April 13, 2011

Pneuma II / πνευμα δυο

The Holy Spirit, although He is unseen, comes in power to empower believers. The manifestations, signs or fruits of His presence are visible or seen. He is unseen but an enabler of truth, knowledge, wisdom and revelation, all of which can be seen or witnessed by others when He is in us. Unseen but intercedes for believers. Unseen but brings spiritual understandings. Until this point in my life, I’ve tread rather lightly dealing with the Holy Spirit. For me He has been an enigma due to the invisible nature of the Spirit Himself. As I have grown more spiritual because of His presence in me, I have gained more spiritual discernment and can see the signs of the Spirit in my life and in other’s lives. For me even to recognize the Spirit’s works I really need the Spirit to work within me. Paul also speaks of this spiritual discernment that is not natural for man in Romans 8. Because of our depraved nature and fallen condition we cannot know things of the Spirit because we set our minds to things of the flesh. We are not by our nature spiritual beings but...but...if we have The Spirit we can be made alive to spiritual things (Romans 8:9-10). This is where the work of the Spirit of God comes in when He is in us . It is Spirit's work in us (John 14:17) that allows us the rebirth that allows us this discernment. We can intellectually acknowledge the Spirit's existence but to know Him requires a personal relationship just as we have with Jesus and the Father. When I say personal...I mean person...or should I say Person, a Person of the Trinity. Often glanced over since He is not visible but the outcroppings and outgrowths of His work are unavoidable once one is spiritually discerning. As much as I try to keep the focus of this on the Gospel of John, to avoid what Paul says and piggybacks into what Jesus said and taught in John is to miss a large portion of what is useful in understanding The Spirit within believers.

The Holy Spirit is like the forgotten member of the Trinity in some respects. He is mentioned a lot, especially by Jesus and yet we barely grasp Him. Please note I have referred to Him as a personal pronoun(s) all throughout this paper: He, Him. The Bible does the same and I must follow suit. We also see Him refer to Himself as "me" and "I". Jesus refers to Him as a person or "whom" and "He" that can actually respond to an request or at least is cognizant or sentient unlike the Jehovah Witnesses who see the Holy Spirit as an identity-less "force".

“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—He will testify about Me." ~John 15:26

First, the word Helper in this verse is parakletos/παράκλητος and the ος is singular/masculine. Although in the Greek the word Spirit (pneuma/πνεύμα) is neuter and not masculine, according to grammatical rules the pronoun must agree with the noun but there is an intervening clause in this passage, "the Spirit (pneuma/πνεύμα) of truth who goes out from the Father" in neuter is then immediately followed by the masculine form of "that" in the Greek ekeinos/ ἐκεῖνος when used in reference to parakletos/ παράκλητος or "He that will testify about me" in the literal translation of the last clause. It is obvious from this that the writer (John) meant to refer to the Spirit as a HE, not an IT or unidentifiable force as it is so commonly misunderstood by our culture.

We then get another undeniable proofs one chapter later that brings this thought home for us in a way that is exactly what John intended. The word ekeinos/ἐκεῖνος when used in reference to parakletos/παράκλητος is again used to refer to the Spirit.

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. ~John 16:13-14

How anyone reading the Bible can miss that many "He" in two verses is beyond me. They are either in complete denial or are illiterate. The Spirit is a He and He is a person. 'Nuff said.

The Holy Spirit is just as busy was the Father and Jesus was/is. The Holy Spirit does a lot but it often goes “under or off radar” so to speak. He works to help believers perform certain tasks or in some cases performs tasks on a believer’s behalf (ex: Romans 8). Often what the Spirit does do we take for granted. The things He does we can and often do associate or attribute to other persons. What does He do? He comforts believers. He guides (John 16). He encourages. He will also convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). He will and does guide us in a personal way that is most advantageous to our eternal well-being. To be able to guide someone individually and communally (in the Church as a body) for the individual and communal best interest requires an intimate knowledge or both an individual and a community, these manifestations are not unconscious assumptions by a lifeless “force”. These works are done premeditated and according to the will of the Father. The Holy Spirit intercedes for and with us. By the Spirit and Christ we have access to the Father. When we know not what to ask or pray for the Spirit intercedes.

We are to believe in the Holy Spirit and He is part of the baptismal sacrament in Matthew 28. He is the recipient of prayer. We are to have a relationship with Him. We are told not to sin against the Holy Spirit. The unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:22-30). He can be offended. Does that sound like any lifeless person-less force you know? Me neither. The Holy Spirit can be loved, adored, grieved, and sinned against…among other things. This certainly sounds like a person to me.

He has many titles all of which emphasize an attribute of the Holy Spirit. Some of these titles and attributes are: Eternal Spirit-His eternity, Spirit of Glory-His glory, Spirit of Life-His vitality, Holy One/Holy Spirit-His holiness, Spirit of Wisdom. We can equate His attributes to His infinite nature. Counsel, knowledge, wisdom and understanding point to His omniscience. Spirit of Strength points to His omnipotence. His Spirit of Grace points to His grace and mercy and being All-Benevolent. The list could go on eternally but I will not.

To conclude I will state the following things to draw a conclusion about the heart of the Gospel of John and its statements about the Holy Spirit. For an overlooked or "invisible" member of the Trinity (no pun intended) He is integral to nearly all aspects of Christianity. To consider Him just a personless force is an insult to the Spirit and underplays His immense importance just like that of the Father and Jesus. John clearly shows Him otherwise. To deny this is to deny Scripture’s clarity. To have a man call Him a person-less “force” shows the illiteracy and/or unwillingness of those making that type of statement to properly read the Scriptures. The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is replete with the Holy Spirit either at the forefront of the action or working behind the scenes. The Gospel of John is the pinnacle of this elaboration. What He is not, is totally “invisible” in the Scripture nor is He devoid of “personality” or personhood.

Nowhere do the three persons of the Trinity become more evident than in the Gospel of John. This is especially true when discussing the personhood of the Holy Spirit. Nowhere do the unique relational qualities of the Holy Spirit with the other persons of the Trinity become more evident than in the 14th, 15th and 16th Chapter of John. Paradoxically, nowhere is the Holy Spirit more clearly delineated from the Father and Son as a distinct person of the Trinity than in these middle chapters of John. Finally, it is only in John that we get such a profound grasp and understanding of the Holy Spirit’s interactions with both the divine and man. John (via the Holy Spirit) does such an good job of anthropomorphizing the Spirit here…that he nearly gives the Spirit (dare I say it?) a human face.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...