Damariscotta Baptist Church
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

09/26/11 Sermon (Art Conley)

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Releasing God's Power

Luke writes in the book of Acts '... Paul ... arrived at Ephesus. There he found some

disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They

answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."' Acts 19:1-2 (NIV).

Introduction

During the 20th century, when the "God is dead" theology reigned, the Holy Spirit got lost in

most mainstream churches. Even today, Christians know much less about the Holy Spirit than

they do about Jesus or the Father, and yet the Holy Spirit is made known throughout the whole

Bible.

Starting in the first chapter of Genesis, we learn that "the earth was formless and empty,

darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the

waters." The Holy Spirit was there in the beginning to bring order out of chaos and continues

this work throughout the Bible. In the last book of the Bible, the Holy Spirit is there to join with

Jesus and the saints of the church to invite all to accept eternal life. The Apostle John writes:

'The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is

thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.'

Revelation 22:17 (NIV)

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, best known as the Counselor sent from the

Father by Jesus. The Bible describes the Holy Spirit as the one who convicts the world of its

guilt for not believing in Jesus the Christ, The Holy Spirit is the one who guides us into all truth

and the one who listens.

In the Old Testament, God's Spirit was generally made known through empowering

selected individuals in leadership and prophecy. The Holy Spirit worked through the Old

Testament leaders to implement God's plan to prepare the the world for his New Covenant.

Under the New Covenant, after the glorification of Jesus and his return to heaven, the Holy

Spirit became identified with the age of the church. Jesus brought us into a new and very

personal relationship with the Father, and then Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be with us to

continue this relationship. This was not possible under the old covenant, that is, before Jesus

conquered our sins and death on the cross.

After the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, the Temple was no longer required for the

animal sacrifices of the old covenant. God allowed the Temple of Jerusalem to be destroyed

for the final time in 70 A.D. Under the new Covenant, God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in his

people who believe in Jesus as their Savior. This makes God's people the new Temple of God.

Where the Holy Spirit dwells in people, there the church of God exists.

OT Bible Background - Ezekiel

Ezekiel, a contemporary of Jeremiah and Daniel, lived in a time of great turmoil. The

Northern Kingdom of Israel had fallen to Assyria over a hundred years before and the battles

still continued to rage. Now, in 597 B.C., Ezekiel witnesses the defeat his country, Judah, by

the Babylonians. Ezekiel is taken captive to the land of Babylonia with the elite of Judah. The

Hebrew nation is conquered and carried into slavery in a foreign land, after 800 years freedom.

The poor and uneducated are left behind under a puppet king of the Babylonians. At least,

the exiles have the knowledge that the city of Jerusalem and the Temple of the Living God still

stand as a symbol of hope for the promise of God that they would return to the Holy Land.

After 8 years, the puppet king rebels, resulting in a quick response from the Babylonian

army. Jerusalem was put under siege and within two years the Babylonians broke through the

walls of the starving city.

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News reaches the exiles that the Babylonians have totally destroyed Jerusalem, even

burning the sacred Temple to the ground. Just as God had warned though the prophets, he

had left his people to the consequences of their action. Now all the visible symbols of hope are

gone.

But, the God of justice is also a merciful God and he speaks to the remnant of his people

through Ezekiel. God tells the people of Judah that at the right time in the future, he will "give

(them) a new heart and put a new spirit in (them). ... And I will put my Spirit in you and move

you to follow my decree and be careful to follow my laws."

The right time was to come after Jesus prepared the world for the Holy Spirit by conquering

sin and death on the cross. This promise is to be dramatically delivered on the day of

Pentecost, with the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church of Jesus Christ.

NT Bible Background - John

At the last supper, Jesus tries to prepare his disciples for his death and resurrection with a

promise to send the Holy Spirit to be with them. In the book of John, Jesus tells the disciples:

"But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the

Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and

judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;

in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no

longer;

and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on

his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." John 16:7-

13 (NIV)

John writes that the disciples "kept asking, 'What does he mean by a little while? We don't

understand what he is saying.'" Like the disciples, we also have trouble understanding what we

can't physically see and in obeying the words of Jesus.

In the New Testament, we see a change of emphasis for the Holy Spirit, who was promised

by God through the Old Testament prophets. Under the New Covenant, The Holy Spirit brings

all believers in Jesus into a close personal relationship with the Father.

With the birth of the church at Pentecost, God would relate to his people by sending the

Holy Spirit to be with all who believe in Jesus. The old covenant Temple has been replaced

with the Holy Spirit dwelling within each of God's people.

The Holy Spirit Today

We now live in the Age of the Church or Age of the Spirit. During this age is the time for the

Holy Spirit to develop a close relationship between the Father and his people. It is through

Jesus and by the Holy Spirit, that we have access to the Father.

Just how does the Holy Spirit help us? After bringing us into the very presence of God, the

Holy Spirit helps us to pray. Through prayer we deepen our relationship with God.

In prayer we praise God.

In prayer we talk with God.

In prayer we confess our sins to God and receive forgiveness.

In prayer we intercede for others and make requests to God.

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The Spirit helps us to understand God's Word. Without the help of the Spirit, we would be

like the Ethiopian Eunuch who could not understand the Scripture. Then the Holy Spirit led

Philip to explain the good news to him. The Holy Spirit helps us to understand God's written

Word.

It is the Spirit who brings us into a relationship with God and it is the Spirit who maintains

that relationship. We are totally dependent on the Holy Spirit for our friendship with God.

Over time the Holy Spirit develops the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. As we grow with God,

the fruit of the Holy Spirit becomes more evident in our lives. The Fruit of the Spirit is "love,

joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control".

God also gives us many gifts through the Holy Spirit. These gifts include:

healing, helping others, serving, encouraging, giving, leadership, showing mercy,

hospitality and speaking.

These are gifts that God wants to develop in each of us.

How Do We Receive the Holy Spirit Into Our Lives?

God wants to fill each one of us with his Spirit. If you want to be filled with the Spirit, you

only need to ask God in sincere prayer.

PRAYER: Dear Lord; Let your Holy Spirit come into our lives and change us to do your will.

Let the change be evident to all who come in contact with us.

We pray to you, our Father, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in the name of

Jesus. Amen.