What Next? (week 6, Back to Basics series)

The video for this session can be watched at the bottom of this page.

[It is worth noting that the written script below was not followed closely in the spoken message, though the meaning is the same]

We crossed a line last week in our Back to Basics series. We have the basics in place to understand why we need Jesus, and last week I passed on that invitation of Jesus. If you missed last week, fear not – the invitation remains open. If you acknowledge that you are a person who has sinned, if you believe that Jesus is indeed the One who has overcome the problem of sin, if you count the cost that this will change your whole life forever, then you are in a place to say ‘Yes’ to Jesus.

It is but a simple act in prayer, but Jesus is here. He hears that honest prayer of your heart. Spiritual law #1 (my terminology) is that Jesus turns no one away.

The rest of our series will have the most relevance to those who have said ‘yes’ to Jesus. Because now we address ourselves to basic issues of living this life that we have entered into. If you haven’t said ‘yes’ then it is academic information. But if you have said ‘yes’ then this is all going to be vital information for living this Christian life.

This week we address ourselves to the question of “what next?” That is, if I’ve just said ‘yes’, what are the first things to know? I will present two things today which I hope will use our time most wisely.

Firstly I want to take you back to the story of Blondin, which is, of course why I told it earlier. He was an excellent performer on the tightrope, just as God is an excellent creator and sustainer of the universe. But the real challenge didn’t exist until Blondin called for someone to truly believe, and trust him to take them over the Niagara Falls.

So it is that it is really nothing to be a spectator of God’s creation, but a great challenge of faith to trust yourself into a living relationship with God, through Jesus; to get you involved in what God is doing.

In the first place that work will mostly be in you, but it won’t stay there. Will you be up to the challenge? How can you know? This is a concern many people have. Its close relative is the opposite – some people think God should be pleased to have them, that they are perhaps the greatest gift to heaven. But they are in the minority I think, as generally such people rarely see their need for Jesus at all.

To those concerned about being good enough, I will remind you that you didn’t enter this life with Jesus by being good enough; nor do you live it that way. You entered by the grace of God, and you live it by the grace of God.

Jesus said at one point, “My burden is light.” This is consistent with what we read just before from John 14 – “My peace I give to you.” You are not meant to stress over your worthiness or ability any more than a young child should stress about their worthiness before their parents. A parent says of their child “You are mine.
We’ll work the rest out as we go.” And you do. There are struggles, most small, some large, but always the good parent will say “You are mine,” and that trumps everything.

God is like the best parent, and Jesus wants you to be at peace that your place in God’s family is secure. You are okay with God because of Jesus, so relax!

That is the first. The second is a bit different, but very much related. God has a way to grow you through this new life, and that is the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual rule #1 was that no one gets turned away. Rule #2 is that everyone who says ‘yes’ to Jesus is given God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. This is God planting himself within you – God’s Spirit being fused with your spirit – for this journey.

A couple of weeks ago we read from John 3 – “You must be born again of the Spirit.” This is it, but it is no complex or difficult thing, there is no test to pass or standard to meet. When you say ‘yes’ to Jesus, God plants his Holy Spirit within you, and John 3 is fulfilled.

You cannot be a Christian – a follower of Jesus – without the Holy Spirit planted in you, because the moment you believe, the Spirit is given.
Who knows what that will feel like for you, or even whether you will feel it at all. In this regard everyone is different. But ‘yes’ to Jesus = gift of the Holy Spirit.

However some will tell you that you still need more of the Holy Spirit because there are these other things called “gifts of the Spirit”. Other will tell you the Spirit still needs to be “poured out on you” or you need an “anointing” or other such things.

I don’t think it is as complex as that. I think it is simpler by far, as I will try to explain.

Firstly, I don’t think the Spirit is partially given. The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit is given or not given. It is us who are not yet entirely given to God.

This is my favourite way of explaining this: Imagine your life symbolically described as a house with many rooms. What rooms might there be? The different people in your family, the work you do or have done and the relationships with people through that, your leisure activities, the things you watch on television or the internet – your life is complex and it has many, many parts.

What is particularly complex – and this is critically important – is that some parts of your life might be distinctly ungodly, and other parts may be damaged, maybe some even critically damaged.

When you say ‘yes’ to Jesus, you might think of the Holy Spirit entering the entry foyer of your house. But the whole house is yet to be explored. There are some parts of your house that the Holy Spirit is welcome into – the friendly, godly, ready-to-go parts.

There may be some parts where your behaviour is distinctly ungodly, and for your own good the Holy Spirit knows this needs to change. It may be temper, drunkenness, abusive behaviour, watching pornography – there are loads of things that the Spirit will work to change. Don’t expect the Spirit of God to join you in those things – that isn’t going to happen!

There are then also the broken rooms. Bad stuff has happened to you over the years, and as a survival instinct we board the windows, shut and lock those doors and stay out of there because of the pain we know those rooms hold.

But the poison in those rooms leaches out, and God loves you too much to want that to fester in you. So the Holy Spirit’s desire is to enter those rooms, heal the pain, remove the poison, open the windows and let the life-giving breeze of heaven blow through.

This may take years, or in some cases it can happen in minutes, but this would be spiritual law #3 – As surely as God gives you his Spirit, he wants you to be free.

If you say ‘yes’ to Jesus, it doesn’t hurt to say ‘welcome’ to the Holy Spirit. Again in prayer, invite the Holy Spirit deep into your life, into every part. Do that in the confidence that God knows what you need better than you know yourself, and God wants that best for you.

And as we finish our time this morning I want to invite you again to prayer. When we are done this morning, I’m going to stay here in the church until every single other person has left. At any time you can come to me here at the front and say you want to pray. It can be ‘yes’ to Jesus. It can be ‘welcome’ to the Holy Spirit. It can be about any of the broken bits that you know the Holy Spirit wants to heal.

So let’s sing, then close our worship time, and after I’ve shaken a few hands, I offer you that chance to come and pray.

Video of week 6 of Back to Basics – What Next – runs 33:34.

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