2. The Promise of the Spirit
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them."
By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Last Sunday, we saw how Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3, that the 1st prerequisite to experiencing the Holy Spirit in our lives is that we must be born again, we must receive Christ into our lives. And as we do so, he says that we will be born of the Spirit, we will experience a whole new spiritual rebirth
And then later in the scripture we just read from John 7, Jesus gives us this wonderful promise:
“ Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.”
So what is Jesus saying here? He is promising that for all who believe in him, who are born anew by the Spirit of God, that flowing within them and out of them will be this vast, incredible reservoir of spiritual power known as the Holy Spirit. But the apostle John also notes that at this point, the disciples had not yet received the Holy Spirit, that He had not yet been given to them. That this would not happen until later after Jesus had been glorified, after his death and resurrection and his ascension back to the Father.
Much later Jesus makes a similar promise to his disciples just before he leaves them, at the very beginning of the book of Acts when he says to his disciples: "You shall receive power when the HS has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends off the earth" (Acts 1:8)
And of course that is exactly what happens just a few days later on the day of Pentecost, as the disciples are all together in Jerusalem, and the HS comes upon them in great power, and just on that one day 3000 people come to faith, are baptized and added to the church.
And then Peter gets up, and explains that this has happened in fulfillment of what was prophecied back in the OT by the prophet Joel: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all people” (Joel 2:28)
And later he concludes that the promise of the Holy Spirit is now for all who repent, and believe and receive Christ. “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:39)
And so the promise of the HS that Jesus gave his disciples is also for you and I today. And the Bible teaches that without exception, the Spirit of God is now alive & present in the life of every believer.
Paul says “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body--whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Cor 12:13)
Conversely he also says "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ" (Rom 8:9)
And so the Holy Spirit is not “optional equipment” for the believer. He’s not just meant for a few elite “superChristians”. Jesus promised to give his Spirit to all who believe in him. It is important that we are clear on this: If you have received Christ into your life, then the indwelling Spirit of God is already resident in your heart. You can’t have Christ and not have the Holy Spirit!
But too often we fail to realize and appropriate the full extent of the spiritual power that is available to us. I think that’s Jesus’ point in comparing the Spirit to the “wind” or the “air” in John 3. Even though we can't see it, air is a force with incredible strength. During a hurricane, air can drive a piece of straw thru a telephone pole. Put under enough pressure, it can bring a huge tractor-trailer to a screeching halt, or break concrete.
In the same way, even though we can't see him, the HS is incredibly powerful. How powerful? Powerful enough to give sight to a man who has been blind from birth. Powerful enough to raise a dead man back to life. Powerful enough to transform a dedicated Pharisee like Paul into the greatest evangelist the world has ever seen.
Powerful enough to turn an uneducated fisherman like Peter into an eloquent preacher. And even powerful enough to turn a rebellious sceptic like me into a believer. Perhaps that is the greatest evidence to me of the power of the HS, is what he has done in my life. I know I would not be here today if weren't for the powerful working of the HS
That same power is available to work in the life of every Christian. The spirit of God is able to turn our weaknesses into strength, our fear into faith, our discouragements & defeats into victory.
In a few moments we’re going to gather around the Lord’s table. And during the Last Supper, just before his death, Jesus spoke to his disciples at length about the Holy Spirit. For example in John 14:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to help you and be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17
I'd like you to take note of several things Jesus says here. First of all notice Jesus repeatedly refers to the Spirit, not as an "it" but as "He & Him" Even tho the Spirit has the kind of power we have been talking about, we should not think of him as simply an impersonal force (like “the Force” in Star Wars for eg).
2ndly, It's important to understand when we talk about the HS, we are talking about God the Spirit. He is an indispensable member of the Trinity. Like the Father & the son, he has personality, with mind, will & feelings. Everything that God does in our lives, he does by his Spirit. If we think of the Father as God above us, and the Son as God with us, the HS is God in us, living and dwelling inside of us. It is the Holy Spirit who personally applies to us all of the blessings & benefits that were secured for us thru Christ’s death & resurrection.
At the last supper, Jesus explained to his disciples that he was about to leave them, to return back to his Father. But he also assured them that the Father would send another Counsellor (or in some translations another Comforter or Advocate) to be with them forever.
What this meant was that whatever Christ had done in person for his disciples while he was on the earth, the Holy Spirit would now do personally for every believer in the whole world. Where Jesus had given his friends words of assurance, or strength, or comfort, or even rebuke, now the Spirit, this other Counsellor, would do exactly the same thing.
3. Notice too that Jesus refers to him here as the Spirit of Truth. One of the primary functions of the HS in our lives is to help us to know & understand the truth about JC. "But the HS will teach you all things & remind you of everything I have said to you" (Jn 14:26)
"He will guide you into all truth..He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine & making it known to you" (John 16:13-14)
Whenever someone comes to understand the truth about JC & who he is, we can be sure that there has been a work of the HS in that person's life. Paul tells us in 1 Cor 12:3 "Noone can say `Jesus is Lord' except by the HS" I know that from first-hand experience. For many years, I stubbornly refused to believe that JC was anything more than just another religious teacher who lived thousands of years ago, & had little relevance to my life. But one day, all of that changed for me. Suddenly I came to see that this man who had died & had then come back to life, was still very much alive, that in fact he was the very son of God. And I also saw that he now wanted to become Lord of my life. Looking back now, I am convinced that it was the Spirit of God, that opened my eyes to be able to see that truth. I am sure that nothing else could have changed my thinking in such a radical, permanent way.
So let me ask you this question this morning: “How important is the Holy Spirit to you in your walk with God right now?” It's my prayer as we go through this series, that the spirit of God will open your eyes, to be able to see JC more clearly, & to experience all of the power of his Spirit avaiable to you in your life. You see the point is not just to learn more about the HS, but to experience him first-hand in your life. To have nothing less than a life-changing encounter with the Living God.