God’s Holy Spirit is set apart or separated from what is impure and temporal. Previously, it has been discussed how it was the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost or, in Hebrew, Ruach haKodesh) of God who “...was hovering over the waters” (Gen. 1:2c) in the earliest stages of the earth’s existence. It was the Holy Spirit’s point of reference (on the surface of the earth) from which the creation account should be viewed (see “point of observation on the planet” and “creation out of nothing”: C-1, P-III).
The Spirit of God came upon and dwelt within or with various people named in the Bible. Examples of such people are Joseph (Gen. 41:38,39); Moses and the elders of Israel (Num. 11:16,17a; Isa. 63:11); Joshua (Num. 27:18); Samson (Judg. 14:5,6a); Saul (1 Sam. 10:6a,10); David (Psalm 51:10,11); the Messiah, Jesus (Isa. 11:1,2, 42:1ab, 61:1a; Matt. 3:16; Luke 4:18a); Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:2a, 3:24a); Daniel (Dan. 4:8,9a); and Jesus’ disciples (Matt. 10:20).
The Power of God is in the Holy Spirit. The prophet Micah said, “...I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord...” (Micah 3:8a). It is by this Power that God created the universe and everything in it (see “God, the personal Creator”: C-1, P-I; and “Creator, Sustainer”: C-6, P-III). The angel Gabriel told the virgin Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 3:35)—that is, Jesus (1:31).
By the Power of the Holy Spirit, Moses parted the Red Sea and brought water out of rocks, and Jesus performed His miracles while He walked the earth: “...God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and...he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him” (Acts 10:38). And it is the Power of the Holy Spirit which motivates and strengthens us to do the things we need to do each and every day. Paul told the Gentiles in Ephesus, “I pray that out of his glorious riches [the Father] may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being...” (Eph. 3:16).
Just prior to His ascension into heaven, Jesus promised His disciples that, if they would remain in the city (Jerusalem), they would be “...clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49b). The Power of which He spoke was that of the Holy Spirit, Who came “...like the blowing of a violent wind...from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2) ten days later (see “Jesus promises the Holy Spirit” and “Pentecost”: C-4, P-IV). After that time, Paul and the other apostles were able to bring people to God, with what they said and did, “...by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit” (Rom. 15:19a), just as Jesus had done.
The presence of God’s infinitely powerful Holy Spirit is everywhere (Psalm 139:7). When I have been immersed in the Pacific Ocean’s waves by the beach, tossed and turned this way and that, I have sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit in the water. Outside on a stormy day, the identical restless presence is there in the wind—coming from one direction and then, unpredictably, another. I even hear representations of God’s voice at these times as “rushing waters” (Rev. 1:15b) and “thunderings” (10:3b). I have composed a short poem about the Holy Spirit and His awesome, limitless Power:
Power of the Spirit
The Power of God’s Spirit is in the water;
He makes it flow.
The same Power is in the wind;
He impels it to blow.
He also is in the sun,
causing it to glow,
and in all the plants,
inducing them to grow.
The Spirit’s Power is everywhere,
in everything—I know!
God extends Life to all of His creatures by the Holy Spirit. All living animals have received from the Spirit the “breath of life” (Gen. 1:30a). When God “...formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life...” (2:7a), it was the Holy Spirit who provided the Life Force.
Elihu acknowledged this flowing of Life from the Spirit when he stated to Job, “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4). Paul reminded us that the eternal Life given to us through Jesus is by the Holy Spirit. He said that “...through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).
Evidently, the Life force of the Spirit is located within the blood of a creature (Lev. 17:11a), which would seem reasonable because oxygen is carried within the blood. (The children of Israel were forbidden to eat the blood of animals. Moses told them, “But be sure that you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat”—Deut. 12:23). Furthermore, Jesus’ resurrected body is flesh and bones with no blood (Luke 24:39), because in a reconstituted, transformed human body, the Holy Spirit replaces the blood (see “bloodless bodies”: C-5, P-I) with Himself, the fullness of Life itself.
Life from the Holy Spirit must flow through our physical bodies continuously; a moment without it and we would drop dead. Likewise, for our spirits to be “alive” eternally, they must fuse and remain merged with the Holy Spirit. We must “latch on” to the ultimate ride on the mighty rushing Wind of the Spirit—the only means of conveyance, through Jesus, to eternal Life in the Father. There is no second “express train” after this one.
I have said how I view the Holy Spirit as the “Emotion” (as well as the “Power” and “sensing Agent”) of God (see “spirit, soul, body”: P-I). Now, think about how we interact with other people. We never can communicate in a purely “intellectual” manner with anyone else; somehow, there is an “emotional” component present, however small or great, in any mutual verbal exchange. This is because the soul is connected intimately with the spirit; and it often is difficult to distinguish between the two.
We cannot express our thoughts to someone else’s “mind” without that person’s “heart” intercepting and interpreting some (or even all) of what we are saying. And, unlike Mr. Spock on the old “Star Trek” series, we cannot speak to someone without at least a small portion of what we are saying being influenced by our emotion, often recognizable in the tone of our voice, facial expressions, and/or body language. Frequently, a misunderstanding by the listener, or a failure by the speaker to communicate his/her exact thoughts or true intentions, occurs as a result of this “emotional interplay,” because the “feelings” of either party become a stumbling block. This simply is a fact of human nature, and it will continue as long as we remain in these mortal bodies with unperfected spirits and souls.
Just as our soul has an integral role in communication, I see the Holy Spirit as the “Heart” and “Soul” of God (Jer. 32:41) through which He senses and communicates with the spirits and souls of all people. (God, however, never misunderstands us; and we will not misunderstand Him if we are familiar with what He has spoken in His Word, the Bible, and are open to His Holy Spirit.) Until we are changed supernaturally at the Resurrection/Rapture (1 Cor. 15:51-53), it would overwhelm us to communicate directly with the “Mind” of God, which is within His “Essence” (the Father); but the Spirit gives us insight into what the Father is like (2:10).
The Father feels us by His Holy Spirit. When we disobey Him or do not acknowledge something spectacular or wonderful that He has done (like conceiving of the universe, providing a means for our personal salvation, or sustaining us daily with food, clothing, and shelter), He is grieved in His “Heart” (Holy Spirit). On the other hand, when we praise, thank, or express love for Him, His “Heart” feels pleasure, satisfaction, and joy.
From our limited point of view, the Holy Spirit may seem inconsistent, aimlessly going this way and that (John 3:8). For instance, He manifests an affirmative answer to one prayer but not to another or a healing to one person but not to another. However, this unpredictable movement is not in a disorganized, desultory manner; it is strictly and exactly in response to the Will of the Father and to the direction of the Son. The human soul (encompassing the “heart” and “emotion” of the person) does exhibit restless, erratic activity. Because of the contamination by sin—causing a lax, negligent spirit and a soul and body with their own pleasure-seeking drives—the soul focuses its energy on performing activities that are more person-centered rather than God-centered. Thus, the soul’s movement frequently is chaotic, sporadic, irrational, and purposeless, unlike the Holy Spirit’s movement which (whether we perceive it or not) is orderly, constant, sensible, and resolute.
The Holy Spirit can speak to us unexpectedly anywhere and at anytime, just as a gust of wind can blow on us suddenly from any direction. Lying in bed in the middle of the night or sitting at a noisy restaurant at noon, the Holy Spirit of God can speak softly but distinctly to our spirits or souls, giving us important words of knowledge or wisdom (see “gifts of the Holy Spirit” later in this part), disclosing the solutions to problems that have been perplexing us, placing in our minds the perfect ideas or phrases which have eluded us for a paper or song we have been writing, revealing to us someone or something who needs our help and/or for which we should pray, or calming some turmoil deep within. If we are in touch with God, we will realize that this communication is coming through His caring “Heart,” the Holy Spirit. Then we should thank Him for it and act upon this insight at our first opportunity and enjoy the peace of mind-spirit and heart-soul which has been granted to us.
I believe it is the feeling, emotional aspect of a person’s soul which wants to reach out to those in need; to show concern, compassion, or love; and to comfort or help others. Jesus, by the indwelling Holy Spirit, always was (and is) this way.
Knowing that He was going to leave the world after His death and resurrection, Jesus told His disciples, “...I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16,17a). The word “Counselor” has a variety of meanings here: “Paraclete,” “Advocate,” “Comforter,” and “Helper.” All of these reflect attributes of the Holy Spirit sent by the Father ten days after Jesus physically departed from the earth (see “Jesus promises the Holy Spirit”: C-4, P-IV).
Jesus wants to be—and should be—our best Friend. He can be there for us to share in our happiness, to lament in our grief, or to remove minor or major burdens from our shoulders. This is because He, by the Holy Spirit, senses our emotions and our feelings even more keenly than we do. Plus, He knows our personal needs better than we or others do; so He is able to counsel us, daily, better than anyone can.
God expresses Love, and detects our love for Him, by His Holy Spirit. Paul said that “...God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Rom. 5:5b).
The Holy Spirit took part in the greatest example of Love for all people by both sending and accompanying the Messiah (Jesus) to earth (Isa. 48:16c).
For God so loved the world that he gave his [only begotten] Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:9,10).
Remember, the Son of God was conceived within the virgin Mary by the Power of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:35). When Jesus was baptized, God’s Holy Spirit lighted on Him like a dove (Matt. 3:16; Luke 3:21,22a); and the Father’s statement from heaven that Jesus was His Son, Whom He loved and in Whom He was well-pleased (Matt. 3:17; Luke 3:22b), indicated that His Love was (and is) manifested by His Holy Spirit. Jesus and the Holy Spirit have an inseparable relationship, because they both are God, just as the Father is God.
This stupendous Holy Spirit of God does everything for us everyday, every moment—including giving us Life—because His Love for us is so intense. He causes the physics, chemistry, and biology of this world (and of the universe, which Jesus manufactured) to work according to the Father’s Will. (The only reason things often do not work properly is, directly or indirectly, because of the rebellion and disobedience of people, which are like “wrenches” thrown into the works. One Great Day, though, everything will be perfected by God—and only by God.)
For the unending Love God extends to us by His Holy Spirit, we should thank Him everyday. Even when experiencing severe trial, suffering, mistreatment, or unfairness, it still is possible to thank Him—when one knows that the Father has a reason, which we eventually will know, for everything that happens, whether bad or good—for His incomprehensible Love in the Spirit.
Just as Love is a strong Emotion of God’s Spirit, so is Anger. How do you feel when you demonstrate love and/or great concern for someone who clearly needs it, but in turn that person not only fails to acknowledge your support but even insults or scoffs you in some way? At first you merely might feel hurt. But what if you care enough about that person such that, after subsequent cries for help from him/her, you repeatedly express your love and concern—each time only to be met with a brick wall of ingratitude? I believe it would be normal, at some point (which is different for everyone), for your love to turn into grief and, eventually, into anger.
Similarly, what if you are right about something and a few other people say that you are wrong? You repeatedly provide conclusive proof to them, confirming that what you have said is the truth; but, because of their stubborn pride, they deny it or maybe even refuse to look at or listen to your evidence. In fact, they insult you, mock you, and persuade others not to believe you. Would this not hurt you and, at some point, arouse some degree of anger within you?
In like manner, God can and will react with Anger if His Holy Spirit is grieved or shut out long enough. God said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever...” (Gen. 6:3a). I believe this is because, when He “...saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (6:5), His Holy Spirit “...was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain” (6:6). A burning Anger thus resulted, causing Him to say, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth...” (6:7a).
The psalmist, speaking to God, acknowledged His great Love and the “mighty acts” He performed on behalf of Israel (Psalm 106:1,2). But then he stated that the children of Israel
...gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. ... They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt, miracles in the land of Ham and awesome deeds by the Red Sea. ... They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord. ... They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods; they provoked the Lord to anger by their wicked deeds,...and trouble came to Moses because of them; for they rebelled against the Spirit of God... (Psalm 106:7,21,22,25,28,29a,32b,33a).
As a result of the Anger felt by God through His Holy Spirit,
He handed them over to the nations, and their foes ruled over them. Their enemies oppressed them and subjected them to their power (Psalm 106:41,42).
Isaiah has recorded a similar account:
I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us—yes, many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. ... Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them (Isa. 63:7,10).
God takes no pleasure in the affliction, grief, nor death of anyone (Lam. 3:33; Ezek. 18:23,32). But that will not prevent Him from taking action against anyone who disobeys, rebels against, or grieves Him long enough.
Recall that many mocked and insulted (and still mock and insult) Jesus, God in flesh, even after He performed cogent miracles. They refused to accept that He was (and is) the Son of God and the only Way to eternal Life. This was (and is) an effrontery to God’s Holy Spirit, Who testifies to the truth that Jesus Christ came by water and by blood (1 John 5:6—His water baptism symbolized His death, burial, and resurrection, while His blood shed before and during His crucifixion enabled us to receive forgiveness for our sins).
Paul warned not to “...grieve the Holy Spirit of God...” (Eph. 4:30a) nor to “...put out the Spirit’s fire...” (1 Ths. 5:19), this fire’s being His enthusiasm in wanting to fill us, help us, bless us, teach us, show us the Way to the Father (via Jesus), and bestow upon us His gifts (see “gifts of the Holy Spirit” later in this part). The most effective way to offend God and to rouse His righteous Anger is to grieve His patient but extremely sensitive Holy Spirit. One way to do this is to reject His perfect Love, and another way is to insinuate that He is a liar.
When Jesus healed a demon-possessed, blind, mute man, witnesses were astonished (Matt. 12:22,23a). But the Pharisees, who knew that Jesus’ power was provided by the Spirit of God (see “Power” earlier in this part), denied the truth. They disdainfully responded, for everyone to hear, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons” (12:24).
Jesus’ reply to this accusation was that
...every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven man, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come (Matt. 12:31,32).
In Mark’s account is added,
He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit” (Mark 3:30).
Blasphemy is a conscious, defiant attitude toward God, usually evidenced by willful contemptuous, impudent, and irreverent verbalization against Him. In this narrative, the teachers of the law, who hated Jesus, maligned and slandered the Holy Spirit of God by trying to convince the onlookers that Jesus was possessed by a demon (that is, had an “evil spirit”) and that His power was demonically supplied. They refused to acknowledge outwardly that this great Power came from the Holy Spirit, who indwelt Jesus.
Reading the Bible or any Christian book (including this one) will not, in itself, convince anyone of the importance of embracing Jesus as Savior and Lord. It is only the Holy Spirit of God Who can cause one’s heart to know and accept the truth about Jesus (1 Cor. 12:3b). This Spirit constantly testifies about and points to Jesus (John 15:26; 1 John 5:6) as the Savior and the only way to the Father (John 14:6b), by way of His atoning blood sacrifice (1 John 1:7b, 2:2). Therefore, willfully and inexorably rejecting the Holy Spirit’s constant urging is equal to denying and showing serious scorn and disdain for (blaspheming) Him and refusing the only means of eternal salvation possible, through Christ Jesus.
As it is written,
How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Heb. 10:29).
God is able to forgive all sins except for one: the willful, unrelenting blasphemy of His Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31,32; Mark 3:29). Moreover, by rejecting the Holy Spirit, one is rejecting God, because the Holy Spirit is God just as the Father and the Son are God.
For some time after conception, no difference can be detected between male and female fetuses. After a few months, though, chemical changes in a (typical) genetic male cause the left side of his brain to become dominant, while the right side of the brain in the (typical) female remains in control. There are exceptions, of course, but this is a general rule.
Usually, the male tends to be more logical and authoritative, while the female is inclined to be more intuitive and sensitive. No trait is “better” than nor “more superior” to its counterpart; each has its advantages and disadvantages at certain times. The “ideal” person would be someone having an equal balance of all antonymous qualities, with the ability to utilize the most suitable one in any given situation.
Having created both males and females (Gen. 1:27b), God must possess traits which generally are characteristic of males, as well as those which are common in females. All of these can traits be observed in the Holy Spirit, who can be stern but compassionate, dominating but serving, insistent but flexible. I believe that Jesus Christ is the only person ever to have displayed a perfect balance of the wide spectrum of personality traits. He is an example—to males and females alike—of how we should not “gravitate” toward one characteristic or another but should uncover, develop, and exhibit each of the traits we possess when appropriate.
Paul spoke of fifteen gifts of the Holy Spirit which initially were made available to each of those who were filled with the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4—see “Pentecost”: C-4, P-IV). Many feel that spiritual gifts ceased with the original twelve apostles (cessationism). Others believe that the Holy Spirit may bestow the spiritual gifts on persons other than the original twelve apostles at any time (continuationism).
I feel that every believer since that time who has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (see “Spirit baptism” later in this part) is capable of receiving some (or, in some cases, all) of the gifts of the Spirit, “...according to the grace...” of God given to him/her (Rom. 12:6a). Most who are filled by the Spirit will not receive all fifteen gifts, but those who have one gift tend to have others.
The first six spiritual gifts are listed in Rom. 12:7,8. Here are brief descriptions of the first 6 gifts of the Holy Spirit (the gift of prophecy—12:6b—is included later among the final nine gifts):
1) serving/ministering: assisting or tending to the needs of others, demonstrating humility in the process.
2) teaching: instructing and training others, directing them into truth and godly ways.
3) encouraging/exhorting: prompting and motivating others, entreating them to turn from sin and toward righteousness and helping them to persevere in their purposes for God.
4) contributing/sharing: generously dispensing and giving to others, donating gifts and necessities in secret and with simplicity, without pride, and with no intent to magnify or to bring attention to oneself.
5) leading: managing and shepherding others, diligently guiding the business affairs of the church (or other organization) and carefully setting good examples for everyone.
6) showing mercy: exhibiting compassion and grace, willingly and cheerfully displaying kindness toward the sick, the oppressed, the disadvantaged, and the needy.
The remaining nine spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:4,7-11) are subdivided into three categories:
|word of wisdom||faith||prophesying|
|word of knowledge||healing||speaking in tongues|
|working of miracles||interpreting tongues|
Each of these gifts is a supernatural revelation, power, or utterance given by God. Here are brief descriptions of these 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit:
7) word of wisdom: insight into the purpose and Will of God, showing how to resolve and solve everyday problems for oneself and for others.
8) word of knowledge: insight into the purpose and Will of God, as well as into that of other people, knowing things about God and about others (for instance, personalities, motives, and even thoughts) that one could not know by any ordinary means.
9) distinguishing among spirits: insight into the Spirit and spiritual domain, having “spiritual eyes” to be able to “view” into the spirit world and to detect and identify spirits, good or evil (seeC-8), and their intentions.
10) faith: ability to believe in the one, true God and to accept His purposes and gifts, overcoming human doubts, disbelief, and faulty intellectual reasoning which stem from the natural.
11) healing: ability to eliminate any illness, disease, or adverse physical or mental condition (even a terminal one), utilizing spiritual means rather than (or sometimes in addition to) natural means.
12) working of miracles: ability to suspend the normal, familiar order of nature, counteracting natural laws by accomplishing acts which are beyond ordinary explanation and natural understanding.
13) prophesying: verbal expression in one’s normal language, not only predicting future events but also praying and supplicating to God on behalf of others, as well as exhorting them to follow God’s ways, for their own edification and benefit.
14) speaking in tongues: verbal expression in a human, angelic, or divine language not one’s own, praying to, singing to, and/or praising God so as to edify oneself (and others if the tongue is interpreted).
15) interpreting tongues: verbal expression in a human language common to those present, explaining what has been spoken by another (in the tongue of a different human, angelic, or divine language) so as to edify the listeners.
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit moved in a mighty way upon those who were the “firstfruits” into spiritual Life (see “Jesus and Pentecost”: C-4, P-IV). All who were present “...were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:4b), a fulfillment, I believe, of a prophecy by Isaiah, “Very well, then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people” (Isa. 28:11).
Some believe that when one is filled with the Holy Spirit, one automatically speaks in a tongue (a language other than one’s own). Others believe that speaking in a tongue, though a common manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s infilling, is not an essential by-product of this event. I agree with the latter. In any case, an overwhelming, inexpressible feeling of God’s Power and Love is felt by the person receiving the Holy Spirit.
Paul explained that tongues are given by the Spirit for many personal purposes, such as to pray to, sing to, and/or praise God (1 Cor. 14:14,15b, 14:15c, 14:16a). A tongue is a primary way to express inner spiritual feelings and emotions which one cannot put into familiar words, but which the Holy Spirit understands, interprets, and conveys to Jesus and the Father (Rom. 8:26,27—see “Holy Spirit, our intercessor” later in this part).
A tongue can be an angelic language (1 Cor. 13:1a) understood by God and sometimes by an observer (or even by the speaker) who has the gift of tongue interpretation. Or it can be a human foreign language not understood by the speaker but comprehended by an observer who speaks that language (14:9-11,13,27).
Generally, one who speaks in a tongue is oneself inspired or edified (1 Cor. 14:4a) by receiving personal spiritual and moral enlightenment and/or physical and emotional strengthening. However, in a church setting, when someone is present who can interpret the tongue, the people in the church are uplifted (14:5d,26). Whenever I have witnessed tongues being spoken in a church, I consistently have observed three things: that no more than three people speak consecutively (14:27a) and that there always are interpretations of the tongues (14:27b).
A fascinating, best-selling book, which details a thorough inspection of tongues, is They Speak with Other Tongues by John L. Sherrill. Initially a skeptic, he was convinced, by extensive research and finally by personal experience, that tongues are a valid, useful communication with God via the Holy Spirit. This is a partial description of his first personal experience:
It was the floodgate opened. From deep inside me, deeper than I knew voice could go, came a torrent of joyful sound. ... It was healing, it was forgiveness, it was love too deep for words and it burst from me in wordless sound. ... No further conscious effort was required of me at all, not even choosing the syllables with which to express my joy. The syllables were all there, ready—formed for my use, more abundant than my earth-bound lips and tongue could give shape to.
praying and worshiping with the spirit and soul
Paul differentiated among the spirit, soul, and body (1 Ths. 5:23b). He also made a distinction between praying or singing with the “spirit” as opposed to doing so with the “mind” (1 Cor. 14:14,15), thus implying that communication with God can be achieved through the spirit or the mind. I have suggested that the mind is an integral but distinct subset of the spirit (see “spirit, soul, body”: P-I); the mind itself can pray but in a logical, rational, and often analytical manner. I interpret Paul’s meaning and use here of “spirit” as that portion of the spirit, distinct from the mind, which functions in a “spiritual” mode, being in union with the Holy Spirit and transcending the ordinary reasoning and understanding of the spirit’s mind. This is the segment of the spirit, I feel, which receives spiritual gifts and communication from God (see “gifts of the Holy Spirit” earlier in this part) and channels them to the mind, soul, or body to be processed or acted upon. (This also is the segment of the spirit which can be used to channel information from evil spirits as well—see “channeling”: C-8, P-II).
I see the soul as a “spiritual” and “non-tangible” component of the person (as opposed to being “physical” or “tangible”) joined to but distinct from the spirit. The soul (which I believe one uses to convey the emotions and feelings not expressible by the logical mind) is capable of prayer and praising just as the spirit is. Paul said, “If you are praising God with your spirit...” (1 Cor. 14:16a), and David said, “Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul” (Psalm 146:1), indicating that praising God can originate from the spirit or from the soul.
That the heart-soul is used in emotional prayer is shown in the case of Hannah (the mother of Samuel) who was “...praying in her heart...” (1 Sam. 1:13) and said, “I was pouring out my soul to the Lord” (1:15c) and “I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief” (1:16b). Thus, I believe God “hears” our spirits and “feels” our souls.
There are times when we will find it difficult or impossible to pray in the words of our own language. Such times may be 1) when the Holy Spirit has placed a burden upon our hearts to pray but we do not know exactly for what or for whom we should pray, and 2) when we want to give praise, or know for what or for whom we should or want to pray, but are unable (maybe due to intense stress, confusion, or joy) to formulate our thoughts or words to communicate it.
In these cases, the Holy Spirit intervenes on our behalf as an “organizer” of the jumbled impulses in our mind. That is,
...the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what [nor how] we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will (Rom. 8:26,27).
Sometimes these “groans that words cannot express” are eruptions from within us of pure emotion, in a tongue, language, or even wordless vocalizations that only the Spirit understands.
Many times I become so overwhelmed contemplating the Majesty and Love of God that it almost seems like these thoughts and feelings might short-circuit my brain or stop my heart. At such times, no verbal expression is satisfactory. However, I am fully aware that the Holy Spirit is conveying my awe and indescribable inner sensations, with pure feeling, directly to Jesus and to the Father.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9b; 1 Pet. 1:11) and the Spirit of the Father (John 15:26; Rom. 8:9a). Thus, God’s Spirit is an intercessor to Christ and to the Father on our behalf. Jesus Christ is the one who “...searches our hearts [and] knows the mind of the Spirit...” (Rom. 8:27a); the “Mind” of both Jesus and the Holy Spirit is the Father.
The word “baptism” comes from the Greek “bapto,” meaning to dip under or to immerse. When one confesses and repents of (turns away from) one’s sins and accepts Jesus Christ as one’s Savior, it is normal to want to confirm this acceptance publicly by being baptized in water (Matt. 3:11a; Acts 2:38a). I personally believe that water baptism has little or no meaning if done as a baby or at anytime before 1) being able to distinguish between right and wrong and 2) professing Jesus as Lord.
Water baptism, in and of itself, does not cleanse one of sin, nor does it save one from eternal separation from God. It is symbolic of the baptism that saves (1 Pet. 3:21)—that is, the baptism of the Holy Spirit (see “Spirit baptism” next). Being saved from the eternal penalty attached to sin involves believing Jesus to be the Son of God and resurrected Messiah, embracing Him as one’s Lord, and receiving forgiveness from God for sin. Primarily, water immersion or baptism is an outward demonstration and expression of one’s willingness to repent from the sins that one commits (Luke 3:3), along with an affirmation that Jesus is one’s Lord and Savior (Acts 19:4). It also serves as a personal identification with Jesus’ death and resurrection (Col. 2:12).
Water baptism is performed in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19), or simply in the Name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38a, 8:16b, 10:48a, 19:5; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:27). Immediately after Jesus’ water baptism, “...the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove” (Luke 3:22a). John the Baptist actually was reluctant to baptize Jesus (Matt. 3:13,14). But Jesus insisted that he do so (3:15), because He knew that baptism (lying back, being immersed, and emerging from the water) would be a foreshadowing of His subsequent death, burial, and resurrection.
I believe that those who have been baptized by sprinkling—and even those who have been baptized by immersion but are not sure that they fully understood the true significance of what they were doing at the time—should be baptized in water again. Doing so attests to the fact, before people and God, that one is “dying” to the old lifestyle and “being born again” (or “resurrected”) into a new life with Jesus as Lord and Master.
Peter, referring to the water in which the ark, containing Noah and his family was immersed, said that
...this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ... (1 Pet. 3:21).
(See “God’s response; Noah saved”: C-2, P-I.) Paul indicated that water baptism into Jesus Christ was symbolized also by the children of Israel, led by Moses, who were “...under the cloud and...passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor. 10:1,2—see “the Exodus” and “salvation and deliverance”: C-4, P-III).
While water baptism (see the previous section) is an outward confirmation that one already has confessed and repented of (turned away from) one’s sins and accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior (and thus has received forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation), Spirit baptism is the “immersion” in the Holy Spirit. It comes after acknowledging and accepting Jesus as Savior, Lord and Master, as well as recognizing the supremacy and sovereignty of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
At some point following Spirit baptism, there typically is an enduing or bestowal of at least some of the gifts given by the Spirit (Acts 2:38c; Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:4,7-11—see “gifts of the Holy Spirit” earlier in this part). The receiving of spiritual gifts is possible only after (or at the same time as) salvation through Jesus occurs (Acts 2:38; Gal. 3:14). It frequently (although I do not believe necessarily always) is accompanied by speaking in tongues (Acts 10:44-46a, 19:4-6).
Spirit baptism may occur at the same time as water baptism (Matt. 3:16), before water baptism (Acts 9:17,18), or after water baptism (8:12-17, 19:1-6). Just before Jesus departed from the earth (after His resurrection), He told His disciples, “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Here, “power,” in the Greek, is dunamis, from which we get “dynamo”; it indicates inherent energy or power which is capable of reproducing itself indefinitely. Of course, the only Power like this is that of the Holy Spirit of God (see “Power” earlier in this part).
Referring to the miracles He performed, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). Although some think that what He said applied only to His disciples/apostles, who received the Spirit baptism at Pentecost (see “Pentecost”: C-4, P-IV) and who indeed did perform many great miracles, I believe that such miracles (including raising people from the dead), and even greater ones, are and will be possible (after experiencing the baptism of the Holy Spirit) for anyone who has faith in Jesus (Gal. 3:14) and who obeys God (Acts 5:32). Clearly, Jesus said “anyone,” not a select few.
Jesus told His disciples, “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” (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit, speaking directly to our minds, teaches us new ways and constantly reminds us of the known ways to obey and please the Father. The Spirit also convicts our consciences of wrongdoing. (I believe the conscience is the portion of the heart-soul within each of us—Rom. 9:1,2; Heb. 10:22—which “feels” or “senses” goodness and badness.) Refusal of our spirits, souls, and bodies to heed the Spirit’s urging to do good and to avoid bad may not only result in the dangerous condition of our consciences being “...seared as with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2b) but inevitably will lead us deeper into trouble.
Furthermore, to those who maintain a close friendship with God (since Christianity is a not a “religion,” it is a “relationship” with our Creator), the Holy Spirit reveals things about God of which people living in the natural are completely unaware and which, when explained to them, they view as foolishness because they do not understand them (1 Cor. 2:14).
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”—but God has revealed it to us by his [Holy] Spirit.
... We have...received...the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. ... The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:9,10,12,14).
God, speaking through two ancient Hebrew prophets, told us that He would be doing something very special and spectacular with His Holy Spirit at the end of this age. This revival, I sense, already has begun and will culminate after a period of immense, unparalleled distress has come upon Israel (and the world), followed by a final, welcomed, and eternal regrouping of Jews back into Israel. According to Ezekiel, God said,
Then they [the Israelites] will know that I am the Lord their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord (Ezek. 39:28,29).
In Zechariah’s end-time account, the same event—the ultimate “spiritual encounter” of all time—is phrased this way:
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication. They [the remnant of Israel] will look on [Jesus], the one they have pierced, and mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son (Zech. 12:10).
The Holy Spirit of Truth (John 14:17a) finally will come upon the Israelites whom God has spared and protected and will show them that, indeed, Jesus is their Messiah (see “Spirit poured out”: C-12, P-IV, S-1). Then the world also will know. And then “...every knee [will] bow..., and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10,11).
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Copyright © 1998– by Ted M. Montgomery, O.D. Most rights reserved.