Summary: The importance and divinity of the Holy Spirit - introduction to series on the Holy Spirit
Knowing The Holy Spirit April 3, 2005
Have you ever thought to yourself how amazing it would be to have been around when Jesus walked the earth – just to be near him, to see his face, to hear his voice?
Read John 16:6-15
Jesus says “It is for your good that I am going away.” Other translations: “it is actually best for you that I go away,” (NLT) “It’s better for you that I leave.” (MSG)
Do you believe that? – Jesus says that having the Spirit with us is better than having Himself in the flesh!
Our low view of the Spirit – we often talk and act as if the Trinity is actually a duo. We have the big “F” Father, the big “S” Son, and the little “s” spirit. He is kind of like an add on, an after thought.
We joke that the Evangelical church believes in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Scriptures. But the Charismatic church isn’t really a whole lot better; we often regulate the role of the Spirit to a few spectacular gifts and to ecstatic experiences. As we will see in this series, the Spirit is an integral person in the Trinity and He is much bigger than we think.
There is this story of a doctor listening to a little girl’s heart through a stethoscope, the doctor says “Who do I hear in there? Is Donald Duck in there? Is Barney in there?” The little girl says, “No! Jesus is in my heart, Barney is on my underwear!”
We talk to our children about Jesus being in our hearts, but the Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit indwells us. He is the Spirit of Jesus, and we often use the terms Jesus and the Spirit interchangeably in our relation to God, but because we often say Jesus when we mean the Spirit, we regulate the Spirit to the sidelines.
When we are inviting people to become Christian, we usually ask them to receive Jesus, but most often, the Bible calls us to Believe in Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit. I haven’t heard any altar calls where people are invited to receive the Holy Spirit.
You might think it is all just semantics, and it might be, but it points to an avoidance of the Holy Spirit.
Why we avoid the Spirit
- Fear – We can’t control the Spirit, and He made lead us into strange places
- Embarrassment – because the old translations use the word “Ghost” instead of Spirit, because talk of the Spirit is often time associated with the Holy Rollers or TV preachers.
- lack of (human) image: We can easily picture Jesus – he is a real Jewish man of flesh and blood, we have artists’ renditions of Him, and actors who play him. It is the same with the Father – we can picture a benevolent father, people have painted their idea of the Father, actors have played him, but the Spirit is harder to portray. How do you paint the wind? Jesus says “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
“The Fundamental idea of Spirit in Hebrew and Greek is breath, air, wind, storm – the intensity depending on the context. It may be a gentle breath (John 20:22), a gale-force wind (Ex 15:8), a cooling breeze (Gen 3:8). Most essentially Spirit is transcendent and divine, not mere flesh; it is the energy of life itself and is present in nature and in history. Most wonderfully, the Spirit is God’s face turned toward us and God’s presence abiding with us, the agency by which God reaches out and draws near, the power that creates and heals.” - Clark Pinnock
Images of Water, and Oil
Our other favorite image of the Spirit is the dove – when Jesus was baptized, the Spirit descended on Him like a Dove (I think that that is more of a description of how the Spirit came down, not a picture of what the Spirit looked like)
The Ancient Celts had a different image of the Spirit:
ThisIsChurch.com says, ”In the Celtic tradition the Holy Spirit is represented as a bird, but not the peaceful and serene dove landing on Jesus at his baptism. For their symbol of the Holy Spirit, the Celtic church people chose the Wild Goose, ( An Geadh-Glas) This has become, the logo and name for the worship branch of the Iona Community.
Why did the Wild Goose speak to those ancient Celtic Christians? To begin with, wild geese aren’t controllable. You can’t restrain a wild goose and bend it to your will. They’re raucous and loud. Unlike the sweet and calming cooing of a dove, a goose’s honk is strong, challenging, strident and unnerving – and just a bit scary.