Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 3 Study # 7
Thesis: The primacy of the ministry of the Holy Spirit should not be overlooked simply because there is a large amount of mystery involved.
Introduction: When Luke set out to write to Theophilus, he had it in his mind that if he put the facts at Theophilus' disposal, it would be possible for Theophilus to make significant strides in his development as a Friend of God. This is a solid biblical conviction. True information about God does make it possible for people to enter into His Life. But, this true and solid biblical conviction is fraught with all kinds of qualifications and, therefore, "questions". Since questions are often the prelude to doubts, and since doubts are the prelude to Death, it is necessary for all believers to have a solid "bottom line" that is both unquestioned and doubt-free. It is for this cause that Paul wrote that God's Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. It is also for this cause that we read in our text about the activity of the Holy Spirit in respect to Simeon as he is presented by Luke as a very key "instrument of identification" of Jesus as the Lord's Christ. There is nothing more critical to Life than believing that Jesus is the Lord's Christ. Jesus said that if we "believe not" that He is "Christ", we will die in our sins. To die in our sins is to enter into the eternal regions of Death forevermore without any hope of Life at any level. Therefore, it is of the greatest importance that we come to a settled conviction that Jesus is the Christ. But, how we come to this settled conviction is the question. How do we get to the point of faith that Jesus is the Christ?
June 5, 2005
- I. The Text in Our Context.
- A. Modern answers to the question.
- 1. Some have recommended "intellectualism".
- a. The root of this recommendation generally runs along the lines of "the more you know, the more confident you are".
- b. There is truth in this premise; otherwise, Luke would not have bothered to carefully investigate a gazillion details and then take the time to write them all down for Theophilus to consider.
- c. But, the fly in the ointment is Solomon.
- 1) He was, without dispute, considered by biblical people as the wisest of the wise.
- 2) But he was not able, by wisdom, to deliver his own soul from the snares of unbelief.
- 2. Some, in reaction to "intellectualism", have opted for "mindless ignorance".
- a. The root of mindless ignorance generally runs along the lines of "the more educated you are, the more useless you are to God" because God chooses to use the foolish to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27) and deliberately keeps the wise "in the dark" (Luke 10:21).
- b. There is truth in this premise; otherwise, neither Paul nor Jesus would have made their comments. It is a fact of life that the more educated a person is, the more difficult it is for him/her to jettison the foundations of the faith system that is built upon their education.
- c. But, the fly in the ointment is the Bible and its incessant demand that we be filled up to the brim with its words and truths -- including its statement that "wisdom is the principle thing" and its record of Jesus' demand that we love God with all of our minds.
- 3. Others have opted for "feel good emotionalism".
- a. The root of this "feel goodism" generally runs along the lines of "what matters most is how you feel because, bottom line, joy, as the definition of life, is an emotion", so if you "feel good" about what you believe, you are on target.
- b. There is truth in this premise: the "bottom line" of eternal life and eternal death is the presence or absence of joy.
- c. But, the fly in the ointment here is the indisputable truth that feelings come and go and the content of faith that is attached to feelings comes and goes with them...and that is adamantly resisted by biblical revelation that calls for a constancy of faith that ignores the arguments of feelings.
- B. Modern reality.
- 1. We are 2000 years into the progression of the mystery of iniquity as it has attacked the biblical truth and both 1 Timothy 4:1 and 2 Timothy 4:3 have come to pass.
- 2. And, even though we have also come 2000 years into the development of the Church by a faithful God, we have never surpassed the fundamental reality that has been true from the beginning.
- II. The Text in Luke's Context.
- A. The text is the result of Luke's activity in his context.
- 1. He would have never written it if mindless ignorance or feel-good emotionalism were legitimate responses to the presence of Truth.
- 2. But, neither would he have included three references to the work of the Holy Spirit in three verses in this text if the intelligent use of the mind were all that is necessary to "faith".
- a. Paul, Luke's mentor in the faith, pointedly said that the mind was relatively easily misled by the Law of Sin in our members: Romans 7:11 and 7:23.
- b. Jesus, in His instruction to Peter in Matthew 16:15-17, made it absolutely clear that men do not come to "faith" as a result of mental diligence.
- B. The fundamental reality that Luke introduces in this text at this point is this: it takes the activity of the Holy Spirit to both "inform" men of the correct understanding of the Truth, and to "convince" men that His information is true.
- 1. There is nothing in the text before us to indicate that faith could arise apart from the active working of the Holy Spirit.
- a. Luke says that Simeon was one "upon whom" was the Holy Spirit.
- 1) This is not a "visibly demonstrable" reality.
- 2) This is not a "rationally demonstrable" reality.
- 3) This is not a "demonstrable" reality.
- b. Luke says that Simeon had been informed by the Spirit that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord's Christ.
- 1) This cannot be established as true by any human means.
- 2) The only way anyone can be convinced that anything is true that cannot be demonstrated or established as true by human means is for them to be convinced by a "spirit" that has access to their spirit. "Faith" is revealed by the Scriptures to be the product of the activity of "spirits".
- c. Luke says that Simeon had come to the temple, at the particular time he came, by the Spirit.
- 1) This cannot be verified as true by any human means.
- 2) Thus, faith in it cannot arise from any human source.
- 2. Everything in the text hinges upon whether, or not, the Spirit does the convincing of the heart.
- a. Joseph and Mary could easily "hear" the words.
- b. But there is no reason, within or without, to "believe" that they are true.
- c. Without the particular work of the Holy Spirit in the heart, faith is impossible.
- III. The Point of the Text.
- A. Clearly Luke wanted Theophilus to "believe" him.
- B. Just as clearly, Luke wanted Theophilus to "believe" that his "faith" was dependent upon the ministry of the Spirit of God on his behalf.
- C. If the biblical witness is true, anyone who wishes to know and believe the truth will know and believe the truth...because the Spirit of Jesus is both Author and Finisher of our faith.
- 1. This means that the Holy Spirit convinces the people of God at a very early stage in their faith that the Bible (Luke's record, etc.) is trustworthy.
- 2. This also means that the Holy Spirit moves the people of God to study the Bible diligently so that He can teach them (Luke's record assumes this).
- 3. But reality requires that we understand that the Holy Spirit's teaching ministry is both partial and incremental so that no one can claim to have an "infallible" interpretation of any particular text. Our dependence is not upon "infallible interpretations"; it is upon the Spirit of Life (Romans 8:2).
- D. That only raises one question: where are you in the "want to's"? Are you interested in having the Spirit of God at work on your behalf?