Synopsis of the sermon
I wonder what you think of when you hear of the Holy Spirit. We have declared that we believe in the Holy Spirit, but that might just be about all we know or think of him. For many, there could be something mysterious, even spooky about the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit.
That may be even more so when you look around at some other churches which almost seem to have gone overboard on the Holy Spirit, perhaps neglecting the Father and the Son as they focus on speaking in tongues and experiences and feeling the Spirit move.
The first thing it’s important to say is that the Holy Spirit is personal, a ‘he’ rather than an ‘it’, and the Holy Spirit is God. In just the same way as the Father is God and the Son is God, so the Spirit is God - altogether the one God, the Holy Trinity.
Right back at the start of the Bible, we find the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters (Gen 1:2). The Spirit is connected to life, to creation. If you were to follow through the Old Testament, you’ll find the Spirit empowering certain individuals for certain tasks. Bezalel is ‘filled with the Spirit of God’ in Exodus 35 to build the Ark of the Covenant after Israel comes out of Egypt. King David is empowered for kingship. The prophets ‘spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ (2 Peter 1:21). But it’s still just particular people for particular purposes.
When Jerusalem is destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, Ezekiel the prophet is with the exiles in Babylon. He too points forward to a new day: ‘I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you... I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.’ (Ezek 36:25-27). In the very next chapter, Ezekiel tells us of the vision of the valley of bones. It’s a picture of Israel: dead, dry, without hope. As Ezekiel declares God’s word the bones come back together, flesh comes on them, and finally breath comes in them - there is new hope for the people of God with God’s breath - God’s Spirit - giving them life.
The Holy Spirit helps us to live for Jesus because he helps us to become like Jesus. In verse 17, there’s another name for the Spirit - the Spirit of truth. The Spirit is God, and as such cannot lie, so, therefore, he is the Spirit of truth - he witnesses to the truth, speaks the truth, indeed is the truth. As the Spirit guided the disciples into all the truth they completed the writing of the New Testament, what Jude calls ‘the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.’ What Scripture says is what the Spirit says - and the Spirit of truth will not lie, will not contradict himself twenty centuries later. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, is given to Christians to help us live for Jesus.