What would you do if church, as you know it, ceased to exist? Imagine no Worship, Life Group, Sermons, or access to the Bible, except the portions you had memorized. Take it a step further and imagine your pastor leaves and you feel left behind. How would you continue to grow in faith? Where would you bring friends in need of the Good News? Would you find Christianity, without church, fulfilling enough to continue following Jesus? Although it would be hard, I sincerely believe it would be good for most of us.
In John 16:1-15 [read it] we find a scene not unlike the above. Jesus was preparing his Disciples (followers) to become Apostles (sent ones) after His death and resurrection. In a counter-intuitive move, He did not give them a stack of books or program in a box. Instead, He told them He would be leaving and it was to their advantagewhat? Yes, it would be good for them to have Jesus go, so He could then send the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. This gift, Jesus explained, would be an advocate (helper) and be with us forever. (John 14:16) As the resurrection story unfolds, it happens just as Jesus said; He conquers death, ascends to the Father, and the Spirit descends (Acts 2). As the Apostles lived obediently (John 14:15-16), the Spirit filled them with knowledge and power to preach the Gospel of Jesus the Christ. And, although they must have missed Jesus, it was to their advantage that He ascended.
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Likewise, in the Church today, it is to our advantage to not cling to programs or persons for comfort, but to seek fulfillment through the Spirit. Our knowledge of God the Father and Jesus the Son are marvelous truths to be treasured, but the literal breath of God (Spirit) renewed in us is what brings our knowledge to fullness through a direct relationship with the Holy Trinity.
Trinity is an important word for Christians. It explains how we understand God existing as one, but we experience God in three persons or modes of being. Thus, the Holy Spirit is not to be understood as something new, other, or an increase of what we've been given or experience in Jesus. Rather, the Holy Spirit is God, co-equal with the Father and Son, sharing in all the divine attributes (sovereignty, omniscience, etc). Consequently, as people who believe in Jesus, we need not go searching for more the Holy Spirit, as if the Spirit is findable or something we achieve. Instead, we need to trust in Jesus promise, that the gift is for our good, and receive the Spirit. As Christians, believing in God the Father and Jesus Christ, we inherently believe and have the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3). But, to say we believe in the three persons of God, does not mean we are fulfilled or full of God.
With this in mind, our next sermon series Three-Thirds Full will focus on nurturing a relationship with the Spirit. On Sundays I will focus on the various ways the Spirit equips us, in the physical absence of Jesus, to be fulfilled and faithful Christians. Although I won't ask you to stop doing the church activities I listed above, I would like you to consider leaving your opinions at home. I know there are a lot of subjective beliefs and feelings about the Holy Spirit that have left many with a bitter taste in their mouths. To this I'd simply say, get over it and move on. Instead, come with a fresh desire to encounter God the Holy Spirit. It really is for your own good.
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Posted in Churches/Faith/Religion Post Date 12/04/2016