Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2011 11:31 am
The Messenger, May 26, 2011
He shall testify
By WALLY BUMPAS
Special to The Messenger
Nowhere do human beings show their silly arrogance more than when they look up at God and say, “If I can’t figure it out, it must not be true, or at least not very important.”
Many key doctrines of Christianity have suffered at the hands of such non-thinking. Take the Trinity, for instance. The Bible reveals a God who is one, yet exists in three persons. This is not a contradiction, but it is a mystery. Since this conception of God is mysterious, does that make it “a piece of theological lumber that we can get along very happily without?” to quote J.I. Packer. No indeed, for Christianity is Trinitarian. And if one’s conception of God is not Trinitarian, it is not Christianity.
The previous article spoke of the second person of the triune God: Jesus Christ, the God-man, God incarnate. John’s gospel begins by throwing us into the deep end of theology. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … The Word became flesh.” (John 1:1, 14). Here we clearly have a plurality of persons who are both God.
Later in this same gospel of John, we read of Jesus promising His disciples that after He is gone, He will send them the gift of “another Comforter.” (14:16) This Comforter, as Jesus goes on to specify, is none other than the Holy Spirit, whom Christians confess as the third person of the Trinity.
Notice I said “whom.” The Holy Spirit is a person. What comes to mind when many hear mention of the Holy Spirit? Some think of a vague power, like the force of Star Wars fame. Some may think of the use (or misuse) of gifts of the Spirit, such as speaking in tongues. Some may just think “spooky.” Perhaps a great many, even among professing Christians, aren’t sure what to think. This may be due to a scarcity of teaching on the Holy Spirit in our churches. That would be quite remarkable, since without the Holy Spirit, there would be no Bible, no gospel to tell, no faith and not a single Christian in the world!
As recorded in John 14-16, Jesus told His disciples the Spirit would help them recall His words and reveal to them more truth that they were not yet able to grasp. That’s what happened and the result is our New Testament.
In John 3, Jesus taught the religious (but lost) Nicodemus that the new birth is the work of the Holy Spirit. This means that evangelism needs no clever human gimmicks, just plain truth-telling with prayer for the Spirit’s work. Once we are “born again” (a miracle only God could perform), we begin a long struggle to walk faithfully through this life, following hard after Christ.
To say that we need comfort along the way is quite the understatement. This is exactly how our Lord spoke of the Holy Spirit. He is the Comforter (obviously a person), who comforts us just as Jesus did in the days when He walked the earth. The Spirit is “another Comforter,” another just like the Lord Himself.
All that God the Holy Spirit does can be summarized by the words of Jesus in John 15:26: “He shall testify of Me.” The Holy Spirit’s “job” in the great plan and purpose of redemption is to point to Jesus. The theme of the Bible is Jesus. The reason for the new birth is so we can see and run to Jesus. The Spirit holds the spotlight steady on Jesus. This is the test of whether a life is Spirit-filled, or whether a church is filled with the Spirit. Is Jesus the main attraction? Is He our greatest treasure?
Editor’s note: Wally Bumpas serves as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Dyersburg.