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November 22, 2010

The Influence of the Holy Spirit

Filed under: Uncategorized — kevinocoin @ 7:38 am
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Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven (1 Peter 1:10-12a).

Twice in this passage Peter mentions the compelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of Christ inside the prophets was pointing them to the proper words, compelling them to record the very words of Scripture.  And the source of the power of their preaching is identified as the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.

This is a description of the kind of relationship that every New Covenant believer is allowed to have with the Holy Spirit, who dwells inside of us as God himself.  The Spirit guides and directs, and gives power to our speech.

Often it seems that the problem with the Holy Spirit is that people don’t feel like they are filled with Spirit, and therefore don’t act as if they do in fact have the presence of Christ living inside of them.  This is not to discount the fact that Jesus desires to fill our hearts with joy and love for him, and can do so overwhelmingly at times, but simply to suggest that we ought to take God at his word, which is that he is within us and that he will never leave or forsake us.  Once we become believers, the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us, always ready to empower us to the live the life of discipleship to which Christ has called us, whether or not we “feel” him in our lives. 

So how would we live our lives differently if we truly and at all times believed that Jesus has taken up permanent residence inside of our physical person and is at all times waiting to direct our paths and empower us to make godly decisions?  I for one, if I really got that inside of me, would never stare temptation in the face and think “this is to much for me.”  We are not alone in the struggle.

2 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the encouragement Pastor Kevin.

    But I have some questions.

    At first you talk about the Holy Sprit (HS) dwelling in us, and then later talk about Jesus taking up “permanent residence inside of our physical person.” I have two questions that arise from this confluence of statements:

    1) Isn’t conflating Jesus and the HS in this way kind of modalistic? After all, where in Scripture does it say that Jesus takes up residence inside me (or something even close to that)? Is it not correct to say that Jesus is God and the HS is God, but Jesus is not the HS (or the Father) and the HS is not Jesus (or the Father)?

    2) What does it mean for the HS to be “inside” of me? I don’t understand this concept at all. It makes no logical sense to me whatsoever, metaphysically speaking. Is the Spirit of God inside of me? How? In what way? Is he bumping around beside my heart and lungs somewhere? If not, then in what sense is he in me? Has his Spirit merged with mine like some kind of Vulcan mind meld? But wouldn’t I be divine or semi-divine if that were the case? And wouldn’t that be heresy to say I was? In what sense then does the Spirit live in me?

    Comment by Cam — November 22, 2010 @ 9:42 pm

  2. Cam:

    Thanks for the questions.

    (1) This is the mystery of the Trinity. We must be careful both to recognize the distinct personalities of the Trinity, but at the same time realize that Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are connected and inter-penetrate one another. And then you have interesting texts in Scripture like: “When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” (Acts 16:7). In what sense, then, is the Spirit the Sprit of Jesus? God the Father regularly talks about the Spirit being “my” Spirit. The Nicene creed (381 update) declares a belief “in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.” If the Spirit proceeds from the Father, in what ways are the Spirit and the Father separate and what ways are they one? And if one throws the disputed filioque amendment into the mix, the Nicene Creed declares that “Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. At best I suppose we can say that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and possibly of Jesus, but that they are all three distinct people and therefore we cannot properly speak of Jesus living inside of us, but rather the Holy Spirit.

    (2) This second question is a good one, and one I found I have not examined thoroughly myself. There are many places in the Scriptures where a writer speaks of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. E.g. “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Romans 8:9). So what does this mean? The word here for dwell comes from the word oikos, which means to make a home in. So the Holy Spirit makes himself at home in our hearts, minds, and lives. The Bible also declares that we (both as individuals and the as the church) have become the temple of God: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor 6:19-20). Now that the Temple (where God in former times had chosen to make his presence known) has been destroyed, he has taken up residence in believers and in the Church. It is clear that there was a physical component to God’s dwelling in the tabernacle (a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day) and in the temple (smoke and the majesty of the Lord). Should it be different for us now? Though we don’t physically see the Holy Spirit present in our physical bodies, is there a locationality that comes with the dwelling of the Spirit in us, or is it merely an indication that God knows us and see us and surrounds us? Because God is Spirit, I suppose he could take us space inside of our physical being without displacing any of our internal organs. He and our heart can be in the same place at the same time. But let me be clear that the Spirit has not merged with our Spirit. We are not God nor semi-divine. The gap between our essence as created beings and the essence of the creator is unbrigeable (though 2 Peter 1:4 says that we “participate in the divine nature.” — that’s a discussion for another time). I suppose the point is that God is intimately connected to us in any sense. He is present with us as Emmanuel — he goes behind us and before us and around us, and is always available to us. There is a sense in which this is true physically. It is not as if God is far off and comes when we call — he knows our hearts and minds and thoguhts and participates in every aspect and iota of our experience.

    Thank you for the challenge. It is always good to test and re-examine one’s long-held ideas. I hope this response helps.

    Blessings.

    Kevin

    Comment by kevinocoin — November 23, 2010 @ 12:51 pm


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