Have you ever been with two other people and they just kind of made you feel left out the entire time? They acted as though you weren’t even there…as if your presence didn’t really make a difference. In this moment you felt like the third wheel.
third wheel – someone who is unnecessary to a group and is tagging along; someone who is extra; someone who is not wanted or needed
With that definition, let me tell you why we’re calling this series The Third Wheel. We are doing a message series on the Holy Spirit that is going to last the entire summer – 11 weeks. And one of the reasons we’re doing this series is because in our thinking and our experience, the Holy Spirit is like a third wheel to God the Father and God the Son, obviously I’m talking about Jesus. Sure we know the answer to the fill in the blank. Let me show you: In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the _________________? See we know it.
But in our experience we can treat the Holy Spirit like the one who is extra or unnecessary to the group. But the presence of the Holy Spirit, in your life and in our church, is absolutely necessary.
If you grew up in any kind of Christian church, there is a good chance you attended a church where the Holy Spirit was almost nothing or almost everything.
It is common for the Holy Spirit to be either underemphasized or overemphasized in our life and in our churches.
I love my relationship with Will Moraza, our Teaching Pastor here at Epic. We are close friends, we have massive respect for each other and yet we’re very different in so many ways. And this means that we are able to learn so much from one another.
When it comes to the Holy Spirit, I would say I grew up in a church culture where the Holy Spirit was underemphasized. Will would say he grew up in a church culture where the Holy Spirit was overemphasized. Whether your experience has been more like mine or more like Will’s, there’s so much for all of us to learn about the Holy Spirit. And when you experience the Holy Spirit in a genuine way, you’ll want more of the Holy Spirit.
So, what exactly is the Holy Spirit? Well that’s the first thing we need to know. The Holy Spirit isn’t a “what”, but a “who.” So the question we begin asking today is this one:
Who is the Holy Spirit?
For starters, the Holy Spirit is part of what we call The Trinity.
“The doctrine of the Trinity is that God is one being who exists eternally in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity means that God is, in essence, relational.” Tim Keller, The Reason for God
Three persons, meaning the Holy Spirit is a person…not a force. How does this Trinity thing work? They have the same essence but each is distinct from the other. They have this beautiful, loving community they share.
ruach/pneuma – spirit, wind, or breath
Ruakh is the Hebrew word (OT) and Pneuma is the Greek word (NT).
We’re going to discover so many glorious truths and I believe we’re going to experience the Holy Spirit in fresh ways, ways in which many of us have yet to experience Him.
Now there is more about the Holy Spirit in the New Testament than in the Old Testament. And we’re actually going to spend way more time in the New Testament as we do this series on the Holy Spirit. But we’re introduced to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament…and He shows up from the beginning. I mean, here are the first two verses in the entire Bible:
Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
This picture of the Spirit of God hovering over the waters is similar to what a bird would do – hover or brood over the water. And interestingly enough, water becomes a fairly common metaphor for the Holy Spirit. Now there are some things that are different about the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon some people at some times.
Let me show you a few of these instances. I’m using a lot of Scripture today to give us an introduction and overview of the Holy Spirit. All of these Scriptures can be found in the notes section of the Epic app.
Exodus 35:30-35 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills – to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers – all of them skilled workers and designers.
Now if you’re an artist or you do anything creative, I hope this is super affirming to know that one of the first times in Scripture we see the Holy Spirit filling someone – it’s to do a work of art, to design, to be given skill to do so many artistic things. This specific example foreshadows the spiritual gifts that would be given to all Christians and we’ll spend a couple of weeks talking about these gifts.
We see how the Spirit of God came upon some individuals to accomplish certain things at specific times. The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully on Samson and on Gideon in the book of Judges, and helped them defeat their opponents.
When Saul was made king, 1 Samuel 10:10 tells us that the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him. The same thing happened when David was anointed as king.
1 Samuel 16:13 So Samuel took the horn of the oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.
But the next verse shows us something interesting:
1 Samuel 16:14 Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.
It seems like the Holy Spirit, at least at this time, could come on you and He could leave you. You’re probably familiar with the story of David committing adultery with Bathsheba. Psalm 51 is David’s confession of this sin. Notice what his request in verse 11.
Psalm 51:11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
He was desperate not to lose the presence of God, the Holy Spirit. There’s nothing better than the presence of God in our lives and nothing worse than feeling like God is absent in our lives.
Is the Holy Spirit still only for some people at certain times?
Joel was a prophet who lived sometime between the ninth to fourth centuries B.C. He called the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem to lament and return to the Lord during a time of national calamity.
Joel 2:28-32 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.
Up to this point, there have been drops of the Holy Spirit on some people. But Joel is prophesying that there’s a day coming when the Holy Spirit will be poured out on all people in the future - the young, the old; servants and free people; men and women.
In a couple of weeks, we’re going to look at how the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost. Peter is the one who addresses the crowd because the crowd thought all these people were drunk. And Peter says, “It’s only nine in the morning…they aren’t drunk.” Then he says, “this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.”
Joel was pointing to this moment and here is what is true now: We are living in those days…where everyone who trusts Jesus receives the Holy Spirit. There’s always more to get to know and more to experience.
John 7:37-39 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
We’re going to say a lot more about this in the coming weeks. But notice this from Jesus for our purposes today – If anyone is thirsty, come to me and drink. Whoever believes, rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this, he meant the Spirit.
Are you thirsty?
There’s so much we’re going to explore about the Holy Spirit, but let’s end our time today by listening in on what Jesus promised his disciples and therefore us about who the Holy Spirit would be to us.
John 14:16-18 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
The word that is translated as “advocate” here is “paraclete” in the Greek language the New Testament was written in. It can be translated as advocate, comforter, counselor, and helper. It literally means “the one called alongside to aid”. The Holy Spirit is here to help us.
Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit would be with us forever.
He’s also the Spirit of truth, which we so desperately need in navigating all the complexities of our world today.
And Jesus says, the Holy Spirit will keep us from being orphans. Jesus was leaving the disciples, but promising that they would not be orphans or fatherless. He was removing himself from their lives physically, but letting them know the presence of God would be with them in the person of the Holy Spirit.
God, pour out your Spirit on us.
Come, Holy Spirit.
We want to know you as a person.
We want to experience your presence.
Invite the Holy Spirit to fill you with His presence, to show you who He is, and to help you experience more of Him.