The Spirit of Christmas Present (2)

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John 14:15-18,27 (Indwelling)

INTRODUCTION: Our message series is called The Spirit of Christmas, and we are looking at the role of the Holy Spirit at Christmas together. So far we have looked at the Spirit of Christmas Past, that is, the role of the Holy Spirit in the years leading up to Christmas. Then we looked at the Spirit of Christmas Present, that is, the role of the Holy Spirit at the first Christmas when Jesus was born into our world. This week we will continue with the theme of Christmas Present, but we will be looking at our present. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives today, in our Christmas Present? (Read John 14:15-18,27 and pray.)

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As we mentioned at the beginning of this series, the Holy Spirit is sometimes called the forgotten member of the Trinity. For some reason we tend to focus more on God the Father and Jesus the Son, but we sometimes forget about the Holy Spirit.

In some ways, I don’t think the Holy Spirit minds too much, because his main role is to shine the light on Jesus and glorify the Son, even as Jesus seeks to glorify the Father and the Father seeks to glorify the Son. But we should still be careful that we do not neglect the Holy Spirit in our prayers and thinking. The Holy Spirit is essential to all that God is and does, and when we forget the Holy Spirit, we do not worship God as we should.

That’s why we are taking some time this Advent season to look at the Holy Spirit’s role at Christmas. We have seen that the role of the Holy Spirit in Christmas Past was a prophetic role. The prophets who foretold the birth of Christ spoke from God by the Holy Spirit. And then their words were written down in Scripture by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Next we saw that the role of the Holy Spirit at the first Christmas was a miraculous role. The miracle of the virgin birth came about through the power of the Holy Spirit.

So what is the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives today, in our Christmas Present? His role today is an indwelling role. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer. But here’s the thing. Without Christmas there would be no indwelling of the Spirit. The Spirit of Christmas in our present is dependent on the Spirit of Christmas in the past and at the very first Christmas. And as we shall see, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit makes all the difference for the believer, on Christmas Day and every day.

I. Jesus came so the Holy Spirit could come.

So let’s look first of all at the relationship between Christmas and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And the relationship is quite simple. Jesus came so the Holy Spirit could come. Jesus came at Christmas so the Holy Spirit could come to us today. If Jesus had never come at Christmas, we would not know the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as we do today.

   A. Jesus = “God with us” in the flesh
      – Matthew 1:23; John 1:1,14

As we saw last week, when Jesus came at Christmas he was God with us in the flesh. We read the angel’s words to Joseph in Matthew 1:23: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23) We read the same thing in the gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:1,14)

We call this the incarnation. The eternal Son of God was born into our world as a human being. Jesus was fully God and fully man. This is the miracle of Christmas. God came to us in the flesh as a baby boy. Jesus is Immanuel. He was God with us in the flesh.

   B. The Holy Spirit = “God with us” through the Spirit
      – John 14:16-18,23 16:7,28

If Jesus is God with us in the flesh, then the Holy Spirit is God with us through the Spirit. Once again, Jesus came so the Holy Spirit could come. Let me read a number of passages from the gospel of John that trace this progression out for us.

Jesus told his disciples in John 16: “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” (John 16:28) “I came from the Father and entered the world.” That’s Christmas. Jesus came from the Father and entered our world on Christmas day. “I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” That’s the ascension. Jesus returned to heaven after dying on the cross and being raised from the dead.

Now look at Jesus’ words to his disciples in John 16:7: “I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7) The Counselor in this verse is the Holy Spirit, so here Jesus tells us that unless he went back to heaven, then he would not be able to send the Holy Spirit to us. Jesus came, and then Jesus went, so the Holy Spirit could come.

Jesus tells his disciples in John 14: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18) Here we learn that when the Holy Spirit comes, he will come to indwell the believer. As Jesus says, “he lives with you and will be in you.” And when the Holy Spirit comes, Jesus comes with him. Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans, but I will come to you through the Holy Spirit.”

And then finally Jesus goes on to say in verse 23: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23) This is one of the most amazing Scriptures in the whole Bible. It’s not only Jesus who comes to live in us through the Holy Spirit, but also God the Father himself. And so through the Holy Spirit, the whole trinity, God the Father, Son and Spirit, come and make their home with the believer.

When Jesus came at Christmas, that was the first Immanuel – God with us in the flesh. But now that the Holy Spirit has come, God is with us through the Spirit. And Jesus says this is so much better. When Jesus was with us as God in the flesh, he could only be with one believer or group of believers at a time. But now that God is with us through the Holy Spirit, Jesus can be with all believers in all places at all times.

And so God with us at Christmas and God with us through the Holy Spirit are intimately related. As we said last week, without the Holy Spirit there would be no Christmas. But now we can also say that without Christmas there would be no indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If Jesus had not come at Christmas, then the Holy Spirit would not have come today. Jesus came so the Holy Spirit could come. The Immanuel of Christmas continues in the present through the Holy Spirit in us.

II. What does the Holy Spirit do for you when he comes?

So what does the Holy Spirit do for you when he comes? As we said earlier, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit makes all the difference for the believer. Let me share with you seven amazing things the Holy Spirit does for you when he comes.

   A. The Holy Spirit gives you new life in Christ.
      – John 1:12-13, 3:5-8

First of all, the Holy Spirit gives you new life in Christ. We read in John 1: “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13) Just as Jesus was born of God and not a husband’s will, so we are born of God when we receive Christ as our Savior. Of course Jesus was born physically while we are born spiritually.

And God does this for us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus describes this rebirth in John 3: “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)

   B. The Holy Spirit makes you part of the body of Christ.
      – 1 Corinthians 12:13

Secondly, the Holy Spirit makes you part of the body of Christ. We read in 1 Corinthians 12: “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:13) The moment the Holy Spirit gives you new life in Christ, you are also baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. You are now a part of the family of God. Jesus was born into this world in a body on Christmas day. But now we are the body of Christ fulfilling his will in the world around us.

   C. The Holy Spirit assures you that you are a child of God.
      – Romans 8:15-16; Galatians 4:6

Thirdly, the Holy Spirit assures you that you are a child of God. Paul says in Romans 8 that when you received the Spirit: “You received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15-16) And again in Galatians 4:6: “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Galatians 4:6) Just as the angel at Christmas assured Joseph that Jesus was the Son of God, so the Holy Spirit today assures us that we are sons of God. The Holy Spirit assures you that you are a child of God.

   D. The Holy Spirit helps you grow in Christ.
      – Ezekiel 36:27; Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:19, 5:22-23

Fourthly, the Holy Spirit helps you grow in Christ. Through the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, God made the following promise to us. He said: “I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:27) The Holy Spirit not only gives you new life in Christ. He helps you to live out that new life in Christ. God puts his Holy Spirit in you, and the Spirit moves you to obey God in a whole new way.

Paul writes to the believer in Romans 8: “You are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” (Romans 8:9) If you are a Christian, then you are no longer controlled by the sinful nature but by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit helps you overcome your old bad habits and to develop new good habits that are pleasing to God.

The Holy Spirit also begins changing your character from the inside out. We read in Galatians 5: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) As you walk in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit works these character traits in you making you more and more like Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul even speaks of Christ being “formed in you” in Galatians 4:19. Just as Christ’s physical body was formed inside Mary as she carried Jesus in the womb, so Jesus’ spiritual character is formed in you as you carry Jesus in your heart through the Holy Spirit. Mary carried Jesus physically in her body, and we carry Jesus spiritually in our hearts.

The bottom line is this. You don’t have to try and live the Christian life on your own. Because you are not on your own. God sent the Holy Spirit to help you grow in Christ.

   E. The Holy Spirit gives you supernatural peace from Christ.
      – Luke 2:14; John 14:27

Fifthly, the Holy Spirit gives you supernatural peace from Christ. The night Jesus was born the angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

And so part of Jesus’ birth announcement was this wonderful promise of peace. This promise includes both peace on earth and peace in our hearts. We will look at peace on earth next week when we get to the Spirit of Christmas future, but for now let’s look at the promise of peace in our hearts. How does God give us that peace? Through the Holy Spirit.

Right after Jesus told us about the Holy Spirit, he went on to say: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) The peace Jesus gives you through the Holy Spirit is unlike anything this world has to offer. Jesus is the Prince of Peace who sent you the Spirit of peace to give you a supernatural peace so that you do not need to be afraid.

   F. The Holy Spirit empowers you for witness and service.
      – Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-5,11

Sixthly, the Holy Spirit empowers you for witness and service. Jesus told his disciples in Acts 1:8: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Why were the early believers such powerful witnesses for Christ? Because they were filled with the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit you and I have today.

And then we read about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. …. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-5,11) God gives each believer spiritual gifts for service through the Holy Spirit so that we can all serve each other in the body of Christ.

The power for witness and service does not come from the strength of your own personality. Or gifts. Rather, it comes from the Holy Spirit living in you and filling you with his power. The Holy Spirit empowers you for witness and service.

   G. The Holy Spirit guarantees your place in heaven.
      – Ephesians 1:13-14

And then finally, the Holy Spirit guarantees your place in heaven. Paul writes in Ephesians 1: “You also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.” (Ephesians 1:13–14)

When you buy a house through the bank, you make a down payment. Why? The bank wants you to have sufficient interest in the house that you will take good care of it and continue making payments on it. It is your pledge or guarantee to them that you will eventually pay them back.

When you put your faith in Christ, God gives you the Holy Spirit as a down payment guaranteeing your future inheritance in heaven. And unlike the down payment on the house where the buyer may or may not follow through with all the payments, God is the one making this deposit, and so you know that he will follow through. The Holy Spirit guarantees your place in heaven.

CONCLUSION: Jesus came so the Holy Spirit could come. When Jesus came at Christmas, he was God with us in the flesh. But now that the Holy Spirit has come, God is with us through the Spirit. Jesus says this is better, because this way God can be with each and every one of us at all times and in all places.

Without the Holy Spirit there would be no Christmas in the past, and without Christmas there would be no Holy Spirit indwelling us in the present. And so the Holy Spirit is truly the Spirit of Christmas Present. Because Jesus came at Christmas, God is present with us through the Holy Spirit today. And that makes all the difference.

© Ray Fowler

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