Episode 1. Another Comforter Just Like Me
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The plan of God is to pour His abundant love; everything He is and everything He has and all His peace and His joy; His plan is to pour that out upon your life. And that … that’s why He’s sent …
The plan of God is to pour His abundant love; everything He is and everything He has and all His peace and His joy; His plan is to pour that out upon your life. And that … that’s why He’s sent the Holy Spirit.
How Thirsty are You?
We are starting a new series this week on Christianityworks called “The Holy Spirit and Me”. For most of my life I haven’t been a Christian. My early memories of church as a child were hard pews and filtered light through yellow windows and the Latin Mass and then as I grew up, a German Mass. And for me as a child, it felt like the whole thing was just droning on. I don’t mean to criticise but for me as a kid, the whole Christianity/religion thing – it just didn’t work. It all seemed pretty much irrelevant.
In fact, I remember in church, sitting as a young child, I knew my father could wiggle his ears and I thought, “Maybe I can do it too” and the biggest thing I got out of that time – sitting still for me for an hour on end was just a terrible thing as a kid – was learning to wiggle my ears. And as I grew up, I’m your typical baby-boomer – you know, I was into career, into money, into having things and I discovered I was very good at what I did so, I got onto the treadmill of life and the whole religion and rules and church thing, by and large, for me, was just irrelevant – particularly as a baby-boomer.
So when I came to that time in my life, about eleven years ago, when God started to stir things around inside of me; began to develop a sense of my own spirituality, I thought, “I only want this if it is real, if it’s relevant, if it’s here and now, if it makes a difference.” The notion of church and religion to me was vacuous and out of date and irrelevant. If there was a God I wanted to know Him and if not I thought, “I can do without all that other palaver” – you know.
I don’t know if you have been at functions or events or cocktail parties when you are standing around and you have a discussion with someone and it’s all superficial and you wander off and go and get another drink and you talk to someone else at all this superficial level. It’s so different to having a great meal with some close friends where there is a depth and a reality to the relationship. And I guess to me, that was the distinction between the whole churchy/religiousy thing on the one hand, which I saw as superficial and the depth of relationship on the other which is what I wanted with this God – with this Jesus, if He was who He said He was. A friend is someone who sticks by you through thick and thin. A friend accepts you for who you are, good and bad.
So I thought, “If I am going to be a Christian I want a deep, passionate, real relationship with God.” I remember having a cup of coffee not many months after I gave my life to Christ and this man was my pastor – a wonderful man – and he saw how excited, how passionate I was about this new relationship that I had discovered with Jesus.
And he said to me, “Berni, you know, it’s not always going to be like that. There will be days when it’s bad,” and in a sense he’s right, there are some tough days in life. But I went home and I was really angry with what he had said and I remember praying, I said, “God, if I am going to be a Christian I want to do it with my all and I want it to be a real, powerful relationship and I want to know this peace and this joy and this love and this excitement every day of my life.”
Now, there are three types of people in this world – those who enjoy a relationship like that with God – and I would encourage you to stick with us today because it will be an encouragement to listen to what we are talking about with the Holy Spirit. There are those who believe in Jesus – the second type – but they don’t have that sort of relationship. Somehow the Christianity thing is hollow; it’s empty. The third…the third are people who don’t yet believe in Jesus, who don’t have that relationship and maybe you are asking, “Well, does He have anything to offer?”
So today let me encourage you – we are going to open up a box here and look at what Jesus says about the subject of having a relationship with Him and for you to evaluate that and decide for yourself whether that’s the sort of passionate relationship you would like to have.
Way back in the Old Testament, to the prophet Jeremiah, when God’s people, the people of Israel were going through some really tough times – God always seems to show up for Israel during the tough times. And He makes really powerful and far-reaching and exciting promises and this is one of those times. He says:
Look, after all this is through, I will put My Word inside you. I’ll write it on your heart and I will be your God and you will by my people and you won’t have to teach each other and say to each other, ‘Know God’ because you will know Me. From the least to the greatest” says the Lord, “I’ll forgive you and I’ll remember your sin no more and you will love me.
I love that passage because that’s God heart; that’s God passion; that is God saying to me and God saying to you, “I want to have a relationship with you, I want to be close to you, I want for you to know Me.” You know, it’s one thing to know God; it’s another thing to know God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our spirit, to be consumed with the wonder and the awe of who God is.
There is another beautiful passage in the Book of Joel – another one of the Old Testament prophets:
And God says, “After all these things, I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy.
This picture of God wanting to have a relationship; this picture of God pouring out His Spirit – you know, He’s not doing it with an eye-dropper; He’s not doing it with a little cup, God wants to pour out His Holy Spirit.
That’s why this week we are starting a series called, “The Holy Spirit and Me”. Who is this Holy Spirit? What’s His job? What’s He like? What does He do? What’s my relationship? What’s the whole point of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit? So right now I’d ask you how thirsty are you? How much do you want to have a relationship with God through the Holy Spirit?
Intimacy with God
We are going to have a look today at what Jesus had to say about this person, the Holy Spirit and we are going to John chapter 14 – if you have got a Bible, grab it and open it up – the fourth Book in the New Testament – John chapter 14. Now Jesus has spent three and a half years with His disciples; they were fishermen and tax collectors and they had seen Him do the most amazing miracles; they had heard Him preach powerful sermons but the time was drawing near for Him to be crucified.
Now Jesus was a religious subversive. The religious establishment of the day was into rules and religion and pomp and ceremony and hypocrisy and oppression and they had done deals with the Roman occupying power and Jesus … Jesus comes along and threatens that. He is like a breath of fresh air. He hangs around with common people, like you and me. He stands up for the oppressed ones and the marginalised ones. He does miracles and He shows up the establishment and so they plot to kill Him.
So His disciples have this sense of fear and loss. He is telling them about it and they are wondering, “Well what about my life? I mean, this Jesus who has been doing these amazing things, He says He is going to be crucified – what then?”
So this little rag-tag group of fishermen and tax collectors and the people that God has chosen to establish His church are about to experience the deep loss of Jesus on the cross. And Jesus comes along and promises them something and that’s what we are going to read now in John’s Gospel chapter 14, beginning at verse 15. Let’s have a bit of a read. He says:
If you love me you will keep my commandments and I will ask My Father and He will give you another advocate; another comforter to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive because they don’t see Him or know Him but you know Him because He dwells and abides with you and He will be in you. I won’t leave you orphaned; I’m coming to you.
In a little while the world won’t see me any longer but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in My Father and you are in me and I am in you. They who have My commandments and keep them, are those who love Me and those who love Me will be loved by My Father and I will love them and reveal Myself to them. Judas – not Iscariot, another Judas – said to Him “Lord, how is it that you reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” And Jesus answered him “Those who love me will keep My Word and My Father will love them and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
And then He goes on to say:
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I don’t give it to you the way the world gives. Don’t let your hearts be troubled and don’t let them be afraid.
This is a promise from Jesus in this tough time, just like those Old Testament promises we looked at earlier. This is God showing up in a difficult, tough time, making beautiful, wonderful, powerful promises and here He promises the Holy Spirit. He says:
If you love Me you will keep My commandments and I will ask Dad and He will give you another one; another advocate.
“If you love Me …” Is He looking for perfection? No! Jesus knows we are not perfect but He is saying if you live your life for Me – if you really love Me, the things that I have taught you, the things that you have heard, the things that I’ve said are really important – My wisdom, love your enemy, love your neighbour, don’t judge other people – all that stuff, He says if you will do that, I’ll ask Dad and He will send you another counsellor. Now if you have a Bible, this word is translated in different ways – Counsellor or Advocate or Comforter “like Me”. In fact, the words that Jesus uses there mean “just like Me” – another one “just like Me”.
So all of a sudden we know something about this Holy Spirit that He is promising. The Holy Spirit is just like Jesus. Ever wondered what the Holy Spirit is like because when we say, “God the Father”, we go, “Well, I can imagine what a good dad is?” We haven’t all had good dads but we can all imagine what a good father is like and so we look at God as “Father” and we go, “Yep, I get that bit.”
“God the Son”, well, we understand sonship and we understand Jesus because we can pick up at least four books in the Bible – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the Gospels – and read exactly what He was like and how He behaved and how He reacted and what He said. But kind of getting your mind and your heart around the Holy Spirit is … it’s a whole bunch more difficult isn’t it? And here Jesus tells us what the Holy Spirit is like – He is just like Jesus.
In the Old Testament, remember we read earlier, the promise in Joel:
I will pour out My Spirit on everyone.
And Jesus is saying, “It’s about to happen folks!” God is God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – we don’t understand that fully – three persons, one God and Jesus is saying, “It’s about to happen, guys. I know I’m going to be crucified but sometime real soon I’m going to follow-up on My promise to pour out My Spirit and I’m going to pour My Spirit out on you and if you love Me, if you believe in Me, I will come and make My home in You. I’m in Dad and you will be in Me and Dad and I will come and make our homes in you.”
Let’s look at it again:
This Spirit of truth whom the world can’t receive because they don’t know Him and they don’t see Him but you do – you know Him because He abides with you.
See, “abides” is such a strong word – it doesn’t mean “shack up”, it doesn’t mean “visit”, it doesn’t mean “have a cup of coffee together”, it means “to be with us forever” and that’s what Jesus said:
I will give you another advocate to be with you forever. And we will come and make our home with you. If you love Me and keep My Word, My Dad will love you and He and I, through the Holy Spirit, will make our home with you.”
Up until then, the presence of God had been understood to be inside the temple in Jerusalem, in the Holy of Holies and no one could come close to God and here in Jesus, God comes close to us. And Jesus says, “It gets better than this – we are about to get much closer because when I pour My Spirit out, I will be dwelling with you and living in you.”
In fact, He goes on to say, in John chapter 16:
It’s to your advantage that I go away because if I don’t go away I won’t be pouring My Spirit out on you and having My Spirit is so much better.
What an amazing plan Jesus has for us! What an awesome plan to pour out His Spirit and we will pick up and look at that plan just a little bit more next.
Jesus Comes Home
Well, God does have an amazing plan for us to have a relationship with Him that is intimate and real and here and now. I remember talking to a young man at a church I was at a few years ago – I was running an ALPHA course, which is a course to introduce people to Jesus and what Christianity is all about. And this man was a young Jewish lawyer by the name of David and we were talking about the Holy Spirit – we were talking about exactly this passage that we’ve just read. It says:
I will come and make My home in you. My Spirit will abide with you forever.
And I was explaining it is kind of like God moves in. God moves into our lives, into our hearts and into our spirits and into our souls and He is with us every second of every minute of every hour of every day for the rest of eternity. And this young lawyer said ‘Woe, that’s a bit of an invasion of privacy isn’t it?’ I guess it is … I guess it is when a man a woman gets married, you know, all of a sudden there in each other’s space and they are in each other’s lives and they share the same bed and they share every room in the house. It is kind of an invasion of privacy but it’s God’s plan. Not for religion, not for rules:
If you love Me you will keep My commandments and I will come and make My home in you. I will love you, I will show Myself to you.
It says here in this passage we have just been reading. When Jesus said:
It is to your advantage that I go away so that I can send you the Holy Spirit.
What He was meaning was this: Jesus was God in the flesh and being a man He had a physical limitation – He could only be in one place at one time but the Holy Spirit doesn’t have that problem. The Holy Spirit … God the Spirit can be in me and in you and in a trillion other people at exactly the same time. The Holy Spirit is God with me and God with you, 24/7. And when Judas asks the question in verse 22 of chapter 14, when he says:
Lord how is it that You reveal Yourself to us and not to the world?
That is a good question. Jesus answer is:
I will make My home with you. I will abide with you.
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit will be on your journey with you. Not in a church, not in a building, not in a temple, not in an air-conditioned heaven, I’ll be on the journey with you through thick, through thin, through up, through down, through plenty, through not enough, through fire, through storm, Jesus is in that place with us.
But this isn’t for everyone; this isn’t for the world; this isn’t for people who say, “Well, you know something, I’m going to live my life my way and Jesus can be my little lap dog; my little puppy who does tricks and helps me when I need Him to.” No, this is on God’s terms – God is God.
If you love Me you will keep My commandments and I will ask Dad and He will give you another advocate just like Me to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot accept.
If we want to race off and live our lives contrary to God’s will, Jesus is saying “I’m sorry, but this isn’t for you. I want to give you My Spirit, I want to move in, I want to dwell with you, I want you to see Me, I want to reveal Myself to you through the Spirit of God, but you know something, it’s on God’s terms because God is God.
And sometimes we think, “Well, what will that mean? What will I have to do?” And we think, “Well, that’s God’s problem; God will teach us, God will show us when we invite Him in.” And that’s exactly what Jesus says. Pick it up in chapter 14, verse 25:
I have said these things to you while I am still with you but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you.
What a great plan! What an awesome plan! It’s so scary sometimes to contemplate this Person, the Holy Spirit and think what’s it going to mean? What do I have to give up? And all the time what the Spirit brings is joy and peace and an intimate relationship with God that we can’t even begin to imagine until He does that work in us.
And when He does that, He changes us. We get addicted to His joy. I’m addicted to the peace that the Holy Spirit brings. That’s why I spend time with God; that’s why I do what I do. I just love Him and when we do that somehow He changes us. You know those things that you’ve been trying to change in yourself all your life – I have them too. When we draw close to Him, that flame burns and somehow, all that rubbish just burns away, day-by-day, week-by-week, year-by-year. So it’s not a self-help programme, its God changing us.
For me when I accepted Jesus I did it holus-bolus. Like the disciples, it was a time of loss and fear and loneliness for me eleven years ago. When I accepted Him the pain didn’t go away straight away – I still had ups and downs – but God blessed me so greatly with a beautiful wife and daily I live in His presence and day after day after day He is changing me and touching me and guiding me and moulding me and it’s the Holy Spirit … God the Holy Spirit in me. And God the Holy Spirit in you who wants to do this; who wants to show us Jesus and tell us how wonderful He is.
This is what Jesus says in chapter 16, beginning at verse 14 about the Holy Spirit:
The Holy Spirit will glorify Me because He will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine and for this reason I said to you that He will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The plan of God is to pour His abundant love, everything He is and everything He has and all His love and His peace and His joy – His plan is to pour that into your life and my life through the Holy Spirit.
Father, I pray that as we have been in Your Word today Your Spirit would stir us up – You would give us a hunger and a thirst and a desire to be filled with Your Holy Spirit and I pray Father God in Jesus name, that You would do exactly that.