Lord, please let your words and ideas flow through me now as I sit down to type this out. THis is for me and for the rest of your people – in Jesus’ name, amen.
I was doing some work around the house today (pretty common with me since I work in the same place that I live, ha!), and I was struck by the thought of how many people are missing out on one third of the trinity: the Holy Spirit. Sure, we can understand, to some degree, who Oue Father in Heaven is: Creator, Sustainer, Sovereign Ruler, etc. And the Son, Jesus Christ, is comprehensible within similar guidelines: the Son, Only Begotten One, Author and Finisher of Salvation, Passover Lamb, Final Offering, etc. These make some sense to us even from a natural, I can see-it, taste-it, touch-it, hear-it, smell-it, hear-it kinda way. But what about this third member of the Trinity, the gift given unto us as a deposit of the three-fold Godhead who is one yet in three persons?
The Holy Spirit has been greatly misunderstood and misrepresented throughout history. In the Old Testament, we see the Holy Spirit coming to rest on people and giving them enormous strength (i.e. Samson), wisdom (i.e. Solomon), prophecy and miracle-working power as well (i.e. Elijah and Elisha). In the time since Jesus came and offered himself for our sins in His new covenant, we see misunderstanding too. The Holy Spirit was thought to be drunkenness in the book of Acts when He came in like a flood on many gathered in Jerusalem. This parallels at least one story in the Old Testament as well, where Hannah was thought to be drunk by Eli when she was lamenting and praying before the Lord for offspring (could have been the Holy Spirit on her, may not have been). In recent years, or shall I say centuries, there have arisen movements of Christians seeking to bring balance back to the representation of all three of the persons of the Trinity. The Pentecostals and Evangelicals have done much to inform or remind the Body of Christ about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. So who is He and what does He do anyway?
First, notice I said, “He”, and not “It”. The Holy Spirit is a person. Just like the other two persons in the trinity, the Holy Spirit is a person in order to make Himself known to us, since we are people 🙂 ! He is our connection to Jesus and to the Father. He is the gift that was promised to us by Jesus before He left the earth. Jesus said in the gospel of John that He had to go in order that the Holy Spirit would come. So, the Holy Spirit must be really important if Jesus went to all the trouble of obeying His father to a ‘T’ all the way to the point of offering Himself up on a cross for our sins, resurrecting by the power of the Holy Spirit, allowing Himself to be seen by the apostles and some other believers, only to finish up this series of events by leaving, eh? Jesus came to die. He came to leave. That doesn’t make sense, does it? Well, in a way, no, and in a way, yes.
Jesus may have left us in His bodily form, but He has come to be with us in the form of the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is referred to as the ‘Spirit of Jesus’ as well (Acts 16:7). While Jesus was on this earth, he was limited so as to be in one place at one time, just as we are. Yet, when he offered himself as a sacrifice for our forgiveness, to reconcile God’s anger and just wrath over our sin, He essentially multiplied himself. Now we who believe can live just as Jesus did and multiply His works to be GREATER WORKS than even He did while he was on this earth! We, as the body of Christ, have much more mobility than did the one righteous God-man, Jesus of Nazareth, while He was on the earth. In order to accomplish this feat of multiplication of His presence on the earth while at the same time involving us in the process and wiping out our sin, God used and still uses the gift of the Holy Spirit to accomplish His purposes. Glory to God!!
Look at it this way;the Father wanted to give us not only forgiveness from sin but also power to overcome it in our daily lives. The best way to make this happen, which we can figure beacuse it’s the way He chose, is to give us His very righteousness as a gift. By faith, we now have God’s very righteousness and Holiness as a gift. Isn’t that amazing? Praise the Lord for a moment on that one! Now, it would do us little good to have righteousness as a gift if we couldn’t maintain it, right? That would be like giving a car to someone who is unable to drive and unable to care for it. Just as the automobile would be essentially wasted on such a person and the machine would fall into disrepair, so would our lives be in shambles without the continued ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us the power, the grace of God, to carry forth the instructions and commands of God so that we can effectively love Him with all of our hearts, souls, minds, bodies, and strength. Then, with what strength we have, we can give to others. Out of the gift of the Holy Spirit we can then go and ‘make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that [Christ] commanded! This is a pretty awesome plan that God enacted with the Holy Spirit, eh? So when do we receive the Holy Spirit?
Some argue that the Holy Spirit comes at the moment one believes, while others say that it comes when one is baptized in water, or certain others would even insist that another occurrence must take place: the baptism of the Holy Spirit. While I don’t seek to cause a stir, nor do I claim to have the authoritative word on this subject, I believe that God will do as He soverignly wills and that all three are possibilities. For me, I must testify, however, that there were multiple ‘levels’ of receiving of the Holy Spirit, if I may explain it as such. When I was first saved at age 15, I believe that if anything happened to me and I had died in a horrible accident or something (God forbid), I would have gone to heaven. I did not, however, operate in any of the spiritual gifts (to my knowledge), nor did I have much knowledge of the Scriptures nor any maturity in Christ. I did the best I could to follow God, but had a very rules-based idea of how to do that, and no understanding of how His grace empowers us to follow His ways. When I was baptized at age 20 or so, I noticed that I was convicted about many more things, and I saw my maturity in Christ growing in leaps and bounds. Though I had cultivated the practice of daily Bible reading and prayer, it was at this time that I began to grow hungry for the word of God. At age 24, I believe that I was baptized in the Holy Spirit for the first time. I began to have visions and prophetic words, and I also began to speak, pray and sing in tongues. From that day to this, I have felt the closest to the Lord that I’ve ever felt, and I seek to stay very near to Him at all times now.
For me, my experience has borne out that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is an ABSOLUTE NECESSITY in the life of the believer. Even when we aren’t aware of it, He intercedes for us beyond words, and He brings us to be more and more like Jesus every day through the act of sanctification. I believe, however, that God is trying to bring us to a place of constant consciousness in regards to the Holy Spirit. I believe that in order to live just as Jesus lived we need to live just as Jesus lived. (You can go ahead and read that last sentence again if you need to; I’ll wait! 🙂 ) Jesus lived a life of moment-by-moment obedience to His Father in Heaven. He made the Father’s will His will in that He chose not to do anything except that which the Father expressly commanded Him to do nor to say anything except that which the Father commanded Him to say.
Sure, the Bible is clear about many main principles in life, but what about the details? Does the Bible tell you where to go to college or what to major in? Does it give you revelation on who to date, who to marry, how to spend each moment of your days? No, it sure don’t! This, my friends, is where I believe that the ministry of the Holy Spirit comes in. The LORD will give us moment-by-moment guidance if we’ll allow Him to. There’s a certain degree of diligence that must be put into the practice of hearing GOd’s voice if we sincerely seek to do so. The LORD says in His word that we WILL find Him, but only if we will seek Him WITH OUR WHOLE HEARTS (Deut 4:29, Jer. 29:13).
In order to truly find the LORD, we can have no other in His place. The Lord will not share the place on honor in our hearts with any other. Our hearts are made to worship something or someone, and only He can fill that void perfectly; He made us that way, for our health and His glory! When we learn to love God with every ounce of our being in every moment of our lives by the power of His Holy Spirit, we are drawn increasingly close to Him. We will adore Him more and more, and we become more like what we adore; did you know that? This is the healthy relationship that God has for us, being ever awash in His love for us while we give away that love to ourselves, His people, and Him, both directly and indirectly. Relationship with Him feeds into good relationship with ourselves and with others as well – it’s all in there!
God’s very Spirit will dwell within us in greater and greater measure as we put our flesh to death day to day by the washing of His word and the offering of ourselves as living sacrifices for His glory and exaltation (Rom. 12). The only way to do these things effectively is by the grace afforded by His Spirit, the Spirit of the Lord: the Holy Spirit. If we will allow Him to serve us in the way, as we serve Him by co-laboring with Him, we will be greatly blessed for it in this life and with and in life everlasting with the Father and the Son on into eternity. We will maintain a strong, strong relationship with the Lord as He intended from the beginning and which He has afforded by the death of His Son and the gift of His Spirit unto us. Selah.
Be Blessed Today and Each Day as You Harden Not Your Hearts and Harken to the Voice of His Holy Spirit,