Brief Thoughts on the Holy Spirit

Trusting the Holy Spirit to lead us into deeper awareness of God and personal holiness is a marvelous way to begin. Of course, this is more complex than it sounds but in some respects it really is not complex at all. Even for wise theologians it is difficult to know precisely how to speak about the person of the Holy Spirit, but it is clear, especially from the New Testament, that the Spirit is a “person” in His own right and not just a way of saying “God is at work.” (He speaks of Himself as “I” and “me” in Acts 13:2) What is not difficult to see is this: the Holy Spirit brings glory both to the Father and the Son and part of the way He does that is to reveal the Father and Son to us and enabling us to enter into holy communion with them.

We may not be able to say a lot about His “person” but we can certainly tell a lot about Him by the things He helps us to see, think, speak and do. The Spirit led one great Christian to insist that the only fruit the Spirit produces is the kind that pleases God and reflects His character. See Galatians 5:22-23 on this. In this way, and others, the Spirit makes God accessible to us. He helps us to enter God’s presence, not like we enter a room but in a spiritual union and relationship. And having brought us into God’s house and presence He continues to teach us how to be more and more at home in that house.

Some people so rarely talk about the Holy Spirit that you would think they can get along without Him very well – but they cannot. Others want to talk about nothing but the Spirit and you might get the impression there was no Father or Son – they should not. (And a lot of the time it is not the Spirit they are talking about; they are really talking about themselves.) The great news is that our ignorance of the Spirit’s ‘person’ or the fact that we either ignore Him or thrust Him ahead of the Father and Son does not stop Him from working on our behalf. He still glorifies the Father and Son; He still opens our eyes, deepens our faith and enriches our lives in holiness. Truth is He does not mind not getting “center stage.” Christ sent Him as a “strengthener” and counselor and said, “He will not speak on his own … He will bring glory to me.” (John 16:13-14) That is the Holy Spirit for you; sent from the Father and glad to glorify the Father’s Son by instructing, transforming and sanctifying humans.

We do mean to say that the Spirit does not mind us sidelining Him. He certainly does, because to sideline Him is to shut doors and retard growth in intimacy with God. The Spirit is utterly and ceaselessly opposed to the evil within and around us (Galatians 5:17) so there is a ruthlessness about Him. This means he is in earnest about bringing God and us together and that in turn means we can trust Him to get us there. In fact, the Scriptures will say that the presence of the Spirit in the church is the guarantee and down payment of the completed glorification.

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