Ten Turning Points: The Holy Spirit and the Believer

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.

  1. What does the Holy Spirit do in a Christian’s life? (To be published April 18)
  2. Why don’t we see that happen more often? (To be published April 20)
  3. How are we really filled with the Holy Spirit? (See above!)

 

Comments

  1. Victoria

    @Tom
    Oh, I’ve been looking forward to this turning point! I’ve posted in numerous threads about the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. It should be a spirited (pun not really intended 🙂 ) discussion, for the skeptics will be personally challenged by the Spirit of God here.

    But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6“But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7“But 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 go, I will send Him to you. 8“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
    12“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14“He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15“All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you
    (John 16:5-17 NASB).

  2. Alex

    Tom,

    I am a 21 year old bloke living in Australia and after following this blog for about two months, I want to let you know that I thank God for the way you have encouraged me, and most likely many others, with every post and comment on this site.

    By observing your conduct and careful examination of ideas, I have learnt so much regarding how to think clearly about my Christian worldview and how to share my beliefs humbly yet with conviction with those around me. So thank you!

    Lastly I want to thank God for your efforts in writing this series and especially so for the video link you gave regarding how we as Christians can be filled with the Spirit.
    It was so exciting to learn that God simply wants us to ask Him to fill us and will be happy to do so if we just trust His promises!

    Keep running the race God has set before you because the Holy Spirit is active in using your efforts for God’s glory – even in Australia.

    Alex

  3. Alan Crookham

    Holy Spirit is so awesome! He is God just as much as Jesus or Father. It is wonderful that the church is waking up to this reality today, and allowing Holy Spirit to work through them. Great posts!

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