United Church of God

And You Shall Receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit

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And You Shall Receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit

MP3 Audio (24.83 MB)


And You Shall Receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit

MP3 Audio (24.83 MB)

The Holy Spirit is a gift from God. How do you know if you have it? How can you get it? Who or what is it? Let's see what the Scripture says about these questions and more regarding the Holy Spirit God gives to us.

Sermon Notes

These are the notes taken live during services as captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing. This is not a word for word transcript. For the exact wording, please consult the audio recording.


I want to relate to you the story of a man named Seth. He was Jew. He was tested. He followed the commands. He saw Christ work many miracles. He witnessed His crucifixion. One day, he heard a sound. He was confused by it. He talked to friends and neighbors to identify where it came from. They found it coming from a house. There were men there preaching; they heard it in their own dialect. They weren’t sure what was going on in the house. About that time, a man came out and preached a powerful sermon. They became convicted that they had killed Christ; that it was prophesied by David their father. Acts 2:34-38 Vs. 34 – Peter is wrapping up this moving message on the day of Pentecost. Vs. 38 – Peter encouraged them to repent and to be baptized and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Gifts are fun to receive. They can be toys for kids. They can be money. They can be fun to get; they can be fun to give. Here God gives us a gift – to those that are baptized. Gifts are not something you own or necessarily deserve. You don’t give a gift to your kids and say, “When we get home, you have to do this and this.” That is not a gift; that is a prepayment. God’s ultimate goal is our spiritual success – to be in His family. He knows it is a difficult task. He doesn’t send us off on our own to figure out if the holy days connect. Instead, He gives us the Holy Spirit so we can be helped on the road to eternal life. This is the effective start of the New Testament Church.

John 14:15-18 This Holy Spirit – the helper – would not only inspire the writings of the Apostles, it is with us today. It helps us understand what God’s expectations are of us. God and His Son do not send us out by ourselves. What is this gift of the Holy Spirit? How precious is this gift? Do you have this gift? Have you lost this gift? Was baptism a long time ago, and you have done a lot of bad things since then? We were baptized and got wet, but how do we know we have this gift? Did God forget to send the gift? If you don’t have it, how can you get it? These are questions I want to dive into this afternoon. I want to discuss this helper that Christ promised. Definitions. Who or what is the Holy Spirit? The world’s religions have their perspective. Most revolve around the third person in a Trinity. Historically, they have taught that it is a person, along with God the Father and Jesus Christ. Another definition says it is one of three persons of the Trinity. They believe that he is God and that if we simply believe, he will come dwell in us. Others believe the Holy Spirit can bestow gifts on people, especially the gift of prophecy. It is a gift that keeps on giving. Are those true statements? They are not. UCG – Bible Study Course, Lesson 19 “The Scriptures portray the Spirit of God as the manifestation of His divine power within His creation, especially in His called and converted people—the saints. Through the "power of the Highest" (Luke 1:35) He can instill attributes of His divine nature and character in us. These divine, spiritual attributes transform our weak human nature to the extent that we become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). By positive choice we then have to be willing to walk obediently in newness of life—to use God's Spirit to overcome our own weak, fleshly nature.”

Some keywords here: His divine power. Attributes of God’s character. It allows us to overcome our weak nature – those desires we have. The Holy Spirit is God’s divine power. It is His attributes that live in us through the spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:11 I’m sure you’ve had conversations with neighbors or friends at work, and something about the Bible is plain as day, and they can’t see it. Without God’s spirit, we can’t understand God. We can’t simply begin to be spiritually successful without this gift. How do we get it? We know it is a gift. How do we sign up for it? It starts with a deep recognition of who we are – the sinful person we are who is worthy of death. From there, we move on to a level of commitment to God’s way and overcoming sins and doing better each way. We then move to a proper relationship with God. That He is always at the top; that we don’t juggle our priorities and let Him slip. Then through the laying on of hands the spirit is made available to those that are symbolically buried in the watery grave. So, does God just fill us to the brim with His spirit? Let’s read two parables on this. The first is the parable of the sower. Matthew 13:3-8 Vs. 8 – We see a crop is produced in various amounts. Keep that in mind along with the question of being filled to the brim. Go to the parable of the talents. The talents were handed out; the servants were to make good on the investment. Two did; one did not.

Matthew 25:24-25 Does God top us off and we maintain that full tank until we die? Based on these two parables, that is not the case. Think in relation to a gigantic dump truck. One with tires 30 feet tall that go down into the mines and haul out rubble. All of us would dream of driving it at least one time. Think of this as you are baptized, God backs up the dump truck, and the Holy Spirit dumps out on you and buries you. Is that the way God does it? That is not the indication in scripture. These parables don’t support that. God gives us a little at a time and sees what we will do with it. He wants to know if we will take it and use what He has given to us. If so, He wants to give more and more and more. God will give us a little at a time to see what we will do with it. He doesn’t want to waste it. He doesn’t want it to fall on bad ground. We need to be sure we are not wasting God’s spirit. Pray to make sure you are using what He has given, and that He will give you more, and that you will grow in his attributes even more. Next question: What should we do with the Holy Spirit we are given? If we are given a little here and there, and we are at different levels of spiritual maturity, can we tell it what to do? Can we send it for a gallon of milk? Does it control us? Are we like yellow pencils – all the same? Spiritual robots? Is that the goal of the Holy Spirit? Three points on the Holy Spirit and its usage.

Romans 8:12-14 Vs. 13 – Here is an admonition to overcome your sins. If you don’t acknowledge who you are, you will live and die according to the flesh. Vs. 14 – This is the key verse. Do you want to be a son or daughter of God? Absolutely. I think we all do. To do that, we must be willing to be led. 1. We must be led by the Holy Spirit. Webster says “led” means to show the way, to direct the course, to guide or direct by persuasion or influence. That is what God wants. He wants us to yield so we can be led to His way. It can influence us to the right direction. It won’t force us to tithe. Or to keep the Sabbath. Or only talk about holy things on the Sabbath. But it will try to influence us to have right actions. I’m sure many have seen the movie, “Man from Snowy River”. There is a stallion horse. It is completely wild. It is all about itself. It doesn’t want to be led in any way or shape or form. That is not how we are to be. We repent, we are baptized, God wipes the slate clean, and He gives us His spirit. We then must let it lead us to do what is right. We have to trust in God; trust that He knows what is right.

In the UCG booklet “Transforming Your Life”, it says: “In scripture, the Holy Spirit is described most often as the power of God at work in our lives.” That is an interesting exercise. Grab paper and identify the areas where you can see God’s Holy Spirit at work in your life. The spirit is that power at work. Do you trust God? If you do, you will be led by Him. If you are in a vehicle in a strange city, you place trust in the driver to take you someplace. We have to have faith in God that He will lead us to the right place. This admonishment to be led is opposite of any sort of independence. That is the opposite of being led. If we are independent, we don’t want any influence in our lives. We don’t think of ourselves as independents. But if we are not led by the spirit, there is a touch of that. There is a touch of self governance. In Phoenix, they have freeways with seven lanes going each direction. The inside lane is the HOV lane. If you have two or more in your vehicle, you can use that lane. The right six lanes are jammed. But hardly anyone uses the HOV lane. I always wondered why. It is indicative of this society. Nobody wants to carpool. You have to coordinate schedules. You have to leave for work early or late. Do you trust God and can you be led by His spirit? It won’t drag us to make us do what is right. It will simply lead us. It won’t prevent us from sinning. It won’t force us to do what is right. It will just influence us to make the right decisions. But we must be willing to follow.

Galatians 5:18 Vs. 18 – Repentance is already assumed at this point. If you are led by the spirit, you are not required to pay the penalty for breaking some law. Christ’s sacrifice does that, provided we repent and deeply apologize. None of us want to pay our own penalty for the sins we have committed. But the caveat is that we have to be led by His spirit. We have to yield to the character He is trying to build in us. How do we know the spirit is in our life? I think it left me. How do I know my baptism valid? Is God still with me, or has He thrown up His hands and said, “That person sins way too much. 2. We have to produce the fruit of the spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 Each aspect of the fruit is simply a reflection of God’s character. Godly nature produces these nine attributes. How do you know if the spirit is working in your life? How do you know you still have it? How do you know God didn’t withdraw His spirit? Your answer is here. The fruit of the spirit is these nine things. Do you see these things at work in your life? Are you producing this fruit? We are warned not to judge and condemn someone. But we are told to look to see if they produce this fruit. As we look at ourselves, do we see these attributes being produced? The fruit is a reflection of God’s character. Through His spirit, they are reproduced in us. Does fruit just happen? We pray, go to Church, etc. Will that cause your spiritual tree to hang low with fruit? No. Fruit doesn’t just happen. Each fruit is a choice we have to make. It comes back to yielding. We have to be led by God.

Galatians 5:19-21 These are other choices we can make. Which choice do you make? We can produce godly fruit, or some other kind of fruit. We have to make a choice. We will produce one of these two kinds of fruit. Are you producing the fruit of the works of the flesh, or the fruit of the spirit? There are more works of the flesh than fruit of the spirit. 17 works; 9 fruits. God’s fruit is always the harder choice. When we are presented with something, we have a choice. Vs. 22-23, or vs. 19-21. Choosing to produce the fruit of the spirit is always the harder choice. Think. Which choice is easier for me? That is almost always the wrong choice. Choosing to build godly character is always the right choice. Choosing to build these attributes of God’s nature is always harder, but it is always the right choice. Genesis 2:16-17 Here we read about some of the first choices made. Vs. 17 – “Die” means “worthy of death”. H4191 מוּת mûth mooth A primitive root; to die (literally or figuratively); causatively to kill: - X at all, X crying, (be) dead (body, man, one), (put to, worthy of) death, destroy (-er), (cause to, be like to, must) die, kill, necro [-mancer], X must needs, slay, X surely, X very suddenly, X in [no] wise. BDB Definition: 1) to die, kill, have one executed 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to die 1a2) to die (as penalty), be put to death 1a3) to die, perish (of a nation) 1a4) to die prematurely (by neglect of wise moral conduct) 1b) (Polel) to kill, put to death, dispatch 1c) (Hiphil) to kill, put to death 1d) (Hophal) 1d1) to be killed, be put to death 1d1a) to die prematurely Part of Speech: verb A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a primitive root Same Word by TWOT Number: 1169 We can choose to follow God’s way of life, or we can choose the works of the flesh.

Genesis 3:6 Satan comes on the scene. Has a dialogue with Eve. Starts to sow seeds of doubt. It is interesting to take this story and see how many works of the flesh are present in this story in this dialogue between Eve and Satan. Then look at the fruits of the spirit. See how many are portrayed here. We can’t live both ways. We can’t be a Christian on the Sabbath and break God’s laws during the week. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 This is a memory verse for most of us. This blessing goes to us and our descendants. Our choice to choose life is not only a blessing for us, but for our kids and their kids. It is a long lasting blessing. We had a peach tree in our yard in Phoenix. Every year it produced amazing peach trees. It was a young tree, so there weren’t a lot of them, but they were delicious. That peach only produced peaches. Never grapes. Never oranges. We can only bear God’s fruit. We can’t mix some of God’s fruit with some of the works of the flesh. You can’t have a peach tree and get apples and oranges.

James 3:11-11 My question to you is, what kind of fruit are you and I choosing to produce? I have to overcome sins just like you. My salvation is not wrapped up just because I’m up here speaking. Fig trees produce figs. Grape vines produce grapes. How much fruit are you producing? Or are you even producing at all? Where do we go from here? John 15:16 We have acknowledged that we need to be led by God’s spirit. We are working on producing fruit. But then Christ adds a third step. Our fruit must remain. 3. Our fruit must remain. We shouldn’t produce it one day and not the next. That is how character is produced. We can make the right choice one time, but does that produce character? Or is it making the right choice time after time? We must recognize the need for ongoing right choices. Only by that method can God see what we are doing overall. Study the nine attributes in Galatians 5:22-23. Those fruit are something we can just pop up and say we are going to work on one today. We have to pray and study and do all those things we know we should do and these fruits will be produced in us. We don’t just arbitrarily say we need to love more, or be more peaceful. Study your life and see how much fruit is possible.

2 Timothy 2:15 I think this scripture is often taken out of context. Some translations say, “Study to show yourself approved”. So, we think we need to break open the Bible. But is that what this means? Look at a historical perspective. If think we have to study and listen to tapes and such, how did it apply to many of the people Paul addressed? Many couldn’t read; most didn’t have their own Bible. Be diligent. Be consistent. Make it so that God can look at your life as a whole and say, look at all these good choices. Be sure you are pure and honest and all the things God wants us to be. We can’t be diligent to save our family or our spouse or whoever. This is a one-to-one relationship with God. We have to overcome to present ourselves approved to God. On a tree plantation, when a tree stops producing, it is cut down. At our last house, we had pecan groves. They were neat to watch how they would come and harvest them. They would take a machine and shake the tree. They would gather the nuts. Every once in a while, there was a blank spot. Maybe the bugs got to it. It quit producing fruit. The farmer won’t continue to waste water and nutrients on a tree that doesn’t do anything for him.

Matthew 7:19 If we don’t allow God to lead us through His spirit and remain and be consistent, we are at risk of being cut down. Cast away and thrown into the fire. It is the encouragement to press on; to persevere. Verses to read later: Philippians 3:12-14 2 Timothy 4:6-8 We need to persevere, that the fruit remains; that we are growing each day and striving to put on His character and allowing His nature to be built in us. Revelation 3:11 Hold fast. Persevere. Hang in there. Our goal is the kingdom of God. To have this crown. To rule and reign with Christ. Remember the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. “Well done, good and faithful servant!” You did it. You made the tough choices. 2 Peter 1:5-11 Brethren, let’s make sure we are fully using that gift that God has given us – the power that lives in us and encourages us to live the right way of life, so we can enter into God’s eternal family.