“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). This famous opening verse in the Gospel According to John tells us the Word of God was always there.
The Greek word “logos” is the term for “word” in this scripture, and it is often applied to Jesus himself as the Word of God revealed. We rely on scripture to give us the terms, or “words” to use to describe God. Of course, Jesus was the long-expected Messiah, and the prophets of old used words like, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6b NIV). Similarly, the promise of one to follow Jesus to live in the hearts of Christians was referred to by Jesus as Counselor (paraclete in Greek), Spirit of truth, and of course, Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 26 NIV).
Trinitarian Christians are those who believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one God with three distinct persons. We accept this as truth because Jesus himself commanded us all to: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20 NIV).
While most Christians have no trouble with God as Father and Jesus as God the Son, it gets a little murky for most people when it comes to the Holy Spirit. This is because scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit resides in us as the continuing presence of Jesus himself (John 15:26), and we don’t really know what to do with this “unseen” presence in our lives. When you take into account that most people live very busy, fully-involved lives, it is easy to simply overlook any presence of an entity we cannot see. Work, home life, friends and even church work can get in the way of us recognizing the Holy Spirit’s presence.
Ways we depend on the Holy Spirit
Yet, it is the very Holy Spirit of God that intersects our lives with God. As Christians, this is a critically important part of our faith, as we depend on the Holy Spirit in a variety of ways.
First, the Holy Spirit is the presence of God in the lives of those who wrote the many books that make up the Holy Bible. Without the Holy Spirit, there would be no “Word of God” for us read and consult for the knowledge that God wants us to have regarding the history and truth of the relationship between God and his creation (the world and us).
Second, we need the Holy Spirit to help us understand what God is telling us with the Holy Scriptures. Without the Holy Spirit, we have no hope of understanding God’s truth as brought forth in scripture. The “Spirit of truth” is what helps us not only understand scripture, but also to see and hear God’s truth and presence in our lives, the lives of those around us, in our church community, and the world that we live in.
A promised presence
The Holy Spirit was promised to the disciples by Christ when he ascended to heaven. That same Holy Spirit is promised to all believers when we are baptized into the life of Christ-followers. We are promised the presence of the Holy Spirit, but we have to recognize and accept him. By grace God leads us to accept Holy Spirit who leads us to repentance and forgiveness. By grace the Holy Spirit reveals to us the plan God has for our lives. We celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, this year on Sunday, May 28th.
While we may not experience the “tongues of fire” that came upon the disciples in the upper room on the first Christian Pentecost, we certainly can experience the life-giving power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives today. We experience him when we are able to give up bad habits that have been with us for a long time. We experience him when we see lives transformed and people become new creations before our eyes. We experience him when we witness new churches form from the ashes of old bodies of faith that have turned from God. The Holy Spirit is what allows us to discern the Word of God for our lives and community. The Spirit of truth is what allows us to recognize when the world around us is hostile to God and is even trying to openly defy God’s plan for his people. The Counselor is responsible for the community of believers coming together to serve God and others in Christ’s name.
This year, may we celebrate the presence of the Holy Spirit by becoming more open and willing to accept the very presence of God in our lives. May we recognize the power and love of God that the Holy Spirit brings to all of us. May we start each day by welcoming the Holy Spirit in our lives. Indeed, come, Holy Spirit! Fill our hearts with your presence that we may know your truth and be the presence of God in our community!
Rev. Myron Rhodes, Jr. is Pastor of Grace Wesleyan Church in Fort Lauderdale. (gracewesleyan.org)
For more articles that discuss the Holy Spirit, visit https://www.goodnewsfl.org/topic/god/active-faith/