The Holy Spirit – He is a Person

First, a little pre-prayer meditation.  (This is actually a good practice to do every day before morning prayers.)

  “Be still and know that I am God. 

I will be exalted among the nations;

I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46:10


“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to You.”  James 4:8

Father, thank You are more evident to me, when I turn my full attention to You.  I acknowledge I come only on the basis of Jesus’ perfect blood sacrifice and nothing I  do could ever earn my redemption.  I am nothing without Jesus’ mercy and grace extended to me.  Strip away my self-sufficiency. I have only filthy rags and sawdust to lay before You Lord, but I offer You my life and will.  Fill me, this moment, Father, with Your blessed Holy Spirit.  Guide me, teach me, give me a spirit of adjustment to Your truth as You reveal it to me. In Jesus’ name I pray these things to His glory, Amen.

The pursuit of the Spirit-filled life begins by accepting that yes, there is such a life.  We can and were meant to experience it as believers in Christ; and yes, the Spirit Who indwells has the power and desire to bring about great change in a person’s character and perspective on life.

Getting to this point of acceptance requires a change in our old understanding.  In Romans 12:2, we are told “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is. . . .”  Only when we can accept what God says is true, can we then act upon it.  Faith follows truth and does not try to create truth.   An understanding of what God puts forth in His Word as truth is the first step in getting to the place of the Spirit-filled life.  Only then can it be put into practice.

  1. The Spirit is a Person

The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, along with the Father and the Son.  The concept of the Trinity is mind-boggling even for the best of theologians.  Three-yet-One.  Three separate Personalities and overall roles to fulfill, but still One God.

I have a friend who came up with an analogy for the Trinity that a modern-day believer can easily grasp.  She states that the Trinity is rather like those shampoo/conditioner/body wash products that are on the market.  A three-in-one.  It supposedly will accomplish each of the functions it says it will, when applied in the right places.  Each Person of the Trinity accomplishes His very definite roles and functions within the universe and beyond, yet Each is of the same Essence. A simplistic way for us to remember the functionality of the Persons of God perhaps, but memorable.

Is it hard for you to think of the Holy Spirit as a real Person, instead of an impersonal “it”?  In my own upbringing, I heard preaching and teaching that described the Holy Spirit in this way.  I think this probably because the KJV often translates verses that relate to the Holy Spirit as “it.”  The New Age supporters have picked up on this reference and talk about the Holy Spirit in a similar way, as if He is some sort of divine energy source that indwells all of humankind. This distorted view leads them to believe that each person’s greatest responsibility is to develop the spirit within and move to a greater understanding of personal deity and oneness with all people.  Hogwash.

The Holy Spirit as “it” is in opposition to what God’s Word says, however.  An examination of cursory New Testament verses in a newer translation will debunk the untruth of the Holy Spirit as an impersonal entity.  One example of a verse is John 16:13 where it says, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.”  The “He” cannot be translated as “it”—going back to the original Greek word makes it impossible to do so.

Moreover, the Spirit is also correctly referred to with a masculine pronoun “He,” and never “She.”  God is always, always referred to as “He” in the original languages of Aramaic and Greek. This is not a chauvinistic contrivance.  This was God’s choice to describe Himself this way, as He always chooses His own names for Himself and has His own reasons for doing so.  We are reminded in Is. 55:9 that “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  We have to accept that God’s names for Himself are perfect and altogether right, just as He is perfect in all things.

Charles Stanley, the well-known pastor and Bible teacher, says that the Bible not only refers to the Holy Spirit as “He” but has all the distinctives of personality.  He says “The Holy Spirit is described as having 1) knowledge; 2) will; and 3) emotion.”  In the case of the Holy Spirit possessing knowledge, he quotes the apostle Paul:

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him?  Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not one spirit of the world, but the Spirit Who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God.

–I Cor. 2:11-12

Paraphrased, the Holy Spirit knows the thoughts of God and He imparts this knowledge to believers.

Secondly, the Holy Spirit’s will is described in another of Paul’s writings in I Corinthians:

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

–I Cor. 12:11

Stanley says, “The Holy Spirit makes decisions.  He is not a power to be harnessed and manipulated.  He has a mind and will of His own.  To tap into the Holy Spirit is not to enhance one’s ability to carry out one’s will. . . On the contrary, the power of the Holy Spirit is available only to those whose intention is to carry out His Will.”

Lastly, the Holy Spirit embodies emotions.  “He has feelings,” says Stanley.  Paul wrote the believers in Ephesus not to “grieve” the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30).  In Romans 15:30 Paul also referred to the “love of the Spirit.”  Grief and love are certainly terms associated with emotion.  With all these three aspects of personality in mind, it makes sense to think of the Holy Spirit as a Person.

Next time, we will examine the Holy Spirit in His Eternality and His Omnipotence.  Before leaving today’s truths, let’s thank God for His Word and confess our wrong ideas regarding the Holy Spirit.

Father, thank You for Your blessed Holy Spirit, Who is a Person and in equal standing with You and with Jesus.  Forgive me for the times where I’ve only thought or spoken about Him as an impersonal “it,” Lord.  I know He is a Person Who deserves my highest respect and acknowledgement for His authority in my life.  Thank You again for the continued scriptural truths which You will make evident to me and permeate my thinking with, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ name only I come to You, Amen.

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn/Acts 2:28

The Holy Spirit – An Introduction, Part Two

First, a short prayer—Thank You, Father God, for the compass of Your Word.  Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit Who distills and instills Your Word into our lives.  We want to know You, Lord, in a more intimate, deeper walk.  Teach us how to be truly teachable. We ask these things in Jesus’ precious name because they will honor and glorify You. Amen.

I asked in an earlier post why it is that we believers in the conservative American church know far less about and acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s daily role in our lives, as compared to the Father and to Jesus.  I received some interesting answers.  Most folks can’t really seem to put their finger on the reason.

Maybe it has to do with what we believe about God:

  • The Holy Spirit is not set forth in Scripture as the Object or Initiator in the work of atoning salvation as the Father and Son are.
  • Or because the Father and Son are constantly associated with each Other in Scripture, and no personal declarations are ever recorded as coming from the Spirit.
  • Or better yet, the Spirit’s work as Executor of God’s will is often attributed in an impersonal way to God in general, instead of specifically to Him.

Each of these reasons has its own merits.  However, I think it has less to do with theology than it does our own deep-seated fears.

  • Fear of swinging too far towards emotionalism in the Spirit realm.  Please don’t make us like that charismatic group down the street that gets all hyped up and “lets loose” in the church house.
  • Fear of what God might want or require of us, should we really get to know Him in an intimate way.  Please, Lord, I don’t want You to send me to be a missionary overseas.
  • Perhaps it’s just due to our comfortable-where-I’m-at, laissez-faire way of living in the States.  American Christians (and I include myself in this) have become attendance-driven, entertainment-seeking consumers.  Too many times we often look like, act like the world.  We don’t relate well at all to the picture of a self-sacrificing servant, keenly attuned to the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice.   That level of Christianity is best suited to the most dedicated, to the most spiritual among us.  We’re not ready to go to that kind of trouble. Yet.

Whatever the reason, it’s clear.  The something that most of us feel is deeply missing from our churches and lives is actually a Someone, the third Person of the Trinity, God’s palpable presence in our world.

Frances Chan in his excellent book Forgotten God says:

Without Him [the Holy Spirit], people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-size results.  The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation.  And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit.  But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural.  The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.

If we are honest, we admit we’ve missed the boat much of the time in experiencing the Spirit.  To see this first-hand, one only needs to travel any of several places around the globe where God’s Church is Spirit-rich.  Those local bodies are full of His workings and there in their midst, we are the real paupers.  These impoverished, often persecuted believers have no recourse but to depend on the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives, or they perish.  The evidence?  Outpourings of spiritual blessings abound.  Lives are supernaturally changed.  Laid side-by-side next to a description of the first-century church, they resemble the early church much more than we do.

Then how do we, the American conservative church,experience the Holy Spirit more richly? How do we change the status quo?

Or is the real question:  Do we want to change?

God wants humble hearts.  Teachable spirits.  We may already possess some biblical head knowledge of the Spirit.  But unless that knowledge makes its way down into the heart, and into a tender heart at that, the Spirit’s work in us will be stunted, repressed, quenched.   God wants so much to display Himself through His people.  And to what end?  You know this already—it is because He intensely desires to draw all men (and women, and children) to a saving grace of Jesus Christ.

So a fervent desire for more of Him, in cooperation with a thorough examination of the Scriptures— to make sure we’re seeing things the way God sees it—is the path to discovering the Person of the Holy Spirit.   The Holy Spirit reveals His special work from the beginning of Genesis creation, until the end of days in Revelation’s apocalypse.  In future posts, we’ll examine the Holy Spirit’s attributes and roles throughout Scripture and glean what this means for us as believers.

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn/Eph. 5:16-17

Rubbing Shoulders with a Gritty World

Jesus commands us to be salt and light in this world, a task very hard to do.  This is because of the almost seven billion other people who live on this planet, the ones we bump into everyday.

Even though we believers have the incredible indwelling of the Holy Spirit available to empower us to be a “Christ-like one” in front of them, we usually allow the world to dictate how we roll—and that’s usually down in the grime with them. Those folks are down in the dirt because they can’t help it; we, however, can.

I use myself as a prime example.  Last Saturday I went to do my first errand, the grocery store.  I picked up a few items, headed for the, you guessed it, the express line.  There were fewer people in my line and, hey, each only had a few things—I’d get in and out quicker, right?  Wrong.  One by one, the people in the express line in front of me each had a problem.  One dear lady couldn’t get her credit card to swipe.  Another took her blessed time in handwriting a check for her groceries.   Another decided he really didn’t want one or two items after all, and could the nice cashier take it off his bill?  I breathed deeply, rolled my eyes, and tried to take it in stride.

Then I drove down the 15-501 bypass to my next destination, merging into the fast lane.  I’m staying just ten miles above the speed limit, passing up some major turtles in the slow lane.  I was zipping along, doing great, until a big black pick-up truck with some major attitude decides I’m not going fast enough in the fast lane for him.  I can tell this by the way he hangs on my bumper.  So I look for a safe opportunity to get out of his way, but I’ve still got a bank of cars on my right.  I finally see my break coming, plan my move.  I flip my turn signal on to get over, look in my rearview, and notice he’s gone.

It’s then that I hear him.  Now he’s in the right lane, barreling down, racing to get ahead of me.  Just about the time we reach another turtle in the right lane, the humongous truck whips over in the fast lane just ahead of me, missing me by inches, giving me a discourteous salute as he leaves me in his dust.  I would like to say I handled that situation correctly.  But I didn’t. My patience was pretty thin by now. I must admit I said a few unkind things about the thoughtless driver who almost bought the farm and took me along with him.

Next I dashed into Target. I did a quick grab-by of an armful of things and what I thought were a couple of tasteful graduation cards and headed to the checkout.  Again, I chose what I thought was the shortest line. The two college-age young ladies in front of me loaded their various picnic items onto the conveyor belt, leaving their shopping cart to clog the very back of the aisle where I was, juggling my bulky items. They never moved the cart to the opposite end where they were both bagging groceries, each carrying on separate conversations with their cell phones glued to their ears.  Okay, they’re distracted, I think.

The cashier rings up the total.  At that exact moment, one girl turns to the other in wide-eyed innocence, saying, “Oh, you know, I forgot the beer.”  She squeezes past the cart that’s still blocking the way, squeezes past me with my arms full, and saunters out toward the grocery section of the store.

The cashier asks the second girl for the money and she calmly nods in the general direction of the first.  She tells the cashier her friend’s going to pay. Besides, she’ll be right back, it shouldn’t take too long.  She stands on tiptoe, occasionally looking for her forgetful friend, still chattering away incessantly on her phone. The cashier eyes those bags upon bags of groceries, and decides right then and there that she’s not going to cancel the order and have all that work to do for the second time.

So there we stand, the four of us (there is now another woman behind me).  We wait. The cashier and young woman never meet my eyes, never bother to acknowledge that there’s going to be a delay, sorry about that.

That’s it—I snap.  I suddenly shove the cart way forward with my hip; I can’t push it with my hands because I might drop something I’m holding and break it.  My face is red-hot, I feel my blood pressure rise, and everyone around can now tell that I am not amused.  I release my items to the belt with a thump.  The first girl finally takes the hint, silently pulls the cart the rest of the way to the end, finally starts loading her groceries.  I keep fuming and glancing at my watch, because I know I have better things to do with my Saturday instead of standing in line at Target.

The second girl flits up nonchalantly, pushing past me, past her friend, rings up her twelve-pack, pays for the whole kit and caboodle, and finally leaves.  I was still entertaining unpleasant thoughts about the inconsiderate duo as I crossed over into the parking lot.

Within the confines of my car on the way home (and in the slow lane, I might add) the Lord nudged me.  I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, graciously forgiven, washed clean by the blood of the Lamb, privileged to live within the abundance of His blessings—but sadly, I couldn’t endure one afternoon of rubbing shoulders with the world before I became just like them.  I had to confess my sin right then and there.

In each situation, I failed.  I didn’t see those people through Holy Spirit eyes.  I just saw my “rights” being violated.  That’s the problem with being in the world—we often get dirty.  Our thoughts, our actions slowly degenerate into something quite different than we intended.  It’s usually about that point we raise a defiant fist and declare “We ain’t gonna take it no more!”

We cannot be salt and light by ourselves, admit it.  That’s why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us, to empower us.  But we have to be willing to listen to His still, small voice, to follow His lead, and to be obedient.

Let’s be Christ followers and not dirt wallowers.  It’s our choice.

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn/Ps. 19:1