Follow the Holy Spirit series at danielcberk.com. Today's newsletter is Holy Spirit 2. Stay tuned for more exciting material.
Holy Spirit 2
March 13, 2016
Who is the Holy Spirit?
Last week, we started a series on the Holy Spirit, and the introduction can be found here. The topic of the Holy Spirit, and how he relates to the Trinity, as well as how he moves in our lives, is a dense topic. However, the Holy Spirit is also our Lord. Shouldn't we seek to know him as well? In the first part of the series, I introduced some relevant questions, some easier than others. For example, what is it to grieve the Holy Spirit? A phrase many of us have likely heard, but perhaps aren't entirely in tune with. Some more difficult questions pertain to the way the Spirit works. Does he work in the lives of someone who is not a Christian? Are we given the Spirit in doses, or do we have all of him at all times? Can we really do "even greater things than" Jesus (John 14:12)? We will explore these questions and more in the following weeks.
The question of today's topic may be enough to stump some readers. Notice I asked who and not what is the Holy Spirit. So frequently we refer to the Holy Spirit as a thing inside of us, an object that can be utilized on a need-to-use basis. Maybe we read the parts in the Bible that someone is filled with the Holy Spirit, and we wonder why we haven't received the Spirit in that way. Maybe you say to yourself, "There's no way I could ever truly walk by the Spirit. It's simply too hard. Sin it always readily available." Or perhaps we lack the faith that the Holy Spirit actually works powerfully in our lives; maybe he's just a feel-good tool that the church uses to convince disciples to be bold and courageous (I'm not in any way suggesting this is the case, but some of the doubts we have can be elaborate!). These are all reasonable doubts to have, many of which you may feel frequently. On several occasions I've heard it said that "it's difficult to feel something that's intangible." But does it have to be difficult? Is there a way to experience the fullness of the Spirit, to feel him in every prayer and step? The answer is yes.
He's holy, huh?
The Holy Spirit is often referred to as just the Spirit (capitalized in English whenever it's determined to be God's Spirit). Frequently (more times in the New Testament than the Old) he is referred to as the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word קֹדֶשׁ (qodesh) is "holy", and the wordרוּחַ (ruwach) is "spirit".
This word qodesh is fascinating, as it illustrates how incredibly holy God's Spirit is. Qodesh is used 70 times in Leviticus alone, usually referring to offerings and sanctifications. You'll frequently see the translation "it is most holy" (i.e. Lev 7:1), which, in Hebrew, is קֹדֶשׁ קֹדֶשׁ (or the root qodesh qodesh). The laws that God gave to Israel were so perfect and holy that the only proper way to explain it was to say "holy" twice. Likewise, qodesh Spirit indicates a blameless, perfect Spirit, and this Spirit is a down-payment to us that God will follow through with his promises (Eph 1:14, 2 Cor 1:22).
The Spirit of God is referred to as the Holy Spirit only three times in the Old Testament (Psa 51:11, Isa 63:10, Isa 63:11), but many more times in the New Testament.
The New Testament uses the Greek words ἅγιος (hagios) for "holy" and πνεῦμα (pneuma) for "spirit". Similarly, pneuma is translated to English as capital Spirit if referring to the Spirit of God. This word hagios refers to the most sacred, blameless, and holy thing. It's even the same word used to refer to the saints in the New Testament! As disciples, we are saints in the eyes of God; we are ἁγίοις! Further, pneuma translates into Spirit and is also used to describe the wind, or breath of nostrils. Most importantly, the formal use of pneuma is never referred to as an object, but rather is relational and personal.
What does this all mean for us? The Holy Spirit is relational and powerful, like wind. He is unspeakably holy, and he dwells within us (1 Cor 3:16, 1 Cor 6:9, 2 Tim 1:14, Rom 8:11, Gal 4:6). If the Holy Spirit is that inexplicably holy, and he lives inside of us, then what excuse do we have to shrink back? Why fear anything but God alone? Why doubt God's power to change any human heart from the inside out?
Okay, Daniel. Give me some practicals!
Imagine a world that every single Christian lived in tune with the Spirit. Imagine a church that was led, guided, and driven by the acts and works of the Spirit. Imagine conversions and life-changing stories that made no sense at all to us, all because the unexplainable power of the Spirit orchestrated each step. Now let's ask ourselves: What's stopping us from living that way right now?
Experience the Spirit like you never have before. Pray to feel him in your life! Often times we assume that because feelings can be fickle, that they're bad. While we should trust God in our lives even if we don't feel him, doesn't it sound incredible to be able to literally feel the presence of God? Practically speaking, there are some simple ways to listen to and feel the presence of the Spirit.
1. Meditate on scripture. Pick some of your favorite verses about the Holy Spirit. Go out to a mountainside or lake (or somewhere else that's quiet) and recite the scripture(s) over and over and over again for 10, 25, 45 minutes. Maybe even over an hour! Seek to understand the scripture in its entirety. If you aren't sure of a word's meaning, look it up. Let is seep deeply into your mind and heart.
2. Sit in silence. When is the last time you intentionally sat in complete silence? No phone, no music. Freeing your mind from the hurried clutter of your day-to-day life gives God a chance to give you clarity and assurance in his will. Try sitting in complete silence for the next 5 days, for 15-minutes each day. When thoughts of your schedule, or of the next thing on the list pop into your mind, quickly let go of them. If 15-minutes is too long, start with trying 5-minutes.
3. Pray. PRAY! "The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray" (1 Peter 4:7). How often do you prepare to pray? I usually use prayer to prepare myself for everything else in my life. But here, Peter tells us to have a sober mind so that we can pray. I chose this as bullet number 3, not because of the insignificance of it, but because it often requires meditation and silence first to effectively prayer the way God intends us to. Pray to be holy the way the Spirit inside of you is holy. Pray for your relationship and understanding of the Spirit to deepen every day, and pray for clarity in guidance in the Word through your endeavors.
The Holy Spirit is Lord.
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17). It's, ahem, HE'S Lord! Consider this: In the very beginning, God created the entire universe, every tiny grain of salt, every molecule, all the atoms in all the crevices of each of the currently estimated 100 billion galaxies in our observable universe. Genesis 1:2 says, "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Assuming the "Spirit of God" referred to in Genesis 1:2 is the Holy Spirit that now lives within us (we have no biblical reason to assume otherwise), then the Spirit that now lives within every Christian is the architect and designer of the universe, who knew you before your ancestors existed. This is incredible, and can't be stressed enough!
How would our actions change if we focused every single day on the fullness of the deity of God abiding within us?
This week, let's meditate on who the Spirit is, and on his fullness dwelling inside our hearts. We don't have to face the world alone. If we spend time each day to tune into the will of God, and to pray that we come to know and understand him more deeply, then the Spirit can continue to drive our thoughts and actions. All we need to do is choose to follow.
In Christ, Daniel C. Berk
Here's the latest video, an introduction to my website.