Two weeks ago, we began a series looking at how the Apostle John referred to Jesus as the Advocate who was the atonement for our sins as spelled out in 1 John 2:1-2. We connected this truth from John to several points he recorded for us from Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse” to the disciples as recorded in John, chapters 13-17. It was here where Jesus said He was sending them “another Advocate”, the Holy Spirit to be with them after He left. Today and the next four weeks I want us to look at more truths about the Holy Spirit, this third person of the Trinity. Today I specifically want to outline just a few things about the power of the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 62:11 makes a key statement about “power”. Here in this passage the Psalmist tells us that “One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: Power belongs to you God”. Whenever we want to talk about power, we must remember that all true power originates with God or better said, the Godhead or Trinity. It is this power we want exhibited in our lives and which we want to pay tribute to today.
The great preacher Charles Spurgeon stated that “Power is the exclusive prerogative of God and it exists in all three persons of the Trinity.” Do a word search under “power” on your Bible App on your phone and you will see the term power ascribed to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. You will also see it applied to others starting in Acts where this “power of the Holy Spirit” is said to reside in and work through the Apostles and others. The martyr Stephen, who was not an Apostle but was an early Christian and servant in the church in Jerusalem, is said to have had “great grace and power and performed great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8). Stephen declared to those present who would moments later stone him to death, “You are just like your ancestors; You always resist the Holy Spirit”. This same Stephen is the one who was so full of the Holy Spirit that he looked up at heaven and saw Jesus actually “standing at the right hand of God” as He was being stoned to death (Acts 7:55).
To help us in our understanding of the Holy Spirit’s power we could choose from hundreds of examples in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. I want us to look today at one specific type of power described to narrow our look that I believe you will see is sufficient to help us get started in this area. I want us to look today at the “creative power” of the Holy Spirit. This will set up what I want to cover next week which is manifesting the Holy Spirit in the church today. The week after that we will look at the Holy Spirit’s work in withering and fading as outlined in Isaiah 40. The following week we will look at the covenantal promise of the Spirit shown to us in Ezekiel 36. Finally, we will close out our seven-week series returning to the last night Jesus had with His disciples and look at the passage in John 16:12-15 where we see that the key role of the Holy Spirit, and thus us, is to glorify Jesus Christ.
The Creative Power and Work of the Holy Spirit
If you have read Genesis 1 closely you notice that the Holy Spirit was involved in creation itself. Genesis 1:2 tells us that the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. In chapters 1 and 3 of Genesis we see where God talks of “Us” referring to Himself, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, all working together in creation. They have all existed from before time began and are the first “relationship” as we covered in our weekly note back on 5/29/2020. Job outlines where God and His Spirit actually hung the stars in their specific places so that we can see the constellations we have. These have been used as signs, for navigation, and for marking time throughout the ages by mankind. Read Job 38-41 several times a year just so you get a healthy respect for how big and powerful God is vs. how small and ignorant we are.
There is another part of the power of the Holy Spirit’s creative work that deserves calling out. We looked at this point briefly a few weeks back in the lesson on “Original Sin”. Luke 1:35 tells us that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary making within her a child that would be the Son of God. The bodily essence of our Lord Jesus Christ here on this earth was as Charles Spurgeon called it, “a masterpiece of the Holy Spirit”.
This same creative power is seen in raising Jesus Christ from the dead. Scripture attributes resurrection power to Christ Himself and also to the Father and also to the Holy Spirit. The resurrection power is attributed to Christ when He says He willingly lays down His own life thus He can willingly take it up again, John 10:18. Christ asks the Father to deliver Him “out of death” in Hebrews 5:7 and we know the Father did just that. Scripture tells us in Romans 8:11 that it was the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead and this very same Spirit lives in us. In 1 Peter 3:18 we also see Peter declaring the resurrection of Christ occurring by the Spirit. There was such awesome power displayed at the tomb that the Roman soldiers guarding it all ran away. That is the resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit.
This next point is the one I hope you definitely see and remember from this note and recognize how foundational it is to seeing the Holy Spirit guide, direct and work through your life. That point is the Holy Spirit’s creative power in making you a new creation, a new creature. You have heard or read through these weekly notes a repetitive point and that is how all of God’s adopted children once were dead, meaning we had a dead spirit. We were dead in our trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1, and deserving of wrath. God then in His great mercy and grace, even though we were dead in our transgressions, He made us alive by grace, Ephesians 2:4-5. His Spirit breathed life into our dead spirit and we were born again as John 3 tells us. Our dead spirits were acted upon by the only outside force or power that could do us any good. Our dead spirit was born-again yielding our second birth. This birth was not of water, meaning from our earthly parents, but was by the Spirit. All of this happened just as Jesus explained it to Nicodemus. We are literally now a “new creation”, 2 Corinthians 5:17.
If you note the way I explained that and the way I hope to always explain it, is that God did everything in this creative act. Just as the Spirit was at work in creation of the universe and world; just as He was at work in creating Jesus inside the virgin Mary; just as He was at work in resurrecting Christ; He was also at work in creating the new you. It was His creative power doing so. You had nothing to do with it. He initiated it all and executed it all. He chose you, from before the foundations of the earth, Ephesians 1:4, 1:5, 1:11. Jesus told His disciples, “You did not choose me but I chose you”, John 13:18, John 15:16, John 15:19, all on His last night with them before His arrest.
Why is this so important and foundational? Well, if you believe that you initiated your salvation and that through some act of yours; a decision or prayer or other acts; then you may not be fully recognizing the monumental miracle of your new birth for all that it is if you are a Christian. You are in essence saying you had a part in becoming this new creation, even when your spirit was dead. That cannot be correct because the Trinity alone possesses that kind of creative power. If you had a part in it, then you may have greater difficulty ever accepting what the Holy Spirit says about you as this new creation and also difficulty in accepting the full gifting that the Holy Spirit brings upon your life. Without accepting Him fully, as a gift, as that treasure chest above your head that is opened up and the gifting and power of the Holy Spirit being poured out on you, then you may struggle all of your life with letting the Holy Spirit fully manifest Himself through you. You may never fully experience the joy and peace which flows to you through the Holy Spirit.
Many in our American culture and society, ignore or vastly underestimate the great miracle that occurred at salvation. Charles Spurgeon did not. He actually stated that he believed the “new birth” was on par, in terms of miracle magnitude, with the incarnation itself. He stressed that the Holy Spirit being able to create a new creation in millions and millions of souls was to Him, one of the greatest miracles that will ever or can ever exist. Charles Spurgeon was British and of the old Puritan school. Many called him the “last Puritan”. He was what many would call the first “mega church pastor,” a century before anyone ever dreamed or had a vision of that term. His church grew and grew because God blessed it for preaching the meat of God’s Word and also because of his strong focus on rebirth, regeneration, being born-again, whatever you want to call it. Spurgeon stated over and over that this was 100% God and that no human ever had anything to do with it. God initiated it and executed it. That is the only way we could be made a new creature or creation.
If you ask someone to explain the miracle of their new birth as a Christian, they may look at you rather puzzled. They may say, “What miracle? It was no miracle. All I did was hear the preacher say something about hell and I knew I did not want to go there. He said come down here and say this prayer and you will not go to Hell. You will become a Christian and then when you die you will go to Heaven. So that is what I did.” This person just described, may have been taught or come to the conclusion that they had something to do with salvation and thus does not look at rebirth / regeneration as a miracle. Their actions are what they focus upon. Another person may say something like, “You know, I don’t even remember what the preacher was saying that day. He preached on a certain passage but all I know is that something stirred inside me as He was reading and explaining what He read from the Bible. Something was different. I could not get settled. I don’t even remember why I went to church that day. All I know is that something happened inside me and told me I was a sinner, I needed to repent of those sins and turn to Jesus. I have never been the same since.” This second person may have a much easier time recognizing their salvation as the miracle that it truly is.
You may say, “This is confusing. Doesn’t the Bible talk about me believing? Isn’t that something I have to do? I had to have a part in it. It can’t be 100% God.” Those comments or questions from people are why I have stated many places in these weekly notes that the Bible actually tells us that our believing faith is itself, a gift. In the beautiful sixth chapter of John, the Gospel writer talks of believing, several times, as he does throughout his Gospel. Ever hear of John 3:16? In chapter 6 though John tells us in verses 44 and 65 that “no one can come to Christ unless the Father enables them”. The Father enables someone to actually approach Christ. Salvation truly does belong to God, Jonah 2:9. Christ then, based on verse 37 – 40 of this same chapter in John tells us that it is His responsibility then to receive every single one that the Father sends to Him and keep them until the last day, that day when Christ comes again. Christ actually says He will never drive a single one of them away that the Father sends to Him. All of those that the Father sends to Me will be saved and saved for all eternity.
Believing or salvific faith is itself a gift. Ephesians 2:8 says that this faith is a gift. Acts 3:16 says that the faith to even heal comes from Christ. Acts 13:48 says that after Paul preaches to a very large crowd that all who were appointed to eternal life then believed. Many heard but only those God had chosen or appointed were enabled to believe. Philippians 1:29 says that we are granted or enabled to not only believe in Christ but to also suffer for Him. And 2 Peter 1:1 tells us that we receive faith itself, just as precious as the faith of the Apostles, from Jesus Christ. If God did choose you, and I pray you believe He did, then this is the only way it can work. You owe 100% of your salvation to Him. It is all Him and it is none of you. You then spend all of eternity from that day forward after receiving this believing faith and being reborn as a new creation, praising Him out of a heart of gratitude.
The Holy Spirit with His creative power has breathed life into every Christian’s spirit and imparted believing faith into them. He has regenerated their spirit making them a literal new creation. Underline and highlight the following passage in your Bible and on your Bible app:
Titus 3:3-6 (ESV): 3) For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4) But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5) He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6) whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7) so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
I know we cannot fully “understand” what I am describing, just as the song writer and evangelist Daniel Webster Whittle could not understand it as reviewed in the lesson a few weeks back titled “I Know Whom I Have Believed”. We can know though that it has occurred. We covered this same point last year looking at salvific or believing faith as C.S. Lewis described it in his book “Mere Christianity”. Lewis said our minds start out believing that faith is something from within us but over time, walking with the Lord, we stop talking about “our faith” and instead just focus on the One that the faith comes from. We recognize that it was Him all along. The Holy Spirit speaks “to us for us” to help us know this fully and assuredly. If you believe however that you ultimately made it happen, then you will struggle fully accepting the assurance and security of your salvation. You will also struggle fully accepting how the Holy Spirit manifests the love of God through you in this world today. Oh, brothers and sisters, please begin to see today that you are a new creation, made that way 100% through the creative POWER of the Holy Spirit. Be able to sing today with a new appreciation the chorus, “I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who You say I am”.
Many will not highlight this the way I have prayerfully edited and re-edited this several times, trying to present this great truth to you today. They emphasize “your part” and as such put the pressure back on you for not only your salvation but the works God has planned for you to do as we are told in Ephesians 2:10. Even worse, some churches will not stress God’s redemptive act in the heart of people hardly at all in their services anymore. They may say, “We are all saved here in this church today anyway so there is no need to talk about salvation over and over.” If salvation is talking about a decision a person needs to make then I can understand why they might choose to make that statement. If, however, salvation is talking about the work that God does by making a person a new creation, telling them who they are without a Savior, telling them they need rescued, bringing them into the family of God as a joint heir with Christ, then that can never be spoken of enough. We must never cease to proclaim the Gospel of Christ for it is the POWER unto salvation, Romans 1:16. This new birth we are proclaiming is a part of the creative powers of the Holy Trinity. This new birth is literally the biggest miracle that will ever occur in your life. If it is the biggest miracle, then it should be treated as such in our services and our teaching and preaching. It is the key part of “your story”, your “history”. May we never be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ and this great miracle that occurs as a result of proclaiming that Gospel.
As we draw this to a close today, remember that when Christ was on the cross and dying, He cried out, “It is finished”, John 19:30. The great redemptive work of Christ, that great work that God in the flesh had come to do, was now proclaimed by Christ Himself to be finished. There was more to do though in God’s great plan for His creation. The Holy Trinity was now going to usher in “the Church”. Jesus told His disciples that the next work would be led and empowered by “the One He would send”, meaning the Holy Spirit. You began this walk as a Christian by God calling / choosing you, the Son redeeming you, and the Holy Spirit working a magnificent miracle in you, making you a new creation. The same One that did that miracle has been in the world and all Christians since Christ sent Him, this other Advocate. It is He that is carrying on that work and that will complete that work in you all the rest of your life, Philippians 1:6. It is not you. It is Him and His power doing the work through you, for all true power belongs to God.
Next week we will try to address a topic most seekers want to discuss; manifesting the gifts of the Spirit. As a focus text we will utilize 1 Corinthians 12:1-13. I pray the time today combined with what we have seen the last few weeks and will also see the next few weeks will encourage you toward a more full and complete walk with your Lord and Savior. I pray that through it you openly receive the empowering of the Holy Spirit to truly “Go Big” as Cory has referenced in his current sermon series, in big and small ways as the Holy Spirit directs, every day of your Christian life.