Andrew Fountain - Love, Truth & Power through the Holy Spirit
Sermon notes - Love, Truth & Power through the Holy Spirit
- The Scriptures speak of three ways in which the Holy Spirit transforms us:
- Love, Truth & Power
- He needs to be working in all three areas for us to be growing as balanced Christians and a balanced church.
- The Problem
- The Solution (Romans 8)
- What it looks like in practice
1. The Problem
- Douglas J. Hayward has identified what he calls the the six most common fundamental questions asked by people everywhere:
- Can I find help in confronting the problems of living?
- Can I find healing in times of sickness?
- How can I find meaning in life and in particular meaning to pain and suffering?
- What is the source or origin of evil?
- How can I discharge my obligations to supernatural beings who may interact with me and my world?
- Can I find protection from malevolent beings?
- The last two questions are not asked so much in Western cultures, but even though they might not express it, there are still fears and concerns about the spiritual world.
- Christianity in the West has tended in the past to focus on truth, and when missionaries took it to other parts of the world, there could be problems:
- Charles Kraft, who wrote a book Christianity with Power, was a missionary in Africa 40 years ago.
- He talked about how many people accepted Christianity, but:
The Nigerians ‘knew’ that whatever power Christianity brought it wasn’t adequate to deal with such things as tragedy, infertility, relational breakdowns, and troublesome weather, it didn’t meet many of their deepest spiritual needs.
Even though this was puzzeling to them… they simply accommodated by developing a kind of dual allegiance:
a loyalty to Christianity to handle certain needs paralleled by a continuing loyalty to traditional religious practicioners [medicine men] to handle their power needs.
Kraft, Christianity with Power, Vine books, 1989, p.4
- I have spent many years in church environments like this.
- The focus is on truth and knowledge and if bad things happen, that’s just the way it is
- We live in a fallen world. Bad stuff happens! Suck it up!
- Rather than falling back on the medicine man, we fall back on a “grin and bear it” mentality
- When we look at the New Testament we see a God who is a God of power
- and is involved with these 6 key questions of our lives
- Frustration with traditional Christianity has led the pendulum to swing in the opposite direction
- The focus in Western church culture has moved to power
- It is not that there is no interest in truth,
- But the focus is on the truth about power
- “5 ways to have more power in your life”
- “What you need to know about healing”
- “God’s secret of financial success”
- But the focus is on the truth about power
- So the value of knowledge is to give us power over the uncertainties of life
- Now in recent years, many people have seen the problem of focussing only on God’s power
- they have coined the phrase “Word and Spirit”
- The problem with that is that it suggests that the Word is different to the Spirit
- actually, the Bible is just as much Spirit as healing or miracles
- I prefer to say “Truth and Power”
- If the preaching is from the Scriptures, then it is “Holy Spirit” truth. So it is not a choice between “Word” and “Spirit” but “Spirit” and “Spirit”.
- But then I read:
- So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
- The miracles came, not instead of the preaching, but because of the preaching! So if you want to see signs and wonders, then proclaim a message that God will want to bear witness to, with a supernatural “Amen!”
- So it looks like we have two operations of the Spirit:
- the Spirit of truth and the Spirit of power.
- I wondered whether it would be possible to go through the Bible and divide the references to the Spirit into to those two categories.
- As I started on the project I found plenty of truth verses, such as:
The Spirit of…
- Truth: “However, when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth;” (John 16:13)
And power verses, such as
- Power: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;” (Acts 1:8)
-But then a third category emerged. He is the Spirit of love
- But then a third category:
- Love: “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Rom 5:5)
I began to get excited when I found several verses that combined two of the three and some that combined all three, such as
- “For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7)
It seemed I was onto something.
- If anyone is interested in seeing my list of references to the Spirit in the N.T., ask me
2. The Solution (Romans 8)
- We are now going to work briefly through this chapter.
- There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,
who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
- For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
- For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: he condemned sin in the flesh,
- that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
- In Romans 7, Paul has been talking about the powerlessness of the Law to defeat sin.
- v.3 The law is literarly powerless, it is incapable and unable to produce fruit.
- v.4 Then he makes a key statement about where this power might come from:
- It is the Spirit
- We will see that you can’t have the renewed hands ☞ , the power without the renewed mind 📖 , the truth
- and you can’t have the renewed mind 📖 without the love of God ♥
- Now we come to the next group of verses, v5–8, which I call the “mind verses”, because they are all about our mindset.
- we have to remember that this word does not just mean intellect, but the whole way in which we think and believe
- For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh,
but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
- For to be fleshly minded is death,
but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
- Because the fleshly mind is enmity against God;
for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
- So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
- We are either controlled by our old, sinful nature
- or by the Holy Spirit
- Notice how it says that the fleshly mind cannot do God’s will
- However, the Spirit works in our minds and hearts to cause us to desire to live in a way that pleases God
- So this raises the question
- How do we have this “mind of the Spirit” which makes it possible for us to have power in our hands to serve God and please him?
- The answer is that he has to dwell within us, as Jesus’ gift of love to us
Jesus says in John 14:21
- And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another helper, that he may abide with you forever—
- the Spirit of truth... for he dwells with you and will be in you.
- I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you... by means of the Holy Spirit
- and then he continues:
- and I will love him and manifest myself to him. the Spirit is a love-gift of Jesus to us
- So Paul goes on in v.9–11:
- But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his.
- And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin,
but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
- But if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Paul then goes on to re-inforce the point that the new life flows out of a relationship with God
in v.12–13 he talks about power to lead a new life (the hands ☞ )
- Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
- For if you live according to the flesh you will die;
but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
- then in v.14, it is only those who have this love relationship with God who can be led by the Spirit
- For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
then in v.15–16 he expands on this love-relationship and how it is the Spirit who makes it real to us.
- For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear,
but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
- The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
- We are now going to skip to the end of the chapter where Paul really expands on this theme of the love of God in Christ:
- Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
- As it is written: “For your sake we are killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
- Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
- For I am persuaded that neither death nor life,
nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
- nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- So we see that the Holy Spirit works in three ways:
- Love, Truth and Power
- If we are to live transformed lives, then all three things are needed
3. What it looks like in practice
- Jesus came to bring us the love of the Father, and the Spirit applies this love to our hearts
- Rom 5:5 “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
- He is described as the “comforter”, and in Col 1:8 Paul talks about their “love in the Spirit”
- Love is about a relationship with God that spills out into love shown to others
- Love must come before anything else “We love him because he first loved us”
- This personal relationship is at the core of what it means to be a Christian
- Everything we do comes from a motivation in our hearts
2. Truth is what sets us free
- Jesus is “the truth”, he came to teach us the way to life
- The Holy Spirit caused Jesus’ words to be written in Scripture and applies this truth to our hearts and minds
- John 14:17 “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him;
but you know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
- Not just teaching, but a new way of thinking and believing, down to the very core of our being
- The Holy Spirit is frequently called the “Spirit of Truth”
- 1Cor 2:10–14 tells us how we are taught the deep things of God by the Spirit:
“But God has revealed them to us through his Spirit.
For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”
- He leads us day by day in the paths of truth
We need power as well as truth:
- 1 Thess 1:5 “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit”
- Love and truth lead to Spirit-empowered action ☞
- We can summarize: ♥ + 📖 = ☞
- The gifting and fruits of the Spirit bring about this power in our lives
- What does this mean in practice?
- The Early Church Excelled in all three
- Love: practical
- Truth: hungry. Daily
- Freed from prison
- Saul saved
- I want to leave you with a verse that put it all together:
2 Timothy 1:7
- For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Updated on 2016-09-13 by Andrew Fountain