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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
 sites.google.com/site/rcoamaru/
 
Preached At:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:The Holy Spirit Is God!
Text:BC 11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:The person of The Holy Spirit
 
Preached:2007-12-09
Added:2009-05-02
Updated:2009-05-21
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


BELGIC CONFESSION OF FAITH XI

(Reading: Psalm 33:1-22; John 3:1-8)

 

The Holy Spirit Is God!

 

 

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ...

 

     A lot of Christians would be quite surprised to read Article XI in the Belgic Confession of Faith.

          In fact, many believers today don’t know about the rich teaching there is on the Holy Spirit at the time of the Reformation and during the hundreds of years since then.

             

     You see, they have been told that the Holy Spirit has been missing from the Church for nearly nineteen hundred years.

          It’s only quite recently that the inspiration and power of the Spirit has been rediscovered!

              Or so their teachers say.

 

     But those preachers would have an answer if you were to point out to them this Article.

          “It’s such a small Article,” they’ll say.

              And as for John Calvin being one of the foremost theologians on the Holy Spirit well that’s dead in the water.

                   Because John Calvin didn’t show that Spirit, did he?

 

     It’s always very easy to revise history in the light of your own circumstances.

          Politicians do that all the time!

              And I’m afraid those who should know a lot better in the churches aren’t much different.

 

     So let’s ourselves be informed on this absolutely vital area.

          Let’s see, and, especially, let’s show and tell that THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD!

 

     We will do that in three ways this afternoon.

          Through three aspects drawn from Article XI, and the Scripture it always goes back to, let’s see who the Third Person of the Trinity is and what He does.

 

     The first aspect is that THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON.

          This is stated clearly in the Article.

              He is “the third person of the Holy Trinity” it declares.

 

     This is an aspect which is shown in the baptismal formula in Scripture.

          At the end of Matthew 28 Christ Jesus commissions His apostles by saying in verse 18 till 20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

              “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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

                   “And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 

     Here the Spirit is honoured as God.

          But the early Church fathers weren’t always so clear on His place.

              Sometimes they got into quite a tangent.

                   And in a way it’s no surprise because the Bible says very little about the Spirit.

 

     But, then again, the Scriptures do say that the Holy Spirit didn’t come to speak about Himself.

          In John 16 verse 14 Jesus says about Him, “He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.”

 

     It could have been that there was a misunderstanding about the Greek word for the Holy Spirit - pneuma.

          This is a neutral word refers to Him vaguely as a “gift.”

              This suggests that the Holy Spirit is a “thing.”

 

     Yet Scripture also speaks of Him as God.

          And He is said to be an independent Person.

 

     It helps us to realise that sometimes Christ was also spoken of as a “gift.”

          And when the neutral word is used for the Spirit it is often followed by a masculine relative pronoun.

 

     This is what the Church affirmed in the Nicene Creed.

          In 381 AD at the Council of Constantinople the Church declared what Article XI professes.

              For the Holy Spirit “neither is made, created, nor begotten.”

 

     GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON.

          This is confirmed by the way the Holy Spirit is referred to in Scripture.

              Consider, for example, the divine names He is given.

 

     Acts 5 provides one instance of this.

          There we have the story of Ananias and Sapphira.

              They, like many others, sold property and gave the money to the early Church.

     But it was not all the money, and they pretended it was.

          So Peter was inspired to say to Ananias in verses 3 and 4, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?

              “Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold?

     “And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?

          “What made you think of doing such a thing?

              “You have not lied to men but to God.”

 

     Next, there are the divine virtues which the Holy Spirit is described as having.

          Psalm 139 tells us of one of these – His omniscience - in verse 7.

              As David cries out there, “Where can I go from your Spirit?

                   “Where can I flee from your presence?”

 

     Then there is the divine honour the Holy Spirit is given.

          We see that in the baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19.

              And you see it also in the benediction of 2nd Corinthians 13 verse 14.

                   It leaves this parting blessing, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

 

     We see this negatively when Scripture speaks of the blasphemy against the Spirit.

          Passages such as Matthew 12 verses 31 and 32, and Hebrews 6 the verses 4 till 6, make it clear who they are sinning against by doing this.

 

     It’s clear the Holy Spirit is a Person.

          And yet there is more to confirm the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

              For we turn, in the second place, to seeing that GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE WORK.

 

     Already Article VIII has described the Third Person of the Trinity as being characterised by “the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son.”

          This “proceeds from” is picked up in Article XI.

              But let’s not forget “the eternal power and might,” nor either that the Holy Spirit is described as “the Sanctifier, by His dwelling in our hearts,” in Article IX.

 

     So we may see the Holy Spirit’s specific work in creation and recreation.

          In creation it is vividly clear in Genesis 1 verse 2.

              There we read that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

 

     The psalms further describe this.

          We read in Psalm 33 verse 6, “by the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”

             

     The use of the word “breath” is commonly connected with the Holy Spirit.

          We sang of that in hymn 391 in the Psalter Hymnal.

              “Breathe on me, Breath of God,” we sing.

                   That’s asking the Holy Spirit to be with us and in us.

 

     And in Psalm 104 it’s clearer still.

          Verse 30 there sings to God about the creatures on earth, “When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

 

     An aspect of the Spirit’s creating work is also His sustaining work.

          He not only is the way God makes us but also the way He keeps us.

              Early in Psalm 104 we see how He blesses His creatures with what they need every day.

                   He does that through the Holy Spirit.

 

     This is where the Spirit especially carries out the work of God the Father.

          He is the Creator who is the, origin, and beginning of all things, visible and invisible.

 

     But then there is the work the Spirit especially does for the Son.

          So moving on from creation and it’s sustaining we come to recreation and it’s sanctifying.

             

     This point we particularly met in the reading from John 3.

          For while Nicodemus there made reference to the physical world, the Lord most definitely brought the work of the Spirit also into the spiritual.

              What could be more clearer than what He said there in verse 6, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

 

     The apostle Paul made reference to this truth in his first letter to the Corinthians.

          As he said there in verse 3 of chapter 12, “no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”

 

     The reason for this is detailed earlier in 1st Corinthians chapter 2.

          In the verses 12 till 14 the apostle declares, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has given us.

              “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truth in spiritual words.

                   “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

 

     This explains Nicodemus’s response.

          For all of his training and experience as a Pharisee who was a member of the Sanhedrin, he could not spiritually discern unless the Spirit came into him.

 

     You see, you cannot live the good life without fellowship with Christ through the Holy Spirit.

          And Paul certainly knew the frustration of not being in that state!

              How much didn’t he do in his own strength until Christ ultimately humbled him on the road Damascus?

 

     Congregation, this is the most special work of the Holy Spirit.

          He confronts us with and converts us to Christ through the Word.

              That’s why the Word and the Spirit are always found together.

 

     God’s grace, given through the Holy Spirit, has to come into your life before you find out you don’t have anything in yourself.

          Then you are turned to look to the Lord for all things!

              Then faith, hope and love, and the power of God Himself transforms your whole nature.

     It’s no wonder that in the dialogue with Nicodemus we come to perhaps the most well-known and well-loved verse in all of Scripture.

          “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

 

     This is the work of the Spirit.

          As Jesus said later in John 14 verse 26, “the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

 

     And here we come to the third point in connection with Article XI.

          For now we know GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT IS IN US.

 

     Congregation, in the same way we saw the Spirit’s work in the physical work is the care of God’s creation, so now we see His work in God’s recreation is the sanctifying of Christ’s own.

          Jesus has promised that He would be with those He saved.

              In Matthew 28 verse 20 He was most emphatic that He’s with us till the end of the age.

 

     Later on in John’s Gospel He says the same to His disciples.

          In chapter 20 that’s His peace He leaves with them.

              And then let’s note in verse 22 how He does that.

                   Because it says He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

 

     The Spirit would be the way He would continue to be with His own.

          It’s the Spirit of Christ on our hearts which is with us and that keeps and blesses us.

 

     So the Spirit doesn’t draw attention to Himself.

          He proceeds from the Father and the Son.

              To have a ‘Conference on the Holy Spirit’ is then a contradiction in terms.

                   Because that cannot be on the Bible’s terms.

 

     This is why reading through the Reformed Confessions brings out many references to the work of the Spirit.

          But rarely to the Spirit Himself.

              Rather, you will be brought to see Jesus Christ and the way He fulfilled His Father’s will.

 

     When you mature in the Christ faith you’re continually growing in Christ.

          That’s how Peter ends his final letter.

              For in 2nd Peter 3 verse 18, he declares, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

                   “To him be the glory both now and forever!”

 

     In Acts 19 we have the account of when Paul met some disciples of John the Baptist.

          It was evident they had not received the Holy Spirit.

             

     So what had to happen?

          Did they have to some incredible experience?

              Not at all!

     They had to be taught regarding the one John the Baptist prophesied was coming.

          That’s why they were taught then and there about Jesus’ doing and dying and rising again.

              It was on hearing about this, as verse 5 there says, that they were baptised into the name of Jesus Christ.

                   Then they received the Holy Spirit.

 

     We have to note this, congregation.

          For a lot of Christian leaders today think of the Holy Spirit as Simon the Sorcerer thought of Him in Acts 8.

 

     You might remember the story.

          Simon saw the miracles the disciples were doing and wanted to add it to his show.

              So he approached them and offered them money for it.

                   In verse 19 we read that he asked them, “Give this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

 

     You know, there would be many today who would only be too happy to sell it to him.

          In three or so easy steps he could soon be zapping people left, right, and centre!

              He would be right up there with Benny Hinn and all those other charlatans.

     Because that’s what they are!

          They treat the Holy Spirit as a thing!

              He is not a person to them but a plug – a plug into God’s divine electricity supply!

     “Zap!”

          And another one’s down!

 

     Well, brothers and sisters, I can honestly tell you that’s not what the Holy Spirit does.

          Because if you don’t hear the good news about Jesus there’s no Spirit in that place.

              Apart from an evil spirit – that is!

 

     The Word and the Spirit always go together.

          Separate them and there’s no gospel!

              But join them together and what a difference your life will be!

 

     I mean, isn’t it?

          You who have received the Spirit through faith in Jesus – you know the power it is.

               You are greatly encouraged and comforted every day.

                   You are being so much blessed in His way! 

 

     Oops, not quite you?

          Then you know what you need to do, don’t you!

              Let’s do that.

                   Let’s pray.  

 

    

PRAYER:

     O Lord Jesus, we have heard how the Holy Spirit leads us straight to You.

          In fact, He done that again right now.

              We have been convicted of our sin.   

     We haven’t loved You as we should have.

          And we haven’t served those around us as You did.

 

     Please forgive us.

          Turn us to Your Word again.

              Because then the Spirit will come.

                   Amen.

 

 

    

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.rcnz.org.nz

(c) Copyright 2007, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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