Monday, March 08, 2010

What Does the Holy Spirit Do?

Getting back to the topic I was posting on before my missions break, I will be posting on my sermon series on the Holy Spirit. My second sermon was about what the Holy Spirit does. As the first sermon was a general discussion of who the Holy Spirit is, this sermon was a general discussion of what He does. Using John 16:8-14, here is my sermon outline.

I. The Holy Spirit convicts the lost (8-11).
         A. Of sin because they do not believe (9)
         B. Of righteousness Christ is not physically here (11).
         C. Of judgment because Satan has been judged (10).

II. The Holy Spirit helps the believer (12-13)
         A. He guides us in all truth
         B. He guides by speaking (13)
                  1. He does not speak on His own initiative.
                  2. He speaks what he hears
                  3. He discloses what is to come

III. The Holy Spirit glorifies Christ (14)

This passage provides the reader with great overview of the work of the Spirit. To begin with, He convicts the lost of sin. He explicitly says that this is the sin of unbelief. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts the world, a word John uses throughout his gospel to refer to humankind who are opposed to God and His will, of their unbelief. The Holy Spirit convicts the lost that they have rejected Christ. It is the Spirit’s job to convict men of this rejection. The Spirit pricks men’s consciences of their unbelief. We cannot logically argue them into heaven. We cannot provide enough evidence to convict the lost of their rejection. We cannot nag someone until they receive Christ. It is the Holy Spirit’s job alone. We are supposed to have an answer for our faith and being ready to give an answer is a must. But in the end, the Spirit is the one convicting of unbelief and the lost person must respond to that conviction.

The Spirit also convicts the world of righteousness. When Christ was walking on earth, people could look at Him and see the epitome of righteousness. However, Christ rose to heaven and is now not able to be seen. Because Christ’s physical body is not here and cannot be seen, the Holy Spirit is the one convicting of unrighteousness.

You may have seen this when you tell people you are a Christian. They may have been cursing one minute but then after you tell them they immediately clean up their language and begin talking in church-talk. This is a little like what we are talking about. They are convicted of righteousness but are looking at it in relative terms. Imagine if Christ showed up in His glorified body and stood before them or us. I would think our thoughts, words, and actions would change. But since He does not physically show up, the Spirit is the one who convicts of unrighteousness. This gap between our unrighteousness and God’s righteousness teaches us we need a bridge to God, a mediator. It is the first step in our relationship with God. We need Christ and the forgiveness he brings. The Spirit brings that conviction about.

The Holy Spirit also convicts the world of judgment. This is not the future judgment. We know this by the context. Satan has already been judged. This is in the perfect tense, which indicates an act in the past completed in the past, but the results continue on from that completed act. Satan was judged on the cross and was condemned. He may be the prince of this earth right now, but his fate has been sealed already.

"Judgment" here to the lost is that when we examine every thought, word, and action in light of Christ’s absolute righteousness, we realize we are condemned because we do not measure up. John referred to this once already in the His gospel (John 3:16-19). The fact is, the lost have already been on the cross and they have been found guilty. In fact, every one of us have been judged and found guilty. The good news is that if one receives the forgiveness provided for by Christ, that judgment has been paid for by Christ Himself.

So the summary of the first part of the sermon is this: The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts people that they have been judged. It is this conviction that leads people to accept Christ. The Holy Spirit convicts the world they have rejected Christ, their righteousness falls short, and they have been judged and found guilty as a result of this.

The second aspect of the Holy Spirit's work is that He helps believers. He guides the Spirit by speaking to the believer. John tells the reader three things about the Spirit's communication with believers. John first says the Spirit does not speak on His own initiative. Second, John says the Spirit speaks only what he hears from the Father and Son. Finally, the Spirit discloses what is to come. Now, when Jesus said this to His disciples, it is clear he was referring to all the disciples would encounter as recorded in the Book of Acts. But also, in reference to John specifically, the book of Revelation and the end times.

The final aspect John reveals about the Spirit's work is that He glorifies Christ. I believe this is where most teaching on the Holy Spirit goes awry. If we look at the Holy Spirit, we should see him pointing to Christ. The Spirit does not draw attention to Himself but to Christ. In short, the Spirit points to, or glorifies, Christ and Christ shows us what God is really like.

This provides the listener a nice introduction to the to the work of the Holy Spirit. Knowing that I was going to spend the next five week speaking about the work of the Spirit, I was not concerned that this was not an exhaustive study on the work of the Spirit. In fact, there are some very important things the Spirit does which are not brought up in this passage of John. However, it provided a great starting point for delving deeper into the work of the Spirit.