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Author:Rev. W.B. Slomp
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Congregation:Immanuel Canadian Reformed Church
 Edmonton, Alberta
 www.edmontonimmanuel.ca
 
Preached At:Coaldale Canadian Reformed Church
 Coaldale, Alberta
 
Title:The Wonderful Gift of God's Holy Spirit
Text:Psalms 51:11 (View)
Occasion:Pentecost
Topic:The work of The Holy Spirit
 
Preached:2015-05-24
Added:2015-06-18
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Votum and Salutation

Sing:  Hymn 50: 1-4

The ten Words of the Covenant

Sing: Psalm 119: 50, 55

Prayer

Scripture reading: Matthew 12: 15-37; Hebrews 6: 4-8; Psalm 51

Sing: Psalm 51: 4, 5

Text Psalm 51: 11

Sermon: The Wonderful Gift of God’s Holy Spirit.

Sing: Hymn 51: 1, 2, 3

Prayer

Offertory

Sing: Psalm 27: 4, 6

 

Songs are from the 2014 version of the Book of Praise

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. W.B. Slomp, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


NOTE:  This sermon was originally preached in Immanuel Canadian Reformed Church at Edmonton and a previous sermon on this text was published on The Seed in 2008.  This sermon was revised by Rev. W.B. Slomp and preached at the Coaldale Canadian Reformed Church in May 2015.

 

Beloved congregation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, brothers and sisters:
 
Have you ever wondered if you have sinned against the Holy Spirit so much that as a result you are now uncertain about your salvation? Do you think that you are too sinful a person to be saved? That perhaps you have committed the unpardonable sin? 
 
You may have the same question about one of your loved ones – about a child who has gone astray and no longer comes to church, or about a close relative or friend. Has he or she sinned the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit?
 
In the text we see the struggle of David. It's a well-known psalm. It’s about David's confession of sin, the confession of his horrible sin against Bathsheba. Even though David makes his beautiful confession to the Lord, David struggles as well. He is afraid that God is going to take his Holy Spirit away from him. So he pleads with God not to do that.
 
David does not find himself in the same situation as us today. Today we live after Pentecost, after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Could an Old Testament believer sin against the Holy Spirit in the same way as the New Testament believer? Did they have the fullness of the Holy Spirit then? Did the Holy Spirit work differently in the Old Testament than in the New Testament?
 
There are many questions that need to be answered. One thing we can state right off the bat: we all need God's Holy Spirit. Without God's Holy Spirit life is impossible. That is true for the Old Testament believer, as well as for us today. As a matter of fact, without God's Holy Spirit this whole world would be doomed. The Holy Spirit gives life and sustains life. Life is a precious and wonderful gift of God. And so is the Holy Spirit. That is what today’s sermon is about. The theme for our sermon is:
 
The Wonderful Gift of God’s Holy Spirit.
 
We will see that God's Holy Spirit is:
1. A gracious gift;
2. A precious gift;
3. An eternal gift.
 
1. David was keenly aware that he had received the gift of the Holy Spirit. He had been anointed by the prophet Samuel to be king over Israel. The Lord sent Samuel into Jesse’s home, the father of David, to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king.  David was still a young man at that time. David's older brothers were first paraded in front of Samuel. They seemed the more obvious choice to Jesse. Samuel too was impressed. He especially thought that the oldest son, Eliab, would be the most obvious choice as he was impressive in stature and appearance. But then the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
 
Finally the youngest son, David, is presented before Samuel. Then we read in 1 Samuel 16:13, "So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.”
 
At that time the Spirit of the Lord was upon David. After this we read, time and again, that God's Spirit continued to be with him and that David felt God's presence.
 
King Saul at one point had also been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. But we read in 1 Samuel 16:14 that "the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him." David was aware of the removal of God’s Spirit from King Saul because of his sins.  
 
And so that puts David's request concerning the removal of God's Holy Spirit, as we have it in Psalm 51, within a more specific context. David did not want to end up like Saul. He wanted to continue to receive God's Holy Spirit and to experience God's presence.
 
It is clear that David fully understood that you cannot control or manipulate the Holy Spirit. This is why he petitioned God not to take his Spirit away from him.
 
The Holy Spirit belongs to God. He is God. He is also God’s gracious gift to you and to me. Only God can give himself to you and therefore only he can remove himself from you. You receive God's Spirit not because you deserve it or because you have anything to offer him, but only because of God's free grace.
 
But what does it mean that God gives you his Holy Spirit? For David it meant especially that he had received God's Holy Spirit when he was anointed as king. The Holy Spirit equipped him for his task. The Holy Spirit guided him as he ruled God's people. He guided David as he prophesied. For David could speak God's Word as recorded in the Psalms and elsewhere.
 
It is clear that in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was especially at work in the prophets. Indeed, God’s Spirit was at that time more restricted to certain office bearers such as David, and such as Moses before him and the 70 elders, but don't think that the Holy Spirit was not evident also amongst the people of Israel. Listen to what it says in Isaiah 63:11. There we read that God's people ask "Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among us?" The Old Testament believer understood that God had given his Holy Spirit to all of God’s people.
 
In the New Testament, both the doctrine about the Lord Jesus Christ and the doctrine about the Holy Spirit were more clearly revealed. In Genesis we read about the seed of the woman who would crush Satan. At that time the Old Testament believers did not know who the seed of the woman would be. But as God's Old Testament people came nearer to the great events of the birth of the Son of God, they slowly but surely got a clearer picture of him through the prophecies and the ceremonies of the law.
 
The Holy Spirit is also more fully revealed as the history of revelation enfolds. In the very beginning of the Bible the Holy Spirit is introduced. There we read in Genesis 1:2 that "the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Who is that Spirit? It’s capitalized in your Bibles because the Spirit is God. That is why God says further in that same chapter, "Let us make man in our image." He uses the plural, referring to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
 
The Holy Spirit was active already at the time of creation. He has always been active because He is eternal.
When it says in Genesis that the Spirit was hovering over creation, we are reminded of a bird that provides for and protects its young. In Deuteronomy 32:11 we are given a clearer picture as to what that means. There God is pictured as a bird who guided his nation Israel "like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions.” That is also how the Holy Spirit looks after God’s creation, and especially his children.
 
The fact that God's Holy Spirit hovers over all of creation means that the Holy Spirit has always existed. He is everywhere. You cannot escape him.
 
David so beautifully expresses that in Psalm 139, where in verse seven he asks the rhetorical question: "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?" God's Holy Spirit is not there just for individual people, but for all of creation, for every nation and for every people. Moses and Aaron understood this when they, in Numbers 16:22, referred to the God of the spirits of all mankind. Without the Holy Spirit this world would cease to exist.
 
The workings of the Holy Spirit are especially revealed after the completed work of the Lord Jesus Christ. At Pentecost the Lord Jesus sends his Holy Spirit and pours him out upon all flesh. God’s Word and Spirit spread to all the corners of the world.
 
And so we have to listen to the Holy Spirit. We may not sin against him or ignore him. For God's Holy Spirit is not only a gracious gift; he is also a precious gift. God’s gift is so precious that you cannot live without him. We come to the second point.
 
2. When David asked not to have the Holy Spirit taken away from him, does that then mean that that is possible? Can God remove his Holy Spirit?
 
As we saw, God's Spirit is everywhere present. You cannot escape God's Spirit. But it is possible to sin against the Holy Spirit and it is possible to ignore him, to pretend that he is not there. And if that is what you do, then he is not there for you and you lose him.
 
The majority of mankind does not acknowledge the Holy Spirit. They do not realize that the Holy Spirit of God sustains the universe. They do not think that they need him. They think that they are in control of creation.
 
The modern-day environmentalists are typical of that way of thinking. They are concerned about this earth and the impact that mankind has on it. They believe that the earth is very fragile and that they therefore must control its destiny. They believe that if they do not actively involve themselves in the management of the resources of the earth, that then it is going to perish.
 
It is true that we have to be careful with God's creation. We must be good stewards. We may not pollute the earth. But it is not true that we can control the destiny of the earth. God the Holy Spirit is always in control. He is the one who creates and re-creates. He is the one who looks after it and keeps everything in perfect balance. The earth is not as fragile as we think. At the end of this age the Holy Spirit will be the one who will totally renew this world. What a wonderful day that will be because we will be renewed too!
 
If you do not believe the Holy Spirit of God, then you do so at your own peril. If you do not want the Spirit of God, then God will not give him to you either.
 
David recognized that. He recognized that God's Holy Spirit is a gift from God that you cannot do without. He not only realized that he was weak in heart and spirit, but also that he was totally corrupt and incapable of doing anything without God. When he sinned his horrible sin with Bathsheba he did so only because he ignored the Spirit of God. He did not reckon with God's Spirit who gives life to everything and everyone. He took things into his own hands. He wanted to be in control of his own destiny. He wanted to seek pleasure according to the desires of his flesh, and not according to the desire of God the Holy Spirit. He pretended that God did not exist. He did the same thing that the world does. He went his own way.
 
But then, through Nathan the prophet, he came to repentance. Nathan reminded David that God is in control; that without God's Holy Spirit he would perish. That is why David cried out to God to create in him a new heart. He wanted to give the reins back to God. He wanted God to be in control of his destiny again. In Psalm 51, David recognized that he is God's creation. Through his Spirit he breathed life into him. It is all God's doing. He has no strength and no ability of his own. He is totally dependent on God, not only for his physical life, but also for his spiritual life and most importantly for his eternal life.
 
But do you really think that David had to be afraid that God would totally leave him? That he had sinned the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit? No. Let me tell you why in the third point.
 
3. It says in 1 Peter 1:23, "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." And in 1 John 3:9 we read, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God."
 
When you have the seed of God within you, then you cannot perish. Why then would David be afraid that God will take his Holy Spirit from him? He is afraid because of what he has done. This enormous sin is weighing him down. Because of his sin he did not feel God's presence any longer.
 
But that doesn’t mean God had abandoned him.
 
That is true for all of us. There may be those among us who think that they have sinned too much; that they are not worthy of God's presence; that they are not worthy of salvation. But God promises that he will never take his Holy Spirit away from his children.
 
Brothers and sisters, we all grieve the Holy Spirit in numerous ways. We do it every day. We fall far short of God's glory. We are miserable creatures. That’s why it says in Ephesians 4:30: "…Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” But listen carefully to the rest of that text. It says: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."
 
You were sealed with the Holy Spirit of God for the day of redemption, that is, the day of judgement. Let that sink in for a moment…. As it says in the well-known passage of Romans 8, nothing can separate you from the love of God; not death, nor your sins, not even the devil. You do not have to doubt your salvation.
 
I know that you still have questions. What about those passages that we read together in Hebrews and in Matthew? And what about somebody like King Saul? Did God not take his Holy Spirit away from him? For it says in 1 Samuel 16:14 that "the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul." What then is the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit?  Can that apply to me?
 
Well, the very fact that you are sitting here in this church building and that you are concerned about your salvation already shows that you have no reason for such anxiety.
 
Let me explain that. We have to be careful to distinguish between election and covenant. First let’s look at the passage that we read together in Hebrews 6. There we read that those who have once been enlightened, who have shared in the Holy Spirit and tasted the goodness of the Word of God, that if they fall away they cannot be brought back to repentance.
 
What does that mean? Well, you have to understand that within the context that it is written. The book of Hebrews is all about the new covenant established by the great High Priest Jesus Christ. In the book of Hebrews, the author uses covenantal language because the author deals here with God’s covenant people. In this passage the inspired author is not speaking about our election. God's elect cannot and will not perish. We’ll deal with election in a moment.
 
But here in Hebrews God is speaking about his covenant ways. And he warns us that not all who belong to God's covenant will be saved. Not all the children that receive the sign and the seal of the covenant and are brought up in the church will be saved. That is what he is talking about here in this passage. He is talking about the nation Israel who had been included as God's covenant children.
 
Consider this: Many of the Israelites rejected God's covenant. They knew what God’s covenant was all about but it never touched their hearts. They never allowed God's Holy Spirit into their hearts. They totally hardened their hearts against God. They always resisted the Spirit of God. And so they never had the Holy Spirit to begin with.
 
The fact is that if you continue to resist the Spirit throughout your life, then in the end there is no chance of salvation for you. Then there is no longer a chance for repentance. Not all who are called God's children will be God's children into eternity. There are those who fall away.
 
We see that more often in the Bible. Think about Judas, for example. He was one of the 12 disciples. He had received the sign and the seal of the covenant when he was circumcised. He had seen all the miracles of the Lord Jesus. He was with the Lord Jesus throughout his ministry. He heard his words. And yet he totally rejected the Lord Jesus. He had completely hardened himself against the Spirit of God. And so God confirmed him in his unbelief. Judas never had the Spirit of God to begin with and so he perished as a child of the devil.
 
What about King Saul? Indeed it says that the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul. But it does not say there that the Spirit of the Lord was removed from him forever. At that moment the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul. But it doesn't say anywhere in Scripture that Saul was condemned to hell. It is very possible that he was, but it also is possible that he wasn't. We don't know if he was one of God’s elect. God knows.
 
Where does that leave us? First of all, we are left with a warning. God tells us these things in his Word because of his great love. He wants to remind us of the great gift of his Holy Spirit and that we must not reject him. You must not harden yourself in your sin. If David had continued to leave his sin unconfessed and hardened himself in his sins, then David too would have perished. But through God's grace that did not happen. God did not remove his Spirit from him. David wanted to be near to God. The fact that he was worried about his salvation shows how much he loves God. He couldn’t stand the thought that God would abandon him. Oh sure he was a great sinner. But our sins do not disqualify us from being children of God, no matter how serious the sin is. Only our persistent hardening in our sins does.
 
There may be times in your life, as well, when you are brought very low. There may be times when there are certain sins that you just will not break from. At that point you don't feel God's presence anymore. You may not be able to pray. You may be depressed. You feel terrible. But that doesn't mean that God's Holy Spirit is not there. He is present and he will restore you because you are his child. He will remind you of the words he has spoken to you, of the words He has planted in you.  That is why you need to have God’s word in your heart and in your head. Know Scripture. Memorize it. Know the promises that God makes to you.
 
You may also have that same comfort about your loved ones, about those who have gone astray. It may well be that God has not yet left them even though they no longer worship with you. That is why you have to pray for them and think about ways of bringing them back into God's graces. You do not give up on them. You warn them, and remind them of the need of the fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Remind them of the promises that God has made to them.
 
Ultimately we do not know who has totally rejected God's Spirit. Only God knows. We have to come with the Gospel to our children, to our brothers and sisters in the Lord, to those who have strayed. God is the just judge. He continues to call you and me to repentance.
 
But he also warns you and me, as he does in Hebrews, that you cannot continue to reject him and think that you will be saved, that He will continue to sustain you. There comes a point of no return.
 
But now what about the other passage in Matthew 12? What does the Lord Jesus mean when he says in Matthew 12:31 that the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven? In order to understand that passage, you again have to look at the context. The Lord Jesus performed many miracles amongst the Israelites. We read in verse 15 that he healed all their sick and in verse 22 that he healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute. These are great miracles. The people stood in awe of him. They were astonished and they asked whether or not he could indeed be the Son of David, prophesied about in the Old Testament. It is understandable that they make that statement. For the work that he was doing was messianic. Only God could perform such miracles. These were not the works of an ordinary man. The people knew it.
 
Now the Pharisees realized that this was a pivotal moment for them. They did not want the Lord Jesus to have the influence that he had. They felt the crowds slipping away from them. They had to do or say something in order to discredit Jesus. They could not have the people believe that God was among them. So they said something absolutely outrageous and blasphemous. Because they did not want to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus, they had to discredit him in the only way they knew how. They equated him with the devil himself. They said to the people, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” That is the last defense that they could come up with. For if it is not God who is doing this then it must be the devil who is doing this.
 
That was their sin against the Holy Spirit. Against all logic and reason they wanted the people to believe that Jesus was not sent by God, but that he is the devil himself.
 
Then the Lord Jesus masterfully unmasks their hypocrisy and great unbelief. He asks, “How is it possible for Satan to drive out Satan? If that is the case then he is divided against himself. Satan cannot be out to destroy Satan. That absolutely makes no sense. Satan is not out to defeat and destroy himself.”
 
He further points out that only the Spirit of God can drive out demons. No one else can. Only the Holy Spirit has that kind of power. Therefore the only logical conclusion you can come to is that the Lord Jesus himself is full of the Holy Spirit.
 
The Pharisees were out to destroy the work of God. They wanted to block the message of salvation. They did so deliberately and with hardened hearts. They did so with a great hatred against the Son of God. It is in this way that they sinned the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit. They did not sin against him because of ignorance, but because of deliberate disobedience. They had totally hardened their hearts. That is why the Lord Jesus calls them a brood of vipers. They were snakes that belonged to the snake the devil.
 
Now you can also understand why the Lord Jesus says in verse 32 that anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven but that anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. For he realizes that people, in searching to understand who the Son of God is, what his work is, and how he saves people, need to be instructed.
 
People are slow in their understanding. They have in front of them a man from Nazareth whose father was a mere carpenter. They had to come to grips with the fact that he is indeed the Son of God. In their search for the truth and in their ignorance they may say or do things against the Son of God that are wrong. Think for example of the apostle Paul. Out of his ignorance and wrong zeal he sinned against the Son of God when he persecuted the church. But the Lord Jesus forgave him. He did not know what he was doing. Such a sin can be forgiven.
 
But in this case the Pharisees knew exactly what they were doing. It was not out of ignorance that they said those things. It was out of an unbridled hatred that they said them. Therefore in the final analysis they also sinned against the Son of God. For when it comes right down to it, when you sin the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit and you persist in that sin, then you also reject the Son of God. For the Spirit and the Son are one.
 
Brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit is a wonderful gift. He gives life. He gives life to those who want to live; to live in the truth; to live to the glory of God; to live with God into eternity.
 
He is not for those who don’t want him. They receive what they deserve: death. But you and I have been given life through the Holy Spirit. What a blessing! What a celebration of life!
 
Amen
 
** Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV), 1984 edition.



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. W.B. Slomp, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2015, Rev. W.B. Slomp

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