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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Matt's Messages "The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit"

“The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit”
The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit
June 1, 2008
Ephesians 4:30, 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Acts 7:51-53

Now, this is last Sunday in our 13 week series on the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit and in the spirit of Graduation Sunday, we’re going to start this message with a “final exam!” Pop quiz time.

From February through May, we discovered and explored 10 vital ministries of the Holy Spirit to us.

Name them. Somebody yell out one! We’ll get them all in some order.

2. The Holy Spirit Brings Us to Christ

3. The Holy Spirit Assures Us of Our Relationship with God

4. The Holy Spirit Guides Us Into Truth

5. The Holy Spirit Dwells Inside of Us

6. The Holy Spirit Produces His Fruit In Us

7. The Holy Spirit Empowers Us to Be Witnesses for Christ

8. The Holy Spirit Incorporates Us Into the Body of Christ

9. The Holy Spirit Influences Us to Live the Christian Life

10. The Holy Spirit Involves Himself In Our Prayers

11. The Holy Spirit Gives Us Gifts to Cooperate in the Body of Christ [Part One] [Part Two]

It’s been a great study, hasn’t it?

What a precious thing it is to have the Holy Spirit in our lives!

Okay. Question #2. In the first message, we learned 4 things about the Holy Spirit. I’m going to give you 3. You tell me which I’m leaving out.

The Holy Spirit Is God. Worthy to be worshiped!

The Holy Spirit Is Mysterious. We can’t completely comprehend Him. He’s like the wind. We don’t control Him.

And the Holy Spirit is Christ-Centered. He has as spotlight ministry–brining glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. We’ll talk more about that in a few minutes.

Which one did I leave out?

The Holy Spirit is a...? Person.

He is personal. He is not impersonal. He is not like the “Force”from Star Wars.

He is not neutral or neutered or a nobody.

He is a Person. The Third Person of the Trinity.

And we have a relationship with Him.

We can have fellowship, communion, relationship with the Holy Spirit.

This series (and now this last message) is entitled: “The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit,” and want to use this last message to highlight again our fellowship, our relationship, with Him as a Person.

There are three points I want to make this morning. And they come right out of 3 basic texts. The first is Ephesians 4:30. Let’s read it and pray.

[scripture reading, prayer]

#1. DON’T GRIEVE HIM. Let’s read that verse again.

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

We’ve already talked about that second part of the sentence. We were marked in Christ with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit! He guarantees our inheritance.

But here’s our side of the relationship: Don’t Grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

See how personal He is?

He can be grieved. He can be sorrowed. He can be disappointed and displeased with us.

And we don’t want Him to be.

Don’t Grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

Now, He can’t be surprised. It’s not like the Holy Spirit wakes up someday and plays the DVD of our day yesterday, and He says, “Oh rats, he did it again! I didn’t expect that! Boy, the Father and the Son are going be mad about that one!”

No. But He genuinely feels it when we stray away from where we should be.

Now, what could we do that would grieve Him? The context tells the story.

Chapters 4 and 5 of Ephesians are about living a new holy kind of life now that we’ve been saved by the Cross of Christ.

Jump all the way back to verse 17, and we’ll just read down through it.

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. [Sounds like Desperate Housewives to me!] You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. [There’s that “body language” again!] ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

And here’s our verse, smack in the middle:

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

And it goes on, but you get the picture.

Grieving the Holy Spirit would be a Christian falling back into his or her old ways and living like the world and like they did before coming to Christ.

Grieving the Holy Spirit would be living an unholy life.

Remember, He’s the HOLY Spirit, after all! And He wants to produce His holy fruit in us. If we go back on that, it will bring Him sorrow.

I used to think that God’s unchanging nature meant that He could really FEEL things.

But that ridiculous and goes against the biblical data!

I used to think that it was a mistake to tell a child that God “feels sad” when we sin.

Because...I thought that it didn’t get across the whole idea of God’s hatred of sin and it made God out to be something like a pansy, weak.

But even though there is more to God’s feelings about our sin than sorrow (feeling sad) it’s not less than that!

The Holy Spirit is grieved by our unholiness. Don’t Grieve Him. Repent.

Notice again how communal the Spirit is. He wants to build us into a body. Togetherness.

But many of these are sins against the Body:

Speak the truth. Put off falsehood.
Stop stealing.
Stop having a filthy mouth.
Don’t be bitter.
Don’t get angry. If you are righteously angry, don’t sin.
Be kind and compassionate, forgiving each other, because you are forgiven by God! Notice the gospel-power that empowers our holiness.

Don’t let your relationships be broken and grieve the Holy Spirit.

Would it change our behavior at all if we thought about how our actions make the Holy Spirit FEEL?

Listen to this quote from Puritan Pastor John Owen (1616-1683):

“Let this be our meditation: ‘The Holy Spirit is infinite love and kindness to me. He has wonderfully chosen to be my Comforter. He does this work willingly, freely and powerfully. What great things I have received from Him! How often he has comforted my soul! Can I live one day without Him? Shall I not care what he wants to do in me? Shall I grieve Him by my negligence, sin and foolishness? Shall not His love constrain me to walk before Him in such a way that brings Him great pleasure?’ In this way, we shall have holy fellowship with Him” (Communion with God, pg. 203).

Amen?

Turn now to 1 Thessalonians 5:19. Another quick little verse at the end of a letter. 1 Thessalonians 5:19.

Here’s what it says. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

“Do not put out the Spirit's fire.”

Does anybody have the King James Version here? What’s the old word for putting out a fire?

“Quench not the Spirit.”

#2. DON’T QUENCH HIM.

One of the images that the Scriptures use to metaphorically understand the Spirit is that of fire.

Remember the tongues of fire that were on top of the apostles heads in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost? That was a sign that the Spirit had come.

And that the Spirit was UP TO SOMETHING.

Fire burns. It’s powerful and effective and accomplishes something. Does something.

It moves and conquers and blazes forth.

Here the Bible says, “Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire.”

Don’t quench Him.

Now, ultimately, we can’t do that. We can’t kill the Holy Spirit!

But we can throw water on what He’s doing so that He decides to burn somewhere else.

I think that this is a call for us to NOT get in the way of what the Spirit wants to do.

Look at the context for this command. Drop back to verse 12.

“Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.”

That’s a command to follow church leaders and to esteem them. Our church is really good at that.

Next week, I’m going to start a 3 week series celebrating our 10 years here in ministry partnership with you. Heather and I have been here now 10 years. My start date was officially June 14, 1998. And I’m going to brag on you next week for the way that you have followed and loved us.

And that’s a part of not getting in the way of the fire of the Holy Spirit.

And then it says (v.13), “Live in peace with each other.”

If we get into rolling conflict that will put a damper on what He’s trying to do. V.14.

“And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. [That’s ministry there!] Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. [Keep on living the Christian life! Here’s our verse:]

“Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt [We talked about that last week. But catch this:] Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”

Testing everything according to Scripture is another way of NOT putting out the Spirit’s fire.

Some people think that if you test things against Scripture then you are doubting God and getting in God’s way. No way! We are called to be noble Bereans searching the Scriptures daily to see what is true!

If someone (even me!) tells you to “Just trust me” and “Don’t get in the Spirit’s way” and “Don’t think too much and test an idea against Scripture,” then don’t listen. Put your fingers in your ears and run far away. V.23

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

Don’t throw water on the flame.

Let Him burn!

Don’t grieve Him.
Don’t quench Him.

Listen to Him.

I have a friend who pastors a church and he’s had some really hard times with some of his leaders.

They don’t just want to test everything against the Scriptures.

They want to pick everything my friend does apart and never move forward with vision or leadership.

They haven’t always done verse 12 and 13 very well.

One time, when folks in the church were unhappy with my friend, his other leaders sided against him and kind of stabbed him in the back, participating in gossip.

It’s been really hard for my friend. I’ve been praying for him.

But in the last month, they had a leadership meeting where the Spirit was really speaking to them.

And then my friend sent me this email:

“Thanks for your prayers. The meeting went better than I expected. God answered many prayers. Hope renewed.”

The flame shoots up again!

We learned back in Experiencing God to look for where God is working and to join Him. And that’s right.

Of course, it’s not always easy to figure out where He’s working.

V.14 says that he’s working in the idle.
He’s working in the timid.
He’s working in the weak.

But wherever we find Him, we need to strive to join Him, not get in His way.

Amen?

“Be joyful always [not “happy happy happy,” but truly full of joy that we belong to Jesus]; pray continually [not lock yourself in a monastery, but live your life on “speakerphone” so know you what God is telling you to do]; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.”

Don’t Quench Him.

And #3. DON’T RESIST HIM.

Turn back to the Book of Acts, chapter 7:51-53

This is Stephen’s last words. Stephen was the first Christian martyr. He was the first guy to die for witnessing for Jesus Christ.

And they let him preach a sermon at them before they killed by throwing stones at him!

Chapter 7 is the sermon. We’re just going to read his concluding paragraph.

He’s been telling the Jewish Religious Leaders where they went wrong, and how they’ve gone wrong all along. And he ends (v.51):

“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised [meaning faithless] hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One [the Christ!]. And now you have betrayed and murdered him–you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”

That was the message.

And they covered their ears and rushed at him and dragged him outside of the city and began to stone him.

That’s resisting the Holy Spirit!

He can be resisted!

He is a Person.

And He calls us to listen to His voice!

If you hear His voice today, don’t harden your heart. Listen to Him.

What is He saying?

Many things, many comforting things, if we are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

If we aren’t yet, then He has one main message.

Jesus is Lord. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Turn and put your faith in Him.

Remember, the Holy Spirit is Christ-Centered. He isn’t pointing to Himself. He’s pointing to Jesus.

Stephen said, “You always resist the Holy Spirit! [You] even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One [Jesus]. And now you have betrayed and murdered Him...”

The Spirit says BELIEVE IN JESUS. Don’t resist Him.

The ultimate in resisting the Spirit is blaspheming Him.

And Jesus said that the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin.

Yes, you heard me right. An unforgivable sin.

The story is in each of the first three gospels, the ones we call the synoptic gospels.

Jesus heals a man who is demon-possessed and blind and mute. Imagine that?

A demon. Can’t see. Can’t talk.

Demon gone! Can see. Can talk again!

And the Pharisees say, “Hallelujah!” Right?

They say, “it is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

They see the clear work of God and they call it “Satan!”

Jesus knew what they were thinking and he said, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? [It can’t. Come on!] And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. ... And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy [the speaking reviling falsehood] against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (quote drawn from Matthew 12).

It’s one thing to speak a word against Jesus.

It’s another thing to constantly reject the clear revelation of the Holy Spirit about Who Jesus Is and say that He’s from Satan!

Some people who love the Lord Jesus have been afraid that they’ve committed this unpardonable sin. I had a precious saint ask me about it just a few weeks ago.

If you’re afraid that you have, you probably haven’t! There is very little chance of it.

Because you can’t love Jesus and have committed this sin!

This is the sin of hating Jesus and not believing that He is the Christ, the Savior, the One who died on the Cross to pay for our sins and to give us forgiveness and new and eternal life.

And instead to call Jesus–“Satan.”

You can’t truly love Jesus and be unforgiven.

Worship at the Lord's Table

That takes us right down here to the Table.

This Table stands for the message of the Spirit–the Gospel.

This is what He’s saying to us.

This is Christ’s body broken for you. Do this in remembrance of Him.

Don’t resist Him. Believe!

This is Christ’s blood poured out for you. Do this in remembrance of Him.

Don’t resist Him. Believe!

If you are not yet a faith-follower of Jesus Christ, haven’t yet put all of your eggs in His basket and trusted in the message of Gospel, then you are resisting Him.

It may not feel like it, but it is.

Don’t resist Him. Listen to Him. Put your faith in Him. Trust Christ.

Put your faith in what Jesus on the Cross for sinners. Come to Him in faith.

This Table is for believers only. If that is not you, yet, then let the plates pass you by, but talk with God about who Jesus is. Right now, right here, you can stop resisting the Spirit and be born again.

If you are a believer, you are invited to eat and drink this meal together.

Use the time of meditation to think about your relationship with the Spirit.

Are there any areas in which you are grieving Him, quenching Him?

Any area of unconfessed sin? Any areas that you need to talk to Him about? And get worked out with Him? Maybe you’ll want to read Ephesians 4:17-32 again while we pass out the elements.

Is there anything you think the Spirit is trying to do and you’re putting a dewy damper on it?

Turn from that, too, and watch the Spirit blaze.

2 comments:

Matt,

Thanks so much for this series! What great reminders and encouragement...

And thanks for letting us net-folk read along with you!

HeavyD!

Thanks for your encouragement.

I see that you're getting out of the blogworld for awhile (at least on the publishing end). Hope that faith-based decision yields big dividends.

Blessings,

-Matt