Today marks our third Sunday on the sermon series topic of the Holy Spirit. Before we begin I do want to say that I have greatly enjoyed the last several weeks as I have dove into the Third Person of the Trinity. I have benefited greatly through this focused study of the Holy Spirit.
With that said, I want to take a moment to encourage all of you to do the same. Pick a topic and then mine the Word of God to seek truth related to the topic. It doesn’t have to be the Holy Spirit, it could be a variety of different things such as raising children, end times, love, Hell, money, you name it. Read the relevant passages, read the cross references, read the study notes, read commentaries about those passages and just soak in God’s Word. If you do this, you are guaranteed to bear fruit.
Today let us start by review. Two weeks ago we established that there is one God in three persons. One of those persons is the Holy Spirit. He is not an impersonal force, but a personal God. Last week we focused our attention on the proceeding power of the Holy Spirit. First we examined the Holy Spirit’s proceeding power as he exists within the Trinity and then we examined briefly His proceeding power as He is unleashed into the World, like a might rushing wind.
Today we are going to look at the Holy Spirit’s role in redemptive History as it relates to regeneration. Open your Bibles to Acts 2:1-21. As I stated last week, this is the point in history that the flood gates of the Holy Spirit are unleashed upon humanity.
The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
As I stated in my first sermon three weeks ago the Holy Spirit is mentioned 88 times in the Old Testament and 264 times in the New Testament. There is no doubt that 88 is far less than 264, but this may not seem like a great disparity, until you consider the length of the Old Testament, both in years and in words. The events of the Old Testament include 4000 years of history and it took 1000 years to write it, from Moses to Malachi. The New Testament on the other hand covers 100 years of history and was written over the course of 50 years. Also, there are approximately 620,000 words in the Old Testament, and approximately 180,000 words in the New Testament, therefore, the Old Testament makes up nearly 75% of the Bible. Today we are going to answer why there is such a disparity between the Old and New Testament regarding the presence of the Holy Spirit.
To begin, let us ask a question we have asked before, what is the Bible all about? There are several ways you could answer this, but the best answer is that the Bible is all about Jesus. Jesus himself says it in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,” He says it again in Luke 24:25-27 on the road to Emmaus “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” So the Bible, Old Testament included, is all about Jesus. However, this is not readily apparent.
Now let’s ask a second question, who is responsible for the Bible being all about Jesus? The answer to this is the Holy Spirit.
The Scriptures that bear witness about Jesus are written by the Holy Spirit. This is what we mean when we say that all scripture is inspired by God. The Holy Spirit carries them along.
Now take a moment and think about this. The Old Testament is all about Jesus, we have already established this; however, the witnessing of Jesus by the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament is one of mystery. The Holy Spirit is casting the shadow of Christ.
When thinking about the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, this makes sense. Last week we briefly looked at the work of the Holy Spirit in a few people’s lives: Moses, Bezalel, Sampson, David. Each time the Spirit came upon them, they were becoming the paintbrush of God painting the shadow of Jesus Christ. But what happens when the Jesus comes, the floodgates of the Holy Spirit are unleashed.
The Promised Spirit
Turn back to Acts 2, our text for this morning. This event in human history is drastically underrated and misapplied. This event in Acts 2 is the beginning of God making all things new. If you recall Jesus said, just approximately 50 days earlier that upon his return to the Father he would send the Helper.
As we discussed earlier, this helper is the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2, Jesus has just ascended and at this moment his followers numbered about 120 people. Three years of ministry and the size of Jesus' Church was just a little larger than Cornerstone. But then everything changed on the day of Pentecost. For on that day, the Holy Spirit was unleashed like a thoroughbred from the gates of Heaven and in one fell swoop comes pouring onto the scene in a way that the world had never seen before and 3,000 people gave their life to Jesus Christ as their Lord and their Savior.
And these people were from all over the world. According to verse 9 this group included: Parthia, Mede, Elamite, Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, Rome, Crete, and Arabia. In the blink of an eye the Church increased by 2500%. What happened? The Holy Spirit happened.
Prior to this moment, the Holy Spirit, generally, had been spiritually hovering over the hearts of man. Just as he did in Genesis 1:2, but when God said let it be the Spirit came and breathed spiritual life into the lungs of the dead, and 3,000 of God's Children were born. How does Peter explain what is happening? He quotes from the book of Joel, written 600 years before this moment.
This moment was the beginng of the last days. Last days before what? Before God puts an end to all sin and death. And what is so special about these last days? The Spirit is poured out on all flesh, not just Israel.
Now don't get caught up in the prophesy, visions, dreams, smoke, blood moons, etc. If you focus on those things you are missing the point. The point that Peter is making is that God said that some day the power of God was going to proceed from Him in the form of the Holy Spirit on people other than the Jews. The end result, as we see in verse 21, was that people would call upon the name of the Lord and they will be saved. The Spirit was the Catalyst leading to salvation.
This was not the first time that a prophet spoke of this moment in time. We at Cornerstone have found ourselves in this text many, many times.
Perhaps the most prominent aspect to this text is that time that the Lord said, “I.” I will take you, I will sprinkle, I will cleanse you, I will give you, I will put within you, I will remove, I will put my Spirit within you and cause you. God is the supplier of the power. In the promise of this future day, it is God who is doing all the work and those who are recipients are merely passive. All they can do is receive the gift of his Spirit.
What was happening as prophesied by Joel and Ezekiel, and what was taking place in Acts 2 was exactly what Jesus spoke about in John 3 to Nicodemus.
Jesus is saying that if you want to see the Kingdom. The first prerequisite is that you have to be spiritually born. If you are not spiritually born, then you have no hope is seeing the Kingdom of God. Or to say it another way, if you are not born again, then you will remain blind to Jesus as the Messiah.
How is one born again? Jesus says, you must be born of the water and the Spirit. Sound familiar? It should. We just read it in Ezekiel 36:25, “I will sprinkle clean water on you...I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.” Jesus, in his explanation of the new birth, is using terms that Nicodemus as the teacher of Israel should have been familiar with. He was pointing Nicodemus to Ezekiel 36 which points to the last days that begin in Acts 2.
And just like we saw in Ezekiel, Jesus wants Nicodemus to understand that being born again is entirely passive. Just as we played no role in your physical birth, we play no role in your spiritual birth. We are passive, all we can do is receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, just like the 3,000 people on the day of Pentecost.
The term we use to describe this event in a person's life when God's Spirit is poured out on them is regeneration. It means the same thing as rebirth, but what I like about regeneration, is that it parallels Genesis. It is a re-genesis, regenerates, those who are spiritually dead are made spiritually alive. Without the Holy Spirit regenerating us, we will never put our faith in Jesus Christ.
Until the Spirit of God comes into our life, we will not understand our spiritual depravity, and our need for Jesus Christ and his forgiveness and righteousness. Until we are swooped up into the trinity by proceeding power of the Holy Spirit, we will never love and delight in Jesus Christ. Until that Spirit of God is poured out upon us we will never call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So how important is the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit? He is vitally important, for without him all of us would walk blindly right into Hell. He is who gives us life. He is who births us into existence. He is who opens up our heart. He is who gives us eyes to see and ears to hear of the wondrous mystery of Jesus Christ. Without the Holy Spirit we have nothing.
It is only by the Grace of God that we have any hope. Jesus is the founder of our faith for by his blood he purchased for us the greatest gift we could ever hope for, the power of God manifested in the Holy Spirit.