Not only should we look Christ-like on the outside, but we should operate Christ-like on the inside. Many church goers have the appearance of Christian automobiles, they have a religious exterior, but if we were to lift the hood, what would we find? What is powering most Christians today? The more important question would be: Is the engine that powered Christ under the hood of your life...or are you running on a self made knock off?
The last installment of our survey of the doctrine of sanctification ended with a bold statement. The statement was as follows:
In the time between the ascension of Jesus and His return to rapture the church, the activity of God on earth and in the lives of man will only be carried out by the Holy Spirit. He and He alone is the hand of God on earth. Therefore, we must learn WHO He is, WHAT He does, and HOW He does it. Otherwise, we will miss God all together.
If this statement is true, and I believe it is, then we have a divine mandate to seek after a functional understanding of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is the hand of God on earth, then we MUST have His operation in our lives. We cannot ignore the importance of His ministry and we MUST continue to learn how to position our lives in such a way that He can do His all important work. Moreover, a mere understanding is not enough; we also must be able to live out what we know. Or, more appropriately, allow the Holy Spirit to live out His ministry through us.
Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest made a significant point that alludes to the need for a Christian to seek understanding where the Holy Spirit is concerned.
“…just as Jesus never saves a person until that person recognizes Him a Savior and by an act of his own free will puts his trust in Him, so the Holy Spirit is waiting for the Christian to recognize His ministry, and by an act of his free will trust Him to perform it.”
As I stated in the previous blog post, most Christians have a misplaced understanding of the true ministry of the Holy Spirit. These misunderstandings range from believing the Holy Spirit’s job is to provoke emotional outburst to ignoring Him all together. Both of which are wrong and neither of which result in allowing the Holy Spirit to actually affect the lives of said believer. Meanwhile, the Sanctifier is patiently waiting for the believer to recognize His true ministry and allow Him to perform it.
In the next blog posts, I want to deal with three questions. The answers to these questions will help build a basic understanding of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The questions are as follows: WHO is He? WHAT does He do? And HOW does He do it? In the following few paragraphs, we will approach the first question.
WHO IS THE HOLY SPIRIT
The short and obvious answer….HE IS GOD!
The Holy Spirit is not a lesser part of the God head. He is not the most important part of the God head. He is as equally God as the Father and the Son. He is all powerful, all knowing, and all present. He is limitless and He cannot be diminished. He is bound by only one factor…the laws He has set for Himself. He is truth, He is love, and He is sovereign. As a part of the God head, the Holy Trinity, He has a specific/particular role or personage that He fulfills. This gives the Holy Spirit individuality, but it does not place Him in a pecking order…for HE IS GOD!
Now, most of you have learned nothing by what I’ve just stated…because most any Christian would hear these words, and agree with them. However, most Christians don’t really grasp the concept of the role of the Spirit. So let’s discuss WHO He is from a different angle…let’s talk about Moses and Joshua…let’s talk dynastic succession.
MOSES and JOSHUA
In Deuteronomy chapter 31, a landmark event took place in Israel’s history. Moses, the great leader of the people, the mediator of the old covenant, the law giver, addressed the people. To the utter shock of the Israelites, I’m sure; Moses made an announcement that would change things entirely…He would not be entering the Promise Land.
1 And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel. 2 And he said unto them, I am a hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the Lord hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.
This announcement must have been earth shattering to the masses. I imagine it brought both fear and confusion. Moses represented so much to the nation…leadership, provision, council, protection, wisdom. He was the one that sought the very face of God on behalf of the people. He had been used by God to open the doors of Egypt, to part the sea, to provide food and water, to bring the law, to defend against the enemy, and heal them from the poison of the snakes. Now, he was telling them that he would not lead them into the very purpose for which they had stuck out over 40 years before. They would be crossing the Jordon into the Promise Land without him.
Verses 1 and 2 of Deuteronomy 31 were Israel’s worst nightmare come true. Verses 3 and 6 proved once again that in the midst of confusion God always has a plan.
3 The Lord thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the Lord hath said.
6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
God’s plan for the nation was Joshua. And with Joshua at the helm, the children of Israel would begin a campaign of victory that claimed the land they were predestined to indwell. Moses had a specific purpose and role that he was called to by God. He accomplished and represented more in the Old Testament than perhaps any other person therein. However, it was Joshua’s divine calling to lead the conquest of Canaan. In the 31st chapter of Deuteronomy, we see the passing of the torch, so to speak, as Moses announced to Israel that He was stepping away, and that God had appointed a new leader. Now the people would look to Joshua as he fulfilled the same responsibilities that Moses had once performed. He would become leader, protector, guide, councilor, general, and judge. This changing of the guard is known as dynastic succession: the replacement of a dynasty’s supreme leader with his/her successor.
JESUS and the HOLY SPIRIT
Now turn in your Bible to the 13th chapter of the book of John, and flash forward several hundred years to an upper room as a landmark event is taking place in the lives of 12 men. Jesus, the great leader of the disciples, the mediator of the new covenant, the grace giver, addressed his followers. To the utter shock of the disciples, I’m sure; Jesus made an announcement that would change things entirely…He was going away.
33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you.36 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?”Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”
This announcement must have been earth shattering to the disciples. I imagine it brought both fear and confusion. Jesus represented so much to these men…leadership, provision, council, protection, wisdom. He was the one that sought the very face of God on their behalf. He had been used by God to open their hearts to ministry, to calm the sea, to provide spiritual food and water, to fulfill the law, to defend against the enemy, and heal them from the poison of the sin nature. Now, he was telling them that he would not lead them into the very purpose for which they had stuck out over 3 years before. They would be crossing over into the world wide evangelism of the Gospel without Him.
Verses 33 and 36 of John 13 were the disciple’s worst nightmare come true. Verses 16 and 17 of chapter 14 proved once again that in the midst of confusion God always has a plan.16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
God’s plan for the disciples was the Holy Spirit. And with the Holy Spirit at the helm, they would begin a campaign of victory that claimed the spiritual land they were predestined to indwell. Jesus had a specific purpose and role that he was called to by God. He accomplished and represented more than any other person in history. However, it was the Holy Spirit’s divine ministry to lead the Church. In the 13th-16th chapter of John, we see the passing of the torch, so to speak, as Jesus announced to the disciples that He was stepping away, and that God had appointed a new leader. Now the people would look to the Holy Spirit as He fulfilled the same responsibilities that Jesus had once performed. He would become leader, protector, guide, councilor, general, and judge. This changing of the guard is another example of dynastic succession.
I want to tie this all together by making one more point. I want to give attention to a particular word in John 14:16. Jesus said, “and he (God) shall give you another Comforter.” The word “Comforter” is the Greek word parakletos. It means one who is called to another's side to aid him, as an advocate in a court of justice, a helper, a councilor. Notice the word Comforter is capitalized, giving it the notation of deity. As I said before, the Holy Spirit is God. Jesus is saying that God would send another one to take his place, and the replacement would stand beside them in the same fashion that Jesus had. Also, notice the word “another”. In the Greek this word states that the one coming would be the same kind as the one being replaced. In short, Jesus was leaving, and the Holy Spirit was coming to pick up where He left off, to assume the same position Christ held for the disciples, with one obvious difference. Jesus said in verse 17, “for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Jesus led the disciples while dwelling “with” them, the Holy Spirit leads us while dwelling “in” us.
Now back to the original question: WHO is the Holy Spirit?
Answer: He is the dynastic successor of Jesus Christ. He is our paraclete. As Joshua was the successor of Moses, and the Old Testament paraclete appointed by God to lead the people as they conquered the Promised Land of Canaan. So the Holy Spirit is to you and me. He is the one that will lead us as we conquer the Promised Land of Christian sanctification.