4th Sunday After Easter St. John xvi. 5
April 24, 2016 A.D.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be always acceptable in thy sight, O Lord my strength and my redeemer.
The Third Person of the Trinity
Text: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot hear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth;” St John xvi. 12
As you may recall, last Sunday I said that, 'there are times in our life when we are feeling troubled, we take it personally and we must endure the trials and tribulations during life on earth in order to experience the good and the glorious.' This week Jesus explains more about what is to come. He is tells the apostles and us that the Holy Spirit will come to be with us, to guide us through those trials and tribulations of this life.
One of the things the Holy Spirit will do is to convict people of sin. By "convict" Jesus means the Holy Spirit will cause our conscience to weigh on our mind and heart so that we recognize a wrong that has been done.
When the Jews crucified Jesus, they did not believe that they were sinning; they believed that they were serving God. But when the story of that crucifixion was later told and preached, they were heart stricken. They suddenly had the terrible conviction that their sin had caused the crucifixion of the Messiah. Acts chapter 2 verse 36 reads "let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" The Holy Spirit had weighed on their minds and hearts until they recognized the wrong that they had done.
Many years ago, Christian professor Stuart Blackie of the University of Edinburgh was listening to his students as they presented oral readings. When one young man rose to begin his recitation, he held his book in the wrong hand. The professor thundered, "Take your book in your right hand, and be seated!" At this harsh rebuke, the student held up his right arm. He didn't have a right hand! The other students shifted uneasily in their chairs. For a split second the professor hesitated. Then he made his way to the student, put his arm around him, and with tears streaming from his eyes, said, "I never knew about it. Please, will you forgive me?" His humble apology made a lasting impact on that young man. Sometime later in a large Church gathering this story was told. At the close of the meeting a man came forward, turned to the crowd, and raised his right arm. It ended at the wrist. He said, "I was that student. Professor Blackie led me to Christ. But he never could have done it if he had not made the wrong right."
In that moment Professor Blackie instinctively knew what he had to do without a need for conscious reasoning. Pricked in his heart he suddenly had the terrible conviction that his sin had done harm to the young student, just like the Jewish authorities realized what their actions had done to the Son of God. The Holy Spirit, that voice in his head caused him to do the right thing.
There are two questions that come to mind; 'how did this Holy Spirit come to be?' and 'how do we know when the Holy Spirit is at work within us?'
Let's first look at how the Holy Spirit came to be with us? We know that in order for the scriptures to be fulfilled Jesus was crucified as a criminal, He was tried; He was found guilty; He was regarded by the Jews as an evil heretic, and by the Romans as a dangerous character; He was given the punishment that the worst criminals had to suffer and branded as a felon and an enemy of God. He had to die on the cross, He had to rise again on the third day and He had to ascend into heaven. Then ten days after Jesus ascension the Holy Ghost came down upon the Apostles, just as Jesus said it would happen "if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." The Comforter or Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit is the third person in the trinity, one God in three persons that proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Holy Ghost appeared at times in the form of a dove, and again in the form of tongues of fire; for, being a pure spirit without a body, He God the spirit can take any form.
So how do we know when the Holy Spirit is at work within us? Have you ever intuitively known that you needed to do something or had a 'gut feeling' something was wrong? This is commonly referred to as intuition. Intuition is defined as "the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning". Science would have you believe that this unconscious reasoning is just knowledge you have stored in your brain that you draw on without having to think about it. The definition does not explain this ability to draw on exactly the right information at that precise moment it is needed or how one "immediately" knows at the most opportune time what to do. In other words the scientific definition stops short of explaining why you have this sudden insight. This is the Holy Spirit helping you to draw on that knowledge and doing so when it is most needed. Some people will tell you they find that through mediation they are able to hear and understand what the Spirit is telling them. For others it just happens, they can have an epiphany anywhere, even while sitting in Church.
I read a story about a missionary who was telling the story of Christ. He showed the life of Christ in slides projected on the whitewashed wall of an Indian village house. When the picture of Jesus on the cross was shown, a man rose from the audience and stepped forward, crying; 'Come down from that cross, Son of God! I not you should be hanging there.' What has caused people throughout the centuries, to tear open their hearts at the sight of a man who was crucified as a criminal in Palestine over 2,000 years ago? It is the work of the Holy Spirit touching their hearts.
I am sure each of us has had our own experiences where we suddenly realize something or know that we need to do something. It could be a heart pricked by a guilty conscience, a sudden epiphany or an immediate and urgent need to do something. These are all the work of the Holy Spirit in us today. If we are not aware and listening to those 'gut feelings' we will miss what the Holy Spirit is telling us.
This was all part of God's plan, the sending of the Holy Spirit to be with each and every person even those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. "I will send him unto you" said Jesus. When we open up our heart and mind to the Holy Spirit we will grow ever closer to God. The Spirit be with you.
And now unto God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost; be ascribed all might, majesty, power and domination as is most justly due this day both now and forever; world without end.