So I'm in the hospital in May for this surreal experience of radio-iodine therapy to kill off any remaining thyroid cancer hangers-on . . . and the capsule please...
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and I began to think about the study I was to teach starting this past week on the Holy Spirit. Googling 'teaching on the Holy Spirit,' the entries that came up were telling about the various thoughts of this mystery.
->Consider the leading one:
"The holy spirit is God's power in action, his active force. God sends out his spirit by projecting his energy to any place to accomplish his will." This, according to JW.Org, the Jehovah's Witnesses. Further on the page it states, "The holy spirit is not a person."1
who or what is he or it?
And why should we care? This will be a journey we take together,
and it is a very important one.
From the Unitarian viewpoint, "It is our assertion that the teaching that "the Holy Spirit" is a separate "person" from God, the Father, is not true and results in some serious practical disadvantages to living the Christian life."2 Hmmm. "Truth is not at stake and one teaching is equivalent to another as long as each is sincerely believed and God is approached with humility and love." Did the Unitarians really put that in print? Truth does not really matter so long as whatever you believe, you believe sincerely... and approach God with humility and love?
Does the last phrase make the first one palatable? What in the world?
~>Truth is always at stake, Friends.
Whereas the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, Bill Bright, wrote, "The Holy Spirit is God. He is not an "it." He is not a divine influence." (Mind you, Mr. Bright was giving his position, not responding to the two previous viewpoints on the Holy Spirit, but it sure seemed like he was addressing the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Unitarians straight away.) Mr. Bright continues, "He is not a fleecy white cloud. He is not a ghost or a concept. He is a person possessing a will, intellect and emotions. He is God -- with all the attributes of deity. He is the third person of the Trinity -- co-equal with God the Father and God the Son."3
How can all these 'Christians' have such different positions on this subject? The fact is, there is so much confusion, so much misunderstanding about the Holy Spirit. Is that not so? I've been thinking a lot about the Holy Spirit. Frankly for years now, I have been so drawn to the Holy Spirit.
What I understand and believe to be true about the Holy Spirit comes from my searching and researching of Scripture, in both Old and New Testaments. I have found that denominational beliefs and doctrines about the Holy Spirit are so varied, as noted earlier, that I must seek to understand for myself what was written in the Scriptures. For as Luke said, "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."4
[from our current perspective, it is funny to think of people testing what Paul had to say-in particular because the only scriptures they had to examine were those of the Old Bible, the Old Testament-and even then, it would mostly be a searching out of what they had memorized, as folks did not own their owns sets of scrolls or parchments!]
Do not be spoon-fed key beliefs or guiding principles of your faith and practice-read for yourself what the Bible has to say about the Holy Spirit's existence, personhood and practices. You see, understanding of the Holy Spirit is most certainly a key belief in our Christian life and experience.
Secondarily, I look to see what Jesus taught his best friends in the whole world about who and what was to come when he left them, recorded in John chapter fourteen. "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate [a person, not a thing] to help you and be with you forever- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him [a person-and yes, a male], because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."5
Holy Spirit ... person, not thing. Truths spoken from Jesus' own lips. Oh, how I love the Word of God, and this is just the start, Friends! And since the Holy Spirit is a person, don't you want to know him?
I so do!
4 - Acts 17.11
5 - John 14.16-17