Not a Power, But a Person


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“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans…” (John 14:16-18)

I can’t remember how many times as a child I found myself lying on the ground in front of the stage in the church I grew up in covered by a thin maroon blanket having just been “slain in the spirit.” I can still recall peeking under the coverings to my younger brother giggling as we tried to stay quiet and pretend to be in some spiritually comatose state. While I really don’t want to belittle anyone who practiced these types of “holy spirit” works I think it’s crucial that we understand who God the Holy Spirit is and what exactly it looks like for a believer to be “anointed by the Holy One” as we read in I John this week. The Holy Spirit is not a power but a person.

Don’t Use the Force, Luke!

The way that I have observed many Christian’s interacting with the Holy Spirit over my lifetime resembles ‘the force’ in Star Wars more than anything else. From evoking the Holy Spirit’s authority as some means of mind-reading to using ‘spiritual gifts’ to make people collapse to the floor, the power of the Spirit is treated more like a magical ability than the divine Spirit of God. If we diminish the third person of the Trinity into some force to be manipulated for our own purposes then we not only end up in a state of blasphemy but also irrelevance. We are belittling God while simultaneously leading observing unbelievers to conclude that we’re not spiritual, we’re weird. Galatians 5 makes the true products of the Holy Spirit very plain:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control…”

The outcome of true encounters with God the Holy Spirit will not produce uncontrollable experiences, but rather a healthy and productive Christian walk marked by love, patience and self-control.

What the World Needs

“Saying the world needs another Pentecost is like saying the world needs another Calvary.” Pastor Greg said this past Sunday morning. Jesus’ work on Calvary’s cross was once for all, and so was the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the early church. If we continue to try to recreate some emotional experience we will fail to appreciate the constant and often subtle presence of the Holy Spirit now. Like Jesus said in Acts I

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The Holy Spirit empowers us not to display a spectacle but to display our savior. The Holy Spirit working in us in the biblical sense will do one thing above all others, give us the motivation, ability, and supernatural power to bring the gospel message to people who want nothing to do with it. Bringing salvation to a lost world is the greatest miracle of all, and it’s for that mission that the Holy Spirit is with us.

Rob McCartney

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