A teacher in Bible class was trying to explain to her five year old’s class about the three personalities of the Godhead when she took a large pretzel and held it up for the class to see. She pointed to the fact it was one pretzel yet it divided into three distinct sections. One section represents God the Father, the second segment represents God the Son or Jesus Christ, and the third section represented the Holy Spirit. Each of these personalities are referred to as God in the Bible. They are separate beings or personalities but possess one divine nature. The teacher felt she had done a rather good job with her explanation and throughout the class she kept coming back to the pretzel and having different ones in the class tell what each segment represented. Near the end she pointed to one lad and asked him to tell what the different parts of the pretzel illustrated. He took it out of her hand and held it up for all to see and said, “This part represent God the Father. This part represents Jesus Christ the Son. And this other part represents the holy smoke.” (From Charles Swindoll’s book “Flying closer to the Flame”)
Why is it so hard for us to get our mind around the concept of the Holy Spirit of God and His actions in our life? Perhaps one reason has been the King James Version’s translation of the Holy Spirit as the “Holy Ghost.” In 1611 when the King James translation was made the word “ghost” meant the same thing as the word “spirit”. But over the four hundred years since that time the word ghost has come to mean some myterious being that is associated with haunted houses or with Casper.
The Bible never refers to the Holy Spirit as “It” or an influence. It certainly doesn’t describe the Spirit as a wind. When the Bible talks about the Spirit the reference is to “He”. Jesus said, in John 14:25-26 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your rememberance all that I said to you.” Notice it is “Whom” the Father will send and that He is sent in the name of Jesus. This demonstrates the Spirit is different from the Father and the Son. In verse 16 and 17 John records Jesus as saying, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another helper; that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or known Him, but you know HIm and because He abides with you and will be in you.” The Spirit is “Another” helper who is sent from the Father. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons with one divine nature.
The Holy Spirit in us makes powerful changes in us. Think of the apostles of Jesus before they received the Holy Spirit to give them power from on high and after they received the Spirit. Before they were a fearful, timid band of men desperately afraid of what might happen to them if the world learned of their relationship with Jesus. Jesus told them when He was preparing to ascend back to the Father, to wait in Jerusalem until they recieved power from the Spirit. When they received the power they were to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samarai and to the uttermost parts of the earth. They waited and prayed together in the upper room.
When the Holy Spirit came there was a great noise, tongues of fire sat upon each of them and they were suddenly able to speak to the people from all different parts of the world in their own dialect. They became bold, outspoken and impossible to intimidate. This fits well with what Paul would later write to his young friend Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7-8. “God didn’t give you a spirit of timidity of of power, love and a sound mind.”
The multitudes gathered around the apostles in Acts 2 after they received power from on high and were amazed at what they saw and heard. Some were asking, “What does all this mean? How can we all hear them in the same dialect in which we were born?” As is always the case someone came up with a rediculous answer. “They are drunk”. Have you ever heard a drunk who became fluent in any language? Instead of being able to speak in languages they haven’t learned before, a drunk can’t even speak in his normal language in a way that makes sense. So the accusation was crazy from the start. But it brought a quick response from Simon Peter. “These men aren’t drunk as you suppose, since it is just 9:00 in the morning. This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel that in the last days God would pour out his spirit on all flesh. His sons and daughters would prophesy, his old men would dream dreams and young men would see visions. Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy. And I will grant wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.”
From this day forward these apostles were so bold with their preaching and teaching that even when the Jewish leaders arrested some and beat them with strong warnings not to preach or teach any longer in the name of Jesus, they went out rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer for his name. Then they went right back to preaching and teaching about Jesus.
Think about the crowd of people in Jerusalem on Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2 who had heard the sound, saw the signs and heard Peter’s explanation of what was happening. Then when they were cut to the heart and cried out to Peter and the other apostles, “Men and brothers, what shall we do?” Peter’s response was, “Let everyone of you repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you and your children and for all who are afar off, even as many as the Lord your God shall call.” What do you think they would have thought when they heard Peter promise them the gift of the Holy Spirit?
I don’t believe they would have even considered that maybe this was just some gift from the Holy Spirit or that He would give His Spirit representatively through the word. They had seen the effect the Holy Spirit in the lives of the apostles and would naturally expect the same kind of affect in their own lives.
Consider some of the things the Holy Spirit does in the lives of people who follow Jesus in daily life. “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5) We are “Led by the Holy Spirit” and “He bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God and heirs of His kingdom” (Romans 8:14-17) He gives to each disciple some spiritual gift they are to use in service to God and others (Romans 12:1-8). We are washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God (I Corinthians 6:9-11). The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses and intercedes for us to the Father (Romans 8:26-27). When we look into the face of Jesus by reading the New Covenant the Spirit transforms us from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Spirit in us produces fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Truthfully, this list could go on and on. But it should be obvious that the Spirit of God in the life of a disciple of Christ is an extremely important matter and that without the Spirit we are just trying to operate on our own power and our power won’t get us anywhere near where God wants us to be..