be surprised at what you pick up along the way. The world calls the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment: wisdom. But as Christians, we take the definition of the word wisdom a step further and define it as the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment like Jesus Christ has taught us – not what the world has taught us.


The one thing both Jesus Christ and the world agree on, though, is that “wisdom” is a life-long journey. It cannot be taught only in a book (such as the Bible), or by listening to a lecture (or sermon). Instead, wisdom is achieved through a lifetime commitment of bettering oneself each step of the way. To be a better person next year than last year – and to be an even better person the following year. And the only way we can achieve this “wisdom” is by allowing Jesus to work within us in the form of the Holy Spirit.


The concept is actually quite simple:


In the Old Testament times, the Scripture was written to establish right from wrong and to be a blueprint for us as to how to live our lives as Godly people. Jesus then came to earth and became man to show us and teach us how to do this. And now the Holy Spirit guides us on that journey – convicting us when he must, speaking to us when we ask, and encouraging us when we need it.


The conclusion is even simpler:


Listen to the Holy Spirit, learn to hear Jesus’ voice speaking through the Holy Spirit, and follow what he says to be a more Christ-like person tomorrow than you were yesterday.

AMEN

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