The past couple of days I’ve been speaking loosely around Pastor Steve’s topic last Sunday “The Holy Spirit is Our Helper,” part of his sermon series ”The Person, The Presence and the Power off The Holy Spirit.” (Listen to them all under ‘Media’ at the Lincoln Baptist Church website.)
In this address Pastor Steve drew largely from chapters 14 through 16 of the Gospel of John. These chapters are among the most endearing and personal passages in the gospels. They reveal the heart and love of Jesus against the backdrop of the eternal plan of the Father. They are also filled with teaching regarding the Holy Spirit.
I always slow down when I read these chapters. To me they are like a hot tub, or perhaps a bubble bath, words for soaking in… a place to leave the aches and strains of your day.
Just look how they begin, “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” speaks Jesus, “…I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” He continues… “I will ask the Father, and he will give you… the Spirit of truth… I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you… Because I live, you also will live… Peace I leave with you…” In chapter 15 He tells us “… I have loved you… You are my friends… I chose you… appointed you… whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
Good words. Encouraging words. Words of hope and a wonderful future—for those who have placed their trust in Christ… those who claim Him their substitution for the just penalty of their sin, and who name Him and obey Him as their Lord and King.
But the Holy Spirit does quite a different work in the hearts of those who are at present estranged from Him. John chapter 16 tells us the Holy Spirit “will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” (John 16:8-11)
It is the Holy Spirit that brings conviction to the heart… that fearful discomfort that maybe, just maybe the gospel is true! Maybe, just maybe death is not the end, oblivion does not await, and each soul must meet its Maker. An inner angst that perhaps at that meeting such a soul may be found lacking – then what?
The convicted soul wants to break and run, to do anything to escape this work of the Holy Spirit: become busy, hang with peers who also deny Him, accumulate wealth or possessions in attempts to soothe away the fear, get lost in drink, sex, chemicals. But the Spirit is relentless. “The Hound of Heaven” Francis Thompson called Him.
And why? Why won’t He leave the lost alone?
Because He loves the pursued. He wants to bring them all the above blessings and more. And He wants to use His faithful in this work… partners together with the Holy Spirit of God. To them the Holy Spirit is their Helper. He is their Comforter, Counselor, and Advocate. He enables them to be bearers of such good news, and works with them to bring conviction to the heart needing Christ.
“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor. 3:5-6).
Whichever group you find yourself in, know this: your very best future lay in ongoing surrender to God. Thank the Lord for sending us the Holy Spirit.