The Holy Spirit: Lord & Giver of Life
The person and work of the Holy Spirit is not a subject to which Reformed Presbyterians give enough attention. Indeed, if we are honest, the third person of the Holy Trinity gets somewhat neglected compared to the Father and the Son. That’s ironic, since our Reformed forefathers placed serious emphasis upon the Holy Spirit. Indeed, John Calvin has been called “The theologian of the Holy Spirit.” We confess in the Nicene Creed that “we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and giver of life … who with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified.” However, our approach to the Christian life doesn’t always reflect an awareness of, love for, and communion with the blessed Holy Spirit. Of course, there are reasons for this.The first reason is the world-wide emergence of the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements in the twentieth-century. Their general tendency to subjectivism, emotionalism, and a view of the continuation of the Apostolic gifts (e.g. tongues-speaking, healing, continuing revelation, etc.) has caused many in the Reformed tradition to shy away from the Holy Spirit. All of the bizarre behavior and strange phenomena that are constantly being attributed to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit make some Reformed folk reticent to interact with Him at all.
The second reason is simply a lack of biblical and confessional knowledge. In other words, we don’t know our doctrine. The Holy Spirit is everywhere in Scripture. He plays a central role in creation, providence, and redemption. Even so, in our exceedingly distracted age the Reformed do not read and study their Bibles and confessions as in former days. Pastors are decreasingly providing sound doctrinal instruction, and individual Christians don’t set aside time to know God. Daily Bible reading and prayer get lost in the shuffle of daily activity. Family worship is a growing rarity among Christian families. We give attention to God for an hour or so on Sunday mornings, and that’s about it. We have time for so many things, but not meditating upon the nature and works of our blessed triune. We declare that knowing and walking with God is a priority, but our lives and Lord’s Days express something different. Our knowledge and understanding of the Holy Spirit will grow only if we devote time to knowing Him. As in any relationship, we won’t know God unless we commit time to knowing Him. There are many excellent books on the Holy Spirit by trusted authors such as John Owen, Sinclair Ferguson, Mike Horton, Geoffrey Thomas, et. al. Reading one or two of these authors on the subject of the Holy Spirit would be of great benefit to us all.
The third reason that we have been known to “keep our distance” from the Holy Spirit in Reformed circles is that we are afraid of what the Holy Spirit might do in our lives if we yield control to Him. Deep down we aren’t sure if we really want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because we aren’t sure what that will mean for us. Walking in the flesh allows us hold on to worldliness, grudges, ungodly relationships, sexual impurities, and the like. Sadly, Satan convinces us that it’s okay to hold onto secret sin. We justify it. Walking in the Spirit, however, means putting to death the deeds of the flesh and walking in “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Rom. 8:13; Gal. 5:22-23). Walking in the Spirit is not easy in a world that is antithetical to holiness. But holiness is happiness.
Christ Church, my prayer for us is that over the next several weeks we will grow in our knowledge, understanding, and experience of the blessed Holy Spirit. My prayer is that our love and appreciation for the Holy Spirit will blossom, and that our hearts would long for Him to fill and empower us to be more faithful witnesses of the gospel in our generation. My prayer is that Christ Church Presbyterian would have the reputation of being a God-centered, Christ-exalting, and Spirit-filled congregation in Charleston and beyond.
This life is no dress rehearsal. This is it. Thus, may we seek God afresh today! May we, with renewed zeal, and by His grace alone, devote our lives and schedules to him. Please pray. Below is my rough draft outline for my series:
The Person & Work of the Holy Spirit
Sermon 1: Knowing & Understanding the Person of the Holy Spirit
Sermon 2: What’s the Difference? the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments
Sermon 3: Lord & Giver of Life: The Holy Spirit and Conversion
Sermon 4: Pentecost Today? The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Gifts
Sermon 5: The Gifts, Fruit, and Fullness of the Holy Spirit
Sermon 6: The Holy Spirit in the Worship of the Church
Sermon 7: The Holy Spirit in the life and Ministry of Christ
Sermon 8: The Holy Spirit and Sanctification
Sermon 9: The Spirit-Filled Church
Sermon 10: The Blasphemy and Quenching of the Holy Spirit
Sermon 11: Does God Still Speak? The Holy Spirit and the Word
Sermon 12: Crying Abba: The Holy Spirit and Adoption
Sermon 13: The Holy Spirit and Revival
Your Pastor, Servant, and Friend,