Christians are familiar with the concept of the Trinity – the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead. After all, this doctrine is one of the central Christian affirmations about God. Yet, theologian A. W. Tozer wrote “We have higher-than-earthly royalty—we have the Lord of lords and the King of kings—we have the blessed Holy Spirit present, and we are treating Him as if He were not present at all.” A recent survey indicated that, while 69 percent of Americans self-identify as Christian but only 58 percent of this group believe the Holy Spirit is not real but is merely a symbol.
However, scripture says the exact opposite. In Acts 5:3, Peter says that Ananais has lied to the Holy Spirit but in verse 5, he says that Ananais has lied to God. In I Corinthians 2:11 Paul says the Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God. And in Matthew 28:19 Jesus says that His followers are to baptize and make disciples of the “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” These passages, and others indicate that the Holy Spirit is indeed God and is real. These do not indicate that the Spirit is a different person than God. John 15:26 indicates that the Spirit of Truth goes out from the Father. To go out would indicate that there is a distinction between God the Father and the Spirit.
The Spirit is very much a person. Ephesians 4:30 says “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Being grieved indicates personhood. As individuals, we are grieved over many things – the loss of a loved one, a personal or professional failure, rejection from others, just to mention a few. How do we grieve the Spirit? This is by no means a comprehensive list but we resist Him, insult Him, disobey Him, quench Him, and deny Him. That would grieve anyone.
I think part of our problem with the concept of the Holy Spirit is that the Bible often makes indirect references to the Holy Spirit. He is called Dove, Comforter, Intercessor, Paraclete, Presence of God, Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of Truth. It sometimes becomes difficult to note all the references to the Holy Spirit as we may breeze over the words and not realize the scripture is referring to the Third Person of the Godhead – the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit was sent by God as our Counselor (John 14:26). A dictionary definition of counselor is “a person trained to give guidance on personal, social, or psychological problems.” While this is a secular definition, it indicates what the Spirit can do for us as our Counselor. A Biblical counselor is described as one who strives to relate the counselee not to him/herself to bring about healing, but to Jesus Christ and his Truth that sets men free. I am reminded of the section of Handel’s Messiah quoting Isaiah 9 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” In this one passage we see the Trinity.
As Counselor, what does the Holy Spirit do? Again, quoting from Tozer “He has come to comfort. He has come to teach. He is the Spirit of instruction. He has come to bring light, for He is the Spirit of light. He comes to bring purity, for He is the Spirit of holiness. He comes to bring power, for He is the Spirit of power.” When we call on the Spirit, we are not imposing. God wants to do this for His people. He doesn’t ask what denomination we are, how long we have been a follower. He asks that we be willing to obey and listen. As Christians, we need to discover, or rediscover that the Holy Spirit is real and want to be a part of our lives.
Take a few minutes of reflection, contemplation, and prayer. How have you grieved the Holy Spirit? He will empower you to listen and obey Him.
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