PNEUMA – The Holy Spirit

Hello TTP family, we know it has been a while, but to enable us put out the amazing content we have been producing we had to take some time off to study, regroup and strategize.  But you don’t have to wait any longer because we are back!!

In the next couple of months, we are going to focus our attention on the person and ministry of the Holy spirit. In this series we will tackle a broad range of subjects like the gifts of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit etc. We will even spend time tackling some controversial topics like speaking in tongues. With that said, sit back and relax as we launch out into our Spirit Series dubbed; PNEUMA.

Who is the Holy Spirit? This seems to be one of the puzzling questions of the Christian faith. This is because while many recognize His work and activity in the church, it becomes increasingly difficult to properly identify who or what He is. What is His relationship to the Godhead and is He also worthy of our worship?

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. He is the living, personal and active presence of the Godhead. He is described as Holy because as a Spirit, He is different and in a class of His own. The Bible makes mention of different kinds of spirits. There are angels, evil spirits, the spirits of men etc. The Holy Spirit is in a class above these spirits because He is the spirit of the one true and Holy God.

One of the mysteries of the Christian faith is that we serve a God who is three in one. That is, God is three distinct persons in one being. The triunity of the Godhead is what we refer to as the trinity. Interestingly the word trinity never occurs in the Bible. However, the reality to which it points is scattered throughout the pages of scripture. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as the third person of the trinity. This designation is in no way an indication of rank nor hierarchy within the Godhead, but rather a description of position in terms of revelation within the biblical record. That is, in the progressive self-disclosure of the person, nature and character of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit is the third in order of revelation. The difficulty in understanding the concept of the trinity is that, just like in every other field of study, we look for illustrations in our lived and shared experiences to illustrate the point. But even with our best illustrations we still fall short, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. 

The relationship between humanity and the Godhead is like that between a square and a cube (at this point you may be wondering what’s going on. Just follow the analogy it will become clear in a bit). A square as we all know is a 2-dimensional figure that is made up of 4 equal sides, 4 equal angles and 1 face. The cube on the other hand exists in the 3-dimensional plane. The addition of an extra axis makes a world of possibilities available. The cube has 6 faces comprising 6 different squares. Each face of the cube is a distinct square, yet the cube is one object. 

Now imagine trying to explain the concept of a cube to a square that has lived all its life in the two-dimensional plane. I imagine the conversation would go something like this. 

Square A: Have you encountered an object that has six square faces but is one object? I hear it’s called a cube.

Square B: Interesting, are you referring to six objects or one? I mean I have heard of a square, but not of this mystery cube of which you speak. 

Square A: No, I do not speak of squares, but of one cube. It has six distinct square faces but is one complete object.

Square B: Nods in confusion. But how can this be? We have never seen nor heard of such things.

The difficulty for the 2D square in understanding is that because he lives in a lower dimension, an object that has six square faces and still being one whole is outside the realm of known possibilities. Similarly, when it comes to God and man, God exists in a dimension greater and above ours. Because we are made in his image, we are like squares relating to a cube. There are some similarities but clear distinctions as well. At the human level we have only one being and one person. At the level of being and personhood we are one. The answer to what I am, is that I am one human being. The answer to who I am, would be Bethmound. So, at the human level we are one what and one who. When an individual manifests multiple personalities within himself, such an individual is diagnosed with a multiple personality disorder because it is outside our norm. When it comes to God however, because we are dealing with an infinite being in a different dimension, the answer to the what and who question is different. What is God? God is a spirit. He is the infinite, eternal, uncreated, personal reality who created all that exists and who is revealed to human creatures as Holy. But who is God? The answer to this is that He is Father, Son and Spirit. One being, three persons. One “what”, three “who’s” existing in total unity and harmony. All three persons in the Godhead are of the same substance, co-eternal and worthy of worship. To put it differently; The Holy spirit is as much God, as the Father and the Son.

In 2 Corinthians 3 we see Paul’s trinitarian theology play itself out. From verses 7 to 18 Paul is contrasting the life-giving power and the surpassing glory of life in Spirit to the glory the law had. In verse 14 we read; But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. In this verse, Paul speaks of a veil that covers the minds of those under the law, just like Moses’s face was veiled to cover the glory that faded. Even though the glory faded, the veil remains, and that veil is taken away in Jesus Christ (the Son). In verse 16 we read; But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. When you compare verses 14 and 16 you notice Paul interchanges the terms Christ and Lord. This is quite telling because the term “Lord” which translates the Greek word “Kurious” means “Master”. Because Jews had a command not to take Yahweh’s name in vain, they began substituting  “Yahweh” with “Adonai” which meant “Lord” or “Master”. In the Septuagint which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, “Kurious” is the word used to translate the Hebrew term “Adonai”. Paul’s deliberate interchange of Christ and Lord is to signal to his audience that Jesus Christ (the Son) is not just the awaited Messiah but is Yahweh in the flesh as well. He is the Lord. With this in mind let’s look at verse 17; Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Paul says the Lord is the Spirit!! In the mind of the apostle, the Father, Son and Spirit are one. Christ the Lord, who is one with the Father is also one with the Spirit. When he moves through and interchanges the persons in the Godhead, he is referring to one and the same God. 

In Acts chapter 5 we observe a similar phenomenon. Ananias and his wife Saphira had sold a piece of property they owned. They pledged the full proceeds to the church. But when the time came to present their offering to the church, they held back some of the proceeds. This act incurred the wrath of God. They wanted the praise that comes from a full commitment, but were not ready to give their all. They were hypocrites. When the Apostle Peter was prompted by the Holy Spirit of their lies, he passed judgment on them. In verses 3-4 we read:

3Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and withhold some of the proceeds from the land? 4Did it not belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How could you conceive such a deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God!”

If you pay close attention to the words of Peter, he concludes that to lie to the Holy Spirit is to lie to God, because they are one and the same. This was what all the apostles held on to and this is what we mean when we say the Holy Spirit is God. When we speak of the Holy Spirit, we are not speaking of a nebulous being or power that makes us “feel” good in church services. He is God.

Each of the persons of the Godhead play unique roles. For instance, in our salvation, God the Father wills it, the Son secures it through his death and resurrection and The Holy Spirit applies our salvation in the act of regeneration. The Father is God for us, The Son is God with us and the Spirit is God with us and in us. He is the personal presence of the Godhead with the believer today. When we profess as believers that Christ dwells in our heart by faith, we are not saying the physical Jesus dwells in our heart, but that the Godhead dwells in us in the person of the Spirit. This is why the born-again Christian is referred to as the temple of the living God.

Throughout the Bible, there are metaphoric elements that are used in describing the Holy Spirit and His work in the life of the believer. Today we have explored the deity of the Spirit and his relationship with the Godhead in the trinity. In our next post, we will explore some of these metaphors and how they can help us better understand the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Until then stay blessed and may the peace of God be with you.

The Timothy Project……Presenting every man perfect!!

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