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Theology For Aliens:
The Holy Spirit Powers Us
March 13, 1994

JOHN 14:15-27

John Killinger in his book, You Are What You Believe, reports a survey he conducted. He stopped five people and asked them, "Who or what is the Holy Spirit?" Here are the answers:

"Should I know the answer to that?"

"It's the same as the Holy Ghost, isn't it?"

"Sounds scary to me."

"I don't know; I'm not into all that New Age stuff."

"It's the Spirit of God, I think."

Of particular interest is that these five people were not random pedestrians approached on some street corner of the city. They were all members of a Christian congregation encountered in the halls of their church building. Four were adults, one was a teenager.

When Paul first arrived in Ephesus, he met some Christians. During the get acquainted conversation, Paul asked them, "Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?" They answered, "We haven't even heard about a Holy Spirit." Evidently, much of the modern church is also ignorant of the Holy Spirit.

I'm preaching a series of sermons this Lent and Easter on basic Christian beliefs, beliefs of the Christian colony in this alien, pagan land in which we live. We are presently looking at the Trinity, how we know God in three primary ways: the Creator, the person Jesus who was both fully human and fully divine, and the Holy Spirit. Who or what is the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost, and what does the Holy Spirit do?

First, what is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is God present with us right now. God the Creator creates. God the Son walked on this earth. God the Spirit is with us right now. The God who made you loves you in Jesus and powers you through the Holy Spirit. As an engine is powerless without gasoline, so we are powerless without the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, what does the Holy Spirit do? We will look briefly at five acts of the Holy Spirit. 1) Jesus, in our lesson this morning, told the disciples the night before he died that God would send a counselor, a helper, an advocate. The Holy Spirit is the mothering side of God, the feminine side of God. Think of a mother holding you, hugging you to her bosom, protecting you, encouraging you, forgiving you, whispering, "It's okay. You can make it now. You can do it. I'll be with you." The Holy Spirit mothers you, comforts you and gives you peace.

2) The Holy Spirit heals, puts lives back together, puts marriages back together, puts the body and mind back together. The Holy Spirit meets your deepest needs. At the very tender, vulnerable age of 13, James overheard his mother, in a moment of exuberance, say to his father, "I'm so proud of Clay. He's the finest son we have." James was crushed, convinced that his mother loved his brother, Clay, more than she loved him. That night a door slammed shut between his mother and him. 25 years later James was still struggling with the closed door. So firmly had the door been slammed and padlocked, so deep was the alienation from his mother and the feeling of inferiority towards himself, James had difficulty relating not only to his mother but with all women. Then, the Holy Spirit touched his life and God said to James:

 Let me show you something about those kinds of doors...None of them are real. Once a door like that is bathed in the blood of Jesus, it disintegrates. True, it may look as if it is still there, but it's only in your imagination. I have set you free. (The Helper, p. 136, by Catherine Marshall.)

James was healed. He rebuilt the relationship with his mother, as well as his feelings about himself .

I believe God heals, and I believe in intercessory prayer. During the Blessing time in our worship service, many have come forward requesting prayers for healing. When we pray individually, or together as a congregation, the Holy Spirit combines our spirits, our energies, with the Holy Spirit and focuses all the combined power on the need. Some wonder how to pray for others. What I do is often visualize the person being prayed for in the light of God. Picture him/her surrounded by the healing light of Christ. When I don't personally know the person, I visualize their name surrounded by the healing light. You don't have to use words; just hold them in God's presence. There are many examples of the power of prayer--of the power of the Holy Spirit when we offer our intercession.

3) The Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray. Romans 8:26, 27, "The Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words." An omnipotent, all-powerful God can heal, meet our needs, without our praying, can't God? After all, doesn't God know what we are going to ask before we ask? Yes, but God has given us all free will. God rarely enters where not invited, the "perfect English gentleman". Sometimes God crashes through, but God rarely acts when not asked. But, God doesn't leave us entirely to our own resources. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray, and even does our praying for us when we can't. When you find it difficult to pray, ask the Holy Spirit, lean on the Spirit, wait on the Lord, and you will be shown what is blocking your prayer. Sometimes you want to be in control, and won't trust the Holy Spirit. Sometimes there is resentment, bitterness, or anger blocking the Spirit. Sometimes there is unconfessed sin, something you need to admit, confess, and receive forgiveness. Let the Holy Spirit teach you. Wait on the Lord. Ask for insight. Ask for direction. Do you take everything to God in prayer? Lay your concerns on the Lord, give them to God, let the Holy Spirit take over.

4) The Holy Spirit gives gifts and fruits. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul lists some of the gifts the Holy Spirit gives, but not all to any one person. We each have different gifts that we are called to use in God's work as part of the body of Christ. Which is your gift? Wisdom, knowledge, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, faith, hope and love which is the greatest gift of all, according to Paul. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit. If you are in the Spirit, you should see evidence of growth in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

5) The Holy Spirit sanctifies. Have you noticed that in each sermon so far I have discussed the work of each person of the Trinity? We associate a specific act with each godhead of the Trinity: creation, redemption, and sanctification. You are created by the Creator, redeemed or saved by Christ, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. These are the words traditional theology has used. We don't often use the word "sanctification", but when I was a youth, I went to the Red Rock Camp Meeting on the shores of Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota where old-time Methodists preached the second blessing. You went to the altar to get saved by Christ, and then you went a second time to get sanctified.

Sanctification means the Holy Spirit sanctifies you, sets you apart, consecrates you, makes it possible for you to belong to God wholly, without reservation, without restraint. Sanctification means the Holy Spirit powers you to live and to act as a disciple of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit makes you a spirited Christian, full of life and vitality. The Holy Spirit makes you an inspired Christian, undaunted, unafraid, able to handle whatever happens. The Holy Spirit powers you by comforting, healing, praying, giving gifts and fruit, and by sanctifying.

What is the Holy Spirit doing in your life? Rather, what are you letting the Holy Spirit do in your life? Let me ask some questions for self-examination. Your answers to these questions will help you understand what is your relationship with the Holy Spirit, and what is lacking.

Have you evidence of the Holy Spirit's work in your life? Has the Spirit made Jesus real to you?

Are you beginning to hear the inner Voice of the Holy Spirit guiding you?

Are you seeing in yourself a new kind of love for other people? Is your love for others growing, especially those you would not ordinarily choose as friends?

Are you experiencing power in living your life and doing the work of God?

Is your prayer life deepening, growing, and becoming increasingly special?

Is there increasing evidence of the fruits of the Spirit in your life? Gentleness, joy, peace, self-control, generosity, kindness?

And, lastly, have you ever asked God for the gift of the Holy Spirit?

This last question is perhaps the key question. Have you ever asked God to fill you with the Holy Spirit? Have you asked God to make you, wholly and completely, a child of God, a friend and disciple of Jesus Christ? My prayer is for the Holy Spirit to make you hunger for the Spirit, to yearn, long, and thirst. Then, turn to God, and ask for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comforts, heals, prays, gives gifts and fruits and sanctifies. The Holy Spirit powers you.

© 1994 Douglas I. Norris