When we look at the Holy Trinity of Christian theology, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we can all immediately relate to two of the three persons. While not all of us grew up with fathers in our families, we all still have some ideas and expectations of who or what they are, and what they are supposed to do, and not to do. When we become adults, and become fathers and mothers in our own rights, we begin to sense more acutely what the effects of fathers can be in families and upon their children. We can see the effects of ‘underfathered’ families and even underfathered nations and generations. We can appreciate the relevance to families and communities of father figures and father role models – even if we do not fully understand the subtleties or the extent of our underlying needs of and from them.
When we look at the Son, we can quickly grasp His relationship to the Father as an ideal. The Bible is a wonderful resource of simple stories of healings, and teachings which are all focused not on the Son, but on the Father. The role model of the Son which we have in the Bible is clear and simple for all to understand. It reaches down to the most basic instincts of mankind which the Father placed within us as He breathed life into the nostrils of Adam and Eve. The view we have of the Son is not head or cerebral knowledge, but a deep heartfelt gut-wrenching honesty of relationship, which reaches to our innermost being.
As we look to the Son in His messianic personification, again, we find instant rapport with the man who gave His life on a cross at Calvary for us. Though we may not be able to understand the magnitude of His sacrifice or imagine ourselves doing the same under any circumstances, we can all appreciate in awe and wonder, the life he modelled for us. Messianic figures have come to the fore in recent years in books and films: Aslan the Great Lion who died for Edmund in C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ and Neo in ‘The Matrix,’ giving his life to save Zion.
However, when it comes to the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, it seems that we take an altogether different view of Him and His personality. Perhaps language has a great deal to do with this; for the “Holy Spirit” in the 400 year old King James Version of the Bible, was known as the Holy Ghost. Looking at Mark 3:29 as a random sample, we can see the evolving changes in the bible wordings over the years:
King James Version 1611: “But he that shall blaspheme against the holy Ghost, hath neuer forgiuenesse, but is in danger of eternall damnation.”
King James Version 1769: “But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.”
Modern King James Version 1998: “But he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never shall have forgiveness, but is liable to eternal condemnation.”
Given the conditions of widespread persecution of witches, witchcraft and heresy by the Church in the dark ages in Europe from the 5th to the 15th centuries which culminated amongst other things in the horrific Spanish Inquisition of circa 1,500 A.D., we can partially understand why the Holy “Ghost” was perhaps seen with more dread than awe. Yet, this is a totally unbiblical standpoint; for the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost, was sent by Jesus to help us, as Jesus says in Acts 1:8
“But you shall receive power, the Holy Spirit coming upon you. And you shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Here it is clear here that there is a causal relationship between receiving the power of the Holy Spirit and witnessing for Jesus to the ends of the earth.
This gives us a good description of what the Holy Spirit does; gives us power: but does not help us directly to understand who the Holy Spirit is. Much the same way as one looks at electricity, appreciating its power and benefits, it took scientists a long time to figure out that it was formed by the flow of electrons, particles too small for the eye or their rudimentary microscopes to see. But we must be clear here to recognise that the Holy Spirit is not a “thing” – such as power or electricity, but a Person.
Indeed, Jesus, did not leave us in such darkness as the scientists faced, for as He told His disciples in John 14:16-17
“And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, so that He may be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him nor know Him. But you know Him, for He dwells with you and shall be in you.”
He then goes on to add in John 14:26
“But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.”
and in John 15:26
“And when the Comforter has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me.”
then finally adding in John 16:7
“But I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you. But if I depart, I will send Him to you.”
The Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Christian Trinity or Godhead, was introduced to the disciples of Jesus as the Comforter or the “Paraclete.” As Wikipedia says:
“Paraclete comes from the Koine Greek word παράκλητος – paráklētos, that can signify “one who consoles or comforts, one who encourages or uplifts; hence refreshes, and/or one who intercedes on our behalf as an advocate in court.” The word for “Paraclete” ….. signified “called to one’s side”. Though the active form of the word, parakletor, is not found in the New Testament it is found in Job 16:2 and means “comforters”, in the saying of Job regarding the “miserable comforters” who failed to rekindle his spirit in his time of distress.”
If we look at the Holy Spirit in this context, the person and the personality of the Holy Spirit immediately becomes more easy to understand. Because Jesus’s destiny after His resurrection was to sit on the Throne of God at the right side of the Father and intercede for us as a Priest after the Order of Melchizedek, He send the Holy Spirit to be with us as a paraclete, as someone who comes along side in times of trouble to help us; a constant guide, in the form of the Living God Himself.
But the Holy Spirit is more than just a guide, for as John 7:37-38 says
“And in the last day of the great feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
This living water is the Holy Spirit and He is flowing out from us. This is not surprising when one considers the question of First Corinthians 6:19
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit in you, whom you have of God?”
This is who the Holy Spirit it, the presence of God dwelling within us. How much more awesome can it be than that, to be a living temple for the Living God?
The denominations of the Church vary enormously on their views on the Holy Spirit, though all acknowledge His existence and person. Some shy away from the manifestations of the Spirit, while others embrace the manifestations as proof of the presence and the activity of the Spirit.
Growing up in a denomination which revered the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Trinity, but came no closer than that to acknowledging His presence in everyday life, my personal walk with God and more importantly, His walk with me, has led me to see that there is more to the Holy Spirit than is taught in seminaries and preached from pulpits. The Holy Spirit is alive and well and so very active in our lives all the time; we just need to take the scales from our eyes and open them to recognise Him!
Amen and Amen.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I come before you as a believer and I acknowledge Your Son Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour.
I confess that at times I have struggled and sometimes still do struggle with my relationship with Your Holy Spirit. I ask for Your forgiveness and I ask You to overcome my unbelief.
I pray that You will grant me a supernatural gift of faith, such that I shall be forever changed and aligned correctly with You and see You as You want and need me to see You. I offer myself, my whole body and being as a living sacrifice to You, as I lay down my will at Your feet. I ask You to lead me on the path which leads to the narrow gate, that less travelled path.
I pray that You will be a light to my feet and that they will not stumble as I follow You in faith, wherever You take me.
Oh Lord God, please reveal Your Holy Spirit to me in a new way today. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit today and every day. I want you so much. I need you so much.
In Jesus name I pray, Amen and Amen and Amen.