From the series, Ten Turning Points That Make All the Difference
When Jesus Christ was preparing his disciples for his departure, he said it would be better for them when he was gone, because then the Holy Spirit would come and be with them (John 16:5-11). I wonder if they thought that made sense. What could be better than walking and talking with the Lord himself? The answer: living one’s whole life in close communion with God everywhere any one of us might go.
My life was transformed as a college student, when I learned how to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The video here is small in size, but the message in it is huge; it is the same as what I learned then. This message has changed lives all across the globe. It’s a clearly explained answer to what so many Christians are missing: how to live life as if God were really right here with us–because he is. (You’ll want to view the other “related videos” on the top of the right sidebar there to get the complete message.)
That video message was prepared for believers who know that the Trinity is real and God wants us to live in true relationship with him. Not every reader here shares those views. For some readers, the Holy Spirit is a weird idea. We used to call the Holy Spirit the Holy Ghost, which makes it even stranger, although when that language was current it did not mean what it does now.
Why do Christians believe in the Holy Spirit? Because we believe in God and in his revelation, and because the Spirit (we use that name as shorthand) is active throughout the New Testament. He is prominent in the John 14-16, the book of Acts, and 1 Corinthians 12-14. He is mentioned often throughout the rest of the NT.
We address him with the personal pronoun “he,” not because of any gender associated with him, but because the gender-neutral pronoun “it” falsely implies impersonality. Our language has changed over the past few decades. There was a time when “he” was a somewhat (not completely, but somewhat) gender-neutral personal pronoun. The pronoun worked better then than it does now, but we don’t have a better option yet.
For all its conceptual complications, the doctrine of God’s triune nature solves some problems, too, especially, how could God be eternally loving? How could God know anything of relationship at all, apart from his connection to his creation? Relationship is at the heart of reality, but a unitarian God seems to need something other than himself in order to know relationship. The three-person Trinitarian God in whom Christians believe has been in eternal relationship within the Godhead.
Is this sounding any less strange yet to you non-Christians reading? Let me ask you a few questions and see if it helps put things in perspective.
- Does it make sense that if there is a God, God is spirit (immaterial)?
- Does it make sense that if there is a God, he would want to be in relationship with the people he created?
- Does it make sense that if there is a God, he would want to help the people he created?
If so, then the only question is whether there is such a God. If there is, then the idea of him living in and with his people ought not seem so strange after all.
Still there are questions, both for believers and non-believers. Three of them jump out at me. The video series I linked to above answers the third one better than I could. I’ll come back to the first two in upcoming blog posts.
- What does the Holy Spirit do in a Christian’s life? (To be published April 18)
- Why don’t we see that happen more often? (To be published April 20)
- How are we really filled with the Holy Spirit? (See above!)