************ Sermon on John 20:19-23 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on June 11, 2000

John 20:19-23
"Receive the Holy Spirit"

"Receive the Holy Spirit." That's the command of Christ to Amber, Randi, Jackson, Noah, and to all His children on this Pentecost Sunday. He wants us to be filled filled to overflowing with the Spirit's presence, power, gifts, and fruit.

"Receive the Holy Spirit." How significant are these words of the Lord and Savior! In looking at them we will see that in giving the Spirit Jesus confers enormous blessings upon the church He loves.

I New Birth
A "Receive the Holy Spirit." The first benefit or blessing that comes because of the Spirit is rebirth or regeneration. You know what regeneration is. It is the radical spiritual change symbolized by baptism in which God brings an individual from a condition of spiritual death and sin to a new condition of holiness and life. To undergo rebirth is to be "born of the Spirit" (John 3:8).

In today's passage we are told that the time has now come in which man can be born again by the Spirit.

"Receive the Holy Spirit." Did you notice that before Jesus says this He "breathes" on His disciples? What Jesus has done is breathe His own Holy Spirit into the disciples.

In telling us about breath and Spirit, the Gospel writer wants us to hear echoes of various Old Testament passages:
(Gen 2:7) the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

(Job 33:4) The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

(Ps 33:6) By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
Do you hear the message that John wants to bring? He is saying that just as God's breath made the first creation, so likewise the breath of Jesus makes the new creation. Just as in the first creation God breathed into man and gave him life, so now in the moment of the new creation Jesus breathes his own Spirit into the disciples and gives them eternal life.

In the impressive vision of the valley of bones, Ezekiel, addressed by God as "Son of man," was told to prophesy to the dry bones:
(Ez 37:5) This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.
Now, another Son of Man speaks as the risen Lord and causes the breath of eternal life to enter those who believe. He says, "Receive the Holy Spirit."

B In giving the Holy Spirit, then, the Lord Jesus makes it possible for you and I to be born again, to become brand new creations. It is because He gave the Spirit that Amber and Randi could stand before us and profess their faith. It is because He gave the Spirit that Jackson and Noah have been presented for baptism.
Topic: Conversion
Subtopic: Examples Of
Title: It Is No Longer I

Soon after Augustine's conversion, he was walking down the street in Milan, Italy. There he met a prostitute whom he had known most intimately. She called but he would not answer. He kept right on walking.
"Augustine," she called again. "It is I!"
Without slowing down, but with the assurance of Christ in his heart, he testified, "Yes, but it is no longer I."
Because of Christ and His Spirit, Augustine was a changed man. He was born again, a brand new creation.

"Receive the Holy Spirit." Have you received the Spirit? Are you born again, a brand new creation, a new creature in Christ? If you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, you have been given the Spirit. Now, like Augustine, you must walk and lead the new life you have in Christ.

I have counseled more than one believer who think the new life is beyond their grasp, who think they are beyond help, who think they are forever doomed to their old sinful way of life. Perhaps there are some here this morning who think that way. Let me tell you, no person is so much in the grip of sin that he or she is beyond help and hope. The Holy Spirit can easily do what we mere humans think to be impossible.
Topic: Conversion
Subtopic: Examples Of
Title: Christ Did What Counseling Couldn't

Oscar Cervantes is a dramatic example of the Spirit's power to transform lives. As a child, Oscar began to get into trouble. Then as he got older, he was jailed 17 times for brutal crimes. Prison psychiatrists said he was beyond help. But they were wrong! During a brief interval of freedom, Oscar met an elderly man who told him about Jesus. He placed his trust in the Lord and was changed into a kind, caring man. Shortly afterward he started a prison ministry. Chaplain H. C. Warwick describes it this way: "The third Saturday night of each month is 'Oscar Night' at Soledad. Inmates come to hear Oscar and they sing gospel songs with fervor; they sit intently for over 2 hours; they come freely to the chapel altar.... What professionals had failed to do for Oscar in years of counseling, Christ's Spirit did in a moment of conversion."

II Peace
A "Receive the Holy Spirit." The second benefit or blessing that comes because of the Spirit is peace.

Jesus appears to the disciples and says, "Peace be with you!" Then He breathes on them and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit." The Gospel writer sees a clear connection between peace and the reception of the Spirit.

We are to see here the fulfillment of the words spoken earlier by Jesus in the Upper Room.
(Jn 14:26-27) But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (27) Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
We see that when Jesus talks to His disciples about the sending of the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, He also talks about peace. The sending of Christ's Spirit brings peace, means peace, and is peace.

B "Receive the Holy Spirit." "Peace be with you." What is this peace that comes by way of the Spirit?

To understand this peace we have to remember what Jesus said before. Jesus said, "I will leave you" (John 14:18). Jesus said, "I am going away" (John 14:28). Jesus said, "In a little while you will see me no more" (John 16:16). Jesus said, "Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief" (John 16:6). The disciples are heart-broken at the thought that Jesus is leaving. Imagine your feelings when someone close and dear to you leaves. More than one parent has been teary-eyed when a child enters grade school or leaves home for college. It is sad and tearful when someone dear leaves.

In the Upper Room Jesus makes a promise about peace to tearful, heart-broken disciples. He says,
(Jn 14:27) Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

"Receive the Holy Spirit." "Peace be with you!" In giving the Spirit we are to see Jesus fulfilling His promise to bring or give peace to those who are tearful, afraid, and heart-broken.

C What, then, is this peace brought by the Spirit? It is a peace that calms those who are fearful. I think here of the appearances of the "Angel of the Lord" in the Old Testament. Time after time His appearance brings fear and trembling. Gideon sees the angel and fears for his life (Judges 6:22). Daniel sees the angel (Daniel 10) and is speechless. The angel responds by saying, "Peace! Do not be afraid." "Do not be afraid. Peace! Be strong now; be strong." The peace of the Spirit calms fear, gives courage, and settles the soul.
Topic: Peace
Subtopic: Promised To Believers
Title: The Cushion Of The Sea

Several years ago a submarine was being tested and had to remain submerged for many hours. When it returned to the harbor, the captain was asked, "How did the terrible storm last night affect you?" The officer looked at him in surprise and exclaimed, "Storm? We didn't even know there was one!" The sub had been so far beneath the surface that it had reached the area known to sailors as "the cushion of the sea." Although the ocean may be whipped into huge waves by high winds, the waters below are never stirred.
This, I believe, is a perfect picture of the peace that comes from Christ's Spirit. The waves of worry, of fear, of heart-break, cannot touch those resting in Christ. Sheltered by His grace and encouraged by His Spirit, the believer is given the perfect tranquility that only Christ can provide.

A "Receive the Holy Spirit." The third benefit or blessing that comes because of the Spirit is joy.

Just before Jesus says, "Receive the Holy Spirit," John tells us the disciples are "overjoyed." Of course they are filled with joy. Jesus died. Jesus was buried. And now wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles He is alive and standing among them.

B This too is the fulfillment of a promise Jesus makes in the Upper Room. Jesus compares the situation of the disciples to that of a woman who suffers intense pain but is rewarded with joy at the birth of her child. He says,
(Jn 16:22) So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

New life, says Jesus, brings joy. Like David and Alisa, the parents of a new baby rejoice. In the same way, believers born-again by the Spirit, filled with new life, should also rejoice. We have to rejoice that ours is new life, new birth. We have to rejoice that ours is forgiveness of sin, salvation, redemption, cleansing. We have to rejoice that ours is life everlasting.

IV Mission
A "Receive the Holy Spirit." The fourth benefit or blessing that comes because of the Spirit is mission, purpose, goal.

Jesus says, "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." Then He says, "Receive the Holy Spirit." This reminds me of the words of Jesus recorded by Luke:
(Acts 1:8) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
The pouring out of the Spirit empowers and compels the disciples to be witnesses. The Spirit is a witnessing Spirit and those with the Spirit cannot help but proclaim the good news of the Gospel that those who believe in Jesus have their sin forgiven (John 19:23).

B "Receive the Holy Spirit." "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." Out of love, the Father sent Jesus to save the world. Out of love, Jesus sends us to continue His mission, to save the world in His name. And what a need, what a tremendous need there is today. Consider this:
Africa is at a time of decision. A hundred million animists in Africa alone will decide in our lifetime whether to become Christian, Muslim or agnostic.

What is 750,000 miles long, reaches around the earth 30 times, and grows 20 miles longer each day? Answer: The line of people who are without Christ.

World Missions, Home Missions, and CRWRC all have numerous staff openings that are not being filled.

"Receive the Holy Spirit." If you have, then you will have a burden for missions, evangelism, outreach. "Receive the Holy Spirit." If you have, then you will strive to hold up our missionaries with your gifts and prayers. "Receive the Holy Spirit." If you have, then you will be a witness to Christ.

"Receive the Holy Spirit." Have you?! If so, if you have received the Spirit of the resurrected Christ, then you are invited to come to the table of the Lord ...
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