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The Holy Spirit: A Reflection

The Hebrew word for the Spirit is ‘ruach’, which means breath, wind, or spirit (C. Carter). Just as blood represents the animal life, so does ‘wind’ represent the spiritual element in life (R.B. Girdlestone). The Greek word for the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) is paráklētos which is a word that could be translated to means “defense attorney. (B. Simmons) ” It means “one called to stand next to you as a helper.” The Amplified translation also uses the words “Helper.” “Counselor,” “Comforter,” “Advocate,” “Strengthener,” or “Intercessor” to describe Him. The Spirit is part of the Godhead and constantly enjoys communion with Jesus and God the Father. He is equal to God the Father and the God the son. The Spirit is a distinct personality from the other members of the Godhead. This can be seen in the water baptism of Jesus where God the Son was being baptized, God the Father spoke about the Son and God the Holy Spirit came as a dove on Jesus. The Holy Spirit is a person not a force. Not power. But a living and eternal person. In the scriptures it is shown that the Spirit can be grieved, resisted, blasphemed and he can be quenched (Eph. 4:30, Acts 7:51, Mark 3:29, 1 Thess. 5:19). The Spirit is intelligent (1 Cor. 2:10-11).  The Spirit makes decisions and distributes the gifts of God at his own volition (1 Cor 12:11). He is omnipresent and creative in power (Gen 1:2. Psalm 104:30, Psalm 139:7). He was present and actively involved in the creation of the earth and creation of humankind (Psalm 33:6). The Spirit is not only involved in the creation of living things, he is also involved in the renewal and sustenance of life here on earth and in the heavens. This Spirit must be immanent also for Him to be able to preserve and sustain the earth. He didn’t just create the earth and leave. He is actively involved in all aspects of it. The Spirit is greater than all finite, physical and material bounds which makes Him transcendent (J. Walvoord). Through His creative power the virgin Mary was able to conceive and give birth to a boy (Jesus) without having sexual relations with another human being (Luke 1:35). The Spirit is omniscient. He knows all things. He can see deep into the heart of God and of man. As E. Fife argues, “No matter how good a Christian other people think us to be, the Spirit of God knows not merely our actions but also the thoughts and intents of our heart.” The Spirit looks past our actions and weights our heart behind those actions.

He is ‘the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord’ (Isa 11:2). The Spirit has been observed as a dove, a mighty rushing wind and tongues of fire (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Acts 2:1-4). The typology of the Spirit as dove may show that four aspects of the Holy Spirit are in view: beauty, gentleness, peace and heavenly nature and origin (J. Walvoord). The personality of the Holy Spirit is more implicit in the old testament and explicit in the new covenant. His personality, role and ministry were revealed few times in the old covenant but in the new testament he was fully revealed to us by God in the scriptures. He has always been active from the beginning of time throughout scripture. The Spirit can sometimes be referred to as the oil i.e. Psalms 45:7 refers to the oil of gladness which can be linked to the fruit of joy of the Spirit. Jesus also referred to the Holy Spirit as a river of living water for the people who believed in Him (John 7:37-39). Jesus also used a similar typology of the Spirit as water when discussing with the Samaritan woman.

He protects, guides, defends, comforts us as we follow Christ. He reveals to us the truths of God (1 John 2:20). He works out the purposes of God on earth from creation to the resurrection of Jesus. The Spirit empowers us to live the abundant life that Jesus provided for us. For what person knows the thoughts and motives of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So also no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 (AMP) God reveals to us His deepest mysteries, secrets and revelation by His Spirit. The scripture above says The Holy Spirit the searches the depths of God and all things diligently. God’s thoughts, motives and secrets are only fully understood by the Holy Spirit. When we lack wisdom and understanding in life He freely gives us them to us when we ask Him (James 1:5). We can feel safe to ask and tell Him anything and He will listen to us because He cares for us.  The Spirit is actively involved in the regeneration and conversion of the sinner into a believer. Without the Spirit people cannot become born again (John 3:3-7) neither can believers live a holy life before God without the working of the Spirit. As A.B. Simpson argues, “..the Holy Ghost is essential to sustain and maintain all the exercises of spiritual life by His own divine efficiency and spontaneous working to the very close of our Christian life”.  No one can call Jesus Lord except by the power of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3). The Spirit is imperative to our belonging to Jesus and He gives us the assurance and witness that we are children of God (Rom. 8:9,16). We are saved by grace through faith with the power of the Holy Spirit never by our works or assistance (Titus 3:5). In various parts of the New Testament the Word says that when we become born again we get sealed by the Holy Spirit Himself as a guarantee that we are His and that The Father is faithful to His covenant (2 Cor. 1:22, Eph 4:30, Eph 1:13). The typology of the seal indicates a few things: safety, security, ownership, authority etc. The Spirit assures us that God will never leave us nor forsake us. The Holy Spirit is our mark of recognition that we belong to the Father (F.E. Marsh).  We are saved and kept by the Spirit for all eternity. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). He guides us into all truth (Rom. 8:14). We have the most intelligent being in the universe inside us who loves us, desires us and wants to lead us into all truth.  The Spirit sets us free from the bondage of fear and He is the Spirit of adoption who awakens and draws to the sweet and intimate Fatherhood of God (Rom 8:15-16).

The salvation experience entails that new believers get baptized into the body of Christ and are sealed with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13, Eph. 1:13). As J.I Packer states, “Baptism…first and fundamentally it signifies union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:3-7; Col 2:11-12)”. When we get saved we are not only sealed but infused with the Spirit (John 20:21-22). On the other hand, baptism of the Spirit signifies a greater outpouring of the gift of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer which comes after conversion with great power. I believe Peter outlined the process clearly in the book of Acts. “Repent, and be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:39). The salvation experience and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit can also occur simultaneously as in the case of Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:44-46). A number of times speaking in tongues was an evidence of the outpouring of the Spirit (Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6). In some other cases speaking in tongues wasn’t shown to have occurred after the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 8:15-17, Acts 9:17-18). The Spirit helps us in our human frailty and weakness when we don’t know what to pray. He makes intercession for believers according to the will of God with groanings that can’t be spoken in words (Rom 8:26-27).

The Holy Spirit empowers to do the will of God and fulfill our calling. Whenever we feel inadequate or unqualified about what God wants us to do, we have to remember that we have the Spirit of the Lord within who will empower us to fulfill our calling. We should learn to depend on the guidance and the power of the Spirit not on our human talent. Smith Wigglesworth who was an illiterate and uneducated man was mightily used by God to bring His healing power on earth. He wasn’t the most qualified person by human standards, but God used him to change the world. “If it is the will of God the Holy Spirit will be our qualification” (E. Fife). In the New Testament the Greek word for anointing is ‘chrisma’ which means ‘an anointing, unction’. It mainly used to refer to the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer to teaching him or her the ways of God (1 John 2:20). The scripture teachers that every believer is anointed by the Spirit of truth.  We don’t have to worry about others teaching us because we have the best teacher teaching us (1 John 2:27). We can have other Christians who teach us the Word but we must not forget that all who teach us are subject to the greatest teacher himself – The Holy Spirit.

The Spirit distributes diverse types of spiritual gifts to the church as He desires (1 Cor 12:3). The diverse gifts of the Spirit are primary given for the edification and benefit of the Church not necessarily for personal benefits. The manifestations of the gift mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 include the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, the gift of faith, gifts of healings, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, diverse kinds of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. A word of wisdom is a word given by the Spirit that solves a problem, or answers a question, or enables one to give an expression of his faith. A word of knowledge is simply a knowing. You can see what is in the past, in the present, or in the future (R. Voight). The discerning of spirits is the ability to know whether the Spirit of God, or Satan, or the human spirit is the motivating power behind a situation. The gift of faith is being able to trust God deeply and encourage others to trust God, no matter the circumstances. The gift of healing is the miraculous ability to use God’s healing power to restore a person who is sick, injured, or hurting. The gift of tongues is an utterance spoken by the Spirit that is not understood by the speaker or the hearers but is spoken to God audibly in the midst of others (Voight).

The gift of interpreting tongues is the ability to interpret the tongues spoken and communicate its meaning to the hearers. The gift of miracles is being able to perform signs and wonders that go beyond the natural realm which gives authenticity to God’s Word being preached. The gift of prophecy is an utterance from God spoken in a known language which gives edification, exhortation, and comfort (1 Cor 14:3, 31).

God doesn’t want us to shy away from receiving the gifts of the Spirit but wants us to eagerly desire and pursue them (1 Cor 12:31, 1 Cor 14:1). As Bill Johnson argues, “To say, ‘The Spirit of God is welcome here, and free to do as He pleases’ is not enough. Many of the things we need and long for must be prayed for specifically and pursued relentlessly.” We need to be zealous (not passive) about pursuing the gifts of the Spirit. Some other gifts of the Spirit include gift of teaching, gift of ministering, gift of administration, gift of evangelism, pastoral gift, the gift of exhortation, gift of giving, gift of showing mercy, gifts of help, gift of guidance etc. (J. F. WalVoord) (Rom 12:7-8, 1 Cor 12:28, Eph 4:11). The main purpose of the various gifts of the Spirit is for the edification, perfection and building up of the body of Christ as we grow into the unity of faith in Jesus and the Knowledge of our savior (1 Cor 12, Eph 4).

The gifts of the Spirit defer significantly from the fruits of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control (Gal 5:22). The fruits of the Spirit are cultivated as we abide in Christ and cultivate our relationship with the Spirit. A.B Simpson eloquently says, “Cease your hard and vain endeavors, and simply abide in Him. Be filled with the Spirit, and the fruit will take care of itself.” The greatest of the fruit of the Spirit is love and it is even greater than all the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:31, 13:13). The Spirit fills shares the love of God in out hearts so that we can love God and love the people around us (Rom 5:5). He shares the love that the Holy Trinity share with one another, with us (John 17:26). “The Holy Spirit is the Father’s and Son’s ‘embrace’, their bond of love and ‘effable communion’, proceeding eternally from them as the very person of their love” (M.A. Fatula). The Spirit desires to have sweet fellowship and communion with us (2 Cor 13:14). And He wants us to share that same communion with our fellow believers not just something we keep it to ourselves. God wants us to be united and be one with one another as Jesus is one with us and the Father by the bond of the Holy Spirit (John 17:21-23).

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