Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Role of the Holy Spirit

Blogger: Joe Harrison

For several years I am ashamed to admit that I have profoundly neglected the Holy Spirit, though I professed to be a believer in the Trinity. I rarely ever gave Him any thought! And when I did, I often referred to Him as an "it". But this year I have really begun to turn around and see Him for Who He truly is. And in this blogpost were taking a look at the role of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the third member of the Trinity; a Person, not a thing. And on the note of Masculinity, Jesus Himself refers to the Spirit as "He" in the Gospel of John:

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." John 14:16-17 (NKJV)

Furthermore, we know that the Holy Spirit has personality (if that quote from Jesus Himself is not enough to convince you). Paul talks about the Mind (Rom. 8:27) and Will of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 12:11). Luke also tells us in Acts 13:4 that Barnabas and Saul (Paul) were "sent out by the Holy Spirit". Ephesians 4:30 and Isaiah 63:10 talk about grieving the Holy Spirit. Luke 10:21 and 1 Thessalonians 1:6 talk about the Holy Spirit giving joy.

There are numerous texts in the Bible that are clear indications that the Holy Spirit is a Person, referred to as a Man, and equal with God the Father and Jesus the Son. In one of the most popular passages in Christendom, the Great Commission (Luke 24:44-47) Jesus commissions us to baptize "in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". If the Holy Spirit were not equal with God, it seems a little strange to me that Jesus would hold Him up to such a high level of importance with His name and God's Name. Simultaneously, notice that Jesus says "the NAME". He does not say "the Names". The Holy Spirit is the third member of the Trinity.

The Hebrew word used for the Holy Spirit is ruah, which means "breath", "air", or "wind". Many Antitrinitarians (or Nontrinitarians) use this as "proof" that the Holy Spirit is a thing, not a Person. But, just was with Yahweh (God the Father) and Yeshua (Jesus the Son), Ruah describes Who the Spirit is and what His role is. Case in point: Yahweh basically means "I Am what I Am"--God is Eternal, and eternally there for us. Yeshua means "Salvation", Jesus is our Savior or Rescuer, because He has (and will) rescue us. Ruah means "Breath", "Air", or "Wind", because He is God's Breath, but also He is our Breath of Life, He sustains us and sanctifies us, bringing us fresh air and releasing the bad air (just as our normal breathing process works).

So the Holy Spirit is God's Breath. Surely now you are beginning to recall some Bible passages that talk about God breathing. Paul tells Timothy "all Scripture is God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16). But here's something interesting. Turn back to the very beginning, in Genesis.... How did God bring life to Adam and Eve? The Bible tells us He breathed into them! So could that possibly mean that the Spirit was responsible for bringing us to life? It seems to make sense, and we see why by taking a look at the overall role of the Holy Spirit.

The overall role of the Holy Spirit is to focus us on Jesus Christ. Almost everything the Spirit does results in Jesus Christ being glorified/focused on. He is called by Jesus the Spirit of Truth, because He holds the Truth (Jesus Christ, John 14:6). The Holy Spirit is prominent in evangelism because He, as with Barnabas and Paul, sends us out to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ; it is He Who gives us the courage to do so. When we share the Gospel, it is the Spirit Who convicts, Who leads the convicted to Christ. The Holy Spirit sanctifies us throughout our lives so that we may praise Christ. Now look at the Bible. The Bible is God-breathed; the Spirit wrote it. Why? So that we may know the Truth and glorify our Savior! Now, once again turning to the beginning, if it was, indeed, the Spirit Who brought us to life (as mentioned in the previous paragraph) then this makes sense because we are given life so that we may turn to (and glorify) Christ!

Without breath we could not speak. We need our breath in order to speak (and speak loudly). And keeping that in mind, here's an interesting way of looking at the Spirit's role:  you're a little kid who's gone with your dad to the supermarket. Then it happens... one wrong turn and you are separated and lost. You wander around alone... when suddenly you hear a voice calling out to you. What happens next? You follow the sound of the voice, which can be difficult. But eventually, the sound of the voice leads you back to your dad.

Make sense? The breath/voice of your dad led you to find him. The Holy Spirit leads you to Christ, or if you're already with Christ, when the Holy Spirit 'speaks', you focus on Christ, just as whenever someone in the same room as you speaks, you (usually) turn to look at the person.

The Role of the Holy Spirit is to focus us on Jesus Christ.

(Note: Be on the lookout for an upcoming episode of Christianese Radio where we talk, once again, about the Holy Spirit. For previous show discussions, see the 05-04-09 episode: "The Trinity" - links to Podcast Archive)

1 comment:

  1. I still think it's SO odd that I didn't even think that way until like this year. Actually it's hard to explain, because I kind of feel like when I heard about the Holy Spirit I did always kind of feel like He wasn't an 'it' but it was one of those things that I just never really THOUGHT about, you know? Like it's like I don't think I ever thought about Him as an 'it' (I could be lying though?:-D ) but I just never really thought about what He really was. So it's been a very interesting journey actually, really realizing how crazy and COOL it is that it's not like it's this disembodied robot ghost 'it' inside me. He's much more important and real than that. Pretty darn awesome.