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~ Who Is the Holy Spirit? ~

Part 4 of 4

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        God is omnipresent. He not only fills every nook and cranny of all creation, seen and unseen, all of creation cannot contain Him. But God also has a Manifest Presence. Manifest means an intrusion detectable in the visible world. This Manifest Presence is a Person of the Trinity. He is the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Acts 4:13 talks of this Presence: "Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and told the nation's leaders and the elders…The officials were amazed to see how brave Peter and John were, and they knew that these two apostles were only ordinary men and not well educated. The officials were certain that these men had been with Jesus." The Manifest Presence of God was evident in the physical world, and acknowledged by even the unsaved.

        Many teachers and preachers inadvertently introduce confusion into some of God's children. The "Word of God" is a term often used to describe the Bible. Although it is indeed proper to describe the Scriptures with that term, let us consider this is not strictly Biblical and carries the danger that people are not instructed to distinguish between knowing God through the Scriptures and knowing about God. The difference is as great as the difference between life and death. The disciples described in the Book of Acts, and the Jews and Gentiles they addressed, did not have the Scriptures in their possession. The New Testament, as we have it, wasn't yet written and compiled. They didn't even have access to the Old Testament books since those were very sacred, laborious to hand copy, and safely locked up in the synagogues. All they had were some prayers of the Psalms that were verbally passed down through generations by memory. Yet these people knew God, not just knew about Him. It is crucially important to know the difference between being intimately knowledgeable of the Scriptures and intimacy with the Holy Spirit. Do you really know Him, or just know about Him? Life and death question.

        The Word of God they knew is so clearly defined in John 1:1-4: "In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created received its life from Him, and His life gave light to everyone." It's been said, "Are we going to worship and know the Word (Scriptures) of God or worship and know the God of the Word (Scriptures)?" Yet, even this well-meaning challenge doesn't make biblical sense. John 1 is clear that we are to know and worship the Word, Who is God, and the Holy Spirit, Who proceeds from the Word (Christ) and God in the Holy Trinity. Remember that Satan often quoted Scripture to Christ. Satan is far more versed in the Scriptures than any of us. In addition, Satan was highly blessed and endowed with power and knowledge by God. Satan's downfall was his pride in those blessings. That leads to a very critical understanding…

        What was the prodigal son's empowerment of his downfall? His father's blessings! He was sorrowful over his son's request for his inheritance so he could go out on his own into the world, however the father's responsive love provided his son with the financial and physical resources to do just that. The son wasted and prostituted the blessings of his father and repented. He returned, wanting only to be his father's servant. But three notable things happened. When his father saw his son approaching "far off", he didn't stand there and wait. The father ran to the son in jubilation! The father listened to the son's repentance, but quickly turned his attention to honoring him. Upon this man's response, his other son had questions and challenges regarding his loyalty and the lack of any honoring that his wayward brother was now getting. His father reassured that son of his gratitude and love, while explaining that what was lost, then found, was worthy of celebration and honor. It is significant that many of Jesus' parables communicated this theme.

        However, there is another theme within this story, and that of the downfall of Satan, that I am teasing out of the traditional theological teachings. Expecting God's blessings, trusting in the fulfillment of our prayers, receiving the gifts of His Holy Spirit, are all Biblical indeed. But first things first. The prodigal son took his father's blessings and took off into a miserable life. His brother, who remained at home, let his father continue to be the trustee of his blessings and continued to live, uninterrupted, in the peace and protection of his father's house. Jesus instructed, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all else will be added unto you." Psalm 103:1 declares, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me. Bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits." Note it does not say, "Bless my soul, O Lord." We are to seek Him and to bless Him, not the reverse. Once we do, like the father of the prodigal son, He'll come running in love and jubilation to us! That Person Who will be pursuing us is the Holy Spirit.

        "Jesus said, 'Believe Me, the time is coming when you won't worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem…But a time is coming, and it already here! Even now the true worshippers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship Him according to the truth." (John 4:23-24.)

Next week will be a special edition of "Who Is the Holy Spirit?"

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Weekly Reflections © August 24, 2000

Responses are welcome at: Reflections@prayergear.com

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