Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, April 5, 2012 6:12 pm
The Messenger, April 5, 2012
The Person of the Holy Spirit
By CAMILLE KENDALL
Special to The Messenger
When I was a newlywed, a friend confided in me that she was involved in an immoral relationship with a man who was not her husband.
“But you know this is wrong!” I protested. “It’s absolutely contrary to what God calls you to in Scripture!”
“Actually,” my friend replied, “I know this relationship is okay with God, because I haven’t felt convicted about it. If my sleeping with this guy was wrong, the Holy Spirit would make me feel guilty … and I don’t feel guilty at all.”
My friend with the seared conscience was blatantly sinning, and then using the name of the Holy Spirit to justify her sinful feelings and actions. Ever been there? Ever thought the Holy Spirit was just a “feeling” that validated your actions? Or maybe you’ve thought of Him more as a magic wand — grab Him and you have the power to do whatever you want. Or perhaps you imagine Him as a vague, shadowy ghost, and so you really don’t want to think about Him at all.
Continuing through the Apostles’ Creed, Question 53 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks: What do you believe concerning “the Holy Spirit”? Answer: First, He, as well as the Father and the Son, is eternal God. Second, He has been given to me personally, so that, by true faith, He makes me share in Christ and all His blessings, comforts me, and remains with me forever.
The Holy Spirit is a person, an “individual” — the third person of the Holy Trinity. We think of God as our Father and of Jesus as God’s Son, but we often wrongly think of the Holy Spirit as some “feeling” or a disembodied energy source. J.I. Packer writes: “The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force put at our disposal or harnessed to our wills; rather, the Spirit is a sovereign person who at His own will, which is also the will of the Father and the Son, disposes of us.” (”Rediscovering Holiness,” Regal Publishing)
In John 14:16, the Holy Spirit is called our paraclete: He is our helper, advocate, counselor, supporter and encourager. Paraclete refers to a person, not a feeling or a force. Yes, the Holy Spirit is described in scripture using symbols of fire and wind — but this serves to emphasize the truth that He moves where He wills (not where WE will Him to move) and works as He chooses (not as WE choose). The Holy Spirit is fully God: He has a will (the very will of God), and He does as He pleases.
The Holy Spirit is a person, and He relates to us personally, as individuals. Like God the Father, the Holy Spirit is present everywhere. But He is not just “out there, somewhere” — if I am a Christian, the Holy Spirit also lives within me (I Corinthians 6:19) and He makes His dwelling in my heart (II Corinthian 1:22 and 13:14; Galatians 4:6). The Holy Spirit is really and practically present with me, communing with me even as I go about the business of daily life.
What is He like, this third person of the Godhead? As Packer puts it: “He is, so to speak, shy and faceless … He does not call attention to Himself.”
This does not surprise us, if we look at the testimony of Scripture. Although we meet both Christ and the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, the emphasis of the Old Testament is on God the Father, the God who created and redeems a people for Himself. The New Testament focuses mainly on the One who, according to the Father’s plan, redeems sinners — Jesus, the Son. What does Jesus do? He points us back to the Father and restores us to the joyful fellowship for which we were created. (Or, if we petulantly insist “Not Thy will be done, but mine!” and remain unrepentant, Jesus condemns us to an eternity separated from the Father.)
The Holy Spirit, in turn, points us to Christ. He does not introduce Himself by announcing, “Look at Me!” Rather, the Holy Spirit quietly and persistently moves us to look at Jesus and be more like Him.
Next week, we’ll look at some of the ways the Spirit does just exactly that.
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Editor’s note: Camille Kendall, wife, homeschool mom and redeemed sinner, is a member of Grace Presbyterian Church in Troy.