SERMON FOR REVIVAL SUNDAY: HOLY SPIRIT, BREATH OF LIFE (9.19.21)
This is the day we’ve been calling “Revival Sunday!”—it’s finally here, brothers and sisters!
We are temples of the Holy Spirit; and, today, we gather to be filled more deeply, more boldly, more extraordinarily. Here are a few things to remember as we invite the Spirit to anoint us today.
The Holy Spirit was at creation in the beginning. Genesis 1:1-2 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Triune God that our Christian faith hinges upon. He is constantly in movement, he accomplishes those things that the Creator deems important, and he also can be called the “Spirit Innovator” since he assisted the Creator in structuring God’s earthly kingdom and everything in it.
Christians believe that all of scripture is inspired by—in essence, written by, the Holy Spirit. Who gave Isaiah, Moses, David, the prophets and the apostles the words we read today? They came from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Even the early church relegated the Holy Spirit to what we might call an enabling or support role. The Nicene Creed, the prayer that affirms our belief in the Triune God, emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit. The Nicene Creed was written by church leaders in 325 ACE to set the basic tenets of Christianity down on paper. While some choose to downplay His role in our lives and in our congregations, it would be unwise for us to ignore Him. Why? Look around this church today, and I think the answer is self-evident. Each of us has chosen to wait here—just as the friends and apostles of Jesus gathered and waited in Acts 2. They broke bread and waited, just as the Lord had explained they must do in order to receive the Paraclete. “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
We can speculate why denominations and individual churches have not focused on the Holy Spirit. A.W. Tozer offers many explanations:
-To invite the Holy Spirit into our lives means giving control to the Lord. To many, that doesn’t feel comfortable.
-There can be fear of what your life might look like if you were truly filled with the Spirit.
-It can be too hard to give up earthly things we value.
-We want the Holy Spirit on a part-time basis, not a fulltime basis. We want him only when we want him and not all the time.
-To invite the Holy Spirit into our lives means that we have to recognize out self-sins and to ask for forgiveness.
I have used the metaphor of an hourglass to visualize these challenges. To make more room for the Spirit, the part of the hourglass which is filled with our needs, our sins, and our priorities needs to start running out to make room for more of the Holy Spirit.
We are all here today because what we want is simply this: More of the Spirit in our lives! We do not fear him--how could you fear a friend who wants to help you?
In spite of how denominations and individual churches have pushed the Holy Spirit to one side or avoid the Spirit altogether, we understand this: There can be no community with God apart from the enabling power of the Spirit. He is the person in whom the Christian life is lived. In this sense the Holy Spirit is like the air we breathe and the light by which we see.
The Nicene Creed proclaims that the Holy Spirit is the “Lord and Giver of Life.” He is the source of all life and vitality. He is the agent of new life in Christ. Both in the original creation and in our new lives in Christ he alone is the “Giver of Life.”
The idea that the Holy Spirit is our very breath comes from both the Greek and Hebrew words for wind or breath. The Holy Spirit is God in action. Whether he is a gentle breeze or a strong wind, the Holy Spirit is God in action, stirring things up and invading our human lives with new possibilities of creative, spirited living. Everything is better with the involvement of the Spirit.
The Spirit is also our gateway to Jesus. The New Testament in Romans and Galatians speaks of the Holy Spirit as inseparably associated with Jesus Christ and refers to him as the “Spirit of Christ,” or the “Spirit of the Son.” Scripture tells us that without the Holy Spirit, we can not repent; it is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sins and points us to the cross of salvation. Without Him, we cannot possibly confess Christ’s Lordship in the universe. He inspires us to speak TRUTH just as surely as he inspired the living Word of God to be written for our sakes.
Brothers and sisters, no one can get the Holy Spirit except through Jesus, and no one can get to Jesus except by the Holy Spirit. It’s that relationship we celebrate today. Now, we desire to have the boldness of this Spirit of God so that whatever we do and say, from this day forth, will bring healing and truth to a hurting world. Let’s pray for personal revival—giving the Holy Spirit our whole hearts.
We cannot make up for centuries of neglect or misunderstanding of the Spirit in our celebration of the Holy Spirit today. But that’s not why we are here. We are here because we want to show our love for our God. We want to ask our God for forgiveness so we can make more room for him. We invite the Holy Spirit to join us in a powerful way and to empower us with God’s lifeforce so we can change this earthly kingdom into a place our Creator would recognize as His.
I’d like to read six pleas to the Holy Spirit and ask that you repeat them back.
Holy Spirit, we honor and love you.
Holy Spirit, we invite you to take more of us.
Holy Spirit, we ask that you give us the gifts we need to be servants of the Lord.
Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life, we adore you.
Holy Spirit, we thank you for the very breath you breathe into us!
Come Holy Spirit, come! Make us bold and steadfast for Jesus Christ!
Holy Spirit, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we invite you into our hearts and into our community. We want to walk in agreement with you, but even more, we want to experience the personal transformation and empowerment you alone bring us as we work to bring God’s kingdom to this world.
John 1:1-5 and 32-34
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”