24 April 2009

Systematic Theology--Lesson 4, God the Holy Spirit

Today we’re going to finish up our look at the Trinity by reading about the One who may be the most misunderstood of the three Persons of the Godhead. We have seen that the Father is the One from whom all things proceed. We have seen that Jesus is our Savior, our Lord, the fulfillment of the Old Testament laws and sacrifices. But many people don’t quite understand the Holy Spirit. Before we begin, I want to make something abundantly clear. If you were to ask a Baptist what he believes about the Holy Spirit, then you asked a Pentecostal what he believes about the Holy Spirit, you would get two very different answers. Just to be clear—this is not a Baptist vs. Pentecostal thing or a debate about tongues. There is one doctrinal difference that I think needs to be cleared up, and we will talk about it later. My purpose today is to show who the Holy Spirit is in relation to the Trinity and in relation to us. When it comes to the Holy Spirit—Holy Ghost for all the KJV folks out there—there is always a danger that we can fall into one of two extremes. We can either focus on the gifts too much, or we can give the Spirit less than our full worship. We need to always remember that the Holy Spirit is God.

One of my favorite authors is A. W. Tozer. You won’t find him on any NY Times bestseller list. But when it comes to putting our relationship to God into words, there aren't many better than Tozer. He didn’t write big, huge volumes. Most of his books were about yay thick—but they'd make you feel about yay high once you got done reading it. One book in particular is called “The Divine Conquest.” And he devotes more than half the book to talking about the Holy Spirit. In fact one chapter about the Holy Spirit is entitled “The Forgotten One.” The Forgotten One. That title alone ought to make us stop and repent. We know that the three Persons of the Trinity—each one of them is God. We believe the Father is God, and we refer to Him as Lord. We believe the Son is God and we refer to Him as Lord. We believe the Holy Spirit is God. But how many times do we ever refer to the Holy Spirit as “Lord?” Tozer writes,

“Our blunder (or shall we frankly say our sin?) has been to neglect the doctrine of the Spirit to a point where we virtually deny Him His place in the Godhead. This denial has not been by open doctrinal statement, for we have clung closely enough to the Biblical position wherever our [creeds] are concerned. Our formal creed is sound; the breakdown is in our working creed…the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as held by evangelical Christians today has almost no practical value at all. In most Christian churches the Spirit is quite entirely overlooked…Brief reference is made to Him in the Doxology and the Benediction. Further than that He might as well not exist. So completely do we ignore Him that it is only by courtesy that we can be called Trinitarian. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity boldly declares the equality of the Three Persons and the right of the Holy Spirit to be worshipped and glorified. Anything less than this is less than Trinitarianism.”

I dare say anything less than this is less than true worship of God. On the other hand, there are some who take their devotion to the Holy Spirit altogether too far. Back in the late 90’s there was a movement that went by many names. Brownsville Revival. Toronto Blessing. There were many strange phenomena associated with it. Holy Laughter. Being “Drunk in the Spirit.” People were falling out on the floor laughing, acting like a fish out of water, like wild animals. More recently the same thing happened in Lakeland, FL with a fellow named Todd Bentley and the “Lakeland Revival.” All these people were claiming that all of this nonsense was “a move of the Holy Spirit.” The same Holy Spirit that led Paul to write this command to the churches, to Let all things be done decently and in order (1st Corinthians 14:40) was supposedly the same Holy Spirit that made all these people act like wild hyenas. Well, they were under the control of a spirit alright. But it wasn’t the Holy Spirit. The role of the Holy Spirit is not to whip people up into a frenzy and cause all kinds of chaos. God is not the author of confusion. The role of the Holy Spirit is to glorify God, testify of God’s truth, and lead us in righteousness.

We begin by looking at the Holy Spirit’s Person. First, His Deity. We know that God has been eternally God. He has always been a “Tri-unity.” He has always been Father. He has always been the Son. But He has also always been Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not just some new manifestation that happened on the day of Pentecost. In fact, where do we find the first mention of the Holy Spirit? Genesis 1:2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. The Holy Spirit played a role in creation. There are many other places where we find the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. Isaiah 40:13Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has taught Him? 7 times we read about YHVH dwelling “between the cherubim.” Isaiah 37:16“O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.” The word “cherubim” is the plural of “cherub,” angels. The angels that God is said to dwell between are the angels on the top of the Ark of the Covenant. These angels would be facing each other with their wings stretched towards the other. In between the wings of these cherubim, whenever there was a pillar of smoke in between them, that pillar was the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God IS God. We see when Solomon finished building the temple. 1st Kings 8:10-11And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of YHVH, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of YHVH filled the house of YHVH. The Holy Spirit filled the temple.

Next we look at His Personality. The Holy Spirit is NOT an “impersonal force.” The Jehovah's Witnesses teach, “To a certain extent [the Holy Spirit] can be likened to electricity, a force that can be adapted to perform a great variety of operations.” No. The Holy Spirit is a person. He has a Mind. 1st Corinthians 2:10-11--But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. He has Emotions. Ephesians 4:30--And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. He has a Will. 1st Corinthians 12:11--But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

Now, let's take these verses and read them how the Watchtower would translate these passages:
1st Corinthians 2:10-11--But God has revealed them to us through His Electricity. For the Electricity searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the Electricity of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Electricity of God.
Ephesians 4:30--And do not grieve the Holy Electricity of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
1st Corinthians 12:11--But one and the same Electricity works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

Doesn't make much sense, does it? Just like a lot of their theology, this idea that the Holy Spirit is some vague, impersonal, force "like electricity" does not match up with the clear teachings of Scripture. So, that’s the Holy Spirit’s Person. Next we look at The Holy Spirit’s Provision. He provides what we need. What do we bring into this world? Nothing. What do we take out of this world? Nothing. What do have in between that does not come from God? Nothing. We’re going to look at just a few of these. Most importantly, We Need Salvation—He Carries It Out. First, The Preparation. 1st Corinthians 2:14But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1st Corinthians 12:3Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. 1st John 4:2By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God. If we confess Jesus Christ as Lord—if we continue that confession until the end, that is something we did not understand by our own wisdom or intellect—it is something that we can only understand because of the Holy Spirit.

And in order to accept salvation, we need to understand we need salvation. Again, that can only come if the Holy Spirit shows us. In John 14-16, Jesus tells His disciples about the coming Comforter—Helper, or Counselor. The Parakletos. Literally, One who is called to your side. The Holy Spirit. John 14:25-26“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 16:7-8“I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” The Holy Spirit shows us that without Christ we are sinners all, and all equally guilty before God. Because of the Holy Spirit, when we look at something that is sinful, we see it as sinful, because in our own eyes, nothing is sinful. That’s the preparation. Next The Consummation. Once we’re saved, it’s up to us to keep ourselves saved. Right? Absolutely Not! We can no more keep ourselves saved that we can save ourselves to begin with! Titus 3:5--not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. Philippians 1:6--being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. HE is the one who started the good work. HE is the one who will keep it going. HE is the one who will finish it. Romans 12:2 (NASB)And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove—lit., recognize, approve of—what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. How do we continue to know what is good, acceptable, and perfect? Only by the Holy Spirit.

Which brings us to Our Need Is Christ’s Presence; He Indwells Us. John 14:16-17--"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." 1st Corinthians 6:19-20--Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. Hebrews 13:5--Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Romans 8:11But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. From the moment we are saved by the grace of God, we are not only filled with the Holy Spirit, but we are baptized into the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in us, and us in the Holy Spirit.

And this is where I want us to stop and examine this for a moment because there are many who say that there is a separate “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Let me say again, I am not seeking to start an argument, and that my goal is to speak truth in love. And this is something we can disagree on and still be brothers and sisters in Christ. Here goes: all believers are baptized into the Holy Spirit at the moment they are saved. There is no second “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” What happens is, people who believe this doctrine read what John the Baptist said in the gospels, that Jesus would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). In Acts 1:5, before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He told His disciples, “John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit—not many days from now.” This promise from Christ is to His disciples as a one-time event. It happened on the Day of Pentecost for a reason—to spread the gospel quickly to many different nations who spoke different languages.

There are 4 instances in the Book of Acts where people were said to have been “Baptized in the Holy Ghost.” Once on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), once with Samaritans (Acts 8:9-17), once with a Gentile named Cornelius (Acts 10:44), and once for the church at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-6). But if you read closely, you see that the reason the Holy Spirit fell on these people was (1) for the Jewish believers to take the gospel back to their own countries, (2) the Samaritans saw the gospel was for them, (3) Cornelius showed the gospel was for Gentiles also, and (4) the Ephesians had not heard about the Holy Spirit. But don’t think that these events are the pattern for every believer. For the believer, the pattern is this: the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins, shows us our need for God’s forgiveness, frees us from our slavery to sin, compels us to call on Christ to forgive our sins, comes to dwell within us so that we can do what God has for us to do.
1st Corinthians 12:13For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
Ephesians 4:4-5There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.
Romans 6:3-4Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Galatians 3:27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Now, are we to be “Spirit-filled?” Absolutely. Our Need Is Power; He Fills Us. Ephesians 5:18--And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. Well, what is The Meaning of Being Filled with the Holy Spirit? To be filled with the Spirit means to be empowered by the Spirit, permeated by the Spirit, and controlled by the Spirit. Then there is The Means of Being Filled with the Holy Spirit. First, We Surrender Control. Romans 6:11--Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Colossians 3:5 (ESV)Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Luke 9:23-24“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” We give up what we want. We say, “I don’t want to be controlled by what my flesh wants. I want to live according to what God wants.” There is a Swapping of Control. Ephesians 4:22-24Concerning your former conduct, put off the old man which grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. We put off the old, we put on the new. 2nd Corinthians 5:17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Then there is A Sustaining of Control. Galatians 5:16--I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

And this brings us to our last topic, Our Need is Security, He Seals Us. Ephesians 1:13-14 (KJV)In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. 2nd Corinthians 1:22 (KJV)Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. 2nd Corinthians 5:5 (KJV)Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. There is one word that is common to all these passages and that is the word “earnest.” Other translations call it a “guarantee” or a “pledge.” The word “earnest” in the KJV carries with it an implication that what has been paid is a promise that the full purchase will be completed. 1st Corinthians 6:19 tells us that we have been bought with a price. That price was the blood of Jesus. God has given us the Holy Spirit so that we may know, as we walk through this life, that because He lives in us, we will one day live with Him. Sealed—If you think a saved person can be lost, then you believe there is a greater authority than God. Earnest—The promises of God are yes and amen.

Do not neglect to confess the Holy Spirit as Lord. But, do not be caught up in a bunch of frenzied activity that masks itself as a "move of the Holy Spirit." Next time, we will look at Angels. Here's a hint: they're NOT babies with wings!

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