May 22, 2015

Who Is The Holy Spirit? (Pentecost Sunday)

Anglicans sometimes have trouble understanding who the Holy Spirit is and what the Holy Spirit does. Older English translations of the Bible seriously miss-translated the Greek word “rouah” which means spirit, wind or breath (of God) as “The Holy Ghost”. This image turned the Holy Spirit into a vague and unfortunate caricature – something to be avoided in sermons. This is the exact opposite of what the Readings for Pentecost teach us. Jesus promised to send The Holy Spirit to all believers as the link to God or continuing presence of God working in the world. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who, exactly like Jesus, teaches us the truth in all things:

  • Convicting us of the reality of our own sin
  • Convincing us of the righteousness (authenticity) of Jesus
  • Convincing us of the certainty of final judgement by God
The point is that we are not alone. As soon as we discover who Jesus is and put our trust in Him, the Holy Spirit comes to us to guide us and help us in our lives. This guiding and help can be as profound as a physical healing or as practical as finding lost car keys.

 1. Holy Spirit of Truth convicts us of the truth of our own sin
We are all born spiritually blind. We depend on our minds to guide us in life. We use our minds to study the Bible and other spiritual books but the problem is our minds can deceive us. The Jewish Elders who pushed the Romans into Crucifying Jesus were not spiritually ignorant. But their minds deceived them. They thought there was good evidence that Jesus was a blasphemer – a criminal claiming to be God. They thought they were doing what God wanted. Their minds deceived them.
  • I discovered this psychological problem of self-deception in my work as a professional librarian –  not really hearing criticism
·         Jewish Elders were not listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit
·         Holy Spirit was present with God the Father at Creation
·         Holy Spirit is all through the Bible – voice the Prophets heard
·         Prophets role was to speak God’s truth – to warn kings
·         Isaiah warned the Israel before the Babylonian Captivity
·         Good News is the Holy Spirit is the voice of our conscience
·         Holy Spirit helps us see our own sin so we can repent, confess and be forgiven

 2. Holy Spirit of Truth convinces us of the truth about Jesus
Lots of people, even Satan, ‘believe in Jesus’. The problem is that not everything they believe is true. Muslims for example believe Jesus was a prophet like Moses. But Jesus did not claim to be a prophet like Moses. Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. He was either a deluded criminal – as the Jewish Elders thought – or the real thing. Even His Disciples were confused about this before the Resurrection. But some of them ‘got it’. Classic example is Peter’s confession of Christ. (Mt. 16.16-17) where Jesus tells Peter that is was not by his own thinking but by the power of God, that he could understand the truth.

  • Holy Spirit acts as a divine witness to convince us
  • We can know things, even believe things – but that is different than being convinced
  • Test of being convinced is trusting your life to a truth
  • Live in a time when “absolute truth” is a lost concept
  • “The world” / political people try to avoid conflict – create chaos and confusion – my truth and your truth can be incompatible (mean my belief and your belief)
  • Serious Christians depend on the Holy Spirit for truth
3. Holy Spirit of Truth convinces us of the truth of judgement
What you really believe determines how you act. Serious Christians are convinced that they need Jesus to forgive them and enable them to be with God, who is Holy, when they die.

  • Comes to us and lives inside us when we invite Him
  • Cannot live on a spiritual garbage dump – so convicts us as necessary to repent, take sin to the cross and be free of guilt
  • Teaches us everything we need to know – my experiences in reading the Bible and preparing teachings
  • Share my experience of Baptism in the Holy Spirit when faced with a major life decision (see previous teaching on Ascension for details)
Pentecost is the longest season of the Church year (33 weeks) when we need to focus on how the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, guides us in our daily lives as we gradually develop our spiritual life until we are ready to be with Jesus in Heaven and no longer need our old physical bodies.

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