29 April 2008

"Blessed Be"--the glory of the LORD

Today we’re going to begin finishing up our look at the Trinity by reading about the One who may be the most misunderstood of the three Persons of the Godhead. We know that the Father is our Father and our Judge. We know that Jesus is our Savior, our Lord, the fulfillment of the Old Testament laws and offerings and feasts. But many people don’t quite understand the Holy Spirit. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to make this a Baptist vs. Pentecostal thing or a debate about speaking in tongues. That is not my intention. But I would like to show who the Holy Spirit is in relation to the Trinity and in relation to us.

One of my favorite authors is a man named A. W. Tozer. You won’t find him on any NY Times bestseller list. But when it comes to putting our relationship to God into words, there aren't many better than this gentleman. One book in particular is called “The Divine Conquest.” And he devotes more than half the book to talking about the Holy Spirit. In fact one chapter about the Holy Spirit is entitled “The Forgotten One.” We know that the three Persons of the Trinity—each one of them is God. We know that each one is equally God. We believe the Father is God, and we refer to Him as Lord. We believe the Son is God and we refer to Him as Lord. We believe the Holy Spirit is God. But how many times do we ever refer to the Holy Spirit as “Lord?” Tozer writes,

“Our blunder (or shall we frankly say our sin?) has been to neglect the doctrine of the Spirit to a point where we virtually deny Him His place in the Godhead. This denial has not been by open doctrinal statement, for we have clung closely enough to the Biblical position wherever our [creeds] are concerned. Our formal creed is sound; the breakdown is in our working creed. A doctrine has practical value only as far as it is prominent in our thoughts and makes a difference in our lives. By this test the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as held by evangelical Christians today has almost no practical value at all. In most Christian churches the Spirit is quite entirely overlooked…Brief reference is made to Him in the Doxology and the Benediction. Further than that He might as well not exist. So completely do we ignore Him that it is only by courtesy that we can be called Trinitarian. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity boldly declares the equality of the Three Persons and the right of the Holy Spirit to be worshipped and glorified. Anything less than this is less than Trinitarianism.”


The Holy Spirit deserves our worship just as rightly as the Father and Son. After all, He is God.

On the other hand, there are some who take their devotion to the Holy Spirit altogether too far. Back in the late 90’s there was a movement that went by many names. Brownsville Revival. Toronto Blessing. Azusa Street Revival. There were many strange phenomena associated with it. Holy Laughter. Being “Drunk in the Spirit.” People were falling out on the floor laughing, acting like they were drunk. Flopping around like a fish, acting like wild animals. All these people were claiming that all of this nonsense was “a move of the Holy Spirit.” The same Holy Spirit that led Paul to write this command to the churches, to “Let all things be done decently and in order” was supposedly the same Holy Spirit that made all these people act like wild hyenas. Well, they were under the control of a spirit alright. But it wasn’t the Holy Spirit. You see, the role of the Holy Spirit is not to whip people up into a frenzy and cause all kinds of chaos. God is not the author of confusion. The role of the Holy Spirit is to glorify God, testify of God’s truth, and lead us in righteousness.

We know that God has been eternally God. He has been eternally “Tri-une.” Three-in-one. He has always been Father. He has always been the Son. But He has also always been Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not just some new manifestation that happened on the day of Pentecost. We can find the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. For example, Isaiah 40:13Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has taught Him? 7 times we read about YHVH dwelling “between the cherubim.” For example, Isaiah 37:16“O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.” The word “cherubim” is the plural of “cherub,” which is a class of angels. Sometime down the road we will take a closer look at angels. They’re not babies with wings. The cherubim that God is said to dwell between are the cherubim on the top of the Ark of the Covenant. These cherubim would be facing each other with their wings stretched towards the other. In between the wings of these cherubim, there was always a pillar of smoke. That pillar was the Holy Spirit. God, YHVH, the Holy Spirit of God. We see this again when Solomon finished building the temple. 1st Kings 8:10-11And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD. The Holy Spirit filled the temple.

Did you know the first mention of the Holy Spirit is Genesis 1:2? We all know Genesis 1:1. Listen to Genesis 1:2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. The Holy Spirit played a role in creation. We need to understand something here. In the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament—in both of these, “breath” and “spirit” are synonyms. The Hebrew word רוה (ruach) means “breath,” and it means “spirit.” The Greek word πνευμα (pneuma) means “breath,” and it means “spirit.” We’re going to see in a little while why this is important.

So, what is the role of the Holy Spirit in the relationship of the Trinity? Well, we know that it was the Holy Spirit that conceived the earthly body of Jesus in Mary’s womb. Matthew 1:18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Luke 1:35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy one which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. The Mormon church teaches that Jesus’ body was conceived by natural means between God the Father and Mary. It’s like pulling teeth to get them to admit this, and they won’t unless they absolutely have to. Suffice it to say, that ain't so!

Not only did the Holy Spirit conceive Jesus’ body, but if you recall the name “Christ” comes from the Greek word χριστος (Christos). It means “Anointed.” In the Old Testament, a priest or a prophet or a king was anointed by having oil—olive oil, not Quaker State—drizzled over them, either over their head or their whole body. We find a passage in Luke 7 where a woman anoints Jesus’ feet. There’s a passage in Mark 14 where a different woman anoints His head. But when we talk about Christ being God’s “Anointed,” there is a greater, spiritual meaning. God did not anoint Him with oil, but with the Holy Spirit. Luke 4:18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor” This was a quote from Isaiah 61:1“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives…”

We see at Jesus' baptism the Holy Spirit comes down in the form of a dove and rests upon His shoulder. Luke 3:22And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, "Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." When Noah and his family were in the ark, and the waters were receding, what kind of bird did they send out to find land? The ark was a picture of Christ. Hebrews 11:7By faith Noah…prepared an ark to the saving of his house. Hebrews 10:5 says that when Jesus came into the world, He said to the Father, “You did not desire sacrifice and offering, but You have prepared a body for me.” See the parallel? Noah prepared an ark for the saving of His children. God prepared a body—Christ—to save His children. And just as the dove returned and rested on the ark to signify the salvation of those 8 people as they came out of the water, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, came and rested on the ark of our salvation when He came out of the water.

The night before He was crucified, Jesus gave us the promise of the Holy Spirit to all believers. He was with His disciples in the upper room that night. Even though Jesus had been with them for three years teaching them about Himself and how He must die and rise again, they still didn’t get it. So Jesus tells them why He must go. John 14:25-26“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” Jesus came to bear witness of the Father, to glorify the Father, to do the will of the Father. He did not come to set up a kingdom on Earth (John 18:36). He had to return to the Father.

If Jesus had stayed, He would have been bound by His flesh to be in one place at a time. We find many times in the gospels that because of the flesh He took upon Himself, He experienced hunger, sleep and thirst. Jesus was only sent to be with us for a few years, to preach repentance and the kingdom of God for a short while. When He had finished the work the Father gave Him (John 17:4), He had to leave so that the Father could send the Holy Spirit to witness to the whole world. Jesus displayed His power and authority by the miracles He performed. But the people were only convinced because of the signs and wonders. Matthew 16:4“A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” It is the wicked that need signs and wonders. Because they do not believe unless they see it with their own eyes.

Consider John 20:28-29. Good old Doubting Thomas. Kind gets a bad rap, doesn't he? He wasn't the only one who had a bit of doubt. But he just had to see the wounds. so, Jesus appeared and said, "Here I am. Examine Me, and believe." And Thomas believed. But what did Jesus say to him? "You believe because you see. Blessed is he who believes without seeing." Now that Jesus is gone to the Father, we do not need miracles and wonders. We don’t need to see to have faith. Romans 8:24--but hope that is seen is not hope. For why do we hope for what we can see? We have the Holy Spirit who testifies of Jesus Christ, and it is the Holy Spirit that convicts men of sin and leads them into righteousness. We’re going to see that next week. The Holy Spirit is the one who shows us the truth of God. We can't figure it out on our own. It is the Holy Spirit who finally gets it through our heads that we are sinners. He is the one who testifies that there are things greater than us that we cannot see.

1st Corinthians 2:14But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him... The way we are born, our natural mind, can only see what’s in front of us. We can't know the things of God, and quite frankly we don’t want to know the things of God. It’s foolishness. There was a movie came out recently called “Expelled.” Talked about how the Evolutionists have taken over the university system in this country. How all these “intellectuals” who are so much smarter than we are—Shhh! They like to think they are—they like to go around saying that this universe was not created. This podium did not come about because there was an explosion in a forest. There was not an explosion at a glass factory that made those windows. No stone quarry blew up, making these bricks. They were made, crafted, put together by someone. To say these things weren’t made by someone with a purpose, that there was not an intellect behind their creation—would be foolishness. But to the Evolutionist, saying that the universe was created by Someone is foolishness! That is how the natural mind works! “I see the planets, the stars, the galaxies. But they just kinda happened.” I don’t care how many letters you have after your name. That’s dumb! nor can he know them we could not know these things even if we wanted to. Why? because they are spiritually discerned.

If we are still thinking with our natural mind, the one that can only figure out 2+2, there is no way we can understand the words and the ways of an Almighty God who is infinitely greater than even all of His creation. So how do we figure these things out? The Holy Spirit. John 6:44"No man can come to Me unless My Father draws him." How does the Father draw that person? By the Holy Spirit. The Father sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within that person and lead them into righteousness. We cannot find our way to God, we cannot know the path of righteousness, we can't even know we NEED to be saved—unless the Holy Spirit works in our spirit to convict us and draw us to God, and confess the name of Jesus Christ as Lord. 1st Corinthians 12:3No man can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit. Not only does the Holy Spirit show us the things of God, but He also shows us the things of Satan.

One thing I get on my soapbox about is music. Some people think that the music we listen to isn't important. George Harrison—one of the Beatles—was heavily influenced by Eastern mysticism, and all kinds of weird religions. And it came through in his music. I found this quote last week, and I think more Christians need to be aware of this.

In a 1982 interview, George Harrison said that by the time Hare Krishna came to England in 1969, "John and I had already gotten a hold of the album Krishna Consciousness. We had played it a lot and liked it." The interviewer told Harrison: "I don’t think it’s possible to calculate just how many people were turned on to Krishna consciousness by your song 'My Sweet Lord.'"

Harrison replied, "My idea in 'My Sweet Lord, because it sounded like a 'pop song,' was to sneak up on them a bit … by the time it gets to “Hare Krishna,” they’re already hooked, and their foot’s tapping, and they’re already singing along “Hallelujah,” to kind of lull them into a sense of false security. And then suddenly it turns into “Hare Krishna,” and they will all be singing that before they know what’s happened."


So, how's that whole "Gosepl According to the Beatles" thing coming along at your church?

The Holy Spirit comes forth from the Father. John 15:26“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me.” Can we find Jesus anywhere on earth? We can go find a hole carved in the side of a hill outside of Jerusalem that they think was the tomb He laid in. But guess what? He ain't there! He is risen, the tomb is empty! Amen! Jesus came to testify of the Father, the Holy Spirit came to testify of Christ. If I’m a witness in a criminal trial and I say that Jimmy told me that Johnny did something—what do they call that? Hearsay.

It’s not admissible. You may be telling the honest truth. Jimmy might have ben telling the honest truth, that Johnny had done whatever. But when the Holy Spirit testifies that Jesus said, “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” you can be 100% absotively posilutely sure that He said it. Why? Because the Holy Spirit witnessed it, and the Holy Spirit is God, and God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). The Holy Spirit testifies of God by testifying of Christ.

How do we know this? It’s in the Bible. How did we get the Bible? Rather, how did the word of God make it to earth? 2nd Peter 1:20-21knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation [in other words, they did not just write down what they thought would sound good], for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit came from God, moved the prophets and apostles to write as God instructed them. This is a book made up of 66 smaller books written down by some 40 different human authors who wrote what God told them to. This was not just a bunch of old Jewish guys sitting around telling camp fire tales.

The passage we use most often in explaining the origin of the words we have here is 2nd Timothy 3:16All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. The word “inspiration”--and it should really be "expiration"--the word "inspiration" doesn’t necessarily mean what we usually think it means. We hear people say, “I woke up and saw the sunrise and it was the inspiration for this poem.” …given by inspiration of God literally means …breathed out by God. God breathed out the words. Remember back at the beginning we saw that in the Bible, the word “breath” and the word “spirit” are synonyms. God breathed His Spirit into these men to write what He wanted them to write.

This is why it’s so important to understand that the Holy Spirit is God. Because these words came from the Holy Spirit. And if the Holy Spirit is not God, then these words don’t come from God. The Holy Spirit worked in creation. He spoke the Holy Scriptures to Moses and Habakkuk and Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul, Malachi. He testifies to us of the truth of God, and the witness of Jesus Christ. He leads us into all truth, showing us the things that we cannot see with our own, flawed, human eyes.

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