Books of the Bible
Christ's Spirit and My Spirit
The following story
is told by Charles Spurgeon, the great preacher from London in the
1850s. In the days of Nero, the Roman emperor, and in the days when
the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to Romans, there was a shortage of
food in Rome. The people were hungry. Some were starving. Everyone
was worried about where the next meal would come from. At that same
time, there was an abundance of food in Alexandria, Egypt, on the
banks of the Nile. The Nile River would flood, and with fresh water,
there was plenty of corn and wheat in Egypt. So merchant ships would
sail from Rome to Alexandria, Egypt, and you would expect that those
boats would bring back corn and wheat from Egypt. Did they? No. The
ships were filled with sand to be used in the Emperor Neroís
gladiator games. There was so much blood from animals and blood from
human beings, they filled the circus floor with sand to soak up all
the blood. Sand for gladiator shows. The ships were filled with
sand, of all things. One day, an owner of a ship came down to the
wharf and saw the sand being unloaded. He saw all the hungry and
starving people who wanted more than sand. They wanted to be fed
with wheat and corn. So this ship owner ordered his ship captain to
bring back a shipload of wheat, rather than a shipload of sand. And
when that ship arrived in Rome, all the hungry people were
enormously happy that the ship did not have sand but corn and wheat
and that they would have a meal of food that night. Ö
Spurgeon went on to say to the effect, ďNo ships filled with sand
from me. No sands of philosophical speculations about God in my
preaching. No sands of psychological speculation about human nature
in my sermons. There will be nothing in my ship but the Gospel, the
revealed truth of God, the bread of life so greatly needed by hungry
book of Romans is a ship filled with the finest grain. No sand. The
book of Romans is a ship loaded with the finest wheat. No sand. In
the book of Romans, the ship is loaded down with pure spiritual
food, the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul
always brings the Gospel, always brings food to feed our souls and
we reach chapter eight in Romans and there is more food for the soul
than anywhere else in the Bible. Chapter
eight is one of the finest chapters in the Bible. If you count up
all fourteen letters which have been attributed to Paulís
authorship and you count up all the chapters in those fourteen
letters, you will discover that Paul wrote one hundred chapters. And
if Paul could select one chapter out of his hundred chapters that he
wrote, I think would chose Romans eight as his favorite.
The first and
previous seven chapters of Romans had focused the power of sin in
our lives, and these seven previous chapters set the stage for
chapter eight. For seven chapters, we heard the Apostle Paulís
ideas about sin. We canít escape sin; it is like our shadow and we
never get rid of the shadow. Or, we canít pay for the penalty for
our sin. Or, the sin of Adam was powerful and spread throughout the
whole world and all of
history and spread to you and me
Or, last week, that which I want to do, I do not do, and that
which I donít want to do is precisely what I do because of the
power of sin in me. What a miserable person I am. Romans 7:26 is the
transitional verse into chapter eight. Who will help me to escape
the bondage and power of sin in my life? ďThanks be to God for our
Lord Jesus Christ.Ē So the sermons prior to today are a prelude
for chapter eight.
And so today we
move into positive territory; we move into chapter eight. What word
or words have we not mentioned in the previous sermons? What word?
Can you guess? You have not heard this word since Romans 1:4. What
word? The Spirit. The
Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ. Godís Spirit. These words are
all used interchangeably. When you get to chapter eight, it is as if
Paul turns on the water faucet in the kitchen. No, we have to have
more power than that. Paul opens up the fire hydrant and the water
all gushes out. No, we have to have more power than that. It is as
if he releases the valve on a geyser in Yellowstone Park and the
water starts gushing up into a high fountain. No, we have to have
more power than that. Paul opens up all the flood gates that are
located underneath the tallest dam in the world, and suddenly the water from the above reservoir rushes down
through those flood gates and roars up with power, generating
electricity for all electricity and lights. So also, suddenly, in
chapter 8, Paul turns on the faucet, the hydrant, the valve, the
flood gates, the power of the Holy Spirit. For seven chapters, there
has been silence about the Holy Spirit.
And then, in chapter eight, we hear twenty-one specific
references to the Holy Spirit. In chapter eight, there is an
overflowing of the Holy Spirit, a gushing of the Holy Spirit, like a
release of water through the sluices of a high dam and the water
come swirling out of the dam with thundering power. Twenty-one times
he mentions the Holy Spirit. Twenty-one times he directs our
attention to the Spirit, the Spirit of Christ,
the transforming power of the Holy Spirit for our lives.
As I said to you
last week, during this summer sermon series, we have heard one
sermon on chapter three, one on chapter four, one on chapter five,
one on chapter five, one on chapter six, one on chapter seven, and
now we have plans for five sermons on chapter eight. Why so many
sermons on chapter eight? Because this chapter is one of the most
grand chapters in the whole Bible. Because this chapter is the high
water mark of Paulís whole theology and all his letters. Because
this chapter is the most nutrient of all of Paulís chapters.
Because this chapter is practical in showing us how important the
Holy Spirit is to our daily lives. Because in chapter eight, he lets
the Spirit flow. Chapter eight reaches the peak, the zenith, the top
of the mountain in the book of Romans. So we slow down in this
sermon series, and we spend five weeks on the study of chapter
Would you please
take our your bulletin insert for a brief Bible study on Romans
Simply count the
number of times that the word, Spirit, is found italicized in these
eleven verses. It comes under Spirit, Holy Spirit, Spirit of God,
and Spirit of Christ. How many times to you see the word, Spirit?
Ten times in eleven verses.
five and six: notice the phrase, ďset their minds on the things of
on the word, mind. ďThose who live in accordance with the Spirit
have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.Ē Todayís sermon
will focus on what it means to ďset our mindsĒ on the things of
the Spirit. What does that mean? We know the mind is powerful and
influential in our lives. For the Apostle Paul, the mind is the
controlling center of the human being, and the mind controls both
the body and the emotions. We know that our minds control or direct
our bodies. My brain tells me fingers to move, and see, my fingers
move. My mind tells my arms to go up, and see, my arms go up. My
brain tells me nose to wrinkle up, and see, my nose wrinkles up. The
power is in the mind. The Apostle Paul tells us that the mind is the
controlling center of the physical body but also the emotions. A
person telephoned the other day, someone from out of town, and they
had the biggest inferiority complex from childhood that was
affecting that personís daily life. This person had a fine
marriage, fine kids, fine grandkids, fine life, but they still had
an inferiority complex from childhood. In spite of all my arguments
and persuasions, I could not change her mind about the way she
thought about herself. The way I think about myself affects my
feelings about myself. For the Apostle Paul, the mind influences
both the body and the emotions. So Paul wants the Spirit of God
to enter our minds and transform our minds, and thereby transform
the way we think, the way we act, and the way we feel.
verses six to nine, we hear about the battle within us between
Godís spirit and our human nature. That will be the theme of next
also in verse nine that the words, Spirit of God and Spirit of
Christ, the Spirit, and Christ; that all of these words are used
in verse nine, notice that ďif anyone does not have the Spirit of
Christ, Christ does not live in you.Ē So the Apostle Paul
underscores that it is crucially important for us to have the Spirit
of Christ living inside of us. If Christís Spirit does not live in
us, neither does Christ.
verse ten, notice
But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of
sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. Verse
ten is our focus today. When Christ is in you, your spirit becomes
alive because of righteousness, because of right relationships.
In verse eleven,
Paul says, ďAnd if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the
dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also
give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in
you.Ē Paul works with
the idea that Godís Spirit raised Jesusí dead body, and that
same Spirit that raised Jesusí body lives in you and gives life to
your body and personality through this Holy Spirit who lives in you.
The book of Romans
and in these eleven verses in chapter eight, as has been previously
said, are all ideas about Christ. In these verses we just examined,
there is no history about Christ, no stories about Christ, no
miracles of Christ, no parables of Christ, no anecdotes about
Christ. But we discover a few profound ideas about Christ, ideas
about his gospel, ideas about his Spirit who lives inside of us, who
empowers us and transforms us, like water released through a flood
gate beneath a dam creates electricity and power. .
So where do we
Therefore I am
thinking of images and situations where my spirit has come alive
because the spirit of another person has come to be in me. Let
me give you some examples.
Somebody makes my
spirit come alive in me. I think of childhood and Lorna Finkelbaum.
I remember sitting in the back seat of the car with my parents,
being a grump about everything. I was in a sour mood and my face and
disposition were totally sour. Lorna walked by the car, stuck her
head in the back window of the car and started to talk with me. I
became totally alive. My face, my mood, my disposition. The spirit
in me woke up and started to move. Her spirit got into my spirit and
I became alive.
That is the way
with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gets inside of you, you wake
up, and you start to move and come alive spiritually.
Rollie Martinson is one of my best friends. He is a seminary
professor from Luther Seminary in St. Paul. I know Rollie is coming
and there is a knock on the door, and I walk hurriedly to the door,
and my heart explodes with happiness at seeing him.
We have so much to talk about. So many ideas to share. So many
experiences to relate. When he comes into my life, the spirit in me
wakes up and becomes alive. His spirit gets into my spirit, and I
That is the way
with the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit gets inside of you, you
wake up and you start to move and Jesus Christ comes alive in you.
That is what the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit makes Jesus
Christ come alive in you, so that your mind starts to think like
One more story.
Years ago, it was the children and now it is the grandchildren. Many
people feel my age feel that grandchildren are more satisfying than
their own children, and I am one who agrees. When I see my
grandchildren, and we are in the room together, I wait quietly for
the moment when Ben, Kate, or Nate will crawl into my lap, give me a
hug and tell me that they love me. My heart comes on fire, becomes
alive, becomes uplifted. Their spirit gets into my spirit, and I
become more alive.
That is the way
with the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit gets inside of you, you
wake up and the Holy Spirit gets into your spirit and makes you
alive. The Spirit affects your mind, and the way you think,
which affects your body and emotions.
The Holy Spirit is
the Invisible Presence and the Invisible Power of God living inside
of your spirit and mind, and that invisible Presence and Power
controls and directs your life. The Holy Spirit affects the way you
think, the way you act, and the way you feel.
I think we need to
begin with simple analogies. I have two physical illustrations
today. On the communion table today, I have two sparklers and I have
both a picture and a glass of blue colored water. I need these to
help illustrate the importance of Godís Spirit living inside of my
Spirit. Christís Spirit ignites my Spirit. Let me explain.
In the childrenís
sermon for today, and right now, I have sparklers from the Fourth of
July. I set one sparkler on fire and the children loved it. I took
the burning sparkler and touched a piece of glass and it did not
ignite. Then I touched the burning sparkler to a piece of silverware
and it did not ignite. Then I touched the sparkler to a piece of
wood and it did not ignite. Then I touched the lighter sparkler to
another sparkler and sure enough, the second sparkler ignite? Why?
The kids knew the answer. The two sparklers were made of the same
thing; they were of the same nature; they were made of the same
We are like God. We
are made out of the same stuff as God. We are made out of the same
substance of God. Godís Spirit sets off our spirits inside of us.
When Godís sparkler touches my sparkler, it sets my sparkler on
fire. Why? We human beings all have this divine spark in us, this
divine glory in us, this divine radiance in us. And so Godís spark
was in the person of Jesus Christ and he ignites us, sets us off.
Wood wonít do it; glass wontí do it; silverware wonít do it.
Other fire will spark the fire in us.
In the analogy of
the sparklers, the fire from the lighter was God, and the first
sparkler was Jesus Christ. God set Jesus Christ on fire; God ignited
the fire of the Holy Spirit in Jesus. Jesus and God were of the same
nature, the same Spirit. Ö I took a second sparkler, and that
sparkler was symbolic of you and me. Jesusí fire sets us on fire.
We are made of the same stuff as Jesus. We are spirit stuff and
Jesus ignites the fire in us. Ö
Then I took a third sparkler, and the alive burning Spirit in a
Christian makes contact and ignites the Spirit in another person.
And the fire of
Christ in other Christians will set off the fire, the Spirit, in us.
That is why we hang around other Christians so often. The fire in
them lights the fire in us. Just like girlfriend Lorna, friend
Rollie, and granddaughter Kate sets a fire going in me. A piece of
music, a part of a worship service, a loving encounter; a special
conversation; a retreat, these and other situations can set off
sparks within us.
told the story of the high school kids, filled with Godís Spirit,
working together down in an orphanage in Mexico, and how the sparks
from one person would ignite the spark of the Spirit in another
person. He said it was like being an a fire works display on the
Fourth of July, there was so sparkles shooting all over the place.
We are fire. We are
the Divine Spark, and the Divine Fire from the lives of other
Christians helps the fire to get burning in us. The two sparklers
help teach us that we and God are composed of the same stuff,
spiritual stuff, the invisible spirit of God and the invisible
spirit of the person. As Romans 8 says, when Christ is in you, your
spirits become alive.
Another way of
saying this is that a person is composed of a mind, physical body,
psychological emotions and a spirit. Look around the globe and be
aware of all the religions of the world. If you look around the
world and all the religions of the world, you come to the conclusion
that the spirit is an essential component of the composition of a
human being. Ö So the question is: what kind of Spirit will be in
that person? The Spirit of Christ? The Spirit of Mohammed? The
Spirit of Buddha?
Human beings have
spirit in us, and Paul wants the Spirit of Christ to enter our human
spirit and renew our minds. Christís Spirit affects the way we
think, act and feel.
A second analogy.
This analogy is the opposite of the sparklers. Here on the table is
a glass that is one third full of light blue water. This glass with
some light blue water in it is symbolic of all human beings. All of
us have some God in us; all of us have this Divine Presence within
us; we all have this love inside of us. All human beings of all
races and times and nationalities. We have this light blue water,
symbolic of the Spirit, in us. Now, we have this pitcher that is
filled with dark blue water which is symbolic of Christ, God, and
Christís Spirit, Love. Now, we pour this dark blue water into the
partially filled glass of light blue water and we notice an enormous
change. The glass of light blue water is now filled with dark blue
water. The light blue water has changed colors and volume because of
the dark blue water poured into it.
The light blue
water represents my human spirit. The dark blue represents Godís
Spirit. God is love. God is spirit. God made me out of the same
stuff, the same blue water, that God is. I love (a partially full
glass of light blue water.) God loves (pitcher of dark blue water.)
Without being a Christian, I can still be a loving person. I can
love my wife. I can love my children. I can love my parents. All
human beings are in the divine imprint, the divine image of God. All
have the possibility and probability of love because we are all like
God. The Spirit is in all of us. And then, the pitcher of dark blue
water, symbolic of the Spirit and love of Christ, and pour it into
our glass of light blue water, and the water is changed. The
waterís color changed from light blue to dark blue. The volume of
the water in the glass has changed; that is, the glass is now full.
The quality and quantity of the love, the Spirit, the water, has
been transformed. So it is that God wants to fill our love with his
love, fill our Spirit with his Spirit, fill our compassion with his
When Godís love
is poured into our love, our love is transformed and changed. For
example, I love my wife, not only when she is young and beautiful,
but now, with the human love transformed in both quality and
quantity into Godís love, I love her when she is sick,
hospitalized, dying and not at all looking like a queen. I now love
my children, not only when they are successful, but when they are
failures at school and so many other places. I now even love myself,
not only when I am a success, but when I am a glorious failure as a
human being. I say I love my neighbor and those in need, but when
Christ gets into my love for my hungry and starving neighbor, my
love for them changes dramatically.
In all of these loves, my human love has been transformed
because Godís love now lives in my human love.
Where do I get this
spark of Christ lit inside of me? Where does the blue water get
poured into my glass and transform the water, love and spirit inside
of me? From Christ. Where ever Christ is to be found. In the Word.
In other Christians. In the Sacraments. In prayer.
Romans 8. The
faucets are turned on full blast. The water hydrant is opened and
the water shoots out. The geyser shoots off its spray of water high
into the air. The water fountain is flowing with water. Romans 8 is
the highpoint, the apex, the mountain top of Romans. It is the best
chapter that the Apostle Paul ever wrote. Amen.