Feb. 8th, 2015 | Series: The Movement

Sermon Content

(Intro summary:  Ryan described two experiences in college that he had no idea God was going to use.  He fought it tooth and nail, but looking back on it he saw God in it the whole time!  The first one was a practicum he had to do for his major and he was convinced it had nothing to do with his career path—–he worked in the college’s early learning center. His comment at the time was that he’d do it, but he’d never use that information in his life! The other experience was that he worked as a barista at Starbucks.  At that time, little did he know that he would some day be lead pastor at the church that had both an early learning center and a coffee shop!!!!  God has a sovereign divine sense of humor!!

He (Ryan) drank enough coffee in college to kill a small horse!  He wondered why anybody would drink DECAF coffee.  Decaf vs. regular — if someone hands you a cup of coffee you cannot tell what it is…..until your body reacts to the caffeine later.  It looks the same, brewed the same, tastes the same and everything is pretty similar about it.  The thing with caffeinated coffee is the effect it has on you —- some would argue it’s a wonderful effect.  Decaf — no effect, none.  Just tastes good.)

Some effect–no effect.  I think the Christian life is pretty similar.  There’s some in here that have a relationship with God that changes everything.  Where you go it has an effect on me; there’s a presence on my life; there’s a power on my life.  Jesus isn’t just someone I read about in a book that’s a few thousand years old, but he’s a person I know and I walk with.  Then for others it’s more like well, yeah, we do this whole church thing. We get together on a Sunday morning and we sing songs and the band’s great and it’s fun and it’s good, BUT very little about our life is influenced or impacted or changed.  Here’s the difference—some of us are drinking decaf and some of us are drinking caffeinated.  And here’s the way the Scriptures are gonna unpack that.  Some of us have a relationship with the Spirit.  The Spirit’s alive in us!  It’s not just we read about Jesus in a book, we know Jesus and we walk with Jesus.  For others of us, we just know about Him in a book and our faith isn’t really in him and so very little about our life actually changes.

I ran across this anonymous quote this week that says this: “Christians who neglect the Holy Spirit are like a lamp that’s not plugged in”.  They have all the shape, they have all the form.  They have all the potential, they just don’t have the power.  They don’t have the light.  Charles Spurgeon, and if you’ve read any Spurgeon this is not going to surprise you, says it a little bit stronger: “A church in the land without the Spirit is rather a curse than a blessing. {He’s going to say hey, if the Spirit isn’t on us, if we gather and we talk along about Jesus, but we don’t KNOW Jesus, and the Spirit doesn’t live inside of us and stir us with affection for Jesus then we are worse off—our community’s worse off because of our presence here. He goes on to say:} ….than a blessing. If you have not the Spirit of God, Christian worker, remember that you stand in somebody else’s way; you’re a fruitless tree standing where a fruitful tree might grow.”  Wow, Charles!  Have a cup of coffee!  Settle down!  He’s right!! He’s 100% right!  If we’re just playing church, friend, can I assure you we can find a better thing to do on our Sunday morning?  If this is all just singing about and not knowing in the guts of our body (that) Jesus is King, that the Spirit resides in us and that we walk with him, if this is about anything other than that it’s a waste of time.

You don’t have to be a genius to figure out, based on our song selection and intro, that what we’re talking about this morning is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.  We’re going to look at one of the most debated passages of Scripture.  People have used it as a springboard to build some pretty crazy theologies.  What I want to do is I want to reel it back in this morning, ground us in the text and ask the question Jesus, what do you want us to do with what we read in Acts 19?  And I’m well aware that any time I teach on the Holy Spirit, I can draw a line down the center of the room—-one half is gonna think I didn’t go far enough, the other half is gonna think I went too far.  So my goal is to be an equal opportunity offender this morning!

This is, in a sense, a troubling passage, but I think it has beauty, it has answers and it has an invitation for us. Acts 19:1 Dr. Luke records for us {this is Paul’s missionary journey number three}–And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus.  There he found some disciples.  And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” {Now, just a quick time out–we’ll circle back to this.  Why in the world would he ask that question?  Because his assumption is their answer would be yes.}  And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”  And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” {You can imagine, he’s sorta scratching his head a little bit and going, listen, this whole thing that I’ve been preaching around the globe, has gone off the tracks here in Ephesus.  What’s the deal?} And they said, “Into John’s baptism.”  And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.  There were about twelve men in all.  Interesting passage, yes?

I want to start where Paul starts and here’s where he starts.  He goes to Ephesus, a town he’d been in before and comes back to; observes people who are carrying the name of Jesus and starts to ask questions.  He validates by his questions.  He validates their faith journey up to the point where he meets them and sees them.  He validates their humanity by saying, I’m not just coming in an over-handed didactic fashion, but what I want to say is let’s talk.  So there’s three questions that are either explicitly stated in this passage or implicity implied.  They are:  Do you know?  Have you received?  Will you enter?  They’re questions that Paul asks the “disciples” at Ephesus and they’re questions I’d love for us to wrestle with this morning as well.  He shows up on the scene and his first question validating their faith journey and their humanity is: Do you know?  Do you know about Jesus? Do you know about the Spirit?  Do you know what it means to be baptized into the life, death and resurrection of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?  Why does he ask do you know?  Here’s the deal.  What you know, understand and believe dictates the road that you walk.  Belief drives behavior.  Information dictates involvement and, here’s what we see in this passage, EDUCATION directly leads us to EXPERIENCE or encounter. Why does he ask do you know about Jesus? Do you know about the baptism of Jesus?  Because if they don’t know about the slain, risen Lamb, they will never embrace the fullness of what God has designed them for. They’re going to be drinking decaf coffee.  It’s gonna have the shape, it’s gonna have the form, it’s gonna have all the flavor and taste, but it will have ZERO effect on their life.  My guess is that’s what Paul observes. Hey, you guys talk a lot about Jesus, but it doesn’t really seem like you know him.  Your orthodoxy, the right belief about God, hasn’t led to a right living.  Do you know your education always dictates your encounter?  It dictates what you know about God; what you know about God leads directly to how you live with God.  If you don’t know that the Holy Spirit resides in you, then you will never step out on faith believing that he does.  This is huge!

We could go back through the history books and we could find people that lived this out in a secular environment time and time again. Wilbur and Orville Wright, other than having epic names, played a pretty significant part in history.  In 1903, they created the first plane that could actually, not take off—that wasn’t the first time that someone had done that, steer!  I don’t know if you’ve been on a plane lately, but how many people are grateful for their invention??!!  This is big?  How’d they do it?  They didn’t do it because they had the most money.  There was actually another competitor trying to be the first—you don’t know his name because he didn’t succeed!  What THEY did was create a wind tunnel in their house where they took data measurements.  They (discovered) that if they created it a certain way the plane will not only be able to get up, but it’s gonna be able to sustain it’s flight and the pilot will be able to STEER! {Praise be to God!}  Their education directly leads to our experience!  What they knew and what they found out allowed them to fly!  The last time you were on a plane, you probably didn’t look out the window and say, Orville and Wilbur, thank you!  Here’s the deal though, our education, our information always leads us to our encounter.  So what we believe about God {friend, will you look up at me just a second} directly influences/creates a path that we walk.  And that path is either WITH Him–side by side, intimate, personal presence–OR it’s talking about Him, rather than with Him.

So Paul shows up on the scene and he’s like hey, one, do you have the Spirit, but two, have you heard of this guy named Jesus?  And they say yes, but they were baptized into John.  So let me unpack this for us a little bit. Here’s the difference:  Baptism into John—he even says it here—John baptized with the baptism of repentance. So time out.  Here’s what John’s baptism is: turning FROM sin to receive forgiveness from sin even. But it’s incomplete.  The gospel is not turn from your sin.  That’s not the gospel.  The gospel is turn from your sin and run to Jesus.  You need both halves of that in order to have the gospel.  The good news isn’t REPENT. The good news is repent AND BELIEVE in and on the Lord Jesus.  Here’s the deal—-I meet so many followers of Jesus and they wouldn’t say I was baptized into John.  That wouldn’t be their verbiage they used, but I can assure you they’re baptized into John!  Here’s what I mean by that.  They are believers in Jesus who live under guilt, who live under shame, who live under the lie that God will have nothing of me or with me because of my past.  These are people who are baptized under John.  So they feel real bad about their sin, but they haven’t felt the embrace of the Father.  Can I just tell you, THAT’S not Christianity!!  The Holy Spirit never creates refugees.  Refugees are those who leave their home or are beaten out of their home and go to no man’s land.

This is not the work of the Spirit.  The work of the Spirit in the life of the believer is yes!  Conviction, not condemnation, about sin {we’ll get to that in a second}.  Repentance—so a changing of mind and heart; and not running to no man’s land, but running to the loving embrace of a Father who’s already running towards us! Paul’s do you know is absolutely huge! You may have left the system of the world, you’ve repented, but have you run to Jesus?!  That’s the work of the Spirit!!  The work of the Spirit, in the Scriptures at least, is never about the Spirit.  The Spirit is this great mirror and any time you want to give the Spirit glory, he’s saying oh no! it’s not about me!  It’s about Jesus!  He’s the slain, risen Lamb!  It’s about Him!  So it pains me to use a positive illustration about this person, but I will!  Tom Brady……got MVP of the Super Bowl and he was given a truck.  (Cuz that’s what he need’s….another vehicle!)  He said that it shouldn’t have gone to him, it should have gone to Butler who made the interception on the half yard line—-this should be HIS truck.  This is actually about him.  And he deflects glory.

This is the way the Spirit works—-pointing people to Jesus.  The Spirit is never about the Spirit—he’s always about the Son—he lifts high the Son, points to the Son. The OBJECT of our faith, friends {so this is the educational piece of what Paul wants to unpack} determines the FRUIT of our faith.   What’s the problem with the “disciples” in Ephesus?  They haven’t met Jesus!  That’s the problem.  His question implies did you receive the spirit when you believed?  Implication——Should have!!  You didn’t?!! Not, pray this prayer to receive the Spirit—–that’s not what he does. What he does is let me unpack for you the fact that you got stuck in the halfway house rather than going all the way to the arms of the Father.  You left sin but you didn’t know the embrace that’s found ONLY in Jesus.  So what he meets is people who know a lot about God, but don’t know him.  That’s what he meets.  People who can talk the talk.  But when it comes to actually walking and living it out…..they’re drinking decaf.  Because they haven’t met Jesus.  The Spirit doesn’t reside in them!

I love the way that Fredrick Dale Brunner puts it:  “The work of the Holy Spirit is to thrill us with Christ. {What’s the work of the Spirit? How do you know you’ve been in a place where the Spirit resides? Jesus is beautiful!  You love Jesus!  He’s magnificent! Your affections are stirred for him!  You see him seated–the slain, risen Lamb—seated on the throne and you go you’re worthy of my life, you’re worthy of my honor, you’re worthy of my praise.  You are Lord!  That’s the work of the Spirit. To make him beautiful in the hearts and lives of those who believe.} (resume quote) The Holy Spirit is shy about everything except Christ, but about Christ the Spirit is downright bullish.”  That’s awesome!

So the first question Paul asks—-Do you know?  And it leads into his second question.  Verse 2: And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.”   Here’s what his question implies—When you believe, you most definitely receive.  This is the natural outflow of belief in the Son. The Father loves…..he sent his Spirit to dwell in those who, and to help them, see the beauty of Jesus that he might stir in them affection for the risen Lamb. Here’s what we would say—-FAITH IN Jesus leads to the PRESENCE AND POWER of the Spirit…look up at me for a second……in the life of every believer.  This isn’t varsity Christianity.  This isn’t well, you gotta play on JV for a while and then we’ll have a worship service where we’ll lay hands on you…….  This isn’t in addition to the Christian life where you get there some day.  This is the NORMATIVE Christian life.  Faith in Jesus…….receiving the Spirit.

Now, we have to put on our theology hat for a moment, because as you read through the Scriptures there’s gonna be some times like this where it LOOKS like, on the surface, the Spirit comes AFTER belief.  There’s three passages of Scripture in the book of Acts where they don’t suggest it’s normative, but that would be sort of the storyline.  Two differences I want to point out to you.  One, the indwelling of the Spirit.  That’s what we’re talking about when we say faith in Jesus leads to the presence of the Spirit in the life of the believer. The indwelling of the Spirit.  Peter at his great sermon at Pentecost says, And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)  How many? However many who repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus.  However many people put their faith in Jesus, they receive the Holy Spirit.  Paul’s going to affirm the same thing to the church at Galatia. In Galatians 3:2 he asks this rhetorical question: Let me ask you only this: {I’ll turn it on you, South} Did you receive the Spirit {assuming they did} by works of the law or by hearing with faith?   That’s a rhetorical question.  They go come on, Paul, we received the Spirit when we believed.  And he goes aahhh, exactly! so keep living that way.  This is the indwelling of the Spirit.  Will you look up at me for a moment?  If you are a follower of Jesus, the Spirit of the living God dwells in you!

I got here early this morning and was just praying through this space.  I got this picture in my head as I was walking through praying of….I think it was probably a tulip that’s in the ground right now, and in the next few weeks we’re going to see it start to blossom.  The environment around it’s going to change and it’s gonna come back to life.  My prayer—-and I’m just praying into this even now—is that for some of you, I think, the Spirit is in you for sure because you’re a follower of Jesus, but is dormant.  And I’m praying for an awakening in us, where we start to not only know and believe, but walk in the reality of what we have already received. There’s a difference in the Scriptures between the INDWELLING of the Spirit–you have it if you’re a follower of Jesus–and the EMPOWERING or filling of the Spirit.  These are two different things in the Scriptures. So Paul will say to the church at Ephesus: Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. (Eph. 5:18) As if to say there are followers of Jesus who are filled and there are followers of Jesus who AREN’T filled.  As if to say you play a part.  Here’s the way I always like to say it: the empowering of the Spirit is not about {hear me on this} HOW MUCH of the Spirit you have.  The empowering of the Spirit is about how much of YOU the Spirit has!  Look around, all of us have the same amount of the Spirit if we’re followers of Jesus.  Empowering: the walking in, the presence of—-that’s thick on some people—is about how much of them the Spirit has.  How much of their lives is saying I’m yielded to you; I’m listening, Father; I’m willing to walk with you, Spirit; you have my life; I’m bowed at your throne; I submit, I surrender; use me for your name and your glory.  He goes DONE!!  It’s the people who say no, I’m gonna hold on to my agenda and I’m gonna hold on to guilt, shame, slavery instead of walking into love and sonship, those are the people who live under……not under the empowerment of the Spirit. It’s people who say God, I’ll receive and believe and walk in what you say is true.

So how much of you does the Spirit have? You have all of the Spirit!  I know you’re out there thinking, come on, no I don’t.  The only problem with that line of thinking is Scripture.  You do!  Will you live in it?  Will you embrace it? Will you follow?  I’m praying that the Lord will awaken some things in us.  In his people.

The question becomes what is the work of the Spirit?  What is the role of the Spirit?  What’s the relationship of the Spirit?  If Paul goes hey, it looks like you’re on decaf coffee when you’ve been designed to be drinking the good stuff, what is he observing?  What’s he not seeing in the Ephesian “disciples”, John’s disciples, but disciples in the Scriptures nonetheless.  What are they missing and what do followers of Jesus have?  What you see in Acts 19 is not normative.  It’s Acts 1:8 being spread from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. This is what we see because 1) God wants to show Paul I’m at work in this place; and 2) God wants to show the Ephesian church he has apostolic authority—-listen to his message and take his message to the ends of the earth.  So you see what we see in Acts 19 because of it.

What’s the work of the Spirit?  One, to give us the life we were designed for by the Creator of all life.  In John 6:63 Jesus says, My words are Spirit and the Spirit is life.  The role of the Spirit is to awaken us to the goodness of God.  To remind us and point us back to why we were created, to know the love and overflow of the Father.  That’s the work of the Spirit.  Second thing, to invite us into and to make real the relationship that you and I have with God.  The Spirit makes this a reality.  This isn’t a game that we play.  In fact, Paul will write to Timothy and say have nothing to do with a form of godliness that denies its power.  Here’s how he says it in 1John 4:13: By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.  In John 14:26, John’s gonna write: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things.  This word helper could be translated comforter, counselor.  The work of the Spirit is not only to make alive and to bring into relationship, but to be a comfort for the people of God.  How many know that comfort intimately?  That’s one of the beautiful parts of being a follower of Jesus.  He speaks to you in the peaks and the valleys of life—-I’m with you, I’m for you, I’m in you, I’m GOOD, I’m not leaving.  It’s the work of the Spirit.

He brings to mind the words of Jesus.  John 14:26 says he’s the great reminder.  Have you ever been in a situation where all of a sudden a Bible verse flies out of you?  Maybe you’re sharing your faith with somebody. You’re going through a difficult season at home or on the job front and the Lord just brings to mind a passage of Scripture.  Why?  Because the Holy Spirit loves to remind us of the words that Jesus has said.  I will say, side note, he can’t remind you of what’s not there.  This is why it’s important to hide God’s word in our heart, not just have it accessible on our iPhone.  Those are different.  Having God’s word in your pocket and in your heart are two very different things.  He reminds us of the word of God.

John 16–listen to this.  This is wonderful!  And when he (the Spirit) comes, {The Spirit is always personified.  It’s never it!} he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.  This is the role of the Spirit. Now remember we said the Spirit never leads us to become refugees.  A lot of followers of Jesus, they’ll go yeah, he convicts people of sin.  He does, but he also convicts people of righteousness.  That’s what the passage just said.  The work of the Spirit is oh yeah, absolutely you have failed, but I can assure you Calvary has covered that! Jesus is good.  His blood is sufficient. His grace is enough.  Run to him.  Don’t get stuck in between.  Don’t become a spiritual refugee, but I’m going to convict you of the righteousness that is yours.  {Look up at me for a moment.}  Conviction is different than condemnation!  The problem is that it feels the same….at first.  Oh man, I really screwed up! Oh man, I can’t believe I did that again! Oh man……whatever your thing is…fill in the blank.  It feels the same. CONDEMNATION leads you out into the wilderness, for you to replay that tape over and over and over in your mind.  CONVICTION leads you to the throne where Jesus says, I’ve paid it all!!  Now the work of the Spirit in the life of the believer is to convict not to condemn, convict and lead us to Jesus who has already {past tense} purchased our righteousness.  Can I assure you if whatever you hear in your head or your heart leads you anywhere else except to the throne of God, it’s not the voice of Jesus.  And it’s not the Spirit at work.

The Spirit lives inside of us to guide us.  The Spirit lives inside of us to make alive and to make real the love of the Father.  In Romans 5:5, Paul says that the Spirit lives inside of us and he makes real, he makes alive, the love of God.  What if that was a litmus test?  Do I know the Spirit?  Well, does the love of God BURST inside of me? God you’re amazing! God you’re good! God you’re gracious!  I can’t believe how good you are!

And lastly, but certainly not least, the Spirit produces in the believer the fruit of the Spirit.  It’s called fruit because he does it! He does it!  It’s His work in you as you stay in step with Him!  Here’s a beautiful thing.  Every single follower of Jesus has the Spirit!  Question is, does the Spirit have us? Will we surrender, will be bow, will we follow?

The passage ends {we’ll land the plane here}.  It says, And he (Paul) entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. (Acts 19:8)  Here’s what just happened.  Paul connects trust or faith in Jesus with receiving the Spirit.  So….do you know? have you received? and will you enter?  As if to say that those who trust in Jesus and receive the Spirit are led to the closet door of Narnia, where God opens it for us and says, will you come and play?  Will you be part of what I’m doing?  Will you be part of my kingdom? Will you be part of the renewal and restoration of all things?  Will you be part of my redemption and restoration of my beautiful creation that I love?  Not a coincidence that a receiving of the Spirit directly precedes a walking into and living in the kingdom.  See the presence of the Spirit always opens up to the believer the reality of the kingdom.  Where people are healed.  Where demons are cast out and where {come back next week because we’re going to camp out here} revival starts to take place.  But what happens first?  Believers encounter the one True, Living God, the slain, risen Lamb, Jesus Christ, give their lives to Him, receive the Spirit and then start to walk with Him!  That’s what precedes it.  A lot of us want revival, but I don’t know if we want surrender.  But I don’t know if we want surrender FIRST and that’s what precedes this revival that we see in the book of Ephesus.

We are landing the plane! But I will say, there’s an enemy of your soul that wants to distract you from either believing or hearing the message that God puts his Spirit inside of you; loves you; died for you; paid for you; purchased you…..it’s DONE! You know what the problem is for most believers?   Their head and their heart. We don’t know therefore we don’t walk in.  And I think there’s a number of followers of Jesus…..we simply don’t believe that when we trust Jesus we receive the Spirit and then we’re invited to enter His kingdom.  To partner with him in his beautiful renewal of all things.  When the people of God walk into their Christ-purchased destiny and walk by the Spirit {listen to me}, cities are changed, people are freed and his kingdom comes!  And I pray that more and more, friends, we would be the type of church, we’d be the type of believers where we walk in that.  We know it, we receive it and we enter.  I pray that you will.  I pray that I will more and more.

Let’s pray.  Jesus, we don’t want to have a form of godliness and deny its power.  We don’t want to play church. So Spirit stir in us.  Awaken in us.  Like we’ve already prayed.  Lord, I just pray into that picture I have in my mind for some who are in this room right now, Lord.  They’re followers of you, but their faith has grown stale. Your Spirit in them has grown dormant.  Lord, I pray that this morning that there would be a repentance.  That there would be a receiving of forgiveness.  And Father, that we wouldn’t just be left as spiritual refugees, but that you would lead us all the way home.  If that’s you would you just raise your hand? You feel like I’m here, but the Spirit’s just dormant in me.  I believe but…….  Jesus, for my friends here with their hands raised, I pray that you would stir something in them that only you can stir.  Holy Spirit, would you move, would you change, would you break up the hard soil around our heart?  And remind us of the love of the Father.  Remind us of the reality of the Spirit within us.  Lord, help us repent, help us believe, help us surrender and once again be filled with your gracious, glorious Spirit.  May it point to Jesus.  May it lift him high.  May it glorify him. May it make him beautiful in our eyes.  It’s in your name that we pray.  Amen.