INTRODUCTION: This devotional series is based on J.I. Packer’s classic work, Knowing God. There is no greater quest, no more important activity, nothing that should be a higher priority than getting to know God. Too many Christians know about God without making their time with him personal. These devotionals are designed to challenge you to ask questions of yourself, bring these questions before God, make you think, and transform your relationship with God. My prayer is that your study will overflow in emotion, in touching your heart, in connecting with God, and sharing your relationship with others. The book consists of 22 Chapters, thus this series last 22 days. Dig in!
Reflections on Chapter 6: He Shall Testify (The Holy Spirit)
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:16-21
Christianity rests on the doctrine of the Trinity, or three-ness, the tri-personality of God:
1. God the Creator and “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”
2. Jesus the Son and “Word”
3. Holy Spirit the Counselor/Comforter (John 14)
Since our study is on Knowing God, we must understand all three personalities. Yet, if you are like me, you probably spend the majority of your Bible study time focused on Jesus and the Father. I just looked through my library and only found one book focusing on the Holy Spirit and it is called “The Forgotten God”! (I must have given someone my copy of “The Spirit” by Doug Jacoby!). I continue to feel a deeper need to study Him! As Packer observed in 1973, “the work of the Spirit is neglected by the church today.”
Here are some thoughts from Packer:
· God’s Word and Spirit (breath) are parallel figures.
o Gen 1:2f the Spirit (breath) moved upon the water and God said… and there was... The Spirit moved and God spoke to create!
o The Father sent the Spirit just as He sent the Son – “in His name” (5:43, 14:26, 12:49, 10:25, 17:12, 15:26, 16:27).
Note the relationships:
1. The Son is subject to the Father, for the Son is sent by the Father in the Father’s name.
2. The Spirit is subject to the Father, for the Spirit is sent by the Father in the Son’s name.
3. The Spirit is subject to the Son for the Spirit is sent by the Son (John 20:22).
· Without the Spirit there would be no gospel and no New Testament:
o Christ sent the Holy Spirit to remind them of his words (14:26) and then sent Him to empower them to preach throughout the world (Acts 1:8, 2, etc.)
o Paul gives credit to the HS for teaching him (1 Cor 2:9-13)
· Without the Spirit there would be no faith and no new birth:
o John 3 teaches that we are born of water and the spirit
o The Spirit reveals, inspires, and illuminates – opening men’s eyes (John 16:7)
o Paul preaches with a “demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (1 Cor 2:1-5)
My search on the name “Holy Spirit” found 96 occurrences throughout the Bible with 28 additional occurrences of “the Spirit of God” and one occurrence of the name “God’s Spirit.” There are 563 total occurrences of the word “spirit” (in all of its various forms). Here are some facts about the Spirit to keep in mind:
· The Spirit, like the Father and the Son, is referred to in the male gender. It is proper to call the Spirit “Him” or use the pronoun “He” rather than “It.”
· Though many look for supernatural working of God’s Spirit, John 14:18-20 (see above) indicates that God gives His Spirit to us because He wants to be present in fellowship with us. Therefore, God’s natural work of the Spirit is probably more common than His supernatural work of the Spirit.
o He lives with you and will be in you... I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
· Many people focus on the outward signs of the Spirit. However, the primary way that God’s Spirit interacts with us is to prove God’s truth to the world. Consider John 16:8-10:
o Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
· For Christians, understanding God’s holiness and then God’s presence through the Holy Spirit living in us helps us to care about how we live. We don’t want to “grieve the Holy Spirit” (Isaiah 63:10, Eph 4:30) living in the slavery and guilt of Romans 7 but rather to be “led by the Spirit” into the victorious life of Romans 8!
· God wants us to be “filled with the Spirit” (Luke 1:15, Acts 4:8,31, Eph 5:18). However, a parallel could be drawn to making Jesus Lord and being filled with the Spirit – when we surrender ourselves to God, desiring to do His will, asking for the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), and making room for Him in our hearts (Rom 5:5), surely we will experience God’s presence in our lives through His Spirit. Sometimes my prayer is as simple as “Lord, help me to want to want to do your will.” I need God to stir my desire in a spiritual direction!
“Whoever has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev 2:11,17, 3:6,13,22)