OAKRIDGE BIBLE CHAPEL

A Lost Host and a Saving Ghost (Selected Scriptures)

If you’re a Christian, whether you can fully remember it or not, there was a moment when you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for everlasting life. You may have been seven, seventeen, or seventy. It might have arrived suddenly or after much consideration. Maybe you were praying with a parent, chatting with a friend, listening to a sermon, or reading a book. Maybe you were at an evangelistic event or at home alone.

Whatever the details, for all who belong to Jesus in the present, there was a moment in the past when, by God’s grace, you passed from death to life, from darkness to light, when “you who formerly were far off [were] brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph 2:13)! And today we want to acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s role in that moment and in the moments leading up to it. More specifically, we want to celebrate with gratitude the drawing ministry of the Holy Spirit and the regenerating ministry of the Holy Spirit.

SERMON MANUSCRIPT 

I don’t have many clear memories of my childhood. But there is one event I remember with unfading clarity: the moment I trusted Christ. 

I was seven years old and my family was taking an early-morning drive to visit my grandparents’ farm in southwestern Ontario. I remember talking to God in the backseat of the quiet vehicle. I told him that I knew there was something in me he didn’t like, sinfulness that kept me from him. I told him that I knew his Son, Jesus, had promised to forgive me, fix me, love me, and keep me. I told him I wanted that and that I was believing in Jesus for that. I remember that drive, I remember that prayer, and I remember—even at seven years old—the clarity and certainty with which, at that moment, I knew I was saved.

If you’re a Christian, there’s a moment when you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, whether you can remember it or not. You may have been seven, seventeen, or seventy. It may have arrived suddenly or after much consideration. Maybe you were praying with a parent, chatting with a friend, listening to a sermon, or reading a book. Maybe you were at an evangelistic event or at home alone. 

Whatever the details, for all who belong to Jesus in the present, there was a moment in the past when, by God’s grace, you passed from death to life, when “you who formerly were far off [were] brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph 2:13).

And this morning we want to study the Holy Spirit’s role in that moment and in the moments leading up to it. More specifically, we’re going to look at and celebrate with gratitude the drawing ministry of the Holy Spirit and the regenerating ministry of the Holy Spirit. Turn to John 6.

As you do, let me remind us of a few things God makes clear. First, he “desires all [people] to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). 

God tells Ezekiel plainly, “I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies … Therefore, repent and live” (18:32). Peter agrees: “The Lord is not slow about his promise [of future judgement], as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). God desires all to experience the salvation you and I have experienced.

But the Bible also says that, left to ourselves, we resist that divine desire. God wants all to be saved but we don’t think we need saving. After the flood, God declared that “the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen 8:21). So, God sustains a post-flood world that includes people who are bent away from him and his goodness.

As one of Job’s friends said, “[Humanity] drinks iniquity like water” (15:16). Isaiah claims that “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his [or her] own way” (53:6). Apart from God, the Bible teaches that we are dead in sin (Gen 2:17; Eph 2:1), shrouded in darkness, and blinded to the light of life (2 Cor 4:4). 

THE DRAWING WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

God wants all sinners to be saved but all sinners resist that salvation. So, what now? God comes after us, that’s what! This is the drawing work of the Holy Spirit. The sovereign, compassionate, saving God pursuing sinful, apathetic, self-righteous people.

[READ JOHN 6:41–42] The unbelieving Jews hate Jesus’s claim of divine origin. They grumble: “We know his parents, and they sure ain’t from heaven!”

Jesus then explains just how guilty they are. [READ JOHN 6:43–45] God wants all sinners to be saved but all sinners resist that salvation. So God draws all sinners to himself. Not one of us would come without his persistence and initiative. There won’t be a single person in heaven who was not divinely drawn to truth. Not one person cracks the God code, stumbles upon the gospel by themselves, or independently philosophizes their way to salvation. God must draw sinners.

Thankfully, that’s exactly what he does. He works on all. Pulls all. Reveals himself to all. He trumpets his presence and power in creation. [READ PSALM 19:1–2] He has “set eternity in [the human] heart” (Eccl 3:11), an implanted awareness in everyone. From outside and inside every person is revelation that we are not the centre of the universe.

God sent his prophets, the truth of the Holy Spirit in their words and the power of the Spirit in their works.

He sent his Son, Jesus, “the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (John 1:6–8). Jesus himself said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32). It’s when he was lifted up from the earth that the Holy Spirit descended to the earth, “to convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).

God sent his apostles into the world, witnesses who “receive[d] power when the Holy Spirit came upon” them (Acts 1:8). 

God sends his word, that which is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12), “breathed out by God” (2 Tim 3:16), and written by “men moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:21).

And God sends his church to the lost, a Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered, Spirit-united body to testify of his goodness and herald a Spirit-infused gospel which is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).

We serve a missionary God who desires all to be saved and, so, because we resist that salvation, he must come after us through the drawing work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit convicts sinners, empowers the gospel, sends the church, and speaks through the word. No one can come unless they are drawn. So, the Spirit draws.

As you look back at the hours, weeks, and years leading up to your salvation, how did the Spirit draw you? How was your faith-pump divinely primed for belief?

Was it a particular conversation, a witnessing coworker, a health scare, a family crisis, a moment of awe, loving parents, a bold sibling, a growing unsettledness, a feeling of insignificance, an intellectual obstacle, a believing spouse, a clear sermon, a convicting tract, a faithful Sunday School teacher, a forbidding sense of fear? Or, almost certainly, a combination of many factors.

Two things we know for sure: first, the Spirit was drawing us. Not one of us would have or could have come otherwise. He was drawing us using all sorts of means and methods. Second, we’re eternally grateful, aren’t we? Thank you, God, that you came after sinners like us, straying sheep, those drinking iniquity like water. Thank you God, that your Spirit draws all people.

THE REGENERATING WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Yet, not all people are saved. Which means that, as wonderful and essential as the drawing ministry of the Holy Spirit is, it’s not enough. Turn to John 3. There’s another work of the Spirit that sits atop his work of drawing and that’s the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. 

To regenerate is to make something new again, to restore. It means to bring life where there was death, flourishing where there was decay.

[READ JOHN 3:1–2] Unlike those in chapter 6, Nicodemus accepts that Jesus has a divine origin. It’s obvious because of what he’s doing. But he still has questions and those questions, apparently, are a bit embarrassing for a ruling Pharisee to ask and so he comes by night.

[READ JOHN 3:3] No small talk—Jesus gets right to the point. If anyone wants to see the kingdom, to be in the presence of God forever, delivered from sin’s curse, they must experience a new birth from above.

[READ JOHN 3:4–5] Jesus again points to the necessity of a second, divinely provided birth. Why is this important? He explains. [READ JOHN 3:6–8] 

Oak trees make oak trees, eagles make eagles, kangaroos make kangaroos, and sinners make sinners. We reproduce after our own kind. Sinners can’t make sinless people any more than we can make ourselves sinless. The Holy Spirit, though, makes holy spirits.

God says, “Be holy for I am holy.” But our first birth produced a lot of unholiness. But a second birth, a birth from a holy source, can get the job done, can bring holiness, regeneration, new life.

[READ JOHN 3:9–13] Jesus says Nicodemus should have understood the idea of new birth by the Holy Spirit because its in the OT. But he wasn’t getting these heavenly truths even when taught in a down-to-earth way by the one teacher who had actually been to heaven and back.

The drawing ministry of the Holy Spirit is crucial but it isn’t enough for salvation. There must be a new birth from a holy source. There must be regeneration. The Holy Spirit must make us new. And that’s what he does. [READ 2 CORINTHIANS 5:17 AND TITUS 3:4–7] With new birth comes a new nature, a new life, and a new family.

[READ JOHN 3:3] A next logical question would be, “How do we get it?” The Spirit has drawn us to the precipice, but how does one jump to regeneration?

[READ JOHN 3:14–15] Jesus’s referencing Numbers 21 where Israel, because of her rebellion had been disciplined by God with poisonous snakes in their camp. Many were dying. But God told Moses to make a bronze snake, put it up on a pole so that whoever looked it would be cured.

In the same way, the Son of Man, Jesus, would be lifted up over a dying people, a people with the poison of sin coursing through our veins, so that whoever looks to him, believes in him alone for the antidote to death, will be saved. [READ JOHN 3:16–18]

It’s not the invitation to the party that makes us party-people. It’s the acceptance of the invitation to the party. So too with salvation. The Holy Spirit draws all, inviting all to salvation. But that invitation must be accepted by belief in the Son of God. 

As crazy as it sounds, not all Israel looked to the bronze snake that was standing in the middle of the camp. And not all people look to the crucified Christ, even being drawn as they are by the Spirit. They resist, scorn, and ignore the drawing and regenerating work of the Spirit. 

Israel did when their Messiah first came. [READ MATTHEW 23:37 AND JOHN 5:39–40] Before his martyrdom, Stephen declared, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did” (Acts 7:51).

As it’s often said, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Well, God could make us drink but he doesn’t. We have to make a choice. The Holy Spirit draws all to the water and wants all drink and live. The Bible closes with, “let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Rev 22:17).

But everyone has a choice to make. Being drawn to the water of life doesn’t save. Until one places their faith in Jesus, until we look to the Son lifted up on that cross, until we drink the water of life by faith and are born again from above, we are still dead.

If you’ve never made that choice, why not? You’re hearing my voice because the Holy Spirit is drawing you. Maybe he’s been drawing you for a long time. He’s brought you to the water but you have to drink. As most of us here have done, you have to throw yourself on his mercy, believing that Jesus is who he said he is—the Son of God—and did what the Scriptures claim he did—died for your sins and rose from the dead. Believe it. Be made new by the Spirit of God. Be saved.

For the rest of us, I pray this study has filled us with urgency, thanksgiving, and awe. Urgency in that we need to be praying for the Holy Spirit’s drawing work on those we know and love that are far from him. “Holy Spirit, assault them! Pull them! Convict them! Show them! Please don’t give up!” Remember, he’s a person who has drawn us and is drawing others. Pray with urgency for his drawing work.

Second, I trust you’re filled with thanksgiving. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He came after us. He led us to the water, a water he provided. He broke us. He guided us. And when we believed, he made us new creatures, the old has passed away, behold, new things have come! “Thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving me new birth, new nature, new life, and a new family.”

Finally, I hope you’re filled with awe. Our God is so gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, even for rebels like us. He deserves all worship and praise, now and forevermore. Let’s pray and do that together now.



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Josiah Boyd

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