Corliss Street Baptist Church
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Hearts Ablaze for Jesus!
Jesus Invites us - "Come Follow Me" - "Come and See" "Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29, NIV).
Messages From the Pastor
Corliss Street Baptist Church
Rev Andrew Sullivan
He Will Testify and You Also Will Testify
On Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit who brings ultimate truth through the Word of God and God’s people. The Spirit generated inspiration as well as information, and power to speak with new and bolder voices.
Do you realize all Christians are co-workers with God? Yes! Can you think of anything more exciting – Your boss calls you up and says, “I like your work and I want you to become a partner with me in directing the affairs of the company.” Or how about the President or the Governor wants you as member of his cabinet?
Really, the most delightful thing is that the sovereign and eternal God has appointed us co-workers in carrying out the gospel of salvation to this world!
On this Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples. The Spirit empowered them to go out and proclaim it in a way that people of all nations could hear it in their own language. The Spirit of God came and cut through all their anxiety, confusion and wonder and gave them a mission of truth.
If the truth were told, there must be a more efficient, faster, better ways for God by the Holy Spirit to do God’s work in the world. However, God chose human beings to give a face to divine truth. There are no shortcuts. Just us! Humans. People making themselves available to God.
Jesus tells us, “When the Advocate comes – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me, and you also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27,NET).
It is true we have not been with Jesus from the beginning but the Day of Pentecost is the fulfillment of Joel. However, it is for all of us.
God says, “In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all people, and your sons and your daughters ... and your young men … and your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy (we will be God’s spoke man). And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:17-18, 21, NET).
Witness of the Spirit
How does the Holy Spirit bear witness?
The Holy Spirit bears witness in directing the writing of the books of the Bible.
In 2 Timothy 3:16 we have a great verse on the inspiration of the Scriptures, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness.”
The Word of God is “God breathed”. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the result of the direct breathing out of God and the vehicles used was men and the Holy Spirit.
In 2 Peter 1:21, we read, “No prophecy of scripture ever came about by the prophet’s own imagination, for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather men (were) carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
“The Bible as originally given was inspired and authoritative because God providentially prepared the author’ personalities and writing styles.” Paul tells us Galatians 1:16, “God set him apart from birth and called him by His grace to reveal His son to the Gentiles’. This can be said of all believers – God called us before our birth to be his sheep that we might share the good news of Christ to the people we come in contact.
“God supernaturally directed the writing process so that prophets and apostles finite limitations and sinful biases did not corrupt anything God wanted written.” Whatever the Bible teaches on any subject is authoritative truth revealed by God. It is reliable for faith, truth, and (practice) life. - Dr. Gordon R. Lewis, “Decide for Yourself”, C. 1970.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NLT).
Do you understand what Paul just wrote to Timothy? The Spirit of God speaks to us through the Word of God. For example, “God’s Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children!” God speaks truth to us.
God through his Word makes us realize what is right and wrong in our lives. God uses it to convict us of our sins and bring us to repentance and forgiveness of sins. he Word of God strengthen our faith in Christ for salvation and shows us the will of God for our living – “that we present our bodies as a living sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is our reasonable service. By the Word of God we are transformed by the renewing of our mind, so that we may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good, well-pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2, NET).
Jesus knew before he ascended into heaven that his disciples needed help to carry on his ministry. He has sent us the “Helper”! The Holy Spirit gives us internal motivation and empowerment to be his witnesses.
Clearly, the Holy Spirit is not a do-nothing.
On the contrary, the Spirit is very active.
Jesus will send from the Father the Holy Spirit who “will testify on Jesus’ behalf.” “He will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment.” “He will guide us in all truth.” “He will declare to us the things that are to come.” Moreover, “He will glorify Christ!”
This is good news for us who genuinely want to be faithful Christians, but worry about the words to say, the life to live, the content of our faith and all that stuff. Jesus and the Father impart to us a “Helper”, the third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit of God. He comes to stand in for Jesus. We are not alone in this sinful world. Jesus prays for his disciples “Father keeps them safe from the evil one” (John 17:15, NET).
God keeps his word. “When you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation) – when you believed in Christ – you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance. We are sealed in the Spirit until the day of our redemption. We are God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14, NET).
When we trusted in Christ as our Lord and Savior, God sealed us with the Holy Spirit. We became God’s possession to bring him glory. The Spirit is stamped upon us as a guarantee for us to receive our inheritance in Christ. The Spirit seals us until the day of Jesus returns.
Remember also “the One who is in us (The Holy Spirit) is greater than the one (the evil one) who is in the world” (1 John 4:4, NIV). Jesus keeps us safe, though not troubled free, because the Spirit of God is with us always.
The Holy Spirit comes to stand in us for Jesus. The Spirit is to do all the heavy lifting in the days to come. This is very good news. God’s mission in the world is not something we need to worry about or control. We only need to available for service.
Did not Jesus tell us? “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry” (Matthew 11:29-30,NET). We should be at rest because the Spirit is with us.
This being the case there are things we are not to do and things we are to do.
For starters, we should not resist the Holy Spirit. In Acts 7:51, Stephen who is about to be killed by people who are stubborn, have hard hearts and closed ears he says, “You are always resisting the Holy Spirit”. We need to have open hearts and open ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. It’s not a good idea to think that you have better ideas than the very “Helper” Jesus has arranged for us and God has sent to us. We need to listen to the Spirit and do what he says.
We should not quench the Holy Spirit either. In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Paul writes to the Christians “Do not extinguish the Spirit.” We do not lose the Spirit because we are sealed until the day of your redemption. Yet we do not want to lose his influence in our lives. Therefore, we should not plug the well feeding the church that provides us the very nourishment we need. John writes to all seven churches (not buildings - people), “The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2-3, NET).
Finally, if we think of ourselves as containers for the Spirit we should be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18, NET).
Meaning we should let ourselves be controlled by the Spirit. We are not to be controlled by drugs, strong drink or by our evil desires. Rather we should be Spirit led – keeping in step with the Spirit. When we open ourselves to God’s Spirit, the results can be utterly amazing and far-reaching.
Remember Little Lambs Ministry in the Ukraine – Her name is Ivanka. She was born into a family of four children. Her parents were poor and drank a lot. “We lived in a dirty house without any food to eat. When I was one years old, I was taken to the orphanage. I was both happy and sad. Life was tough. Only the strong and mean ones survived. I used to wash dishes and be given bread. Bread was the most precious thing.”
When she was in the 5th grade, Christians started coming to the orphanage. ‘I attended bible lessons to get some candy. They told me that God loves us the way we are, but it did not make any sense because we learned that we could only be loved for something we had done.”
To make the story short, she began to think more and more about God. In 1999 when she finished school, she got to live in a Little Lambs home in the city. “Mama Olya is a very wise, patient, loving, and strong Christian”. Ivanka became a Christian through her love and teaching. “God’s love little by little changed my heart. I wanted nothing more to be God’s child.” In 2010, Ivanka became a leader in the Little Lambs camp. Since then she has been to four camps and cannot wait for the summer. “May God bless Little Lambs and the ministry they have to children like me. Thank you.”
We are called to embody the truth. “To let Christ live in us, the hope of glory”.
It comes down to the truth and authentic living. Jesus told Pontius Pilate “everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice”. Pilate replied to Jesus “What is truth?” As a member of the Roman elite, Pilate was exposed to all manner of Greco-Roman philosophy, imperial information, and worldly experience. Yet despite all that knowledge, Pilate was clueless. Pilate unfortunately could not see truth embodied in the person of Jesus.
Pentecost is a reminder that if we really want to know the truth, we have to listen to God’s Word and to allow the Spirit to embody in us the image of God revealed in Jesus (to give bodily form to Jesus). In other words, the Spirit of God offers us the way, the truth, and the life of holiness, authenticity, steadfast love, faithfulness, and the boldness to speak the truth to the world as we live our lives in Christ Jesus, the hope of glory! All we need to do is be available for service -to be a little Christ to our neighbors.
Bibles: NET Study Bible; NLT Study Bible
Boice, James Montgomery. The Gospel of John, Vol. 4 Zondervan. C. 1978
Goodrick, Edward W. & Kohlenberger, John H. “The NIV Complete Concordance”. Zondervan. C. 1981
Lewis, Gordon R. Decide for Yourself – A Theological Workbook. InterVarsity Press. C. 1970
Ryle, J. C. Expository Thoughts on the Gospels – John: Vol. III. C. 1856