Posts belonging to Category Holy Spirit

Sunday Morning SoundBytes – 8/26/2018

Sunday’s message was called Encouraged by the Holy Spirit, taken from Acts 9:31. Here is a brief outline of the message:

I. The Holy Spirit is a Person
   – examples of personal encouragement
      – Jonathan and David (1 Samuel 23:16)
      – Barnabas (Acts 4:36, 11:22-26)

II. What does it mean to be encouraged by the Holy Spirit?
   A. The Holy Spirit comes alongside you to help (John 14:16)
   B. The Holy Spirit dwells within you (John 14:17)
   C. The Holy Spirit will never leave you (John 14:16)

III. How does the Holy Spirit encourage you?
   A. He teaches you God’s truth (John 14:26)
   B. He gives you God’s peace (John 14:27)
   C. He fills you with God’s love (Romans 5:5)
   D. He assures you that God is your Father (Romans 8:15-17)
   E. He gives gifts of encouragement (Romans 12:8)

IV. What are the results? (Acts 9:31)
   A. We are strengthened in the Lord
   B. We draw closer to God
   C. We reach out to others

Note: Click on the Sermons tab at the top of the blog for this and other messages.

Can an Atheist Blaspheme the Holy Spirit?

We explored this question in church on Sunday. Here is an excerpt from Sunday’s sermon on Choosing Sides:

A couple years ago a certain atheist web site presented what they called “The Blasphemy Challenge,” where they challenged people to upload YouTube videos of themselves denying the Holy Spirit. A whole lot of atheists responded to the challenge and uploaded their videos, saying “I deny the Holy Spirit.” It was very sad to see and meant to be shocking, but ironically enough, I am not sure they were actually blaspheming the Holy Spirit as Jesus defined it. They were certainly committing serious sin, but they were not attributing the work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life to Satan.

In fact, I’m not sure if an atheist is even capable of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. If blasphemy of the Holy Spirit means believing that Jesus was doing supernatural works by the power of Satan rather than God, how can you do that when you don’t believe in the Holy Spirit, Satan or God?

What these atheists did is sad, it is wrong, and if they never come to Christ for forgiveness, they will be judged for their sin, but I do not believe they have actually put themselves beyond God’s forgiveness. By definition it would seem that an atheist cannot commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. (However, I would still recommend that you stay as far away from this sin as possible!)

Related posts:
    • What Is Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?
    • What’s Worse Than Committing the Unforgivable Sin?

What Is Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

We talked about this in Sunday’s sermon from the gospel of Mark. Here is an excerpt from the message:

Jesus said, “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:29) Here we come to the unforgivable sin – blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. If all other blasphemies can be forgiven, this must be exceptionally bad to be singled out as an eternal sin that is beyond forgiveness.

What exactly is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? It is only mentioned here and in the parallel accounts of the gospels, so we need to get the context from this particular event. Mark tells us that Jesus said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.” (Mark 3:30)

And so it would appear that the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is attributing the work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life to Satan. It is the blasphemous belief that Jesus was not empowered by God through the Holy Spirit, but that he was in fact a servant of darkness and received his power from Satan. Such a hardening of the heart towards God’s work in Christ through the Holy Spirit that you would call it the work of Satan is a blasphemy that will not be forgiven. The person who does so is guilty of an eternal sin.

Sometimes people worry that they may have committed the unforgivable sin. But I would say if you are worried about it, then you haven’t done it. If you had truly blasphemed the Holy Spirit, your heart would be so completely hardened against God that you wouldn’t be worrying about whether God could forgive you.

What I would be more concerned about are forgivable sins. You know what’s worse than committing the unforgivable sin? Committing forgivable sins but never turning to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. That’s really sad.

Related posts:
    • Can an Atheist Blaspheme the Holy Spirit?
    • What’s Worse Than Committing the Unforgivable Sin?

The Holy Spirit and Prayer (PTOM 5)

(Last week and this I am sharing my Personal Theology of Ministry. Click here for more posts from the Personal Theology of Ministry series.)

Apart from God nothing of lasting value can be accomplished:

Therefore I will do the work of the ministry in full dependency on God through the Holy Spirit. In order to bear fruit I must remain in Christ. Apart from Christ I can do nothing (John 15:5). When Paul came to Corinth he did not depend on his own human skills or strength. Instead he resolved to know nothing but Christ crucified and relied fully on the Holy Spirit to authenticate his message (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). The Holy Spirit is the one who gives gifts for ministry. I must depend on him for these gifts if I am to speak as one speaking the very words of God and to serve with the strength God provides (1 Peter 4:10-11). Much of this dependency is demonstrated through prayer. Even Christ in his earthly ministry modeled dependency on God the Father through prayer (Luke 5:16; Hebrews 5:7).

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Derek Redmond and His Dad

I shared the following story about Olympic runner Derek Redmond in my sermon Sunday as an illustration of the Holy Spirit’s encouragement in the believer’s life. (“Encouraged by the Holy Spirit,” taken from Acts 9:31).

The Greek word for encouragement is “paraklesis.” It literally means “to be called to one’s side,” and so it is the picture of someone coming alongside you to give you help, comfort, encouragement and strength. Jesus used a related form of this word as a name for the Holy Spirit in John 14:16: “Parakletos,” which means “a helper, comforter, encourager or advocate.”

This story of Derek Redmond and his father is a beautiful illustration of someone coming alongside another to help and encourage.

(Video length: 3:21)

Derek Redmond was running in the 400-meter race in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. He already held the British record in this event. In the previous Olympics he had been forced to withdraw 10 minutes before the race because of an Achilles tendon injury. Now four years later he was here, ready to compete, determined to win a medal in the 400. His father was in the stands watching.

During the semi-final heat, Redmond was only 175 meters away from the finish line, when his right hamstring suddenly popped and he fell to the ground. As all the other runners raced past him, Redmond knew that once again his Olympics dream had been snatched away from him. But Redmond was determined to finish the race, so he got back on his feet and started hobbling towards the finish line. He was in visible pain with each step, and it was unclear whether he could even make it.

Suddenly, his father gets out of his seat and jumps onto the track, running around the security guards, and comes alongside his son on the track. He puts his arm around his son’s waist and encourages him to keep going. And as 65,000 people in the stadium rise to their feet in applause, father and son make their way around the track to the finish line together. Redmond did not win his Olympic medal. But with the help of his father, he finished the race.

Worship in Spirit and in Truth

Here is the definition I offered for worshiping in spirit and in truth in last Sunday’s message on worship. Worshiping God in spirit and in truth means:

Worshiping God truly and sincerely from the heart in the power of the Holy Spirit while proclaiming the truth about God as found in Holy Scripture.

What do you think?

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)