Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Bible Term: Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit (sometimes called the Holy Ghost) is the third part of the Godhead (or Trinity), which is comprised of the Father, the Son (Jesus, the Christ), and the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus came to earth, the Father gave him the Holy Spirit (John 3:34).

Later, the Holy Spirit was sent to guide and direct Jesus’ followers after he ascended into heaven (Luke 24:49 and Acts 2:1-4).

Now, the Holy Spirit works to draw people to Jesus and guide those who follow him.

Obey God

In the post “Hear God” we looked at Jesus’ instruction to “hear the word of God and obey it.”

“Hear the word of God” is usually understood to mean “read the Bible,” but it might be more correct to comprehend it as meaning “listen to the Holy Spirit.”

Regardless, the concluding part, to “obey,” is the critical aspect.

When it comes to obeying the Bible, we do so selectively. We take some parts literally and some figuratively. We discard some commands as no longer being relevant and we interpret others from the perspective of modern society. We may obey the Bible, but I fear we all obey it in part.

Then there’s obeying the words, the promptings, of the Holy Spirit. This can be even more confusing. Did we hear correctly? What if we only heard part of the message? Did we understand it fully? Do we interpret the words literally or figuratively?

While we may not hear everything, everything we do hear, we should obey.

[Luke 11:28]

Pray for the Holy Spirit

For much of my life when I would stumble upon a confusing section in the Bible, I would rush through it to reach something else that made more sense. Lately, I’ve been doing the opposite. When I reach a confusing passage, I linger, seeking to dig deeper, contemplate more fully, and discover hidden truths.

Such is the case with Luke 11:13. Jesus is wrapping up his teaching on prayer, about how to pray, what to pray for, and God’s goodness in answering our requests, when he throws a curve ball. He concludes by saying God will give the Holy Spirit to all who ask.

Wait, where did that come from? Jesus was talking about praying for our daily needs, for food, and for forgiveness and protection from evil and stuff like that, when suddenly he mentions praying for the Holy Spirit. Why?

I’m still contemplating this, but have a few initial ideas:

  • Of all the things we can pray for, asking for the Holy Spirit (his guidance, filling, control, or whatever word you wish to use to understand his functioning in our lives) is perhaps the most important request we can make.
  • We need to first have the Holy Spirit to properly form all our other prayers.
  • We can be assured Father God will give us the Holy Spirit when we ask.
  • Our parents know how to give us what is good, even more so with God, who knows the best gift is the Holy Spirit.

I suppose there’s validity in each of these statement and I suspect there’s even more we can glean from this verse. I will continue to meditate on it and encourage you to so the same.

[Luke 11:1-13]

More Holy Spirit Power

The Bible writes that Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit and the result of this spiritual/physical union was Jesus — it was a virgin birth.

This supernatural impregnation was the spiritual superseding the physical. And if God can do that, he can certainly heal our bodies and restore us to health. He has the power to do that. (When and why he does so is a different discussion for a different time.)

However, there are some within Christendom who deny the possibility that a baby could be conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. These are often the people who also disregard God being able to heal. Their view of God is more limited than mine, but just because our respective understandings of God are different, it would be wrong to assume one is right and the other, wrong.

God is a big God and even the grandest of our comprehensions of him are small and understated. So we understand him the best we can and to the degree we are able — and I suspect that is enough.

[Luke 1:35]

Holy Spirit Power

Although the terminology and even the timing vary between the various Christian traditions and perspectives, a generality is that first someone decides to follow Jesus and then the Holy Spirit is given to guide and direct them. While each stream of Christian thought assigns different terms to these events and has a diversity of understanding as to the how and why, this is the generally prescribed order.

So how then does this square with John the Baptist being “filled with the Holy Spirit even before he his was born?” Things certainly seem out of sequence for him.

True, it would be unwise to rewrite our theology on the basis of one verse that seems to offer an exception to our understanding of the normal order of how things are done. However, at the least, this verse should give us pause before we adamantly assert there is a specific way and time for one to receive the Holy Spirit.

Apparently, not everyone’s journey to God is exactly the same.

[Luke 1:15]

Obey God Regardless

The seventh sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 20:16-37 (specifically Acts 20:18-35)

Setting: Miletus

Speaker: Paul

Audience: Elders from the church of Ephesus

Preceding Events: Paul, compelled by the Holy Spirit, is steadfastly traveling to Jerusalem.

Overall Theme: Paul gives his personal testimony (he has worked hard for God, has no regrets, and is obeying the Holy Spirit) and offers encouragement to the elders.

Scripture Quoted: Paul quotes Jesus, but those words are not directly found in the gospel accounts of Jesus.

Central Teaching: Paul will do what God tells him, even though it will result in hardships.

Subsequent Events: Paul leaves and once in Jerusalem is thrown in prison.

Key Lesson: Doing what God tells us to do is more important than our own safety and comfort.

The Third Time’s a Charm

In Jude’s short letter, he often writes in triads, listing three items or offering three examples.  He does this with such regularity that when he deviates from this in verse 12, I thought I had misread the text.  Consider the following triplets:

  • three actions of God: called, loved, and kept (and if you implicitly see the Holy Spirit in doing the calling, then the Trinity is implied here as well: Holy Spirit, Father, and Jesus); verse 1.
  • three blessings: mercy, peace, and love; verse 2.
  • three historic warnings: leaving Egypt, deserting angels, and Sodom and Gomorrah; verses 5-7.
  • three negative actions: pollute their bodies, reject authority, and slander angels; verse 8.
  • three bad examples: Cain, Balaam, and Korah; verse 11.
  • five negative allusions: shepherds who feed only themselves, clouds without rain, dead autumn trees, wild waves, wandering stars; verse 12.
  • three characteristics of ungodly men in the church: cause division, follow natural instincts, and do not have the Spirit; verse 19.
  • three prescriptions: build up your faith, pray in the Holy Spirit, and stay in God’s love; verses 20-21.
  • three ways to show mercy: help doubters, save others from destruction, and carefully rescue others without being taken down; verse 22.
  • three attributes of God: keeps us from falling, presents us without fault, and has great joy; verse 24.
  • four praises for God: glory, majesty, power, and authority; verse 25.

As someone who also has a propensity of writing in threes, Jude’s style is especially appealing to me.

[read Jude 1]

Jude’s Advice

In Jude’s letter, he warns Jesus’ followers to be on the alert for ungodly people in the church.

After detailing their characteristics, Jude tucks in a bit of advice at the end of his letter.  Implicitly, it is his recommendations on how followers of Jesus can avoid being ungodly, offering three prescriptions to promote godliness:

  1. Build up your faith.
  2. Pray in the Holy Spirit.
  3. Remain in God’s love.

These, then, are three essentials that we are to actively pursue: faith, prayer, and love.

Although some items on Jude’s list of ungodly behaviors may be far removed from us, other aspects might be quite close, such as speaking against things we don’t understand and being divisive.  What about grumbling and finding fault?  For those who follow Jesus, these are apparently all forms of ungodliness.

However, we can do much to avoid these errors as we actively seek to build up our faith, pray with the Holy Spirit’s power, and abide in the love of God.

By following Jude’s advice, we can avoid the error of ungodliness.

[Jude 1:20-21]