Tonight Chick Yuill spoke about the Holy Spirit at Spring Harvest:
Driving in the car shortly after Tony Benn had died and Radio 4 were playing some of his diaries from 20 years ago, he told a delightful story about his then five year old grandson. His grandson said to his dad what’s the biggest number in the world, is it 168,000. Dad smiled and said no and said you could have 168,001, the little kid looked up and smiled and said I was pretty close then!
We have some very small ideas about the Holy Spirit and yet think we’re very close. Don’t want to denigrate the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but that is like imagining that the National Grid exists to power your bedroom lamp.
We’ve fallen out over how the Spirit manifests itself, we’ve dismissed Christians who disagree with us, and we’ve bottled the Spirit into thought and theological forms from previous generations, e.g. Salvationists bottled a purification bottle from the 19th Century. But worse than these we;ve often made the Holy Spirit an optional extra. If you want to be a deluxe Christian you can add the Holy Spirit. But the real truth is we can’t even leave the room and enter the world without understanding the Holy Spirit.
The disciples have eaten, drunk and spoken with the risen Lord Jesus, and they’ve even seen the ascension of Jesus. The word was don’t leave Jerusalem until you receive the Holy Spirit.
We need the Holy Spirit because their is a story to behold.
We’ve focussed on some of the great creedal statements, the thinking of the church over centuries as they’ve reflected on the gospel. A creed, a set of beliefs is not the primary thing, an experience of grace is important but not even the primary thing. There is a story to be told – you are to be my witnesses into to Jerusalem, Samaria and the ends of the world. They are witnessing to a great sweeping story beginning with creation by a loving God, the corruption of the fall, the wonder of a covenant – people chosen not for ability, a story with the supreme central act in Jesus, we are in the fifth act of this, the church. We know the story has a great ending when the King comes and returns again. The Spirit makes the story much more than history or an ancient memory or pleasing fantasy from 2,000 years ago – it is a present life changing story.
D.L. Moody heard two ladies praying in the front rows of his missions. They said they were praying for him to be baptised in the spirit – he was annoyed. But then day in New York, he had such an amazing experience of God. A few months later he preached in Britain with Sankey and he changed – he didn’t present new truths and yet hundreds were converted. What was the difference? The difference was he was not only telling the story in words, but he was part of the story, the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead was also in Moody. There are no clever techniques that will make the story significant it is the Spirit that does this.
We need the Holy Spirit because there is an invitation made
There is an implicit and explicitly invitation for men and women to come to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour. It is the Spirit that does this. Live in Manchester, and some months ago was in Burnley, before the service began met a lady who he sensed was coming for the first time, it is as culturally alien for them as going to the ballet or the opera. All went well until his sermon, and her mobile was ringing, so Chick paused the sermon and said it might be someone trying to contact her, maybe even God! She flipped the phone up and the colour drained from her face, then she said oh it was Chris, I thought it said Christ! Wouldn’t it be great if God contacted people direct, then remembered that is exactly what the Holy Spirit does.
Preached a lot of sermons, some were downright rubbish, some even asked Jesus to take him in the middle of his sermon! Sometimes people come up a week later and said what a word – it is the Holy Spirit at work every time the gospel is preached. Without the Holy Spirit we can do nothing.
There is a life to be lived
Roman 8:5, those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their mind set on the fruits of the Spirit, the Christlike qualities which are impossible without the Holy Spirit. A lady this week at a seminar said her son-in-law had been shot and killed in Afghanistan, and discovered that his killer was a 14 year old boy. Did some research and discovered what the life of a 14 year old in Afghanistan was. Teach English to foreigners in a little village, she’s teaching English to two young lads from Afghanistan. You can’t do it by will but because the Holy Spirit enables us to live increasingly like Christ.
Last night prayed for Clive Adams the leader of the UK Salvation Army. Everyone knows about William and Catherine Booth, but one of the heroes was George Scott Railton who laid everything on the line for the gospel. He was asked to write in a teenage girls autograph book when he stayed in their house: “The life of the soul saver is the grandest, merriest, strangest life that can be lived on earth. The life of Jesus lived over again in us. It will cost you everything, but it will be a good bargain at that.” That’s impossible except with the Holy Spirit.
There is a family to be embraced
The family of the church to which we are called. None of this nonsense of being a follower of Christ without being linked to a church. We’re brought into new relationship with our fellow Christians, check out Romans 8:14 – adoption to sonship by which we cry Abba Father, as children of God.
We have a glorious certainty that we are included in that family as we have the inner witness the deep assurance of the Holy Spirit, you just know it and you know it. The Spirit enables us to cry out Abba Father.
It is a grateful humility, it brought about your adoption, we have no right to belong to this family. We have all been adopted into this family, but it is a glorious adoption. Two boys in the same class were only 3 months apart and the teacher was confused by the biology! The boys explained one of us is adopted but we can’t remember which one!
You will need a gutsy loyalty. Chick, Margaret and two daughters, Katrina, an actress, a strange thing of getting on a stage in front of hundreds of people and hope they like them, where does she get that from; Jenny is a lawyer and won’t back off from an argument! Two years ago Margaret nearly train-wrecked her marriage. Chick had been to Old Trafford and see Manchester United beat Arsenal 8-2, asked to watch the Match of the Day highlights one last time – went to watch it a week later when feeling a bit low and it had gone – he meant the last time that night! Because of the man he is he has gutsy loyalty.
Stewart Little is a great adoption story of a little mouse. The family cat is a long haired cat, and once when the family are out, he grabs the mouse and is about to eat him, when the mouse is rescued from the jaws of death. The mum says we don’t eat family! At the start of every church business meeting we should read the word and pray, and at the end do the benediction, but in the middle we should stand and hold hands to say “we don’t eat family.”
There is a victory to be declared
The victory is that the king is coming again with a new heaven and a new earth. We shall be raised, and be like Jesus as we see Him like He is. We declare that victory not just in words but in the way we live now. Our churches should show the kingdom of God now to others. We believe in the incarnation of the son, the miracles, the inspiration of his teaching, the cross and resurrection – the power of the Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, and without us we are a miserable and funny collection of odd people. The resurrection coming says there is no hopeless people, hopeless places, hopeless churches.
A few years ago felt it was right to step out from the denomination. Owed a lot to the denomination due to his dad being rescued by them. Was worried about employment and housing. Now live in a house which has a name, must have made them posh! The name is Arrowbon which is referred to where the Holy Spirit is the pledge. The last few years are a foretaste of what is to come!
We need the Holy Spirit.