The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”
John 14:16-20 NKJV
After God promised Immanuel to Abraham, He did many things to fulfil that promise. Finally, He sent His Son to make God known, and through the Son, He has precisely spoken of His plans for us.
The work that Jesus Christ wanted to achieve was for us who believe in Jesus to all receive the Holy Spirit and thus enter into the fellowship of God and His Son. The disciples who knew of that fellowship said in 1 John 1:1-3, “truly our fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.” That fellowship was originally between the Father and the Son, but now believers enter into that fellowship and by evangelizing, we lead others to also enter that fellowship. The Bible continuously expresses that as becoming one. This is Immanuel.
So, how did that actually come to fulfilment? By the coming of the Holy Spirit, Immanuel has been accomplished. Prior to His coming, people also believed that God was with them, but since God led them through angels during the Old Testament times, they could only meet God physically. Therefore, such cohabitation was disrupted when foreign armies invaded or it could not be maintained because of their own weaknesses. There were many shortcomings.
Jesus came to this earth and you could say that because He dwelt with them, He was with them. However, that was not everlasting. Jesus being with us on the earth in the flesh was more like walking with us. Walking together is holding hands together, but that does not make the two one. They are simply walking side by side. They are still two. Hence, they can separate. And in that situation, if Jesus remained on the earth He cannot be with all the people. If He was in Galilee, He could not be at Jerusalem simultaneously because He came in the flesh.
If He was still on this earth today, we would have to meet Jesus to worship because that is how we can meet God. We have to meet Jesus first to meet God. So, if we were to worship and Jesus was still in Jerusalem, we would have to buy a ticket every week to fly to Jerusalem. We have to meet Jesus to be able to say that we have seen God’s face and worshipped.
So, even if we did pay an expensive price to fly there, people all over the world would also flock there and we will not even get a chance to see His face. Hence, rather than doing that, Jesus said, “It is more beneficial for you that I send you the Holy Spirit, and for that I must go away.” We can find these words of His in John 16. “It is for your good that I go away. When I go, the Holy Spirit will come.”
The coming of the Holy Spirit is not just a parable of what will take place in heaven. From the time the Holy Spirit comes, it is reality. From the moment the Holy Spirit came into us, Immanuel is a reality – God is with us. It is not that we see the reality when we get to heaven; we are already seeing the reality on this earth. “If I drive out demons by the Holy Spirit, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” The kingdom of God is not fulfilled only when we get to heaven; it has already come. We witness this when we drive out demons. We see the evidence.
That is why it is so important to receive the Holy Spirit. In a sense, that is the goal – for the Holy Spirit, for God to come upon us. But there were many hindrances. Since people were constantly sinning in the Old Testament, God could not abide with them. But Jesus shed His blood to cleanse our spirits. Then, He died and resurrected. By the shedding of His blood, our spirits were cleansed. There was a reason for that. It was for Him to be with us. It was for the promised Holy Spirit to come and dwell inside of us. So, Jesus did not only teach us with words. He shed His blood and cleansed our spirits so that afterwards, we can receive the Holy Spirit. If you washed the dishes nice and clean, but do not put anything inside them, what is the use? Dishes are cleaned so that food can be served in it. Likewise, what is the point of Jesus shedding His blood to cleanse us? If that is all, what is the use? Jesus did that in order for God to abide with us – for the Holy Spirit to dwell inside us.
If a person does not receive the Holy Spirit after believing in Jesus, he is like a half-finished product. It is like a product is only half completed. Let’s say you are making an iPhone. You have the outer casing inside which the key components are meant to go in. What is the use of it looking like an iPhone if it does not have the core components? A half-finished product is useless.
In the same way, if one believes in Jesus but does not receive the Holy Spirit, what is the purpose? Such a person might just get saved but God’s original plan was not for him to just be saved. Instead, it is for God to be with him. God’s plan is not for one to be saved only. Being saved and being together is not the same. He will be with those who are saved. He abides with those who have been sanctified. There is a purpose why God wants to be with them. Though I will speak on this later on, it was God’s dream that was long in the making. His desire to be with mankind. And through the Holy Spirit that was fulfilled.
The fact that we received the Holy Spirit is no ordinary occurrence. God planned it from the eternity past, then He chose Abraham and 4000 years have passed since. 4000 years. And if it was 2000 years after Abraham’s time that the people received the Holy Spirit for the first time, just how much thought and effort did God put into this work? It is incredible that 4000 years later, this is fulfilled inside of us also. That is why we have this wonderful joy, happiness, and glory through the fact that we received the Holy Spirit.
Hence, there is the hymn we sing, “O spread the tidings ‘round! The Comforter has come! The Comforter has come!” This in itself is incredible news – that the Holy Spirit has come. Of course, it is joyful news too that Jesus came but the coming of the Holy Spirit after Jesus ascended is the greatest gift to us.
The Bible describes us receiving the Holy Spirit as God pouring His love upon us. Receiving the Holy Spirit means God is pouring His love upon us. I think it is in Acts 5:30. Hence, to receive the Holy Spirit in fullness means to receive love in fullness. If a person claims to have received the Holy Spirit and speaks in tongues but asks, “Have I received the Holy Spirit if I am speaking in tongues? Can you check?” Then, this person has got it wrong. He does not understand properly. He does not understand the meaning of receiving the Holy Spirit. He is simply happy about the fact that he can speak in tongues even though he does not have the certainty that it is tongues. He is doubting whether the tongue is from God or from the devil. Such people will remain in that state even if they have received the Holy Spirit. They cannot attain a higher spiritual life.
So, Galatians 3:14-15 says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” In other words, the blessing promised to Abraham is fulfilled in us by receiving the Holy Spirit.
Thus, those who believe in Jesus have to long to receive the Holy Spirit, and even if they received the Holy Spirit, they must not stop there. They must long to be filled with the Holy Spirit and power. People have a tendency to want to make doctrines. They want to be able to explain things perfectly so that it fits neatly. It is like this for example, “Do you love me or not?” That is hard to express in words. It is hard to say that you do but also hard to say you do not. Also, up to what age is adolescence and what age makes you an adult? Can that be determined? Yet, people want to set a precise age. 18 years of age. Above that age is an adult. Setting a standard makes it easy for people.
So then, what is salvation? What is required for salvation? People want to set a standard. So, is it up to the point of believing in Jesus or of receiving the Holy Spirit? People like to compare. Go and ask a farmer if he is happy when the new sprouts come out green. Is that all that he is happy about? Yes, he is happy that the shoots have come out. But the farmer’s primary concern is the fruit. When fruits start growing, will the farmer say that he is now happy? No. The fruit must grow fully. People become satisfied because they have grown. However, the farmer is not satisfied until the fruits are ripened and harvested. Even though the new shoots come out and grow, the farmer is not satisfied during the process. People tend to feel satisfied once they are saved which is like being satisfied at the new shoots sprouting. Others feel satisfied after growing a little. People seek to be satisfied with their present condition. However, the farmer is not satisfied.
Until Jesus returns to take us to heaven, we cannot be satisfied at any point about anything. ‘I received the Holy Spirit so that’s good. I’m okay since I received power. I am good enough because I drive out demons. I understand the Picture of God’s will so that should be good.’ In this way, people try to stop along the way but God never thinks so. Though we climb and reach higher and higher, we still cannot reach the top while we are on the earth. Hence, we can reach higher endlessly. We have to make efforts to reach higher.
The reality begins with receiving the Holy Spirit. After receiving the Holy Spirit, we must not stop just because we are sure of our salvation now and we received the testimony. From the moment we receive the Holy Spirit, a new life begins. Receiving the Holy Spirit marks a new beginning. Receiving the Holy Spirit is not the winning trophy. Rather, it is like having the qualifications to enter the Olympics. So, now one has to enter the Olympics and compete with all his might. However, a lot of people shout for joy when they receive the Holy Spirit as if they reached the finishing line. That is when they start to fall.
The Holy Spirit has come. This means God is with us. Then, there must be God’s plan for thereafter. There will be a reason that God is with us. He wants us to be glorified which means on the earth we have to suffer. Thus, if we receive the Holy Spirit, the work begins afterwards. We first need to give thanks for the Holy Spirit given and should be able to rejoice only of the fact that the Holy Spirit abides in us. You can say you are joyful because you received the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues. But we must not only think about that – think of how everything that was promised to Abraham was fulfilled over all this time and even to us. What other people struggled so hard and yet could not receive, we have already received. An undeserving and unworthy person like me has received the Holy Spirit. That is what we should be thankful for.
A long time ago when I was dating, I remember buying things and buying food for my girlfriend. Though I was not able to do much, I still remember buying some things for her. But it seemed as though she was not very pleased. She did not seem to be touched by it so much. But if she realized the painful labor and hard work I did to earn that money, she cannot help but love me. I did all kinds of labor work for a whole month. I wanted to earn some money to do something for her and that is why I worked in the construction sites for a month. During that time I got haemorrhoids. Because of the hard labor work I did, I ended up getting haemorrhoids. I was constantly carrying heavy loads in the middle of winter while my hands got covered in blistered. I did not have anything else in my mind at the time. I just wanted to make her happy. That was it. But when she was not aware of all the labor I did, she was not really touched. But what if she found out that I endured that painful labor for a whole month just to do something for her? Her reaction to the gift would be different wouldn’t it? She would be very happy and touched.
In the same way, if we only think about the fact that we received the Holy Spirit and can speak in tongues, that might be it; we are not so touched. But think of all the work God did over a long time in order for us to receive the Holy Spirit – what covenant He made with man and how He put His Son to death. When we think of all the work He did over that long period of time, we can be so grateful for how we received the Holy Spirit. It is truly moving and overwhelming. Let us pray that we can be truly thankful that we received the Holy Spirit and that we can deeply appreciate it.
God the Father, thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit. We also thank you for giving us this Spirit, which was in God alone and was given to the only beloved Son, Jesus Christ. As we enter in Jesus, we thank You for letting us be the body so we can receive and we thank God who established this great will, and we thank Jesus who fulfilled it. Although You may not be treated as You always deserve and may even be despised, we thank the Holy Spirit who truly perseveres within us. May this bring joy and fill us with happiness, and may it lead us to heavenly happiness. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on December 14, 2012
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team