Robert Jeffress - The Christian's Birth Certificate
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". How can you know if someone is truly a Christian? Is it based on the family they grew up in, the church they attend, the music they listen to? The correct answer is none of the above. You see, the true Mark of a Christian is that he is baptized with the Holy Spirit of God. And today we're going to unpack what that actually means and the benefits that it holds for you and for me. My message is titled "The Christian's Birth Certificate" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
From Acts chapter 8, all the way through the rest of the New Testament, up until today, the pattern is very clear. When you truly trust in Christ as your Savior, you immediately receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit of God. Every Christian has been baptized with the Holy Spirit, but not every Christian has been empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. Now, as we wrap up this study on the baptism with the Holy Spirit, let me answer the so-what question. And that's the question, so what, what does the baptism with the Holy Spirit mean to me? If the Holy Spirit's baptism, if that's part of the basic package to use the car analogy, if every believer has it, what benefit do I derive from the baptism with the Holy Spirit?
Let me share with you three things the Holy Spirit has done for every Christian. If you're a Christian today, here are three things the Holy Spirit has already done for you. Number one, it is the Holy Spirit who gives us the ability to trust in Christ. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives us the ability to trust in Christ. I want you to turn over to Ephesians 2 for just a moment. Ephesians 2. While you're turning there, let me ask you a question. Is everybody in the world free to trust in Christ as his Savior? Is everybody in the world free to trust in Christ as his Savior? Or do you believe that God has put a chokehold on some people? Does God restrain some people from coming to Christ? Is there somebody who wants to come to Christ and God grabs him by the neck and says, no, whoa, you can't do that, you're not predestined.
Only those who have predestined will I allow come to Christ. Is everybody free to come to Christ? Absolutely. Jesus said whoever wants to drink of the water can do so without cost. Everybody is free to trust in Christ, but not everyone is willing or able to trust in Christ. And let me show you the difference. Let's say I take a bale of hay and set it in front of a lion. Is that lion free to eat the hay? Of course. There's no chain on it that keeps it from going to the hay. That lion is absolutely free to eat as much hay as it wants to, but will that lion ever eat hay? No. It's not because he's not free to, it's because he doesn't want to. By nature, he is a carnivore. He is a meat eater. And because by nature he is a meat eater, there is nothing inside him that desires that bale of hay. And it's the same way with non-Christians.
Yeah, the non-Christian is free to trust in Christ. He's free to come to God, but by nature he will never do so because by nature he is an enemy of God. And that's what Paul says in Ephesians 2:1-3, look at this. "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins". He's talking about our life before Christ. "And you were dead in your trespasses and sin, among them we too all formerly lived in the lust of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of our mind, and we were," underlined this, "By nature children of wrath, even as the rest". By nature we were born into this world hating God. The Bible says we are born into this world not desiring God.
Romans 3 says, "There is not one righteous person among us, no, not even one". There is no one who seeks for God. And let that sink in. There is nobody on this planet, no unsaved person, who is seeking for God. You say, oh, Paul, now that's extreme. Why, there are people all over the world, all different faiths who aren't Christians but they're seeking for God. They're looking for God. No, they're not, Paul says. They're not looking for the true God. They may be looking for a god, little g, a god of their own making, a god of their own creation who will fit what they think of God ought to be like. But an unsaved person in and of himself is never looking for the true God. By nature he is a child of wrath. The Bible says we naturally are unwilling to come to God.
And secondly, if that's not bad enough, we're unable to come by God. It's not that we're not free to, but we're unable to. Why is that? Because verse one of Ephesians 2 says, "We are dead in our trespasses and sin". When we are born into this world, we are born spiritually dead. Now, my job requires me to spend a lot of time around dead people, okay? It's part of my trade is spending time with dead people.
And I'll never forget, one day after a funeral, I went down to stand and at the head of the casket of poor old Mr. Jones who had passed away. And I was standing there while people precess by to pay their respects. And I looked over there to give one of those compassionate pastoral looks, you know, to the dearly deceased, and when I looked at poor Mr. Jones, I noticed the biggest fly I had ever seen on Mr. Jones' nose there. And I thought, now this is embarrassing. This is not right to allow that fly just to sit there. And so when there was a break in the crowd coming by, I discreetly reached over and flicked Mr. Jones' nose to get rid of that fly, and it buzzed away.
And you know the strangest thing, when I flicked that fly away, Mr. Jones didn't blink, he didn't flinch, he didn't sneeze, he didn't slap my hand and say, "Quit that". Instead, he just lay there. Why is that? Why didn't he respond to that outside stimulus? Because he was deader than a doornail. And when you're dead, you can't respond to anything. And the Bible says, when you are born into this world, you are born spiritually dead. You don't just immediately wake up one day spiritually and say, you know what? I'm a sinner and I need a Savior, and I'm going to trust in Christ as my Savior. It doesn't happen that way. The Bible says we are spiritually dead.
Well, pastor, if we are unwilling and unable to come to Christ, how is anybody ever saved? The answer is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God. Look at what he has done for us, the Holy Spirit, verses four and five, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, he made us alive together with Christ, for by grace you have been saved". The way he makes somebody who is spiritually dead spiritually alive, so that he wants to and is capable of trusting in Christ, is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who regenerates us, who gives us the ability to believe and have new life.
1 Peter 3:18 says that it is the Holy Spirit who has made us alive. We have been made alive in the Holy Spirit of God. You know what the takeaway is for that if you're a Christian this morning? Your salvation, if you're a Christian, has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with God. It is not any good thing you did that merited your salvation. Even your ability to believe is a gift from God. And that means we ought to all fall down on our knees before God and thank him that in his mercy and his grace he saved us. It is the Holy Spirit of God who imparts to us the ability to trust in Christ. Not only that, secondly, the Holy Spirit imparts a unique spiritual gift to us when we are saved.
What do I mean by the Holy Spirit gives us a spiritual gift? When you were born into this world physically, you were born with certain natural abilities. Some had the ability to play an instrument, some the ability to sing, some had the ability to work with their hands, some have natural leadership abilities. Those are natural gifts. But the Bible says when you were born again into the family of God, the Holy Spirit brought into your life a spiritual gift, both a desire and a unique power to be a part of God's ministry.
1 Corinthians 12:4 says, "Now there are a variety of gifts, but the same spirit". To some Christians, he gave the gift of prophecy, not foretelling the future, the ability to speak God's word with conviction. He gave some people the gift of mercy, empathizing with the sorrows of other people. Some people he gave the gift of leadership. Every one of us has a unique spiritual gift. It's no accident that the word for gift, charismaton, has as its root word the word that means joy. As a pastor, I can tell you from personal experience, I have seen no other truth give Christians more joy than the discovery and the use of their spiritual gift. To realize that God has empowered them in a unique way to be a part of his kingdom purpose.
The late pastor, Ray Stedman, once said that every morning when he awakened, he reminded himself of this thought. He said, "I am a part of the plan of God. God is working out all things to a great and final purpose in the earth, and I'm a part of it. What I do today it has purpose and significance and meaning. This is not a meaningless day I'm going through. Even the smallest incident, the most apparently insignificant word or relationship is involved in God's great plan. Therefore, all of it has meaning and purpose". It is the Holy Spirit of God who connects us to God's eternal purpose by imparting to us a unique spiritual gift when we're saved.
There's a third benefit of the Holy Spirit of God available to every Christian, part of the basic package, and that is the Holy Spirit secures our future. He is the one who secures our future. How do I know once I have trusted in Christ that I will keep on trusting in Christ? How do I know that when I die God will do what he promised to do? And that is to take my spirit to be with him. And later on, raise that old body and transform it into a brand new body. How do I know for sure God will do that? How do I know for sure that I am truly a legitimate child of God? The answer to all of those questions is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit's presence within us is the Christian's birth certificate, if you will. It's the way to prove that he is a legitimate child of God.
I want you to keep looking at Ephesians 1, look at verses 13 and 14. Paul uses two words to describe how the Holy Spirit secures our future. "In him, you also, after listening to the message of the truth, the Gospel of your salvation, having also believed, you were sealed," underline that word, "In him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge," underline that word, "Of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of his glory".
Now I want you to look at those two words I told you to underline that describe the Holy Spirit securing our future. First, the word seal. Seals in Paul's day were a part of everyday life. You know, today, if you have a document that needs to be authenticated, to be shown to be a legitimate document, what do you do with that document? You have it notarized, don't you? You go to a notary, and the notary takes out his special seal and he presses on that document and puts that insignia and says, "That'll be $10, please". That's what you do with a notary.
Well, in Paul's days, there were also notaries, officials who would authenticate, guarantee a document. But in Paul's days, the officials didn't have one of those contraptions notaries today have, instead they wore a ring, and on that ring there was an emblem, an insignia, of the king or the emperor. And the official to notarize the document would take that ring and he would press it on a circle of hot wax on the document, press that image of the king or emperor into that, and when the wax cooled, that document bore the imprint of the emperor. That's how you sealed a document. It was a way of showing authenticity.
Now that's the image Paul is using here. He says, when you trust in Christ as your Savior, the King of kings Marks you with an imprint of himself. And that imprint, that seal, is who? The Holy Spirit of God. He stamps you with his image, guaranteeing that you are truly a child of his. Isn't that a great truth? We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of God. But that's not the only word he uses here. He also uses the word pledge. The Holy Spirit, verse 14, is given as a pledge of our inheritance. This relates to the future. That word pledge in Greek is a word that literally means a down payment. The Holy Spirit's presence in our life is God's down payment that one day he's going to fulfill his promise to us. One day he's going to take our spirit to be with him forever. One day he's going to raise our body out of the ground. The Holy Spirit is God's down payment that one day he's going to consummate the deal.
Let me illustrate that for you. Again, using our car analogy. Let's say it is I who wants that new red Cadillac automobile, and so I look around, I go to a dealership, and I find exactly the one that I want. It costs $50.000. And I say to the dealer, "I've been looking for this everywhere and I need to go home tonight and talk it over with Amy, but can you hold this car for me"? And the dealer says, "Yeah, if you'll give me a $100 non-refundable deposit, down payment, I'll hold this car to you. But if you change your mind, I get to keep the $100". I say, "Fine".
I go home, I talk to Amy about it, get the green light from her, and I'm playing around on the internet, and I find on the internet, the very same car I want for a $10.000 less than the dealer was offering it. Now, what do you think I'm going to do? Am I going to say, well, I made a $100 non-refundable deposit and I've got to keep word. Are you kidding? I'll be happy to let that $100 go in order to save $10.000. That down payment is worthless compared to $10.000. But now suppose that instead of making $100 down payment, I had made a $30.000 non-refundable down payment. Do you think anything is going to keep me from going back and consummating that deal I made with the dealer? Not on your life. I had already invested a substantial portion of my wealth in that car, I'm not about to let it go.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, here's the point that Paul is making. When you become a Christian and receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is God's down payment that he's going to consummate the deal he's made with us. And when God made the down payment of his Holy Spirit, he wasn't giving us some tiny paltry fraction of himself. Instead, when you become a Christian, God invests 100% of himself in you. He gives all of himself in you through the Holy Spirit of God. Do you think God is going to turn his back on that investment that he's made, he's going to walk away from the deal? Not on your life. Because he's invested all of himself in you, one day he's going to consummate the deal.
One day he's going to take your spirit to heaven just as he promised. One day he's going to raise your body from the dead and change it forever, just as he promised. The Holy Spirit is God's promise that secures our future. Now think about what God has done for you. The Holy Spirit of God is what gave you the ability to trust in Christ to begin with. The Holy Spirit of God is the one who has given you a unique spiritual gift. The Holy Spirit of God is the one who has secured your future. You don't have to beg, barter, plead for God to do those things, he has already done those things. All of those benefits are part of the basic package.
However, there are also some optional features available, some optional benefits from the Holy Spirit beyond the basic package. Do you know what those optional benefits are? Let me just outline a couple of them for you this morning. Supernatural peace when your world is collapsing around you. Hope when you've lost all reason to hope. Power to say no to sin. Guidance when you're faced with a difficult decision. All of those optional benefits are available, not to everybody, not to every Christian, but they are available to that select group of Christians who have learned the secret we're going to talk about next week, how to be filled, how to be empowered with the Holy Spirit of God.