Summary: An introductory message on who the Holy Spirit is
Who Is the Holy Spirit
John 14:15-20, 25-26
When you think about it, we as Christians understand and relate more to God the Father and Jesus the Son than we do the Holy Spirit? Even when we said the Apostles’ Creed today, we give one life to God with several descriptors attached “God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth” and then gives six lines to Jesus, and just one short phrase to the Holy Spirit. When I was a kid we used the title ‘Holy Ghost’ instead of Holy Spirit, which only lends to the third person of the Trinity as an ill-defined, mysterious entity. The Holy Spirit is the least understood part of God and yet it is that which is most available and active in our lives today. We really can call the Holy Spirit “The Forgotten God.” In this series, we’re going to look at the Holy Spirit, who it is, why we need it and the role it plays in our spiritual journey and lives.
There are several things we learn about the Holy Spirit today. First, the Holy Spirit is the same as God and Jesus. Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate…” That word “Another” in Greek literally means, “Just like the first.” So what Jesus is sending us is not something which is different from Him, but rather another advocate who is just like Him and just like the Father. They are one and the same but with different roles. I think there are two great mysteries in the Christian faith: the fact that Jesus was both fully divine and fully human and the second is the Trinity, God, the Father, Jesus the Savior and the Holy Spirit. To better understand, let’s use the analogy of water. God is like water in that God shows himself in 3 different ways like water has three different forms: liquid, ice, and steam. Each has different qualities and characteristics and thus can have different functions but the composition is still H2O. God is like liquid water, the source of all life. Jesus is ice, solid, like the hymn says, “the rock upon which I stand.” And the Holy Spirit is like steam from which we get power. Though the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all three distinct persons and have different functions, each equally is part of God and the same substance or being. This is how Jesus can relate to God and the Holy Spirit and how he keeps his promise to us regarding the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Second, the Spirit is absolutely essential to continuing Jesus’ mission. You can’t follow God and live for Jesus apart from the Holy Spirit. You can’t do the things of Jesus without the power of Jesus, the Holy Spirit. In fact, before you do anything for Jesus, you’d better make sure you have the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit in you and what you do. That’s why Jesus told the disciples, “Don’t leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift that my Father promised which you’ve heard me speak about. In a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Before the disciples could begin to fulfill Jesus’ mission, they first needed the power of guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. Without it, they were doomed to fail. What Jesus is teaching us is this: Desire and commitment isn’t enough. To continue the mission and ministry of Jesus, we need more. We need supernatural guidance and power. Anyone in recovery understands the concept of a higher power. All of us have to come to depend upon a power higher than ourselves if we are going to do the work of Jesus. This is why Jesus is able to say that you and I will do even greater things than him. Jesus knows that if the disciples are to continue Jesus’ mission then they are going to need the power and guidance of God that He has experienced in his own life with God. Whether we realize it or not, we’re in a battle, a cosmic battle between good and evil. There are forces greater than us and if we are going to succeed, then we need a power greater than us.
With the Holy Spirit, there’s enough power in this room to change the world ten times over, if only the Church claimed it. Can you imagine the difference we could make and what we would have to offer others? When Peter and John were going to the temple to pray one day, they encountered a lame man begging at the door asking for money. Peter and John had no money to give, but gave what they had: the power and healing in the name of Jesus. And so they said to him, “Get up and walk.” This same power Peter and John had is available to us today. When the Church lays claim to this, there’s no telling what we can do. We’ll be able to love with God’s love. We’ll be able to forgive with God’s forgiveness. We’ll be able to transform hearts and lives. Can you imagine what can happen in our communities and world? This is why the Holy Spirit is so important and how we live the God life in the world.