Today is the second day of a 40 day adventure with the Lord.
Yesterday, day one, was a good day. I experienced much peace and was able to pray more than I have in a long time. It seemed like my prayers were effortless and more natural and I had a deeper sense of His presence with me. I know this is only the beginning, but I am greatly encouraged. I was able to spend more time in prayer and meditation on His Word as my mind seemed to be more in tune to spiritual things, rather than carnal things. I find it amazing that after just one day, I can already see changes in my life.
Today I arose early, a little before 6:00am. For some reason I couldn’t turn my mind off. I was thinking about our conversation yesterday, how the Lord wants to speak with each of us, with me and you, in a more personal, intimate way that maybe we have not allowed Him to do in the past. I am convinced He wants to reveal His heart to us in ways we’ve never understood or experienced before.
This is what my desire is with Him. And this is what I have been praying this time with Him will accomplish.
My Fear of the Holy Spirit
Then I started thinking about my fear of the Holy Spirit. No, you heard that right. To be completely honest, I’ve always been a little frightened of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because I don’t understand Him. I find it difficult to get close to Him. I can’t get an image of Him in my mind and He’s hard for me to relate to.
God the Father, not so much. From the Old Testament, I see Him as unapproachable, fire and smoke and thunder from Mt. Sinai erupting like an active volcano (Ex. 19:18). When I think of His voice, I see it booming from the heavens, loud, frightening, much like I viewed the Wizard of Oz when I was a young child. To me, He seems more like a boss, or a ruling monarch, and less like a father. I know much of my caricature of God is based on my own dysfunctional and somewhat abusive relationship with my own father. And I know I’ve imposed character traits and motives on Him that belonged to my earthly father, and that’s unfair and wrong. But that’s something we’ll have to talk about at another time.
Jesus, on the other hand, I understand much better. I see Him walking the dusty roads of Galilee in the New Testament and I long to be there with Him. I see Him having endless patience with people like Peter and Thomas and me. I greatly admire His compassion for the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11), and His love for the Samaritan woman He met at Jacob’s well (John 4:5-30). I wonder what it must have been like to minister with Him as He unselfishly met the needs of people He didn’t even know when He multiplied the five loaves and two fish and fed them all (Matt. 14:13-21). And I see Him encouraging His disciples into a deeper life of faith when He beckoned Peter to step out of the boat and walk on water with Him (Matt. 14:28-32).
Jesus I like. Better yet, Jesus I love and want to emulate my life after Him. I want to devote my life trying to walk like Jesus, to live like Jesus, and to love like Jesus. Why? Because He’s left me a tangible, written example of who He is in the Scriptures.
But the Holy Spirit? I’m not so sure. He’s wispy, like an apparition, and hard to get a reading on. I know He’s an equal member of the Godhead, fully God, yet I’ve always viewed Him as some sort of power that emanates from God the Father or is used by Jesus the Son. Like He was some sort of possession of the Father and the Son, and not co-equal with them.
I’m not sure why I feel that way about the Holy Spirit. Maybe it’s because I have a hard time getting close to something I don’t understand. For me, at least, my mind rules most of my life and my emotions and passions are left subject to what I think. When my mother died a couple of years ago, for example, I remember sitting at my desk asking myself how I was supposed to feel about what just happened. What’s the proper emotion? In other words, I was going to mentally determine the proper response with my intellect and then allow my emotions to feel what my mind gave them permission to feel. It’s no wonder I’ve had such a hard time relating to the Holy Spirit.
So, what’s the Holy Spirit like? How can I learn to relate to the One who lives in me when I often see Him like a ghost, or something like a mist or a force that emanates from some other being— that being God.
Seen One, Seen All
All throughout His ministry, Jesus made it abundantly clear that “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). He never took credit for the mighty works He performed, but gave that credit to His Father. He said His purpose on earth was to do His Father’s will, the “will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38), and even likened that will to food, or His sustenance— “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34).
In John 14, Philip asked Jesus, almost incredulously, if He would show, or manifest to them, the Father (John 14:8). Jesus was a little taken back. It seemed the disciples were comfortable with Jesus, but when faced with the prospect of Him leaving them and ascending to His Father (John 13:33), they wanted more than assurances from Jesus alone. They wanted Him to bring out the big guns, to show them the Big Guy.
John 14:9 – Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
Let that sink in for a moment. Jesus said, “he who has seen Me has seen the Father.” How can that be? Because, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). In other words, if I look at Jesus, I’m also looking at the Father. Why? Because Jesus and the Father are one and the same.
Within the Godhead, the Trinity, you have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit who are all God, co-equal in essence, all one God. Each Person is fully God and, yet, there is only one God. There’s no division in the Godhead. There’s never an argument in the Trinity. There’s never been a vote, 2 to 1, majority rules, among the Father, Son and Spirit. They are all of the same essence, singular in focus: God is three persons, each person is fully God, and there is one God.
So if I want to know what the Father is like, I look to the Son. God the Father is just like Jesus. And Jesus is just like the Father. So how does the Father respond to my sin and failure? The same way Jesus does. How much does the Father love me? As much as Jesus loves me.
If I’ve seen the Son, I’ve seen the Father.
But what about the Holy Spirit? What is He like? How can I wrap my mind around Him?
In John 14, Jesus speaks the most revealing truth about the Holy Spirit found in Scripture. In a few words, Jesus tells us all we need to know about what the Holy Spirit is like.
John 14:15-18 – “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And (the promise) I will pray the Father, and He will give you another (allos) Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
The key word Jesus used in describing the Holy Spirit is, another. The word translated another is allos in the Greek and means “another, but of the same kind and essence, of equal quality.” Jesus is saying, “I will pray to the Father and He will send you another (allos) Helper, or Comforter (KJV), or Advocate (NIV), or literally one who comes alongside, who is just like Me.”
Or, to put it another way, “I will not leave you as orphans, but I am leaving. Do not fear. For I will pray to the Father and He will be sending Me to you in the form of Him, the Holy Spirit.”
Do you know what that means? Can you comprehend the implications of these few words? It means if you want to know what the Holy Spirit is like, simply look to Jesus. How would the Holy Spirit respond in a particular situation? The same way Jesus would. Which, by the way, is the same way the Father would. There’s no mystery here. No sleight of hand. If you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen the Father. Why? Because Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30). And if you’ve seen Jesus, then you also know all about the Holy Spirit. How? Because Jesus and the Holy Spirit are allos, they’re “of the same kind and essence, of equal quality.” The Father is one with the Son and the Son is of the same essence as the Spirit. Which makes the Spirit and Father also one. Remember? If A = B and B = C, then A = C.
Which means the Holy Spirit has the same characteristics and traits and emotions as Jesus, all of them. He’s a person, just like Jesus, with all the same traits of personality Jesus had.
The Personality of the Holy Spirit
We know Jesus was a person with a personality, we see that in the way He interacted with people as recorded in the Gospels. He had knowledge, for example, as well as will or volition. He possessed a mind or thought, in addition to various emotions such as grief, anger and love. That’s a given. But the Holy Spirit also possesses the same traits in His personality. Why? Because Jesus and the Holy Spirit are of the same essence, allos. Consider the following:
We see the Spirit’s unique knowledge of “the things of God” in 1 Corinthians 2:11.
We encounter His will regarding the distribution of His gifts “to each one individually as He (Holy Spirit) wills” in 1 Corinthians 12:11.
We find the Spirit having a mind, or thoughts and purpose, in Romans 8:27.
We see the Spirit grieved, sad and in sorrow, in Ephesians 4:30.
And we find the love (agape) of the Spirit revealed in Romans 15:30.
These are human emotions and traits, that are attributed to the Holy Spirit. And they’re the same emotions and traits that belong to Jesus.
So what does this mean?
For me, there’s no longer any reason to fear the Holy Spirit or to feel uncomfortable around Him. Why? Because I don’t feel that way about Jesus, and the Spirit is of the same essence as my Lord. When I sin, Jesus is always there with the love and forgiveness I so desperately need. So is the Spirit. When I hurt, my Lord stands with me to comfort me in my sorrow. Guess what? So does the Spirit.
And the amazing part of this is that I have spent most of my Christian life ignoring the Spirit who lives in me! It’s not Jesus that lives in me. No, He’s seated at the right hand of the Father (Rom. 8:34). It’s the Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead, the Trinity, that was given to me as a pledge, a down-payment, as the guarantee of my future inheritance in Him (Eph. 1:14). It’s the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, with Whom my salvation was sealed (Eph. 1:13).
This changes everything.
Will you join me as we continue to grow together during these 40 days, asking the Lord to reveal His truth to us through the residing presence of the Holy Spirit? Who, by the way, is just like Jesus— who just so happens to be one with the Father.
One final thought. Towards the end of His time on earth, as He was preparing His disciples for His death and resurrection, Jesus said these words regarding the coming of the Holy Spirit:
John 16:7 – “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage (profitable, better, beneficial) that I go away; (why) for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”
Could Jesus really have meant what He said? Does this mean Jesus viewed the coming of the Holy Spirit as more advantageous to us than His physical presence on earth? Absolutely.
But we’ll talk about that tomorrow.