Sermon Summary (3/22/20) “What We Believe About the Holy Spirit Matters” (John 14:15-17; 26-27; Galatians 5:16-25)
Does God talk to us? I mean if we had been there when God told Abraham, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to a land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1) would we have been able to tape record it? What language do you suppose it had been in? Or does God speak to us in other ways? Through the heart?
God has spoken to me in a series of ways that have changed my life completely. I can recall the first time I visited a church in Monroe, Ct. When I observed the liturgist reading scripture, helping with communion, something inside me said, “You can do that.” A few months later, we invited a pastor to the house to talk to us. On the way home that night, I can tell you the turn in the road, the house on the hill, the tree on the corner. An incredible peace came over me. I was putting myself in God’s hands. I was going to do whatever he told me to do. That night the pastor talked to me about Lay Speaker school. Was God speaking through that pastor?
I didn’t know it at the time but these conversations, these nudges would change my life completely. Were they God speaking to me?
We are in a series of sermons on the Apostles’ Creed. What we believe matters. Today, What we believe about the Holy Spirit matters. The third person of the Trinity. What difference does it make?
John 14 is one of those amazing passages where Jesus introduces us to the Holy Spirit, here he calls it by the Greek word, paraclete. Para, meaning along side, and clete, to call. Paraclete, to call along side. Newer translations say Advocate; the KJV, the Comforter, recent, the Companion.
In John 14, Jesus says he is going away and he is comforting his disciples, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.” (v.16-17) Forever, and then “abides in you, and he will be in you.” Can you imagine anything more intimate.
And then in v.26 and 27, 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” Teach you everything. Peace. Like the turn in the road.
I am not the person I was 35 years ago at the turn in the road. What happened? The Holy Spirit happened. We believe that God’s redemptive love in human experience is realized through the Holy Spirit. We call that grace, God’s unmerited love for us that nudges us, saves us, molds us into the person God wants us to be. Our part is to say, “Yes,” to cooperate with grace. We become new creations, on to becoming little Christs. CS Lewis says that is the whole reason for becoming a Christian.
And through that God has changed the world. Because Christ lived, over the centuries everything has changed, our art, our literature, our philosophies, our governments, how we treat one another in human affairs. It has all changed. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit, God has changed and continues to change the world we live in and us.
In Galatians 5:16-22, we find God changes us from being under the power of the flesh (the power that opposes God’s will for us to love one another) to peoples embodying the “Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Then he says, “There is no law against such things.” There is simply no limit to how much you can love, or how good or kind you can be. Wouldn’t the world be better off with a little more self-control?
The Holy Spirit wants to change us. It is not us, not what we do, but the Holy Spirit within us when we cooperate, when we say “Yes.” Paul tells in Philippians, “I am confident in this, that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”
So may it be for us all. Amen.