“…I believe in the Holy Spirit…”
This morning we come to the final affirmation about the nature of God…I believe in God the Father…I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son…I believe in the Holy Spirit…One God manifest in three persons…Three unique persons existing as one united God – the Holy Trinity…The only understanding of God that can embrace the nature of God as the high and holy, all-powerful Creator AND the intimate, tender, and compassionate Savior, teacher, and companion…present with us…Without the Holy Trinity, the core of our faith loses clarity and we lose the sense of awe that should surround our faith in God…We put God in a tiny box of our own construction so we can take him out when we need him and leave him alone when he is inconvenient. Philip Yancy observed that…We have domesticated angels into stuffed toys and Christmas ornaments; We have made jokes about Peter at the pearly gates; Easter has been turned into plastic grass and bunny rabbits; The wonder felt by the shepherds and the reverence of the Wise Men has been exchanged for Santa Claus, reindeer, and elves; God is now “The Man Upstairs”; Worship for many is a rock concert with laser lights and ear-splitting music.
The Holy Trinity is vital to our understanding of the awesome power of God and the true nature of who God is…The Trinity reveals that God is relational even within God’s-self…The Puritans used to say that “God in Himself is a sweet society”…It is this perfect relationship that is the model for our relationship with God and with one another.
So, what does it mean for the church to confess faith in the Holy Spirit?
1. The Holy Spirit gives the church authority…
- Since the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has represented the authoritative presence of God…The Gospel didn’t stop with Christ’s ascension; The Gospel continues across time because of the power of the Holy Spirit that gives us authority to share the Good News…The Holy Spirit reminds us that God has authority over the world and within the world. The Holy Spirit shows us how to pray…The Spirit teaches and guides us…The Spirit nurtures the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control in our lives…Dr. Tennent says: “Indeed, our lives, our vocations, our every breath becomes a radiant reflection of God’s work in and through His Spirit.” It is the Holy Spirit who is the vehicle for God’s prevenient grace that draws to God even before we realize we need a Savior…The Holy Spirit showers us with prevenient grace to enable us to hear the gospel and put our faith in Jesus Christ. We have no power of our own to open our hearts to Jesus; only the Holy Spirit enables us to die to our sin and rise to life in Christ.
2. The Holy Spirit empowers us for mission…
- When Jesus left the disciples he told them they would receive power from the Holy Spirit and they will be witnesses to the ends of the earth…Jesus gave us the responsibility – the duty – to bring the gospel to everyone we meet…The Holy Spirit gives us the power to fulfill our responsibility…Studies show that there are nearly one billion people in the world who have never heard the truth about Jesus Christ…I dare say that some of these people live in your neighborhoods, work where you work, and shop where you shop…Every day you encounter someone who has not heard the real truth about Jesus and the hope that he offers…It is YOUR JOB to tell them.
3.The Spirit manifests signs and wonders…
- The purpose of the church is to reflect the life and ministry of Jesus…The Spirit provides us the continuity of this “God with us” reality…Dr. Tennent says that the Spirit: “delivers the not yet into the already”…This means that what we often consider to be “future events” – things like healing, reconciliation, and deliverance – are already present in the world because of the Spirit. It also means that when we are tempted to think of the signs and wonders of God being only available in Bible times, the Spirit reminds us that these same signs and wonders are happening all around us even now. People are still being healed today by the power of the Holy Spirit…Women and men experience reconciliation with one another and with God every day…The poor and marginalized still receive hope…We are still convicted of sin…We are still redeemed.
God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and proclaimed: “I dwell in a high and holy place, and also with him who is humble and lowly in spirit.”
- “I believe in God the Father Almighty…”
- “…and in Jesus Christ, His only Son…”
- “I believe in the Holy Spirit…”
- God in the high and holy place; God with us; God at work in the world today…This is what it means for us to confess faith in the Holy Spirit – It is to confess faith in a God that is so big that we cannot imagine the wonder, the power, and the awesomeness that is God…Faith in God who is, who was, and who will always be…Faith in God to save, to teach, to empower, to heal, and to embrace a world that aches to know hope and whole relationships…This we believe, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…Amen.