Everywhere at Once
God the Holy Spirit
By David B. Smith
America is endlessly fascinated with superheroes, but all of them share a fatal flaw: they can only fight one crime in one location at one time. A common dramatic dilemma is Jimmy Olsen wondering where Superman is and if he will show up in time to avert disaster. The mayor of Gotham City has to employ a Bat-signal or dial 911 on the Batphone and hope he doesn’t get a busy signal because Batman is out of town. And of course, if Spider-man is swinging from one skyscraper to the next in pursuit of the bad guys, Mary Jane Watson must sit at home alone doing crossword puzzles.
Enter the amazing third Person in the Godhead: the Holy Spirit. The Bible gives us good news about this loving God who is omnipresent — capable of being with all believers in the world at one moment. Considering that Jesus our risen Lord was still a physical man, only able to preach in one church at a time, or heal the sick in one hospital ward, and travel from one Judean ministry opportunity to the next plodding along at a dusty three miles an hour, we can be grateful for His generous offer: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. You know Him, for He lives with you and will be IN you” (John 14:16, 17).
His Personhood: Some misunderstand the nature of this fully equal member of the Trinity and discount His full personhood. But the Bible repeatedly ascribes personality and emotions and a mind and a will to the Holy Spirit. In his book, How to be Filled With the Holy Spirit and Know It, Garrie Williams writes: “The Holy Spirit is a person, not a force like gravity or an energy like electricity. The Holy Spirit is a person, representing Jesus with all His unfailing love.” Early Christians, discussing regulations for the new church, wrote in a letter: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements . . .” (Acts 15:28). Jesus describes Him with these words: “[The Holy Spirit] will bring glory to Me by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you” (John 16:14) and also called His Partner a Teacher. We are told that the Holy Spirit has a will, thoughts, and emotions; our “unwholesome talk” can cause Him to experience grief (Ephesians 4:30).
In exploring the varied ministries of the Holy Spirit, Christians need to embrace the biblical reality that the three members of the Trinity work in close and holy cooperation; they think and plan in perfect unity, each with the common objective of redeeming our world and restoring the heavenly kingdom to its original state. Politicians often quarrel and feud and undermine one another; even White House teams like Obama-Biden or Bush-Cheney occasionally display a lack of harmony and purpose. A Vice President Johnson was reportedly miserable trying to be a loyal underling to the glamorous JFK. But the Bible describes the Holy Spirit as serving in our world as a dynamic, full-stature member of the Godhead.
What are some of His spiritual objectives?
1. Inspiring the truths of Scripture. The Bible comes to us through the direct leading of the Holy Spirit. Peter describes the process thusly: Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along [KJV: “inspired”] by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). Jesus, realizing the limitations of time and place, made this confession to His disciples: “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). Through the past two thousand years of the Christian Church’s survival and growth, it has been the Holy Spirit’s assigned task to guide the Body of Christ away from error and apostasy and firmly root the people of God in growing maturity. LeRoy Froom writes: “The distinctive feature of Protestantism — without which there would be no Protestantism — is that the Holy Spirit is the true vicar or successor of Christ on earth. To depend on organization, or leaders, or wisdom of men, is to put the human in place of the divine.”
2. Equip God’s people and the Church with gifts. Have you attended a seminar where every participant is given a packet of materials and self-help tools? Imagine a symposium or university where each player is supplied with a perfectly designed portfolio that magnifies their effectiveness in some exciting role of service. This is exactly what the Holy Spirit does! In Paul’s first letter to the new believers in Corinth, he outlines how each of us is given unique spiritual gifts — wisdom, knowledge, teaching, healing, faith, service, Bible understanding — in order to serve the community of faith. Then he writes: All these [gifts] are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each one, just as He determines (12:11). The Message paraphrase says: He decides who gets what, and when.
3. Empowered and served Christ during His ministry on earth. The Holy Spirit was active in the Incarnation of Jesus; the angel of Luke 1:35 says to Mary: The power of the [Holy Spirit will] hover over you. The Holy Spirit publicly affirmed Jesus’ ministry at His baptism. All through the teaching years of Jesus’ life on earth, the Holy Spirit guided His thoughts. Romans 8:11 even says that the Holy Spirit resurrected His God-Partner Jesus on Easter Sunday.
4. Most important, the Holy Spirit is given to individually serve and bless and guide each individual Christian! When our guilty conscience pricks us, that is the Holy Spirit! (John 16:9) Peter writes: “God the Father has His eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus” (1 Peter 1:2, Message). He emboldens us to share our faith; “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). The inspired Word tells us that the Holy Spirit is invaluable as a Seal, who locks us into a saved relationship with God and “guarantees our inheritance.” He also fills our hearts with joy and confidence — although Dwight Moody admitted cheerfully that most of us need to be constantly filled and refilled . . . “because we leak!”
The Spirit of Adoption. In his standout book, Knowing God, J. I. Packer reveals how this new Friend comes into our lives and abides, not for His own purposes, not to draw our affections just to Himself, but to unselfishly direct us to be better disciples of Jesus and loyal subjects of our own heavenly Father. He is like a social worker who explains to the once-lost-now-found child that God is going to be the most wonderful new Friend and Parent. “The vital truth to be grasped here is that the Spirit is given to Christians as ‘the Spirit of adoption,’ and in all His ministry to Christians He acts as the Spirit of adoption. As such, His task and purpose throughout is to make Christians realize with increasing clarity the meaning of their filial relationship with God in Christ, and to lead them into an ever deeper relationship to God in this relationship.”
With a Superhero like that always on the premises, even Gotham City sounds like a safe place to live.
View related article: Everywhere at Once
David B. Smith writes from California. (5 of 28) His web page is Copyright © 2014. Click here for content usage information. Biblebay