Apostle's Creed - I Believe in the Holy Spirit
Girdwood Chapel Sermon, 27 May 2017
Apostle’s Creed: I Believe in the Holy Spirit
1 Corinthians 12: 4-11
John 16: 7-10
As a believer in Christ I, like all of you, look toward motivation of faith through Scripture, stories, anecdotes, other sermons from many different personalities, books and devotionals. So, when something sticks with me it is hard for me not to share. This morning as we begin to talk about the Holy Spirit, I would like to share one of the first examples of the power of the Holy Spirit that comes to my mind. This example will take a brief moment for me to set up though. Angus Buchan is an evangelist that was popular in Tennessee, mainly because he had relationship with one of the churches there, but he is from South Africa. If you would like to know his full story, you can rent the movie “Faith Like Potatoes” which is a good story, maybe the acting isn’t even that bad. The movie talks about how he went from having no faith to an abundance of it, then to becoming a preacher who filled soccer stadiums with tens of thousands of people to hear his message. His signature line is a bellicose “Amen” which rises from his diaphragm and echoes to the crowd and the crowd enthusiastically repeats. Angus Buchan’s whole understanding of the gospel is situated on Faith, he has never received schooling and uses only the Word of Scripture as his guide. So, he depends heavily on the Holy Spirit. Today, I am not hear to debate his theology, but I am here to share his unbelievable faith. For at an event in Ein Gedis, which is in Israel, his prayers for the Holy Spirit to come in the form of a Mighty Wind were met with some surprising results…
The Presence of the Holy Spirit that Angus Buchan speaks about is on the day of Pentecost. Our Pentecost Sunday is next week, and I am sure, Duane will have much to say about the day and the Spirit next Sunday. But, this video we have just seen, it is enough to make you wonder. It is enough to allow you to ask, how do I know when the Spirit has taken hold of me, guided me, and brought me to the brink of my faith? Will it be like the Mighty Wind or something less.
The founder of the Methodist Church was John Wesley and he had a crises of faith in his earlier years of being a pastor. He connected to the word of God logically and he connected to Scripture in the understanding that of the technicalities of salvation, but he began to feel that he did not connect to Jesus on a personal level. When it came to an emotion or a feeling, well that part seemed to escape him. Essentially he upheld the doctrine, but his faith was empty. He prayed that God would help his unbelief.
He was so saddened by his predicament that he decided he should no longer be a preacher. He mentioned this to his mentor and his mentor told him to preach until he had the faith himself. When you receive it, your preaching will become about your faith. So, John Wesley continued to preach hoping to discover a personal faith, a faith that he had seen others discover from the words he uttered but he had failed to feel for himself. One night he was invited to a prayer meeting in Aldersgate. While he was there, a passage was read from Romans that discussed how God works in the heart through faith in Christ. When John Wesley heard these words, his heart became “strangely warmed”. He knew he had encountered the Holy Spirit and would be changed forever. From that point forward he became one of the best known conveyors of the Gospel, riding over 20,000 miles on horseback each year proclaiming God’s word. He preached on faith, not about faith, because the Spirit now fully resided in his heart. The anniversary of that experience was on May 24th. Nearly 280 years ago.
The Holy Spirit works differently for each one of us. But, the key is it does work for each one of us. The Holy Spirit was left for us as a gift of God to show us the continued route of service. We believe in a triune God. What does that mean? We believe in a God that has been revealed to us in three natures. Those natures are in God above and over, sovereign and omnipotent, holy and without boundaries and without limits. That God became incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ to pay a human debt and to lead us to salvation. Because of that salvation through Jesus Christ, the human race was able to be at peace with God and to return to a state of personal relationship and eternal presence with God. In order to sustain the human heart in that relationship the Holy Spirit was presented to us. The Spirit resides in us a
nd pushes us to feel the glory of God in all of our thoughts, desires, and actions. There is a moment when we each recognize this. Some of us may call it being saved and some of us might just think of it as a time when we started to pay more attention. There are those of us who are still waiting to acknowledge the Spirit in our lives. Regardless of what you call it, or how you felt it, when you realize that you have felt the Spirit in your heart and the grace of God through our Savior Jesus Christ boils through your blood then it feels like the Mighty Wind has rushed through your body.
The Response to the Spirit
The response to the Spirit is different, but the same, for each of us. First, we must acknowledge what the Spirit is doing in us and for us. The Spirit leads us to God. The Spirit is guiding us to become the person that God created us to be. The first way to the Spirit does that is by allowing us to see the Salvation provided us by Christ. The Spirit conveys to us the logical notions of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and connects us to it in a way that changes us, for we are able to see ourselves as free. We are not held hostage by the strains of the worry of the world for we are free to be with God and to live our lives for God. Christ’s life, death, and resurrection provided us the gift of peace with our creator, but it is the Holy Spirit who maintains the understanding and acceptance of this salvation in the forefront of our minds and hearts. We must respond by acknowledging the presence. Give in to what the Spirit is guiding us to do. Live in the gifts that the Spirit has demonstrated we have in our lives. In doing these things we begin to become the authentic being that God created and our lives reflect more and more of the person we were created to be. Everything the Spirit tells us to do is in glory of God, therefore our purpose and our response to the Spirit is to glorify God.
I have steered clear of a lot of the academic talk about the Spirit, because I believe this. I know you know what I am talking about when I mention the nudgings of the Spirit. If you didn’t, you would not be sitting in these seats today, you would not be in this building today, and you would not be here seeking to develop a closer relationship with God. Something moved you this morning. Something made you consider to get up and go to Girdwood chapel and improve your relationship with God. Maybe it is your first time, maybe you have been here more times than you could ever count. But, that is not what is important.
What is important is what are you going to do when this service is over? Are you going to sit and wait until the next Sunday comes or are you going to let the Spirit envelop your body, heart and soul, and go through these doors transformed in knowing that you have been made special in the eyes of God. You have been given special gifts to use in the world God has created and you have the ability to fine tune them and become exponentially more joyful in your life by residing in the presence of the Spirit that sits in your heart every day.
Sadly, we run from the Spirit’s guidance. I know I did. I know I do. It is not easy to do it every time you feel it or every time it beckons you to do God’s will. It messes up our plans and it can make the life that we think we are wanting kinda difficult. But, I tell you this, letting go of yourself and giving control over to God through the Spirit will change everything that makes us sit in fear and wallow in doubt. It allows us to feel peace in ways those who do not know the love of Christ will every experience. We feel perfection, even in our worldly inadequacies, because our purpose is no longer about ourselves and the world. It is about God and our neighbors.
Angus Buchan said when Jesus entered a town he either caused a riot or a revival. Maybe, it is the time we did the same, starting with ourselves.