Jack Graham - Born In Us Today
Take your Bibles, please, turn with me to John's Gospel, the fourteenth chapter. And this is the beginning of a message series at Christmas called "THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS". And it is our desire in this message series to invite you to experience the true Christmas Spirit who is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the Living God. And it's my prayer that you, we, individually and as a church, would be filled with the Spirit of God not only this Christmas, but every day thereafter; that you would be filled with the presence and power.
As the Apostle Paul prayed in Ephesians chapter 3, "that you would be filled with all the fullness of God". When Christ came, the fullness of God was in Him and with Him, and when the Spirit comes, the fullness of God, the very presence of Christ is alive. I want you to know Him, the dear Holy Spirit, and love Him and rely upon Him, to give Him complete control of your life. So, in John chapter 14 Jesus is completing His ministry on earth. Jesus came to earth and He walked among us. He was born, became a Man, a mighty and powerful Messiah and Savior to the world. He was here and He walked among us. The disciples knew His presence for approximately three years. They saw wondrous things. But Jesus is now on His way to the cross and in the upper room with His disciples, and He stuns them with the news, though He had been preparing them all along, but He stuns them with the news that He is going away.
In fact, He was on the way to Calvary. It was the reason that He was born. Jesus was born to die and the mission is now almost complete. And so, He is preparing those early followers of Jesus for His absence, His physical absence, and He is pointing them to the future and how they would then live. And so, He says in verse 15: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you... But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you".
The Holy Spirit is present, permeates the entire story of the Bible. In fact, the Bible is breathed out by the Holy Spirit, preserving the record of God's revelation, the Bible: both Old Testament and New Testament. Inspired by God by His Spirit breathing out the words of scripture. And, of course, therefore, the Spirit is present in the telling of the story of Jesus when He came to earth. All that we know, really, about Jesus Christ, we find in the Bible given to us by the Holy Spirit. So, in the telling of the story of Jesus, in the telling of the story of Christmas, the Holy Spirit is always present. And specifically, present, for example, when the angel came and made the announcement to Mary that she would deliver the Christ child. She wondered at this; she asked, "How can this be since I have never known physically a man"? And the angel answered her and said in verse 35 of Luke's Gospel, chapter 1: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God".
Key component: core conviction of the Christian faith is Christ is born of a virgin, that Mary was overshadowed by the very presence of God, the Holy Spirit. So, the Holy Spirit is present at the conception of Jesus before His birth. Later on, Matthew chapter 1 and verse 18, it says: "Now the birth of Jesus took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with Child from the Holy Spirit. But as she considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream (that is, Joseph) 'Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a son and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sin.'"
When Joseph heard these words, he was ready to put away his betrothed wife, his beloved Mary. But God the Holy Spirit convinced him that what was happening was a miracle indeed. Again, when you read the story of the birth of Christ and the childhood of Christ, in John's Gospel, we're told that John, the Baptist, the first cousin of Jesus, was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb. We believe that life, according to the Scripture, begins in the womb. Conception takes place and life begins. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb and he was kicking away. Elizabeth, the mother of John, she also, according to the story of Christmas, first Christmas was filled with the Holy Spirit and then the father of John the Baptist, Zachariah, spoke under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Later on, when Mary and Joseph brought the young Jesus, the Christ Child, to meet Simeon, a man who had been given a promise that he would not see death until he witnessed the Messiah. When Simeon embraced the Christ Child in his arms, we're told that he was a man filled with the Holy Spirit! So all the way through, and much more, behind the scenes even, the Holy Spirit is moving, the Holy Spirit is working, whether it is in the arrangement of the taxation of Mary and Joseph that would bring them to Bethlehem, whether it was in the shepherds watching over their flocks by night, whether it is in the directing of the event, in the details of everything that took place, God by His Spirit is stirring; God is surprising, God is moving, His Spirit is working.
This is a great reminder to all of us that what happened then, happens now. God's Spirit is always working, always leading us, always strengthening us, always surprising us, always arranging our lives. What is it that makes the Christian faith, Christianity different from all the religions of the world? It is the fact that God indwells His people. The difference of Christ in us, alive in us; that His Spirit indwells us. To believe is to receive Christ and therefore, to receive the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches when we become believers, followers of Jesus that the Spirit of the living God, the very presence of Jesus who was born in a manger is now born to us.
And that's the title of this message on the Holy Spirit, "Born to Us". Christmas means God is with us; He is Emmanuel. It means God is for us; He loves you with an everlasting love. He came to save His people from their sins. And it means that God not only is for us and God is with us, but now God is in us. Now let me remind you that the Holy Spirit is a Person; not an it, not an influence, not an inanimate force in the world. When we speak of the Spirit of Christmas or Christmas Spirit, you're not talking about just excitement or enthusiasm like team spirit. No, the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three in one, one in three. This is the mystery of the Trinity. The Apostle Paul said, "Great is the mystery of godliness". But the Holy Spirit is just as much God as Jesus is God, as much God as the Father is God. He is God! The Spirit of God is not a feeling or a force, but a fact! A reality in the believer's life.
So, the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Spirit. You know why He's called the third Person? Not because He is the least of the three, but because He is the last full revelation of God. You know, many Christians have been to Bethlehem and to Calvary for pardon, but they've never been to Pentecost for power, the power of the Holy Spirit. No wonder so many Christians are living defeated, even disillusioned lives. Have you made the discovery that the Christian life is not hard; it's impossible, in our own strength, our own human effort! But the good news of Christmas, Christmas then and Christmas now, is that Christ has come and the Spirit has come to bring us life, to empower us with His presence. He transforms, the Spirit of God, the way we think. He shows us the will of God, the ways of God. He comforts us in life's biggest battles and most tumultuous tests and sorrows. He uses us to proclaim the Gospel.
And God is looking for ordinary people to do extraordinary things with us as we yield to the Spirit of God in our life. The Christmas Spirit. The Spirit of Christ. You know what the Holy Spirit does in our lives; this Person who is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ? Well, we are saved by the work of the Holy Spirit. Did you know that it is impossible for you to be saved apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? You don't just decide one day, "Oh, I'm going to become a Christian". No, the Spirit of God woos you and wins you. The Holy Spirit convicts you. Jesus said in the same upper room conversation with His disciples that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment! The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin!
I heard a preacher say years ago, "You don't have to tell people they're sinners. Don't preach about sin; they already know they're sinners". Well, most people actually don't! They know they've done some wrong things, but they don't know that sin is an offense in the sight of a Holy God! They don't know the consequences of sin. "For the wages of sin is death". So the Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin so that they can look, being convinced that Christ is the Savior who died on the cross and rose again to give us the forgiveness of sin and eternal life! "You shall call His name Jesus," the angel said, "for He will save His people from their sin". You cannot be saved apart of the converting work of the Holy Spirit, the life-changing work of the Holy Spirit within. We are secured by the Holy Spirit.
Philippians 1:6: "He who began the good work in you will complete it unto the Day of Jesus Christ". We are saved and we are kept by the work of the Holy Spirit. Not only secured, we are assured by the Holy Spirit. In Romans chapter 8 and verse 16 we're told that "the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God". Do you know you're saved? How do you know you're saved? 1 John 5:13, "These things are written that you might know that you have eternal life". You can see in God's Word that you are saved, but there's something else; there's something more. His Spirit is within you, the witness of the Spirit convincing you that you are a child of God. That's what the Bible says. I know that I'm saved! You're looking at a man, I know that I know that I am saved!
You say, "Well, that's arrogant". No, it's not. I'm not bragging on me; I'm bragging on the One who saved me. Because the One who saved me has now secured me and there is this witness within. I know, you say, what does that mean? How do you describe that? Well, I can't exactly tell you. I ate some pie over the Thanksgiving holidays. You know, I only like two kinds of pie: hot pie and cold pie! So I ate some pie, some delicious pumpkin pie and delicious pecan pie. (On the diet already.) But if you'd never tasted chocolate pie. Let's say you've never tasted it. How could I describe that to you?
The Bible says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good"! Once you experience Jesus in your life, the Holy Spirit enlivens us, enables us to see Jesus, to know Jesus and we are assured. We understand the Bible because of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is speaking now through His Word, through His messenger. The Holy Spirit not only inspired the Bible, breathed it out word by word, but the Holy Spirit illuminates the Bible. That is, gives us the light to understand it and interprets the Bible. We have the Holy Spirit as our teacher. Jesus said in that passage we just read that the Holy Spirit will help you remember all the things that I said to you. We also, we pray in the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26 "The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses". Remember, He's the Helper so He helps us to pray. "We don't know what to pray for as we ought but the Spirit Himself intercedes with us with groanings too deep for words".
All of us have been on our knees, on our faces at times not knowing how to pray, what to pray. We're so hurt and so broken, we're so disturbed, we're so filled with doubt, we don't know what to pray. But you have a prayer partner; the Holy Spirit prays and intercedes within you. So, you just cry out to God. Let the Holy Spirit take your prayers into the presence of the Lord. We'll talk more about that in another message. We serve God in the power of the Holy Spirit. God has given us spiritual gifts. We're going to be giving gifts this Christmas to our family and friends. It's a celebration of this season of Christmas. Well, when the Holy Spirit came into our lives, He came bearing gifts, spiritual gifts. And these gifts enable us specifically and strategically to serve Christ. We are the witness in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our witness is feeble apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.
In fact, before the disciples were to go into all the world, Jesus told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Wait until My Spirit, and they did exactly as He said, because in Acts chapter 1:8 Jesus said, "that you shall be My witnesses. After the Holy Spirit is come upon you, you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the world". We are the witness in the power of the Holy Spirit; that's what witnessing is. I like the definition that Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, gave us: "Witnessing is sharing Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God". Are you witnessing this season of the year? I know it's busy, I know there's a lot of thrills and chills at Christmas. Our time seems to be crushed by the rush. But I want to challenge every one of us, everyone, pick one and witness to one. One somebody you know needs to know Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and use you to invite, to bring, to witness to someone that they may come to Christ this Christmas season. Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing?
Let me give you three take-homes. One, the Holy Spirit permanently indwells us. You don't have to plead, beg, borrow, ask, cajole the Holy Spirit to fill you if Christ is in you; if you are a believer. Because when you become a believer, you are immersed, you're baptized by the Holy Spirit, placed in the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit indwells you. The moment you are saved, the Holy Spirit of God lives in you! This is what salvation is all about. God-in-you! And therefore, you don't need a second blessing or a third blessing; you got the blessing when the Blesser (Jesus) came to live in you! And you can spend the rest of your life enjoying the blessing and experiencing blessing after blessing after blessing, because of the first blessing of Christ in you.
Jesus said in John 16 and verse 7, He said, "It's an advantage to you that I go away". What? Can you imagine these disciples hearing these words for the first time? How could it be, how could He possibly say, "it's greater, better for you that I go away"? What could be better than standing next to Jesus? Christ in you is better than Christ beside you. Did you know that? Christ in you, His presence, alive is better than Christ beside you! He lives in you! Don't be ignorant of this! Don't be indifferent to this! Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: "What? What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? That you are bought with a price, therefore, glorify God with your body which belongs to Him". We think of church buildings and sanctuaries as being the temple of God. This isn't the temple of God; this is the temple of God! You as a believer are the temple of God. Therefore, every part of you belongs to Him. It's purchased by His blood and possessed by His Spirit.
So, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christmas, He permanently indwells us. Secondly, He powerfully infills us. His presence means power, enabling. We talked about this earlier. That God energizes us by His Spirit. Next weeks message is going to be on the filling of the Holy Spirit. How God fills us and uses us. He powerfully infills us. And then, finally, He personally invests in us. The Holy Spirit as Jesus noted will be in you. He will show you the Father, He will reproduce My works in you. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter. The word helper that you see there in your Bible is the word paraclete and it means one called alongside, it means comforter, it means helper, it means encourager. The Holy Spirit is our Counsellor, our Encourager.
I can't tell you how many times I've walked a trail of tears with families and friends to funerals and gravesites, hospital rooms, and prayed for the Holy Spirit of God to minister His grace and His help and His healing to wipe away their salty tears. And we have seen the Spirit of God bring hope and healing. This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The world will beat you down and beat you up but the Holy Spirit will build you up. Which is one good reason you should find yourself among the people of God in the church of God every week! Not one of those 67 percent of the time kind of church members. But every week! Why? Because we need to get together. We need to huddle up and call timeout, if you will, and hear from God, and listen to God's Word and sing great songs and hymns of faith, experiencing the presence of God and the power of God in our lives! To have people who are filled with the Holy Spirit wrap their arms around us and love us and encourage us! We need one another; we need God! We need Him!