A couple of weeks ago, I came and I explained to Brother Dean my approach the evangelistic series and I told him I need a large screen, but I need more than that because I will actually preach using three screens. One you have and another one. And I will also use three video projectors at the same time. And I noticed how the level of anxiety was increasing in Brother Den, because he is the media expert of this church. "How can you do that? Are you sure?" A couple of days ago I came and I brought the projectors and the screens and I noticed how Brother Dean relaxed and said, "Okay, okay. Now I see how it is. It works."
We are getting ready, we are getting ready for the coming evangelistic series. I am motivating my students to do something for this series. I know how to motivate them. I am teaching Personal Evangelism and I told them, I told my students, "Okay, if you attend the first two nights, with friends of yours who have not yet committed to Jesus, I will give you ten extra points on the mid-term exam." And they were excited. Then I went to my two sections of Last Day Events, and I told them, "You know, this will be a Bible Prophecy Seminar. And the first two presentations deal with prophecies and the last days, so if you attend the first two presentations with a friend who doesn't know Jesus, I will give you ten extra points." And I have one hundred fifty students in that class. So they say, "Yes!" Who knows, I am confident that some of them will come with a friend. And several of them have said that they will. Then I went to my class on World Religions. I told them, "Now, if you come with a non-committed person, because this is what religion is all about, how to act with people of other faiths, so if you bring a person of another faith to this evangelistic series, I will give you ten points on your mid-term exam.
Well, but my problem is, How can I motivate you to attend? The success of an evangelistic series consists in not only church members coming, but yeah, we want to address no-believers. Will you come to this series accompanied with a friend who is not yet committed to Jesus? Will Pastor Gettys give you a CD with Christian music, maybe? I don't know. I will let him decide on what may motivate you. But I am praying for this coming evangelistic series.
They say that a good sermon may start in different ways. One of the ways to start a good sermon, they say, is by saying something that will catch the attention of the audience for the rest of the meetings. So, I will try to follow this advice. I will say something which is a matter of life and death. So, please pay attention.
Only those who are baptized by the Holy Spirit, and filled by the Holy Spirit will go to heaven. My concern is that I have an impression that most Seventh-day Adventists are not much aware of the importance of the Holy Spirit. They are not well informed or interested in this topic. But it is a matter of life and death.
(Acts 19:1-7) One day the apostle, Paul, went to the largest city of Asia Minor, one of the largest cities of the Roman Empire, and found a weak congregation composed of about twelve members. Immediately he noticed that there was something wrong. He asked them a question, and this is the vital of my presentation. "Did you receive the Holy Spirit?" "Holy Spirit? What's that?" "Are you baptized members of the church?" "Yes." "Who baptized you?" "Apollos." "Oh, I know Apollos. Apollos only preached repentance. He was a disciple of John the Baptist. So, you were baptized without understanding this doctrine of the Holy Spirit." So, the Bible says that the apostle spent time studying with them about this topic. Guess what happened. At the end of this follow-up, the whole church was re-baptized and then Paul laid his hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit and they were ready to serve as missionaries throughout the empire.
What about you? John the Baptist said, I can baptize you with water, but after me is coming someone who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." The Jesus came, and Jesus said, "Verily verily I say unto you. Unless you are baptized by both water and the Spirit you can not see the kingdom of God." Furthermore, He later illustrated the importance of the reception of the Holy Spirit by using a parable, the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25). You know it. Ten girls were waiting the coming of the bridegroom, but five were not allowed to enter into the wedding feast. Why? Because they lamps were not filled with oil. And this invisible difference cost five of them that they were not allowed to enter into the feast.
And you know what is the symbolism of oil. Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Don't answer to me, but think about it. Have you received both baptisms? The baptism of water and the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit? What's that? Well, many Christians are confused about this topic. Many Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is just an impersonal force, the active force of God. My Bible teaches more than that. According to the bible, the Holy Spirit is a person. A person Who is able to love, to distribute gift according to His own will. A person Wo can be grieved, a person Who leads and convicts, and so on. Able to love, to respond to love. He's a person, a powerful person, a divine person. After all, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. A person without a body, a Spirit. We can only describe the Holy Spirit as the representative of Jesus.
Jesus said, "Wherever there are two or three gathered together in My name, I will be among them." (Matthew 18:20) Do you believe that? Please don't misunderstand me, but, the Holy Spirit is not here this morning. Where is Jesus? I'm sorry, Jesus is not here this morning. Where is Jesus? Well, a hard-core Seventh-day Adventist would say that since October 22, 1844, Jesus is in the Holy of Holies in the heavenly sanctuary. And Jesus is bodily present at the right side of God the Father. Jesus has a body. The Holy Spirit does not have a body. But Jesus does. And with His body Jesus cannot be in two places at the same time. Jesus is in heaven. But Jesus is among us this morning, this afternoon, through his Representative, the Holy Spirit.
The apostle, Paul, said, "I don't live any longer, but Christ lives in me." Please don't misunderstand me, but, Jesus does not live in me. Why? Because Jesus is in heaven. But one day, I heard His voice. I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit calling me to repentance. I opened my heart. The Holy Spirit came and did something in me. My body became a temple for the Holy Spirit. In my life, you should see the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Jesus lives in me through His representative, through the Holy Spirit. And I can use several other illustrations to point to this fact that the Holy Spirit is the Representative of Jesus. Without His baptism, we are not ready for heaven.
Please open your Bibles in Ephesians 5. In Ephesians 5 we find in verse 18, Ephesians 5:18 we find two commandments. We Seventh-day Adventists are especially in commandments. Ephesians 5:18. Do not be drunk with wine which there is dissipation but be filled with the Holy Spirit. [I believe this is a translation from the Spanish. The New Jerusalem is the closest I could find to this quotation. - Editor] Very often we emphasize the start of this Bible text and that's fine. In the next few weeks I will talk about the health message. Don't eat this, don't eat that, don't drink this, don't drink that. You know. All this is necessary. People need to know about this wonderful message. It has been said, "Very rarely the matter of the Holy Spirit is presented before the people and its reception spoken openly in the church." And the result is only what might be expected. Spiritual drought, spiritual darkness, spiritual declaration. It is so strange that we preach so little about the Holy Spirit. How strange is that we pray so little for the Holy Spirit when this promised blessing explained by faith would bring all the other blessings in its train."
The Scripture reading we heard (Luke 11:10-13) For everyone who asks, receives; ...Which of you fathers, if your son ask for a fish, will give him a snake instead? No! Of course not. If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" "Ask and thou shalt receive."
This is one of the several conditions for the reception of the Holy Spirit.
By the way, when was the last time, (and don't answer to me), that on your knees you prayed for the Holy Spirit? Every day we pray and we pray for many good and very reasons. We pray for our health, we pray for our auntie, we pray for our parents, we pray for a good grade in the mid-term exam, we pray for a raise in our salary. Yeah, all that is good. But when was the last time you got on your knees and you asked God, "Fill me with Your Holy Spirit?" The Holy Spirit will not be given if you don't ask for Him.
Now we may understand a little better why there is spiritual drought and spiritual declension in our lives. We are not praying as much as we should for the Holy Spirit. In fact, we are told by Ellen White that what we specifically need is the daily baptism of the Holy Spirit. (See Acts of the Apostles by EG White, p. 50.)
Did you pray this morning for this baptism? On your knees?
How different was our lives when we really experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit? We enjoyed peace, we enjoyed the assurance of our salvation. We were in our first love. Remember when you were first baptized? A man in his first love, sometimes, does crazy things. Ya, sometime he write poems and sometime he brings flowers to his girl friend. You know, when I was coming, I saw these flowers, and I thought, "I love you and I brought these flowers to you." "Oh, thank you." "You know what, you are more beautiful than these flowers." "Oh, thank you."
Or, another day this man brings a box of chocolates and he says, "On my way, I past through a store and I bought these chocolates for you. You know, they are very sweet. They are for you, but you know what. You are sweeter than these chocolates." And they get married.
Ten years later, what happened with the flowers and with the chocolates? "Honey, I'm hungry!" Hey, come on! What happened? What happened with that first experience? And Jesus complains about that. "I have something against you. And let me be straight with you." Jesus said. (See Revelation 2:4, 14, 20.) "That you have lost your first love."
What we need is to come back to our first experience. I have seen many of these newly baptized people who come to church with a smile and they come with their friends with a neighbor, and in a few months, they have already brought their relatives, their friends to church. Because the experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They were filled with the Holy Spirit. But then, twenty years later, they are still coming to church, but now "There is a shadow," they say. They don't smile anymore. They don't bring friends anymore. Life has become a routine. The come and go every Sabbath. Come and go, but they lose something on the way.
It is possible to come back to our first love when we learn that we will receive the Holy Spirit when we pray, when we spend time with Jesus, when we read the Bible, when we ask for it. When we ask for His presence in our lives.
But there are other conditions. We need really to remove sin from our lives. In the children's story, Pastor Crutcher mentioned that the Holy Spirit is compared to a wind. Right? Yes, both in Hebrew and the Greek language. The word for spirit could be replaced by "wind." Spirit, Ruwach.
Imagine that I want to replace, for some reason I want to replace the water of this bottle with air. If I want this bottle to be filled with air, I need to remove the water. I need to drain water from this bottle. As I remove water, air come in. As I remove sin from my life, I can be filled with the Holy Spirit. The problem is, that sometimes we are not willing to remove everything. And that's why we cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit.
I live very near to Pastor Gettys. You can say we are neighbors. I have a little office upstairs, only for me. It's filled with books and papers and my computer. It is my world. Sometimes visitors come. Yes. Yes, to see our home. This is the kitchen, this is the rest room, if you wan to wash your hands. This is the living room - relax. This is the dining room. Yes, we help people to feel at home. "Mi casa es su casa. Feel at home in my house." But sometimes, I am ashamed to invite people to my room upstairs, because sometimes it's busy you know. I open all the doors of my room. These are the bathroom, the living room...all because my wife takes care of the house. Sometimes I feel bad allowing people to come to my office upstairs, so I close the door. Very simple. And I am afraid that sometimes we have done something like that with Jesus. Yes. Some day, Jesus knocks on the door and we invite Him to come in. "Into my heart, come in to my heart..." and He comes in. "And, Jesus. This is the living room of my heart. This is the kitchen of my heart. This is the bedroom of my heart." But there is a corner of my heart that I don't want to surrender to Jesus. No, because there are some secret thing over there. There are things I don't want to get rid of. "Jesus come in! I'm a member of the church. Yes, I've surrendered my heart, almost all my heart to Jesus.
More than thirty years ago, I asked Nollie to be my girl friend. I don't remember what I said to her, but imagine that I approached her one day and I said, "Nollie, I have observed you. I like you. I admire you. I want to be your friend because I love you. I love yon. Will you accept my friendship? Because I love you with all my will. With almost all my heart, I want you to be my special friend." "Wait a minute. What did you say? Why did you say you love me 'with almost all your heart?' "Never mind." "No, no, no. I want you to explain that to me." "Eh, You want me to be precise. I love you with ninety seven percent of my heart." "Why!" "Oh, because there is another girl, you know. Only three percent. Don't worry. I love you." Imagine this ridiculous conversation. She would have said, "No way! I want you to love me with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength." And this is what God asks from us. Yes, we love Jesus, but we have not surrendered all our heart to Jesus. This is why He cannot take full control of our lives. This is why the Holy Spirit cannot fill us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to do His work, and He will do a great work in our hearts. We will love Him if we surrender all our hearts to Him. And we will see wonderful results. We will see amazing things.
I will finish by telling you something that happens at the end of an evangelistic series. I had preached for a month. One day, my wife sent me to the market. It was not in America. We spent many many years abroad. Eight years in the Far East, eight years in Central America. I was in the market and I saw a man approaching me. There were many people walking this direction. I had a basket and he also had a basket.
"Hey brother, what are you doing." I identify him. He was a newly baptized member of my church.
"What are you doing here?"
"Buying some things."
We made some jokes how our wives had ask us to buy groceries. And he asked me, "What have you bought?" And without asking my permission, he began reviewing my basket. I had bought some potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, fried spinach.
And just to continue with the joke, I ask him, "What are you buying? Let me see your basket." I entered into his basket and he had bought potatoes, tomatoes, carrots... The same. But I notice at the bottom of his basket there was something different. He had the Bible I had given him on the day of his baptism a few weeks earlier. And I asked him, "What are you doing with the Bible in the market?"
The Bible was covered with plastic. He removed the Bible with all reverence, he removed the plastic, and said, "We have always to be ready to give a reason for the faith we have in our hearts."
Wow, he impressed me. He said, "Pastor, this book has changed my life."
"How come. Tell me."
"Pastor. two months ago I was a drunkard. When I returned home, my wife was scared and my children ran away. And I hit my wife, and she cried, and shouted, 'This is hell, this is hell.' One day I received this book and I began to read it and read it. I attended the religious series in the gymnasium. Something happened to my life. I surrendered my life to Jesus. And now I as I return to my house, I find my wife waiting for me at the door, and my children come running and grab my legs. 'Daddy, daddy,' and my wife says, 'Oh, this is paradise.' My life has changed so much."
And then I noticed that several people were listening to that story. I was interested and he was a good story-teller. There were several curious people listening to him. And then he began talking to them. "Before. I was blind. I didn't know what I was coming from nor where I was going to. I was continually stumbling in my life. But now I have a lamp. This lamp illuminates my feet. Lamp is this word to my feet. Now I know where I am going to. Now my life has a sense of direction because of this book."
People were listening. And now there were ten, twelve people listening to him. He continued talking to them. "This book says that we should read the scriptures. Jesus said that if we read the book we will find eternal life. There is a promise for those who read this book. Blessed are those who listen. Blessed are those who listen to this book. Blessed are those who obey this book. If you follow these instructions you, too, will be happy, Your family will be blessed."
There were fifteen, twenty people listening to him now. And then he stood on top of a box and began talking to them. He forgot me. And there were fifteen, twenty people listening to him in the middle of that market. And then I moved very carefully to a corner to watch him. I was envious. I thought, "Man, I envy you. I wish I could have your courage. I wish I could have that power. I am an educated person. I have two degrees, but man, you have no degree, but what a power I wish I could be like you."
You and I can go back to our first love. You and I can receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. And you don't have to wait until this afternoon. You can be filled with the Holy Spirit now. I can not let you go without giving you a viable opportunity to renew your commitment to Jesus, to let Him know that you are willing to start your life all over again. We need this experience every day. We need to renew our commitment to Jesus every day. As we do that, He will baptize us afresh and He will fill us with His power for you and me to do His work.
Hymn of Praise: #100, Great is Thy Faithfulness Scripture: Luke 11:10-13 Hymn of Response: #260, Hover O'er Me, Holy Spirit
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last updated 9/22/2002 by Bob Beckett.