Our Theology affects our Behaviour:
When we truly believe something in depths of our heart, it affects the way we behave. Or conversely, the way we behave, will usually reflect what we value and believe in our hearts. Often times, people who love God and seek to honour Him, don’t behave in a way that reflects a personal relationship with Holy Spirit – they understand ‘God the Father’ and they can relate to ‘Jesus the Son’, but Holy Spirit is somewhat abstract to them, and hard to understand. As such, this lack of strong theological understanding of the person of the Holy Spirit makes it difficult to relate to Him in the way in which God intends. My hope is that as we ‘re-tune our theological dial’ and readjust our thinking and understand about Holy Spirit, that we will enjoy a more personal and fulfilling engagement with the third Person of the Godhead.1. If you believe in Jesus, then Holy Spirit lives in you
Often when we are involved in Church life for a long time, it becomes easy to confuse the rules, traditions, and spiritual disciplines we are taught, with the basic teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. It’s easy, over time, to begin to believe that a relationship with the Holy Spirit is based on how committed you are to church, or how many hours you read your bible, or how long you pray in tongues. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that what YOU DO determines whether Holy Spirit inhabits your life when the Bible consistently reminds us that it’s not by works, but by God’s grace that He chooses to indwell us. I’m not saying that reading the bible and prayer isn’t important, what I’m saying is that spiritual disciplines are NOT CURRENCY that we use to buy the presence of God and the love of the Holy Spirit. We pray and read the Bible because we want to know more about the Holy Spirit, not to manipulate Him to come to us. Life in the Holy Spirit is not ‘transactional’ - It is not dependent on ‘how good a Christian you are’ -- If you’re a Christ follower, if you have opened your heart up to the truth about Jesus and said “I confess I can’t live this life on my own, I need you to forgive me and help me to make a fresh start” -- THEN YOU HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT – FULL STOP -- NO QUESTIONS ASKED. Ephesians 1:14, Paul says When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. In Galatians 3:1-5 Paul is exasperated with his fellow Christians who “having started your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?....I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.” So right up front –each one of us needs to recognize that Holy Spirit seals us because we believe in Jesus, not because of anything we do to earn his company. He doesn’t come and go; he doesn’t give ‘big bits’ to some people and ‘little bits’ to others: He is fully present in the lives of each one of us who believe.
2. Holy Spirit is a person, not a force
The Creeds on which we found our faith all declare, “Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead, co-equal with the Father/Son." (First Council of Constantinople (381). They function in complete harmony; there is no subordination; they are Equal; Father, Son and Spirit, three persons in One. Many heresies over the years have tried to delegate Holy Spirit to less than God or to suggest that He is simply a power rather than one of the three persons of the Godhead. However, the New Testament writers make it very clear that Holy Spirit is a person, and not just a force. They use personal pronouns to show that the Spirit has a personality, and Jesus declares in John 14:16 that ‘another’ comforter ‘exactly the same’ as himself will come after he has gone. Numerous Scriptures further establish that Holy Spirit is a person when they credit Holy Spirit as having emotions such as: Love (Rom 15:30); Grief (Eph 4:30); a Will (1 Cor 12:11); the ability to Intercede (Rom 8:26-27); to Speak (Acts 13:2, 21:11); to Testify (Jn 15:26); and to Teach (Jn 14:26). Gordon Fee writes: “….we tend to think of the Spirit in nonpersonal terms and refer to him as “it”…. [however] in dealing with the Spirit, we are dealing with none other than the personal presence of God.” (Paul, The Spirit and the People of God)3. Jesus said he would Baptize us in the Holy Spirit
We have already established that everyone who has a relationship with Jesus does so because the Holy Spirit lives within them. Holy Spirit enters our life at the point “when you believed” (Eph 1:14). However, Jesus told the disciples, who believed and had already received the Holy Spirit (John 20:22), to wait in Jerusalem because “in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). Baptism in the Holy Spirit occurs after we believe in Christ, and after Holy Spirit enters our lives for the first time. It is a subsequent experience to conversion where we are ‘baptized’ with the Holy Spirit, in other words, we are ‘plunged’ into the depths of the Holy Spirit and he soaks into every part of our being – he saturates us with His presence and overflows through our whole being. Throughout the book of Acts we read that in most cases when people were baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit, they spoke in other languages and praised God (Acts 2:1-21; Acts 11:15-18; Acts 19:1-7). And in the two cases where it doesn’t record that they spoke in tongues, (Acts 8:4-25 and Acts 9:1-19), it does however state that those standing by “saw something” occur (Acts 8:18) and in the case of Paul, (Acts 9), we know that he received the gift of tongues because he tells us in 1 Cor 14:18 that he “speaks in tongues more than you all”. Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the reception of the gifts of the Spirit, greatly change our relationship with Holy Spirit and draw us closer to him. Some people have huge, powerful, and explosive Baptism in the Holy Spirit encounters, whilst others quietly ask and receive without a fan fare. Both are valid and both empower us to carry the presence of God with greater authority and power. We need to be careful that in our search for the ‘spectacular’ that we don’t bypass the ‘supernatural’ work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.4. We live in the Spirit by surrender, not by striving
I often meet people who are so desperate for an encounter with the Holy Spirit that they stress and strain and beg and plead because they believe that they have to ‘do’ something to get God to respond to them. However, Holy Spirit isn’t a force that comes and goes – we don’t have to beg and strain to convince Him to ‘come to us’. In John 7:38-39 Jesus says “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Holy Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. The Holy Spirit resides within us in power and he wants to flow out through us to others. We don’t need to strain, we just need to surrender. Our focus shouldn’t be on trying to get the Holy Spirit to come to us, but rather our focus needs to be to turn our attention to the person of the Spirit who already resides fully within us. Richard Rohr writes, “We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness. Little do we realize that God is maintaining us in existence with every breath we take. As we take another breath it means that God is choosing us now and now and now.” (Everything Belongs) Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” (John 15:4) We need to still our hearts, quiet our minds, relax our bodies, and turn our spirit towards the wonderful Holy Spirit who lives within us….. and surrender. Questions/Activities for Reflection
1. How does the realization that ‘Holy Spirit dwells permanently within you’ affect your behavior in everyday life?
2. How does the realization that ‘Holy Spirit is a Person, not a force’ affect your behavior in every day life?
3. Share your personal understanding/experience regarding Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
4. Share your experiences of any times when you may have felt the need to ‘do something’ in order to get Holy Spirit to move in your life? Why do you think you felt that way?
5. Re-read the quote by Richard Rohr in the last paragraph and discuss your feelings about the idea that “We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness.”
6. Take some time to still your hearts, quiet your minds, relax your bodies, and turn your spirit towards the wonderful Holy Spirit who lives within you. Take a deep breath in… and out…. and then allow the Spirit to wash over you and move within you.
7. Share together what you heard/felt/experienced during this time and then pray for one another.Recommended Reading
The beginners guide to receiving the Holy Spirit by Quinn Sherrer and Ruthanne Garlock
2002 servant publications Michigan USA
Empowered by the Spirit by Barry Chant
2008 Tabor publications Miranda NSW
Moving in the Spirit by Phil Pringle
2006 Pax Ministries Dee Why NSW