Summary: The Holy Spirit is not a force or an "it." He is a person.
(NOTE: This series is based on the book Living in the Spirit by Dr. George Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God).
John 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
The actions and gifts of the Holy Spirit have been in the news a lot lately. I don’t mean the latest Christian TV advertisement or program but the actual news.
Megan Fox, most famous for her role in the blockbuster movie The Transformers, recently talked about her Pentecostal upbringing. She told Esquire Magazine how she often speaks in tongues. She told them about being raised Pentecostal and how speaking in tongues were a normal part of life. Fox told the magazine of how she was baptized in the Holy Spirit at the age of 8.
There was also a recent interview with pop music phenomenon Katy Perry. She was asked by Katie Curic about her Pentecostal upbringing and whether she ever spoke in tongues. Perry answered in the affirmative and talked about it being a way that God speaks through ordinary people.
Neither of these young ladies are role models for whom I would want my children to get their theology. Their public life is not demonstrative of a life that is being led by the Holy Spirit.
Nevertheless, we can see from the buzz these interviews caused that people are interested in gifts of the Holy Spirit. I think these interviews stir up a deep need in individuals to connect to something greater than the stars who are talking.
Unfortunately, when most people hear about the Holy Spirit it is usually in the context of speaking in tongues. This is unfortunate because it takes away from the fact that the Holy Spirit is a person. God is One: God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
(TRANSITION) The Holy Spirit is a person who guides us, teaches us, empowers us, convicts us of sin, and most importantly, continually points us toward becoming more like Jesus Christ. Sure, when we are baptized we will speak with new tongues, but that is only one aspect of the bigger picture of the person of the Holy Spirit. So, before we get to the actions of the Holy Spirit let’s get to know the PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
1. The Holy Spirit Is Not A Force (Impersonal)
To better understand the Holy Spirit as a person we must come to the understanding of what He is not.
When we speak of the Holy Spirit we must remember that we are not speaking about a force like gravity. Gravity is impersonal. It is a law of nature that works to keep things and people fixed to the ground. Gravity is that force that makes some of us angry at the bathroom scales – but it is an impersonal force (whether you believe that or not).
In the interview with Megan Fox she spoke of the act of speaking in tongues as “magical” and “intense.” She even compared the intensity to that of a voodoo ceremony. In actuality she is describing a “force” not a person. It seems her understanding of the Holy Spirit has more to do with the externals of the Spirit.
In Pentecostal circles we often talk about the “move” or “unction” of the Holy Spirit. That is fine to use those words. But we must realize that behind the move is a person – not an impersonal power that we are trying to harness.
ILLUSTRATION: I remember a day when people danced before the Lord. When it was Spirit led it was a beautiful thing. But I also remember how some people would just go nuts and wriggle and squirm and jerk like they were having convulsions.
After one of those kinds of services I was really distraught. I thought surely the move of the Holy Spirit would be something decent and edifying. Not something scary!
As I prayed about this I began to understand that because we often see the Holy Spirit as just a force we just want Him to “get a hold of us.” Like electricity, we wanted the zap and energy but weren’t always familiar with the personal source.
As we get to know the Holy Spirit personally we will recognize that He does want to get a hold of us. But not just to demonstrate His power – but to work through us and help us to do the will of God. A force may push us into something but a person will guide us into truth.