Post 40 Days Power

Delivered June 8, 2003 by Rev. George Antonakos.

Sermon Text:
Ezekiel 37:1-14
and John 15:26-27; 16:5-15

Everybody quieted down when they saw I picked up the guitar. They really thought I was going to do the first-you know what? I do know one thing. I know the first note of “Help”. The Beatles song, doesn’t it just go wang (makes sound) ? I know that one. If I was thinking, that is what we should have played todaywe should have played “Help” by the Beatles, because we need help and the Holy Spirit of God is the greatest help anybody can ever experience, and we are going to read about that right now in John, Chapter 15 and the last two verses and about ten verses in Chapter 16. And this is Jesus speaking to his disciples prior to his death. Actually at the most helpless moment I think they experienced. He started talking about the greatest help that they could ever anticipate. So let’s look at the text here, John 15, 26, and 27, and then sliding over to Chapter 16, 5 and the following.

“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. An you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet non of you asks me, “Where are you going?” Because I have said these things you are filled with grief. 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 come, he will convict the world of guilt 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 the hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Sprit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.

Lord, we pray that you would seal the words to our hears and our understanding. We ask it in Christ’s name. Amen.

Dr. Leslie Borsay in Omaha tells about the days when people were experimenting with electricity back in the 18th century, and some Frenchmen wanted to know how quickly electricity moves. So they asked the Abbot of a large monastery to provide 1,000 monks for an experiment with electricity. They had all the monks stand in line, and they each held hands. The first person in line was given a jolt of electricity, and when that happened, 1,000 monks jumped up into the air at exactly the same time. Dr. Borsay drew three conclusions from this experiment and I think I have them right up here. Here they are. Number one, first electricity moves with astonishing speed. Secondly, Abbots in French monasteries in the 18th century had tremendous authority over their monks. And third, wouldn’t it be wonderful if 1,000 people in the church today could get excited enough to jump into the air at the same time? That would be wonderful.

We know that that kind of enthusiasm can only happen when there is something from outside of us empowering us. That enthusiasm will not happen without divine help. We need a jolt from God if we are going to work together and jump together. Thank God that help is ours today, that we remember today, but today especially, Pentecost Sunday, 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus. The promise of the Holy Spirit that Jesus spoke about through his disciples fell on the church, and after waiting and praying for days, they experienced the filling of the Holy Spirit, the control of the Holy Spirit and cowards were turned to brave men and women, and they proclaimed the gospel and the world was never the same. The church turned the world upside down, or right side up as the case may be. The Holy Spirit of God is what we celebrate today. Pentecost Sunday.

Now listen, everybody needs help. Every single person in this world needs help and I would say the most pitiful soul going today is the person who believes that they don’t need help, that they think they can make it on their own, that they are self-sufficient and they really don’t need anybody. They are captains of their own soul, master of their own fate. That, my friends, is a sorry soul. Every single person needs help today.

I was reminded of this when our daughter was married just two Fridays ago. I shared with you on Celebration Sunday if you were there last Sunday night how I felt God’s help from all your prayers, but I, just when I am standing here right in the same place that it happened, it reminds me of how much help I needed and I prayed. I asked people to pray and people were praying for months for me and one elder in a session meeting just before the Friday wedding,this was Monday, the wedding was Friday, and he said to me, “You know George, you are pretty emotional. I think you are going down.” I said, “Well, thanks a lot. I really appreciate that encouragement. But anyway pray, okay, because I really need help.” I know I need help because I am very emotional about this stuff.” There were four places in the day that I distinctly remember God’s hand just lifting me up. I was about ready to go over the brink. The first time was when I was standing at the end of that aisle and ready to walk my daughter down the aisle. It was just one of those, dads know what I am talking about who have been through this, but if you have never been through this, you just can’t understand. It is just so emotional, and I am walking my daughter down the aisle and the two moms are sitting right there. They are both balling. And then the groom is choking up over here and the best man sees him and he starts a little bit and so I said, “Lord, please help me please” when we got to this point and the Lord helped me. He did. I kept it together. I stood up here and I welcomed everybody and we sang the hymn. I was walking down in a tux and I had to run over here and get my robe on, and I really needed help back there believe it or not. I was trying to get my robe on and the stole, the thing that I wear, it was getting all twisted up and I am like, starting to panic because I only have so many seconds to get out here and do the thing, and thankfully the videographer was standing right here and I said, “Come here, come here. Help me get this thing on.” I am nervous as a cat, right. And then afterward I got it all together and came back out and stood right here. I conducted the wedding. I think I looked rather calm at that point, but it was like the proverbial duck on the water, you know. What you see is real calm, but underneath, that’s it. It’s just peddling as fast as you can, right.

The other part was when they said their vows to each other, and they were looking into each others eyes and they said it with such passion, and they memorized their vows and I am like, Lord help me and He did. And then when they knelt for the first time as a married couple and I was ready to pray over them and the Lord helped me again. And then when I gave them the charge at the end. I wanted to say a special word to each one of them because I just felt like the Lord gave me the right thing to say for each one of them, and just as I was looking in their eyes and trying to say it, again I felt right on the brink and God helped me and I was just remembering that day and how many prayers had gone into helping me. You know, we had friends out in the parking lot helping with the traffic and others had helped us decorate and Patty Dixon, our wedding consultant, she just helped immeasurably and other people I can’t even name just were helping us. I thought that day came off because we had such tremendous help and we need to learn to ask for help. What I am trying to say by all of that is to say this, God in his Spirit is the greatest help we could ever ask for. He will actually, the Lord teaches in this text that he will actually be one just like himself living and working through each person who puts their trust in Jesus Christ. See we don’t need advice. We need help. We need help. And so, the Holy Spirit of God is the help that we need.

This is what the Lord was trying to communicate to each of his disciples. And I want you to note in John Chapter 16, verse 6 he says, “Because I have said these things, to you, you are filled with grief.” What things? He said, I am going away. I am not going to be with you anymore as you have experienced me. And he said, because I have said this to you now, you are filled with grief. I want you to think about something. Jesus did not short circuit the experience of grief. He knew that there would be a long term benefit through the grief that the disciples would have to go through and if we will trust in him, the Lord Jesus will transform every grief to our benefit. That is what he was trying to communicate to them. That the Spirit, it was to their benefit that he went away, even though they were feeling badly at the moment because he said that if he didn’t go away, the Counselor would not come. Who is he talking about? Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you. Some translations say Comforter. Some translations say Helper. The Greek word is paracletes.

We have a Paraclete ministry here at Central. What does that mean? Paraclete means to come along side of somebody and offer support and aid. The Paraclete ministry is when somebody is struggling and suffering a trained counselor comes along side and just listens and tries to encourage and pray for the people who are struggling.

Well, Jesus said, I will send to you the Paraclete, the Comforter to be with you and to live inside of you. Notice again, this was at a point the disciples felt totally helpless. How can it be good Lord that you are leaving them? It’s good, believe me. Because the helper that you need is coming. Another Counselor, one just like me, in fact, if you turn back to John 14 and verse 16, Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth.” He will give you another Counselor. Now, the word another in the original language, there are two words for our English word another. One is allose, which means another of the same sort. If I held up an orange, I would say here is an orange. And I would say, here is another orange. It’s the same, its another but it is the same kind of thing, okay? The other Greek word is headeros, which is another of a different sort. So, I would hold up an orange, and then I would hold up an apple and I would say, “Well, they are sort of the same, okay, but they are different.” They are the same but they are different. So, which word allose or headeros, let’s go back to those Greek words, which word do you think Jesus used when he said, “I will ask the Father and he will send to you another Comforter.” Which one do you think he used? Number one, exactly. He said, I have been the Counselor, I have been the Comforter, I have been the Helper, I have been with you, you have learned everything from me, and now another one just exactly like me is going to actually come and help you and live inside of you and guide you into truth and convict the world through you and teach through you. That is what the Holy Spirit is going to do.

How many of you when you woke today said, “I am so glad the Holy Spirit is living in me today?” Not many? It’s true. The Spirit of God is living in me. Say it with me. The Spirit of God lives in me. The Spirit of God lives in me. Now, that’s true if you are a believer. If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then that’s true. See, one of the things that the Bible says is that the Spirit will come in the world to convict the world of sin and what did Jesus say in that text? He said, “Here’s sin, that they don’t believe in me.” If you listed or you ranked all the things that could be the worse sins to the least sins, do you know what number one would be? It wouldn’t be murder. It wouldn’t be adultery. It would not be any of the big 10. Okay? It would be not believing in Jesus Christ whom God has sent to be the Savior of the world. That is by far number one up there, because everything else leads from that. So Jesus is saying, if you have trusted in me, if you have banked your hope on me, if you have exchanged your life for mine and have asked me to take up residence in your life, without any question the Spirit of God lives in you. You may not feel it, you may not have any kind of fluttering experience, but its by faith the truth that when you accept Christ, the Spirit of God comes and resides in your heart and in your body. Do you believe it? I hope so. I am thinking some of you are like really? Are you kidding me? The Spirit of God, the living God lives inside of my body, yes. Do you remember what Jesus said when the same Spirit that raised or Paul said, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will raise our mortal bodies. The Spirit of God is the seal of eternal life. It’s like Mandy and Greg, when they gave each other rings, okay? Like an engagement ring, they said “Look here it is. Here’s the seal that we are going to give each other to ourselves fully. Here’s the down payment, that engagement ring.” The Holy Spirit of God is not only our help for this life, but our help for eternity. He is going to bring us into the presence of God. Now, here’s the thing. Even though the Spirit of God is living inside of you as a believer, he may not be controlling you. He may not be filling you, controlling you. That’s all if means to fill, is to control. Why? Because we may be blocking the Spirit in some way.

It’s like a little kid said to his father, “Dad, did you go to church every Sunday when you were a kid.” And the dad said, “You better believe it man. I went every Sunday.” And the little kid said, “Well, I bet it won’t do me that much good either.” So, why did he say that? Because he didn’t see something, okay? People don’t care how much you go to church. If you go and you talk to somebody and you say, “I made 52 Sundays in a row last year.” People don’t care about that. But, if they see God coming through you, if they hear it through your words and your actions and your behaviors something that is other worldly, they will take notice. They will see there is a difference, and they will want to know why that difference exists.

Listen to what Paul Tillek says, a famous theologian. He said, “The saint is a saint not because he is good, but because he is transparent for something that is larger than he is.” That’s why. And, that something larger is God himself living in and through us, but that can be blocked and here is how it can be blocked. In Ephesians, chapter 4 in verse 30, Paul says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.” “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.” And he goes on to say how we grieve the Holy Spirit. And I think we have a slide on that. The Holy Spirit can be grieved. He says, “Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.” How do you grieve the Holy Spirit? He says, “Put aside all bitterness, all anger, all slander, all kinds of interpersonal ways that we can grieve the Holy Spirit.”

And then in 1st Thessalonians 5:19 he says, the Holy Spirit can be quenched. Now what does that mean? Well, it means that if the spirit wants you to do something and you don’t do it, then you are quenching the Spirit. Here’s a way to think about it. The difference between grieving and quenching. Let’s see the next slide. When the Spirit says no and we say yes, the Spirits grieved. Okay? The Spirit says, don’t you talk like that. I know you are ready to say that to your spouse or to your daughter or son or parent and it’s right on the tip of your tongue, don’t do it. And you do it, you have grieved the Spirit. If on the other hand, you are walking along with your friend and the Spirit says to you, you know you ought to tell your friend a little bit more about why you are so happy. Why you are a Christian and you say, “No, I don’t think so Lord. I am a little afraid.” Okay, you have quenched the Spirit. If the Spirit is prompting you and the Spirit says yes,and you say no, then you are quenching the Spirit. Either way, when we grieve or quench the Spirit, we block the flow of Gods’ Spirit through our life. That’s why you can see Christians who don’t look like Christians or Christians who are indifferent to witnessing for their faith or Christians that just seem to be really not centered. That’s because they block, its not that the Holy Spirit is not living in them, it’s that we blocked the Spirit and we have all done that. But, Jesus says that when the Spirit is flowing through you and active in your life, you are going to be a witness for Christ. You know the mark of the Spirit in your life; you are going to be speaking about the things of Jesus. You are going to stay close to Jesus. You are going to want to hear what he says and you are going to want to tell what he says to other people, okay?

But you may be sitting here and you say, look I want to do that, but I am afraid. Or, I feel empty or I feel weak. I feel useless. Listen to me, the Spirit of God is within you. The Spirit of God lives inside of you. You know for centuries there have been misunderstandings about who is the Holy Spirit. Some people say it is a force. Some people say an it. The Holy Spirit is a person, the third person of the trinity, as much God as the Father and the Son. Father, Son and Holy Spirit residing in us. Listen to what church father Gregory says,

“The deity of the Holy Spirit ought to be clearly recognized in scripture. Look at these facts. Christ is born. The Spirit is his forerunner. The Spirit was the one who impregnated Mary. Christ is baptized, the Spirit bears witness. The Spirit came down as a dove upon Jesus’ baptism. Christ is tempted; the Spirit leads him out into the wilderness to be tempted. Christ ascends to the Father; the Spirit comes and takes his place as another Comforter. What great things are there in the character of God, which are not found in the Spirit? What titles, which belong to God, are not also applied to him? He is called the Spirit of God. The Spirit of Christ. The Spirit of the Lord. The Spirit of adoption of truth, liberty, the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, godliness, all these things are called the Spirit of God in the scriptures. This only begins to show how unlimited he is.”

All of that power is residing in you. Then there is really nothing to be afraid of because that Spirit once we take a step of courage, will come through for us and speak through us. We must not just believe, we must act on our belief.

A professor of Rice University was giving a final exam of a leadership course and he said to his students, “Okay everybody take out your blue books. You have one hour. There is just one question to this exam and here you go. What is courage?” That was the question. And so everybody starts feverishly writing in their books. Some people took the whole hour to fill up their blue book. One person, one guy sat there for about a minute and he wrote down two words and then he got up and he handed his book to the professor and he walked out. Later that night the professor called this guy and said, “You got an A+ and not only that, I would like to invite you to lunch because I would like to get to know you better.” What do you think the two words were that he wrote down in his blue book? Yep, that’s it. “This Is.” What is courage? “This is” and he handed it in. See, he didn’t think just about describing courage, he actually acted, he actually demonstrated courage and that is what I am trying to get across as far as the Spirit of God. You can be feeling like you are not going to be used by God, you are feeling like I don’t think it can happen, if you will just take a step, God will fill you and flow through you. If we grieve the Spirit or if we quench the Spirit, we block that flow and we can do that in many ways, criticism, bitterness, unforgiving spirit, pride or refusal to do the spirits bidding. All can be reasons for blocking the spirit.

One day somebody asked General William Booth what the secret of his success was. To account for the secret of the success of the Salvation Army, he was the founder of the Salvation Army and he said, “I will tell you the secret. One day, I caught a vision of what Jesus Christ could do with the poor in the City of London” and listen to this he said, “And I made up my mind that God would have all of William Booth there was.” He said, “If there is any power in the Salvation Army today, it’s because God has had all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will and all the influence of my life.” That’s a man who has positioned himself so that the Spirit of God can work through him and make a difference in the lives of others.

So now I want to talk to two categories of people today. One of those are those of you who are here today and you say to yourself, you know I don’t know that the Spirit of God is residing in my life. I don’t think I am a Christian. I don’t even know if I am a Christian. What do I have to do? A Christian is a person who has exchanged their life for the life of Jesus. Because they recognize that they cannot make it apart from God’s help, that they are sinful and separated from God, they have looked to the cross and they said, “Lord, thank you for paying the penalty for my sin. Would you please now come into my life and take up residence and forgive my sins and make me the kind of person you want me to be.” There has been a life exchange and I urge you if you have never done that, to simply breathe that prayer, say “Lord I exchange my life for yours. I humbly repent and turn away from my way and I want you to lead me and guide me in your way.” If you will do that, He will come into your life and you will be forgiven of your sins and you will stand before God on the last day and he will be there right with his arm around you, saying, “Father this person trusted in your gift and the gift of my death and resurrection, let him in, let her in. Okay?” And He will help you to lead a Godly life today. He’s the help of God. The Spirit of God will come into your life when you accept Jesus.

Now, here is the other category of person. And that’s believers. Believers who are hedging on God. We are saying, “God you are not the whole pie. You’re 2/3rds or 3/4ths or 7/8ths”, but you haven’t fully committed your full life to him. You haven’t fully allowed him to take full control, like William Booth. My charge and encouragement to you today is to give God all there is of you. When that happens, the Holy Spirit will flow through your life and you won’t be blocking the Spirit. You won’t be quenching the Spirit or grieving the Spirit, you will be used by God to touch the world in need. And so, that’s the message. To open up our hearts to God, to confess whatever it is that’s blocking that flow of the Spirit, to open up our hearts to each other because you know if we are not in sync with each other, that can block the flow of the Spirit powerfully. So, we need to confess our faults to one another and be healed and claim General Booth’s prayer. Take all of me Lord, fill me. You know, you can’t even pray that prayer without the Spirit’s help. But if you do, and even if 999 other people don’t jump, when God touches you, you will because the help of God will be flowing through your life.

Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you for your grace and your power, that you didn’t leave us on our own, that you sent a Helper, one just like yourself, to live inside of us. Lord this is too high for us, we can’t even understand it in some ways, but we know the results of your Spirit. We know when we are guided into truth, when we have humbled ourselves before you and we feel your peace and your love and your joy, and so we pray that your Spirit even today would flood us with all those things as we continue to worship you, as we continue to humbly exchange our life for yours, we ask it in Christ’s name. Amen.