"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Who is the Holy Spirit?

"What is the Holy Spirit?And how important is the Holy Spirit? Is the Holy Spirit the Spirit of God blown into Jesus?"

Within the last few days I've been talking a bit about the Trinity. After finding this Thought, Word, Deed analogy on the Internet and sharing it for your feedback, I was asked to explain more about the Holy Spirit. A brief part of the post says this:

"The three Persons appear in a logical, causal order. The Father is the unseen, omnipresent Source of all being, revealed in and by the Son, experienced in and by the Holy Spirit. The Son proceeds from the Father, and the Spirit from the Son. With reference to God's creation, the Father is the Thought behind it, the Son is the Word calling it forth, and the Spirit is the Deed making it a reality."

I'm not positive this is a great illustration, but that's one reason I posted it. To see what others thought. Anyway, I can understand the Thought and Word pretty well. As I wrote in the comments section of the above-mentioned post:

If one read the Bible and accepted that Jesus is God, to me, being The Word would mean the "Thought" was being expressed. I can have many thoughts in my mind, but until it is revealed through word or action, it's unshared. . . . If we take this imperfect analogy and say God is Thought then His revealing His Word is God sharing Himself with us. (What a gift to make His thoughts known to humankind!) And, of course, I believe He did this through Jesus and is why Jesus told Philip in John 14, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." Also remember the prophet Isaiah talked about Emmanuel and then when Matthew wrote his book for his Jewish people, he hearkened back hundreds of years to Isaiah's words and said *Jesus* was Emmanuel ("God with us."). Also note how often Jesus says He does nothing of himself, but does what the Father wants Him to do. (If Word = Thought expressed this makes some sense to me.)

But what about this Deed thing? Who is the Holy Spirit? Throughout the Old Testament the Spirit of God would visit individuals to guide them, but as far as I can recollect, He did not live with them daily. This all changed once Jesus came to earth, fulfilled His mission and went back to the Father. After washing their feet in a demonstration of how we must serve others, Jesus was speaking with His disciples in John 13 and had just told them He would be soon leaving them. After three years of following Him, the disciples were puzzled and questioning, "Lord, where are you going? ... Why can't I follow you now?" Jesus assured them that He was going back to the Father, but they should not have troubled hearts. He even told them a Comforter (or Helper, Counselor) would come live with them -- and be in them! (See John 14:17)

So why is this important? Jesus called the Holy Spirit, "the spirit of truth" and He said,

26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Jesus said it was advantageous that He leave and the Holy Spirit come. Not only would the Spirit of God convict the world of sin, but there were hard things that Jesus didn't tell His followers because of their inability to bear them at the time, yet He promised that the Spirit would guide them into all truth. (See John 16:12-15)

This post is quite lengthy so I will stop talking of the Holy Spirit for now. However, I hope to address the way the Spirit is helpful to us at another time.

One of the greatest examples for me is comparing the disciples of Christ before and after the arrival of the Holy Spirit of God. Recall how most of the disciples fled and Peter denied the Lord Jesus three times when He was arrested and on trial. Then Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection and He soon returned to His Father. Then Acts records the coming of the Holy Spirit and the boldness of Jesus' followers. Although their Teacher had left, they had new-found bravery and fervor for spreading His message. The promised Helper had come!

What questions do you still have regarding the Holy Spirit? What things written above are unclear to you? Any other thoughts or comments?

For some thoughts on the Eastern perspective of the Trinity according to Karen Armstrong, please check out Wrestling With Religion's insightful post.


The Trick Is... said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wrestling With Religion said...

Do you think the Holy Spirit is "it" or "he"?

Achelois said...

What is the Holy Spirit exactly? is it with us even today? Can we see it? Did the disciples see it?

What I have understood is that God is the Father (everyone's) and He sent down His only Son with divine qualities then when the Son had to return he asked the Father to guide his people through the Spirit and that Spirit can be seen in nature to remind us that there is a Father. The Holy Spirit as I understand is any creation of God that gives us hope and brings us closer to God so that we don't begin to worship that creation but praise God instead. So the whole Universe is the Holy Spirit so to speak.

Am I correct? Is this what it means?

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

Well in Hebrew the word ruah=spirit can occur as either masculine or feminine.

Susanne said...

Sarah, well, spirits, I believe, are genderless, but maybe I am wrong about that. :) I mostly call the Holy Spirit "He" simply because that's how He is referred to in the Bible. However, it's like that post you and/or Achelois did recently about seeing God as masculine or feminine. I'd say the same for the Holy Spirit. Does that make sense?

Stacy, thanks for what you added about the Hebrew word!

Achelois, I enjoyed reading what you have understood thus far. You really make me think since your understanding of the Holy Spirit is different from my own. But I enjoy learning others' perspectives so I can better understand where they are coming from and, well, it's just neat to see how others perceive things.

As for your questions, I believe the Holy Spirit is God (part of the Trinity). Whereas Jesus was God incarnate (God in human form so we can see him), the Spirit cannot be seen. Jesus compares the Spirit to the wind. You cannot see it, but you can see where it's been (see John 3:5-8).

The disciples did not see the Spirit, but they were directed by it. Remember the post I did a few days ago about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch? It credits the Spirit of the Lord prompting Philip to go to a certain chariot to speak with the one needing understanding of Isaiah 53. We believe if we are sensitive to the Spirit, He will guide us where to go, with whom to speak and the Bible even says the Spirit will give us the words to say. Perhaps this is why the analogy used "the Deed" for the Spirit. He is credited with helping us DO what God wants. He enables us to be like Jesus.

Please ask more questions if you have them. I like the feedback. :)

Amber said...

Huh. I guess I've been thinking of the Holy Spirit as the energies of God, which is what we, now, can experience of Him. Interesting.

Hmmm...also, I think of God as a 'Him', because that's how He revealed Himself to us. Not that He actually has a gender.

Susanne said...

Amber, so my understanding of the HS is foreign to you? I am not sure what you were "huh"ing about and I'd like to know what is puzzling. :) What do you mean by "energies" and do you not think He was at work - for instance - in the book of Acts?

I'd like to learn more about your perspective, so please do share!! I'm ok with being wrong on this so teach me! :)

Amber said...

Hmmm...it's not that your understanding is foreign...

It's more...(you can't see it, but I'm making handwavey gestures over here...)

The only part of God that we can experience, the only part that we can be 'in' is His energies, which is different from His essence. (Goes back to deification - sword, fire, etc.) So, since the Holy Spirit is said to dwell within us, and we can loose it, I've been viewing it in that light. The Holy Spirit is God's energies, interacting with creation in one way or another. So, yes, He was at work in Acts, and now, in believers. See? Am I making sense?

Susanne said...

Amber, I could totally picture your "handwavey gestures." :-)

Yes, you made sense. Did I give the impression that the Spirit comes and goes? I do think He did this in the OT, but not the new once He came as Jesus promised. I believe once He came, He dwelled with us - and didn't leave us.

Am I saying it differently? I know I'm not using "energies" and "essence," but that's because I am a simple-minded person who doesn't speak of such things! :-P

Amber said...


You know me so well. :)

Natch. I think we're saying the same thing, just different words. :)

Oh, and :P to you being simple-minded. 'Simple-minded' my behind.