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James Merritt - Inside Scoop

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    James Merritt - Inside Scoop
TOPICS: Holy Spirit

I want you to turn to John Chapter 14. Let me give you the backdrop of what's going on there then we're going to get into this. The disciples had been with Jesus 24/7 three years. I mean, three years, they've hardly ever been away from his side. They've eaten with him, they slept with him. They've done ministry with him. They've listened to him. They've talked to him. They've had communion with him. He had literally been God with them nonstop.

Now they're in the upper room. They are about to take communion and the disciples have been experiencing a spiritual gut check because keep in mind that for three years, they finally become convinced, Jesus is the Messiah. He is the great Jewish hope. He's gonna take care of the Roman empire and he's gonna kick them out. He's gonna put Israel where they belong at the top of the heap. They're going to sit on thrones with him. They're going to be charter members of the kingdom and they're going to live happily ever after until they get to the upper room. Then they get to the upper room and there's this bad wake-up call. And all of a sudden their worlds turned upside down. Their dreams are going up in smoke. Their hopes are being dashed. Everything was going wrong. Judas had just left or about to leave to go and to betray Jesus. Peter is about to be told, he's going to soon deny Jesus.

And worst of all, Jesus has been telling them over and over, I'm going to die, I'm going to die, I'm going to die, I'm going to die. But now he tells them something that blows them away. He says, "I'm not just going to die, I'm going to leave you and where I'm going, you can't go with me". "But Lord you're the Messiah. You're the son of God, Lord we left everything to follow you, You're all we've known for three years". So you're the disciples right now. What are you going through? You're depressed, you're disillusioned, you're discouraged, you're disappointed, you're afraid, you're confused. You're wondering have I made a big mistake following this guy? And then Jesus makes this unbelievably amazing assertion that when you first read it, you're not gonna realize just what an amazing thing he said. He says to them, before we get to John 14, we're gonna go on over. He's going to tell them this.

And he says this in John chapter 16, verse seven. "Nevertheless," now he's already been setting them up, "I'm going," "nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you". Now, do you catch, do you understand, do you catch what Jesus is saying here? Jesus is telling them "guys it is so important that I go away. It is to your advantage that I go away. You better be glad that I'm going away. Because even though I'm going to physically leave you the Spirit's going to come and live inside of you". Now to make it even stronger he says, "it's actually to your advantage," which is a Greek word that refers to making a big profit in business.

Here's what Jesus said. This is amazing. Jesus said, "men you're not gonna believe what I'm about to tell you, but you're gonna be better off having the Holy spirit inside you than having me beside you". "What"? "I'm telling you, you think it's been great the last three years? You ain't seen nothing yet. You don't even know what you're about to experience. It's gonna be so much more to your advantage. It's gonna be so much better for you to have the Holy Spirit inside you than to have Jesus beside you". In fact, this is such a big deal let me put it to you this way. If you don't believe what I just said if you're sitting there saying oh no, if it's up to me, I love to go back 2000 years. I'd love to be right beside Jesus. You really need to be in this series. You really need to hear this. 'Cause you don't really understand what you're saying. You are so wrong, you couldn't be more wrong, because Jesus himself said, "I'm telling you, you are much better off to have the spirit inside of you than to have me beside you".

So well let me tell you what that means. You ever said, man, I wish, how cool would have been to be on the side, but I admit it would've been cool to have been back there 2000 years ago and, you know, see Jesus walk on the water and turn the bread and the fish and all the big meal that would have been all cool. And yet, at the same time, when you get through this series I hope you'll finally see the light. And you'll say, man, we are so much better off today having the spirit inside of us than Jesus beside us. And if you're kind of saying "I just not buying this," let me let Jesus explain why. What Jesus is about to tell these disciples is not completely new.

Remember they're Jewish. They know the Old Testament. They know very well about the Holy Spirit, because in the Holy Spirit, he's talked about repeatedly and he in the Holy Spirit basically is a power. We're gonna talk about that in a moment. But now Jesus gives these disciples some inside scoop on the Holy spirit. He says, "hey guys, let me tell you about the Holy Spirit". And he says something you've never really thought about. When you read your Old Testament you think he's just a power. He's more than a power. He is a person, a real person. And what he now says to the disciples, we're gonna read this morning is both radical and revolutionary in their understanding of God and our understanding of God.

So we're in John chapter 14, three things that Jesus says and I promise you, as we begin this series you're never gonna see your life again as a Christian, you will never think of the Holy Spirit the same as a Christian, as we get into this series. First thing Jesus says is this. We have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. We have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. Jesus says in John 14:16, "and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and he will be with you forever". Jesus says, "okay, look guys, I'm gonna leave you but I'm not going to leave you alone. I'm going to leave you, but I'm not going to desert you. I'm going to send another advocate".

Now, let me tell you why that word is so very very important. You know, in English we only have really one word for another. You know what that word is? Help me, work with me. It's another. All right, that's it. Okay, work with me now. Come on, help me here. All right, we got one word for another, it's another. Greek has two words. There's one word that you translate another. It means another of a different kind. That's not the word Jesus uses here. The word that Jesus uses here is a word that means another of the same kind. In other words, here's what Jesus said, "guys, here's the bad news, I'm leaving you. Here's the good news, I'm gonna send somebody to you who is exactly like me. You're not gonna miss a beat. You're in some way you may not even realize I'm gone".

What he's saying is the Holy Spirit is a distinct person. He's not just a power. He's a person. Just like Jesus is a person. The spirit is a person. The Holy Spirit is not in "it". It really grates on my nerves, when people talk about the Holy Spirit and they refer to him as an "it," as a matter of fact John goes out of his way to emphasize he's a person. He uses these masculine pronouns. He calls him, he, he, he, because just like Jesus, Jesus wants us to understand, I'm not a ghost, he's not a ghost. I'm not just a force, he's not just a force. I'm not just a power, he's not just a power. He is a real person. And a Christian is someone who has a personal relationship not just with God, the Father, not just with God the son, a Christian is someone who has a relationship with God the Holy Spirit, because too often when we think about the Holy Spirit, I'm guilty of this sometimes, when we talk about the Holy Spirit, what do we think about?

We think about strength, we think about might, we think about the power of the Holy Spirit. We need the power, and we do. I mean, there is such a thing as spiritual power, but when we think about spiritual power we kind of tend to think of it like electrical power or nuclear power or solar power. You know, it's not personal. It's just something you tap into to help you be what need to become. And what Jesus is saying is look the Holy is more than protons and electrons and neutrons. The Holy spirit is a real person and he wants to have a real relationship with you and with me. That's why he calls him this word advocate. Now, if you go back and study that word, that word is only used twice in the new Testament. You probably have heard this word before. The Greek word is "paraclete". You probably have heard that word before.

Well, the word "paraclete" back in Bible days It referred to the lawyer that was defending you in court, or it would refer to a witness who would testify for you and bear witness for you or it could just be anybody that came alongside to help you if you had a need. As a matter of fact the word "paraclete" not trying to get too technical here, but the word "paraclete" is made up of two kind of two kind of a prefix "para," which means beside, a paralegal is someone who works alongside a lawyer, paralegal, para, beside. And then the word "clete" which means to call. So it really means to call beside or to call alongside. The point is it always referred to a person, a real person not a force, not a power, not a thing. It was a person. Then Jesus goes on to say to them in verse 17, "you know him". Him not it. You know him.

In other words Jesus said a Christian is not someone who just has the Holy Spirit, a Christian is someone who knows the Holy Spirit. He's on speaking terms with the Holy Spirit. He doesn't see the Holy Spirit as a power or a force. He sees him as a friend, someone he can talk to, someone that wants to talk to him. Every morning before I get out of bed, I've done this. I don't know how many years. It just, first thing that comes to my mind. I did it this morning. Every morning when I wake up, I go to get out of bed. First thing before I hit the floor. I say, heavenly Father, I love you, Lord Jesus, I love you. Holy Spirit, I love you. I just, I just right off the bed I'm just just communing with all of them. And you see this teaching. What he's saying to them is just blowing them away, is so astonishing. Because when you read the Old Testament here's what you'll find. The Holy Spirit usually came as a power in the Old Testament to give people strength to do what God wanted them to do to be used for the glory of God.

Now Jesus comes along and says, "hey guys, there's a lot more to the Holy Spirit than just being a power". He is powerful, but he's more than that. He is a person that you can know. He's a person you can love. He's a person you can talk to. He's a person you can worship. He is a real person. So number one we have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. Then Jesus says something else. He says, we have a permanent relationship with the Holy Spirit. Not just personal. We have a permanent, listen to what he says in verse 16. "He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you". Say that word out loud, "forever". He will be with you forever. Jesus said, hey guys, it's better than this. When I send the Holy Spirit to you he's going to come into you. And he's going to take up permanent residence. Big difference, big change. Because in the Old Testament, what did the Holy Spirit do? He would come, he'd leave. He'd come and do his thing, he'd leave. He'd come and carry out his assignment, he'd leave.

Jesus said in the Old Testament he comes and leaves, in the New Testament, he comes and stays because when he came, when Jesus came to planet earth, he came to do three things. He came to live, he came to die but he came to leave. Why did he leave? He's trying to teach us a lesson. This world's not his home. The world is not our home. Jesus just passing through. We're just passing through. So he comes to leave. He said, I'm only going to be with you for a little while. But he said, when the Holy Spirit comes, he never leaves! He will be with you and in you forever. In other words, you can't lose the Holy Spirit. You can't shake the Holy spirit. You can't get rid of the Holy Spirit. Your body is not a hotel with checkout time at 12 o'clock on Sunday when church is over. You don't walk out of the door and the Holy Spirit says, "see you next Sunday".

When you walk out of the door, he is with you. Your body is a temple where the spirit of God resides every moment of every day. Because the Holy Spirit has come to us to give us two things. He's come to give us the spiritual life that we need for the world that we're in now. And then to give us the eternal life that we need for the world to come. So Jesus said, here's the good news guys. I'm with you today. I'm not gonna be with you tomorrow, but the Holy Spirit, he's gonna be with you today, tomorrow and forever. Now let me tell you why this is so. I want you to think this through. We all go through those times in our lives. We all do. I've done it, you've done it. When you feel like if there is a God out there He's a million miles away. We all go through those times in our life where we feel like our prayers are like rubber balls, bouncing off a concrete ceiling. How many of you have ever gone through that?

I just wanna make sure I'm not up here just building stuff. 'Cause I've been there. And some of you might have said, man, I swear right now I just feel so far away from God. Let me tell you why you feel that way. But let me tell you why your feelings are totally wrong. It is because you really don't know where God is because through the Holy Spirit, God has come to live in you and to live in you permanently to live in you forever. That's why every day you need as a believer, if you are one to practice the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life every moment of every second of every minute of every day.

Now, let me give you a practical illustration of how this works out. There's a prayer, it's probably the number one prayer you have prayed in your life, it's probably the number one prayer I've prayed in my life, it's probably probably the most prayed prayer in the church, it's probably the most prayed prayer in the entire world. And as I've thought about it I finally began to realize, you know what, this is only kind of a redundant prayer, it's an unnecessary prayer. And it's even an inaccurate prayer. Some of you may have prayed it today. Let me give you an example. How many times have you gotten on an airplane? Maybe you have a fear of flying. I don't know, but how many times you've gotten on an airplane and you've prayed this prayer. God be with me as I get on this airplane, or God be with me as I go to this job interview, or God be with me as I take this final examination, or God be with me as I go to my doctor's appointment be with me as I go here, be with me as I do that.

Now here's what I want you to think about. Why do we pray for someone to be with us? Who 24/7 is with us on a permanent basis? Why do we do that? Why would you ask somebody to come into your house who's already there and won't leave and never will? I mean, imagine I get home today after church and Teresa, we drive separately. She usually beats me home. So let's imagine I get home and I walk into the door and there's Teresa and I'll walk up to her and I say, honey, please be with me. "I am with you". I know, but please be with me. "I am with you". Honey, listen, I really need you to be with me. What is she thinking, white coat, get the doctor's 911, right okay?

Jesus said, look once the Holy Spirit comes in, he never moves out. He doesn't come to rent. He comes to buy and he comes to own. That means the Holy Spirit of God will never ever leave you, wherever you go you take the Holy Spirit with you. There's a famous credit card company you know about, got a famous slogan. Don't leave home without it. Jesus said, hey, from now own, you can never leave home without the Holy Spirit, because he has made you his home permanently. So I have right now, I've got a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. I have a permanent relationship with the Holy Spirit. And then Jesus said, last thing, Jesus said we have a present relationship with the Holy Spirit. Jesus goes on to say this. He says, "he is the spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him". Why, why can't the world get it? "Because it neither sees him nor knows him, but you know him". How do I know him? "For he lives with you and will be in you".

Now watch this. This is how this works. So you go home today and you drive through your neighborhood or you go out and take a jog or you go out and play golf or you go into the lake or tomorrow you go into work or you go to school or whatever it is you're doing. And we go out to the world and we look at the world and on the outside we kind of see people and they all kind of look the same. I mean, they, for the most part, we got the same body parts. You know, we walk, we talk, we converse. We see, we hear. And if you didn't know any better you'd just say on the outside, people are just people. And we're all just kind of the same.

But remember what I said at the beginning of the message, it's what's on the inside that counts. And Jesus said, whenever you're out in the world, always remember this. Whenever you go into work, when you go to work tomorrow, or you go to, you know if you're in school or I know school's out if you're in college, what are you doing? Jesus said, when you walk into a crowd of people it may look like we're all just people on the outside. But Jesus says on the inside, there are always two groups of people that you're with, two types. And the one thing that differentiates one from the other is the Holy Spirit. That is, he is the difference.

Now I wanna ask some questions, that may be a little bit uncomfortable, but I'm so glad that I'm doing this because there was a lady in our 9:15 service from West Africa that got saved because of these questions. So I want to ask you some very serious questions. I want you to be honest with yourself. Here's the question? Have I received the Holy Spirit? I asked her to be honest now. Have I received the Holy Spirit? Here's the second question. Do I know the Holy Spirit? Here's the third question. Am I certain that the Holy Spirit is in me? Now I want you just to kind of let those just kind of percolate just for a second.

Let me tell you why those questions are important. Because here's the dirty little secret a lot of us know, and here's the elephant in the room of every church in the world. There are people who come to church. They come to our church to come to every church. Doesn't matter what denomination doesn't matter. They come to every church. And they say, they're Christians. And they talk the Christian language. They may carry a Bible. They may do the "Christian thing". But then they walk out the door on Sunday and if you were to examine their life from Monday through the next Sunday you wouldn't tell one ounce of difference between their life and the life of a nonbeliever. As a matter of fact, there are some who live lives that are worse than some good unbelievers. As a matter of fact unbelievers have a word for people like that. It starts with an H. You know what that word is? Yeah, hypocrite.

So the question is, why is that? Why is it that we've got people in church or out of church? We've got people who call themselves Christians. And they the Christian language and they talk through Christian ease but there's really no difference in their lives. There's nothing that would ever say to anybody. If they just kind of watch them, oh, this person must be a believer. I'm not saying is true for everybody. I'll tell you why it's true for a lot of body. They don't know the Holy Spirit. They've never received the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the reason why the Holy Spirit doesn't know the whole... The reason why the world doesn't know the Holy Spirit is because the world doesn't have a spiritual antenna. God's on FM and the world's AM. And they're not connecting. They're like shifts passing in the night and the spiritual signals are out there but they're just not receiving them. Because if you are a believer with and you have a present relationship with the Holy Spirit, that is the Holy Spirit is present in you. He's not just with you. He's not just for you. He's not just beside you. He is in you.

And why is he in you? So that you'll live a spirit filled life. Why is he in you? So you'll live differently. Why is he in you? So people will look at you and say there is something different about you. And you could say, it's not just something. It's someone, the spirit of God's in me. And because the spirit of God is in me. I am a different person. See, this is another advantage we have over the disciples. But Jesus was with the disciples. The Holy Spirit is within us. And this is why this is so exciting to me, because when Jesus was on earth, think about this. Even Jesus could only be in one place at one time, you'd say he was God. Yes but he was also a man. And when he came, he voluntarily put himself into the crisis of being a human being.

So what does that mean? That means he could not be in Capernaum and in Jerusalem at the same time, he could not be in Bethlehem and in Nazareth at the same time. But the Holy Spirit he's everywhere at once. He's in every believer. He's in a believer in Africa. He's in a believer in Russia. He's in a believer in South America. He's in a believer here. He is never, ever away from us, because why? We're not talking about a physical relationship like those disciples had with Jesus. We're talking about a personal, permanent, present relationship.

So the question is, do you know where God lives? I mean, do you really know where God lives? I got news, well he lives in you, contrary to popular opinion. Some of you think I know where God lives. He lives in Cross Pointe church, 1800 Satellite Boulevard Luke George. I see him every Sunday. No God's address is James Merrit. God's address is John, God's addressed is Tu'thick. God's address is Carroll. God's address is Sally, God's addresses Sam. God lives in us. And see here's the wonderful thing. The Holy spirit never has to change his address because he never moves out. Always there.

Now why is all this so important to you and me? Here's why. Jesus thought of everything. Jesus knew, "okay after I die on the cross and after I'm raised from the dead and after I go back to heaven, if James Merritt has any shot at all, any shot at all of coming to me and living for me, he can't do it by himself". So Jesus said, "I'm gonna send the Holy Spirit. So you can do what I want you to do. And you can be what I want you to be. And I know the only way out that will ever be pulled off, I've gotta send someone to James Merritt who's just like me. So I'm going to send you the Holy Spirit of God". And that's why I want you to understand as we start this series, the Holy Spirit is not just an appendix to Christianity. The Holy Spirit is not just an add on or a footnote. The Holy Spirit is not supposed to stay up on the shelf. He is at the heart and the core of the Christian life that God wants us to live.

We need the Holy Spirit to become a Christian. And we need the Holy Spirit to be the Christian that we ought to be. I learned something, figured it out. It didn't take me too long when I've decided that, when our new God called me in the ministry, I do something every time. And I've done this probably for 35 years. Every time I walk up to preach no matter where I am, I do this. I've done it every time for 35 years. I do it every time I walk up here to preach before you. I don't think I've ever told you this before. So you didn't know it, but you'll know it now. And it wasn't my idea. I didn't get this from me.

I actually got it from the great preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon because he did it. When I read he did it. I thought, well, number one if he did it I gotta do it. Number two, I mean, that's a great idea. Because there's one thing I figured out. Didn't take me long to figure it out. I finally figured it out, you know what? I go to seminary. I can get a master's degree, I did. I get a PhD, I did. I've studied Hebrew and Greek, I did. I can do a dissertation, I did. I really loved theological books, so I have. But I realize you can do all those things, but you will never do anything of any significance in anybody's life apart from the Holy Spirit of God Ever, never.

And I finally realized nothing of significance will happen in my life, your life, our church, this church, any church, our nation, our world apart from the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit, nothing. So every time I walk up here to preach or every time I walk up anywhere to preach again you don't know how I do this, but now you'll know it. I'm saying something under my breath. Now you could look at my mouth and I'm not gonna be 'cause people think you're nuts, right? If you're up there. I've talked to myself a lot. Teresa will ask me sometime She asked me the other day, why do you always walk around the house, talking to yourself?

And I told her, I'm the only one that will listen to me. When I walk up to this platform I'm saying something under my breath, over and over. I said it when I got back, I was back in my office. While we go doing a little work before I came out here early this morning, I said it. Then I said it walked down the hallway. And I said it walking up here. Here's what I said. I believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. And I do, I absolutely do. I believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. So we're gonna wrap all this up. So how important is the Holy Spirit to you if you're a believer? Hey, how important is the Holy Spirit to you if you are not a believer, I'm going to say it again. You're not a believer.

You cannot come to Jesus and you will not come to Jesus unless the Holy Spirit brings you to Jesus. Unless the Holy Spirit shows you, you need Jesus. Unless the Holy Spirit shows you you are a sinner who needs a savior. Unless the Holy Spirit leads you to surrender to Jesus. I can preach until I collapsed from exhaustion. You will never come to Jesus. Only the spirit of God can do that. If you are Christian, you can work. You can try, you can strive. You can read books, you can do everything you wanna do. You will never in your flash, in your own strength, in your own will ever be the Christian you wanna be only the spirit of God can do that living his life in you and through you.

So with all of that as a start to this series, I read this the other day. I thought this is the way to close the message. Maybe this will really drive it home. So I'll just throw this up here. Somebody wrote "it is no good giving me a play like Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet and telling me to write a play like that. Shakespeare could do it, I can't. It is no good showing me a life like the life of Jesus and telling me to go live a life like that. Jesus could do it, I can't. But if the genius of Shakespeare could come and live in me, then I can write plays like his. And if the spirit of Jesus could come and live in me then I could live a life like His". That's good stuff.

So let me just help one last thing. So you're a nonbeliever and you've never given your life to Jesus. And you've kept saying, and you keep saying this, this is your big go-to excuse. The reason why I have never given my life to Jesus is because I know I could never live up to it. The reason why I don't become a Christian is because I know I could never live the Christian life. I hope this doesn't depress you or discourage you or your burst your bubble, but you are so right. You can't, and he never said you could, but he can. And he always said he would. So you can come to Jesus through the Holy Spirit and you can live for Jesus through the Holy Spirit. And you can experience Christianity like some of you have never experienced it before, if you just get the inside scoop and realize that having the spirit inside you is far better than having Jesus beside you.
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