It took me awhile to catch on.
For years, I worked for a challenging boss. She was difficult, demanding, and impossible to please.
Her words regularly came out in a critical, almost vicious, manner. Most of the staff would hold their breath, as she would walk into our work areas. She was a tough person to work for, to say the least.
Then, one day, I found out something amazing – something that changed my whole perspective.
My difficult boss was dealing with some horrific things in her personal life. There was so much sorrow in her own life that it spilled out into her work life.
Once I began to grasp how much pain my boss was in, everything made more sense.
Her hurt was causing her to hurt others. All of the anguish in her life would pour out onto ours. My newfound understanding didn’t change the way that she treated us, but it did change the way that I responded to her.
Once I began to understand what she was living through, I began to offer her compassion and grace. I began to pray for her and soon I began to enjoy my job significantly more.
Because understanding my boss’s circumstances opened my eyes to a whole new world at work.
Understanding can open our eyes to a whole new world in the realm of doctrine as well.
As we launch into today’s doctrinal topic, I believe there are so many misconceptions about the Holy Spirit.
In fact, I believe this may be one of the most misunderstood concepts in the church as a whole.
The Holy Spirit:
- Who is He?
- What does He do?
- How does He impact us and work in our lives?
- And, why on earth do we call Him a “Ghost?”
Being a member of twelve different evangelical churches over the years, I’ve seen a variety of different beliefs about the Holy Spirit.
If you were to plot out Holy Spirit beliefs on a graph, it could look something like this.
Let’s consider these 3 groups on the Holy Spirit spectrum:
The Frozen Chosen Believers
Motto – Don’t get too excited. Don’t get too emotional. Don’t make noise. Be still, be calm, worship quietly, and keep all of your worship private.
Believe – The Holy Spirit is God and part of the Trinity; however, we don’t need to get carried away. We need to be reverent – above all else.
Lean toward – Intellectual and rational thinking. Can be Stoic.
The Holy Roller Believers
Motto – Get excited! Get emotional! Make noise! Shout your praise to the Lord! Worship with abandon and let everyone know how much you love Jesus!
Believe – The Holy Spirit is God and the most important part of the Trinity. If we aren’t all about the Holy Spirit, we are missing out.
Lean toward – Emotional. Excitement. Energy. Can be Hyper.
Balance of the Two
Motto – Stay in step with the Spirit – sometimes excited, sometimes very still. It’s not about the emotion or the lack of emotion; it’s about staying close to God.
Believe – God is in three Persons. He is a blessed Trinity, and we worship Him as Father, as Son, and as Holy Spirit. All 3 persons are God. They want to love and serve the Lord with all of their heart, soul, and might.
Lean toward – A balance. Seeking to walk daily with the Lord, allowing Him to guide, lead, teach, train, convict, and influence.
Often, the Holy Rollers and the Frozen Chosen stay at odds with one another, debating and disagreeing over how things ought to be.
They are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
(And, just between you and me… if I’m going to ere on one of these sides or the other, I’d much rather be accused of being too emotional and too excited about the Lord than to have people wonder if I even have a “pulse” about the things of God.)
Moreover, I think we can take the good parts from each of these groups and come up with a healthy and balanced perspective.
Let’s begin to answer a few questions about the Holy Spirit. This is the first post of a series of four articles about the Holy Spirit.
Today, let’s consider four questions:
First, Who is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is God.
He is just as vital and significant to the Trinity as the Father and the Son. He is not lesser or less important. In fact, the Bible is filled with mentions of the Spirit of the Lord and His role in the Kingdom and in our lives.The Holy Spirit is just as vital and significant to the Trinity as the Father and the Son. Click To Tweet
Second, what is His main job in the Trinity?
The Holy Spirit’s main work is to “manifest the active presence of God in the world, and especially in the church.” (Grudem, page 634)
In other words, He does God’s work in the world.
The Spirit is the One—in the Trinity—who is most PRESENT with us now. He is near. He is with us if we have trusted Jesus as Savior.
Third, what does He do in the life of a believer?
This question will take us several weeks to answer. Today, let’s list the main roles of the Holy Spirit:
- The Holy Spirit empowers us and gives us life.
- The Holy Spirit purifies us and makes us more holy.
- He reveals the truth to us, guides, assures, teaches, and illumines truth for us and to us.
- The Holy Spirit unifies believers and churches.
- The Holy Spirit gives stronger or weaker evidence of God’s presence and blessing as we respond to Him.
Finally, what does all of this have to do with you and me personally?
In short, we have a choice about the Holy Spirit… every one of us, every day.In short, we have a choice about the Holy Spirit… every one of us, every day. Click To Tweet
In Ephesians 5:15-20, we are admonished with these words:
“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul is encouraging the Church at Ephesus to be careful how they live.
He tells them not to be drunk with wine but to be filled with the Spirit.
It’s a choice – these are NOT two things that can be done at the same time.
You could put other vices into that verse as well. We could add things like don’t be drunk with the love of money, or fame, or status, or notoriety, or position, or sex, or power, or control. Wine is not the only thing that gets us into trouble.
We must make a decision – every single day.
The believers in Ephesus chose, and they chose poorly.
If you flip over to Revelation 2, you will see that these Ephesian brothers and sisters never did really “sell out” to living wholeheartedly for God. They never chose the fullness of the Spirit. They wanted their wine and their other things more than they wanted to know Him.
In Revelation 2:4 we read,
“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!”
The Ephesian Christians started out so well.
But, somewhere along the way, they began to choose everything else over being filled with the Spirit. And, eventually, they lost their love for the Lord and for each other.
As believers in today’s world, we are faced with a similar decision.
We can choose to walk in the Spirit, fill up with the Spirit, and live wholeheartedly for the Lord. Or, we can choose our own stuff.
There really is no middle ground.
Staying “in between” with God will cause our love for the Lord and for other Christians to wane and to eventually dry up.
Prayer – Father, I don’t understand it all, but I want to know more. I want to grasp more and study more. Would You open my eyes to understand wonderful things from Your word? Would You show me remarkable things that I do not know? And, would You fill me with Your Spirit? I want to overflow with love for You and for other believers.Staying in between with God will cause our love for the Lord and for other Christians to wane and… Click To Tweet
Join us as we take a clear and practical look at some of the most basic and essential tenants of the Christian life – the doctrines of the faith.
Each week, we will highlight and explain a core doctrine. Then, we will pose the question, “Why does this matter to you and me?”
You can catch all of this year’s “Delight in Doctrine” posts by clicking HERE.
For the purposes of the study, our main texts are first, the Bible, of course, and Wayne Grudem’s classic, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine.
It is our prayer that by the end of the year, we will all find more delight in understanding what we believe and why we believe it.
“…And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27 (ESV)
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