God is a Trinity. This means that God has chosen to reveal Himself to His creation as being one God in three separate, yet connected, Persons; as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The depth of this reality is truly unsearchable as it goes into a place where time and eternity meet and, this alone, makes it difficult for us to fully comprehend or search out the reality of the Triune God.
The Church at large spends much time talking about the Father and the Son, but often doesn’t really know what to say when it comes to the Person of the Holy Spirit. Talking about the Holy Spirit makes many people uncomfortable as most of us have things that come into our mind when the Holy Spirit is mentioned. Some of those thoughts are good, but many of them could be very damaging to the quality of the relationship we build with the Holy Spirit. In this session it is my passion to bring definition to the Person of the Holy Spirit and how we can partner with Him in a greater measure. I will cover what birthed the early Church, who the Holy Spirit is and how we build a relationship with Him.
What Caused The Birth Of The Early Church?
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is what gave humanity a second lease on life as we no longer had to live separated from God by our sin because we could now be reconciled to God the Father by believing on Jesus’ life and death. But I was still in need of something to come and live on the inside of me for the purpose of applying the Cross of Christ to my dark heart and cause me to become regenerated and alive in Christ. This would be just the task for God the Holy Spirit.
After Jesus had resurrected from death, prior to His accession to Heaven, He left the Apostles and the disciples with clear instructions. Acts 1:2-3 says this;
“…until the day in which He was taken up; after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His sufferings by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”
And then He goes on to say this in Acts 1:4-5;
“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father which He said, you have heard from Me; for truly John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Jesus’ instructions for the disciples and the Apostles was that they were to wait in the upper room until God poured out the Promise of the Holy Spirit upon those that were going to take the message of Jesus into all the nations. What is so powerful here is the importance that Jesus places upon His disciples receiving the Holy Spirit before they begin to take the good news of Jesus into the streets.
Though the death of Jesus is what made the way for wholesale salvation, it was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Disciples that actually birthed the early Church. The Holy Spirit would take this weak, deficient, and struggling ragtag bunch of 20 something’s into bold messengers of the Kingdom of God. Prior to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it’s Jesus and Jesus only that we see quoting the Old Testament scriptures with revelation knowledge. But after the Holy Spirit is poured out in Acts 2 the first thing Peter does is begin to quote Joel 2 which is an Old Testament passage to connect what God is currently doing in the streets with what God said long ago. With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit we see that God empowers His people to literally become a living witness within the communities of the earth for the purpose of advancing the Kingdom of God with power. And all this is attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit.
Who Is The Holy Spirit?
Understanding who the Holy Spirit is must be the central key for us to build a relationship with Him and partner with Him in the way that He has intended for us to do. When I talk about the Holy Spirit many people get uncomfortable. Some years ago I rode in a tow truck from Tacoma, WA to Raymond, WA and had an awesome opportunity to speak with the driver about Jesus and the Church. His past experience with the local Church was anything short of positive. He said that one Church he attended was a “celebration Church.”
The people danced around, ran around, and shook around for their Church service. He then began to tell me that when “someone’s arm would shake real bad it meant that they had the Holy Spirit.” Now, when I heard this, I laughed on the outside a little bit because I know just what kind of a sick, bizarre, and strange Church he was talking about. But at the same time I was deeply saddened inside as God, the Holy Spirit had been reduced in this man’s mind to something that caused people to shake. This is deeply saddening. Now, it’s also true that many people respond to the moving of the Holy Spirit upon their physical body by shaking and falling down which are all Biblical. In Revelation 1:16, when John saw Jesus shining like the sun, in all of its strength, it caused him to fall like a dead man, but to reduce the Third Person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit to someone shaking is a great travesty. This is why when we cover the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit we aren’t focusing so much on the manifestations as much as the reality that He is fully God.
The Holy Spirit is the divine Third Person of the Trinity, who is co-equal, co-eternal and co-existent with the Father and the Son. Tough this is a weighty theological definition of who the Holy Spirit is, it is important that we clearly understand who He is. The Holy Spirit is mentioned more than 90 times in the Old Testament with at least 18 different titles, and He is mentioned in the New Testament over 260 times with 39 different titles.
The only books of the New Testament that don’t say anything about the Holy Spirit are 2nd John and 3rd John. That might be, because He spent so much time talking about the Holy Spirit in the gospel of John. The Holy Spirit is not an influence, a power, or a force. Although the Holy Spirit does influence people and He is a powerful force, He is a Person. It’s important to understand that the Holy Spirit isn’t a force, a power only, or a Person because we will fail to build a quality relationship with Him otherwise. Humans don’t build quality relationships with impersonal matter.
It hinders our worship because worship is a personal act, not an impersonal one. We are made by a personal God who has created us to fellowship with personal things such as other humans and God Himself. The Holy Spirit is not an it, He is revealed through the Bible as a Person. Although the word that the Bible uses for the Holy Spirit is a non-gendered word, when Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit He used words like He, Him and Himself which are masculine in their form of gender. It’s not right for us to approach the Holy Spirit as a women, because nowhere in the Bible is that done. Our example is from Jesus and Jesus gave Him a masculine identity and that’s what we must do today.
The main reason Church Theology and Doctrine declares the Holy Spirit to be a Person is because He has a mind, a will and emotions.
“…God…knows what the mind of the Holy Spirit is.”
1st Corinthians 12:11;
“The Spirit works all these things distributing to each one as He wills.”
“…who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.”
To be a person, one must have a mind, a will and emotions. This is what’s called the soul of humanity and because, the Holy Spirit possess those qualities, He is a Person. Another reason why the Holy Spirit is spoken of as a Person is because of what He does. The Holy Spirit works, searches, speaks, bears witness, teaches, instructs, reproves, prays and makes intersession, leads, guides, lifts up Jesus, saves souls, strives with men, sends messengers from God, calls men and women into ministry, gives gifts and directs people into service. Not to mention that He can be grieved, insulted, lied to, blasphemed, resisted, vexed and quenched. So many things and that’s cutting the list short.
When we fail to see the Holy Spirit as a Person with a passion for the people of God we will fail to build a quality relationship with Him. We want a vibrant growing relationship with the Holy Spirit and that only happens if you see Him as a being just like the Father and the Son; personal and passionate about His creation. James 4:5 says;
“Or do you think that the scripture says in vain, The Holy Spirit yearns jealousy?”
What is James trying to say to us? He is saying that the Spirit who now lives in us, if we have given our lives to Jesus, is yearning with intense passion and jealously for us to encounter Him and learn to fellowship with Him. Don’t worry about how much or how little passion you have for Him. He carries more passion than you can ever imagine . Tap into His passion for you and for God the Son and you will be caught up in glory unspeakable.
It’s important to see the Holy Spirit as a Person, but you must also understand that He is fully God. We know that the Holy Spirit is God because the Bible calls Him God (Acts 5:3-4 and 1st Corinthians 3:16). We know that the Holy Spirit is God because He is also eternal along with the Father and the Son (Hebrews 9:14). There are only three things that are eternal and those are the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Everything else is created; the Devil, the heavens, the earth, the angels and everything else that you can see or imagine. Only the Trinity is eternal. Before things began, God existed.
We know the Holy Spirit is God because He is all powerful (Luke 1:35). Only the Trinity is spoken of as being all powerful. This doesn’t mean that the Trinity is kind of powerful like the devil. It means that the Trinity is all powerful. And we know that the Holy Spirit is God because He is all knowing (John 14:26; 16:12, 13 and 1st Corinthians 2:10). There are some attributes that are accredited to God that belong to no one else, including the devil himself. Because the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity He is considered God because He also possesses these attributes; all powerful, all knowing and all present. You must not view the Holy Spirit as being weak, but as being strong and well able to do anything that needs to be done. Nothing stands before Him!
How Do I Build A Relationship With The Holy Spirit?
It’s interesting to watch Christians pray for one another and talk about praying for others. Often times I see Christians praying for people with one hand on the person and the other hand in the air pointed towards God awaiting the endowment of power to be released from heaven through them and into the person being prayed for. It’s as if God doesn’t already live in us, but is some sort of cosmic force around us that comes and goes and it’s released through us. In light of what I am about to say, it is funny to watch people pray like that. Does God listen to us better when our theology is correct and our Doctrine is perfect? No, not in the slightest.
Does God hear me when I keep one hand in the air while I pray for someone? Yes, more than I will ever understand. But it’s important to understand this because if we are always waiting for the Holy Spirit to come and zap us from the outside, we will fail to recognize Him living within us, making our physical body the temple of God. It’s not about how you pray so much as understanding where God lives and how He longs to operate within us and through us. If you have given your life to Jesus Christ and you are a Christian you have received all the God you’re ever going to get. You’re never going to get more God. What is going to happen is you are going to experience more of the God that already lives within you. It’s not that you’re getting more, you’re just experiencing more.
Learning to fellowship with the Holy Spirit will release the God that already lives within you, into your soul, for the purpose of going deep in love personally, so that you might release God through your body in community and ministry. In Christ, the way up is down and the way out is the way in. To go high in Christ we have to go down into our innermost man where the Holy Spirit actually lives in us. And to release God through our physical bodies we have to go inward to the Person of the Holy Spirit.
You will never walk in the Spirit more than you talk to the Spirit who lives in you. In history this was called “beholding God”, or “learning to love the ever living Flame of love.” I actually talk to the Holy Spirit who lives within me just like I talk to God the Father and Jesus Christ. I talk to Him. I lay my hands on my stomach because John 7:37 says that the Holy Spirit lives in my belly so I place my hands on my stomach. The reason I do this is not for the Holy Spirit but for me. If you struggle to worship God with your eyes closed is it because your mind wanders? If it does, what will help you when your eyes are closed is to set the eyes of your heart and your mind on something. This is why I actually place my hands on my stomach and talk to the Holy Spirit.
I do it because it helps me to get my heart and the eyes of my mind on something other than food, work and family. It helps me concentrate on the Holy Spirit and visualize Him living within me and filling me as I am talking to Him. I use really simple phrases that are spoken quickly and slowly. I would say “Holy Spirit, fill me”, “touch me”, “awaken me”, “help me understand You more”, “I long for You”, “I am hungry for You”, “help me right now by the power of Your great name.” I use these actual phrases and many others as I start a conversation with Him. Asking Him to strengthen me and fill me with all wisdom and spiritual understanding. He is not only willing, but able. We lack the might of God within our lives because we don’t ask for the Holy Spirit to fill us with power and great might, that we would share Jesus with others in a demonstration of glory.
My challenge to you would be to step out of your comfort zone right now and begin a dialog with the Holy Spirit. God is always speaking and He has an ocean worth of information to share with us, but so often we aren’t listening to Him. As you talk to Him, placing your hands on your stomach speak to Him and listen for His response to you. He feels immensely for you, beyond what you could ever imagine. So break off the shame and condemnation and start talking with Him.
Use some of the things that are listed in this session to say to Him. You could say something like “Holy Spirit, I thank You that You work in me, You empower me, You help me, You deliver me, You’re saving me and You’re releasing me to serve Jesus more and more.” After you say those things then take a minute or two and wait for Him; wait to see if He speaks. Tell Him you love Him. I often tell the Holy Spirit thanks for all His unseen labor within my life and His heart to serve me even when I don’t see it. The Holy Spirit will become your best friend if you allow Him to work through you and in you for the sake of Jesus Christ. He’s God, He’s a Person, He’s in you, He’s able, willing and He likes you more than you will ever know.