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Sermon illustrations

Pentecost

The Holy Spirit Births Faith

Hannah was one of my wife’s work colleagues. She used to love spending time with our congregation, but she found the gospel message just plain weird. We did some Bible studies with her over the summer and she kept looking at us in astonishment. We would read about Jesus walking on water, rising from the dead, and ascending into heaven. “You really believe all this?” she would ask. Later she told us what we believed sounded crazy. Yet she kept telling herself, “they seem like sensible people who are able to hold down jobs.

Then one day a member of our community challenged her, “don’t wait until all your questions have been answered, ”she said. Just ask yourself whether you can trust Jesus. Hannah went home and she describes how she was sitting on the floor in her front room when suddenly she knew it was all true. In that moment she became a Christian. What happened as she sat on her living room floor? The Holy Spirit came on her. There was no shining light or audible voice but the Holy Spirit came to give her faith in Jesus. This is what Jesus meant when in John chapter 3 verse 3 he says ”I tell you the truth no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

Then in verse 6 he explains, “flesh gives birth to flesh, but the spirit gives birth to spirit. In other words, the spirit gives us spiritual life. It’s like being born again into a new life. The theological word for this new birth is regeneration or rebirth.  Without regeneration we just can’t see God’s Kingdom.

Who in the World is the Holy Spirit?, Tim Chester & Christopher de la Hoyde, The Good Book Company.

A Life Re-Defined by The Spirit of God

In his excellent book on worship, The Dangerous Act of Worship, pastor and president of Fuller Seminary Mark Labberton shares a story of the transformation of one of his former congregants:

Ben was a very successful man. His professional life flourished. His family life was challenging, as a parent of several teenagers. For him, Christian faith was a distant and disconnected reality. But he began to have conversations about it with his wife and later with me.

One Sunday I was surprised but pleased to see him in the worship service. As he approached me at the door afterward, his eyes began to fill with tears. He explained that while visiting Washington, D.C, for a professional conference, he had gone to visit the National Cathedral. He slipped into an empty side chapel and sat down for some quiet time and reflection. There, unexpected and unsought, God’s Spirit simply came upon him. Ben became a new person. The awe and wonder of grace and truth beyond his own mind, his own questions, his own needs, simply met him and changed him. It was as though his life was utterly redefined, and it has been ever since.

Taken from The Dangerous Act of Worship by Mark Labberton. Copyright (c) 2007 by Mark Labberton. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Writing Like Shakespeare, Living Like Jesus

In describing whether it is possible for us to live like Jesus, pastor John Stott shares an illustration from William Temple:

It is no good giving me a play like Hamlet or King Lear, and telling me to write a play like that.  Shakespeare could do it; I can’t. And it is no good showing me a life like the life of Jesus and telling me to live a life like that.  Jesus could do it; I can’t. But if the genius of Shakespeare could come and live in me, then I could write plays like his. And if the Spirit of Jesus could come and live in me, then I could live a life like his.

Taken from The Radical Disciple: Some Neglected Aspects of Our Calling by John R. W. Stott Copyright (c) 2010 by John R. W. Stott. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Your First Assignment: Do Nothing

I’ve always thought that Jesus gave a very odd first step to completing the Great Commission, basically telling them, “Do nothing until the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Luke 24:49, my paraphrase). With millions of people waiting to hear the gospel, he instructed the only ones who knew anything about it to sit and wait until he had sent them something mysterious from above. That meant they were not to write books. They were not to go out to try to make converts. They were not co plan. They were to do nothing.

Why? Until he came, they couldn’t really do anything of value to the mission. Jesus had promised that he would build his church, and the mission. He could accomplish more in one moment through his Spirit than they could accomplish in 10,000 Iifetimes on their own.

J.D. Grear, Jesus, Continued: Why the Spirit Inside You is Better than Jesus Beside You, Zondervan.

See also Illustrations on The Early Church, The Holy Spirit, Sanctification

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our quotes page on Beauty. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!

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