Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 5:1-4
Like I said yesterday, the second chapter of Acts is when things really start happening. Our Savior repeatedly promised that he would send the Spirit to us after he ascended, and this was very different from all the other times the Third Person of the Trinity had come in the past. Starting with Pentecost, he came to stay. He came to inhabit human flesh, just like the Son did, forever and forever. Because of this radical change in how God “did things” from that point forward, I thought this would be a great time to do a topical series on Pneumatology, the study of the Holy Spirit. We’re going to spend the next couple of weeks or so on both his nature and his work.
I think it’s a shame that this topic has been the cause of a lot of division in the Church, especially since one of his jobs is to unite us and make us one in the Body. The sad fact is, sometimes discussions about him can bring more heat than light. I’m going to do my best to leave all my biases behind and focus on what Scripture actually says about him. At the outset I have to acknowledge that a lot of this material is based upon The Mystery of the Holy Spirit by R.C. Sproul.
Before we delve into what he does, let’s take a bit to focus on who he is. Part of the problem is that he usually works “behind the scenes,” and there’s a lot more focus placed on the other members of the Trinity. But here’s what we do know about him:
First, there’s no question that the Bible presents him as God. Just before he ascended, our Lord Jesus gave us our overarching marching orders, commonly known as the “Great Commission.” We're commanded to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the “name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Please notice that it’s “name,” not “names.” The construction in the Greek makes it clear that the Father, Son, and Spirit are presented as essentially equal in the formula. I meant the word "essentially" quite literally: The Spirit is one in essence with the other Persons of the Trinity. Whatever the Father is in and of himself, the Son and Spirit are. The Father is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, eternal, etc., and so are the other Persons.
In the second passage from Acts, we see this concept repeated. Ananias and Sapphira tried to deceive the apostles and the church, because it was the “in” thing to sell property and donate the proceeds to the needs of the church. Notice Peter’s accusation here. The first sentence says they'd lied to the Holy Spirit, and in the next verse they'd lied to God. The two terms were equal in Peter’s mind.
But if the Holy Spirit is divine, why do the Scriptures present him in such a servant-like manner? It’s the same principle as with Christ. We have to distinguish between his nature and his position. In his nature, Christ is one in essence and equal to the Father. But in accordance to the divine plan, his chosen position was submission to the Father’s will. It’s the same way with the Spirit. We’re going to see over the next few days precisely what that means.
In the meantime, this is a great reminder to me as to what the Father expects. The Holy Spirit, as we shall see, delights to serve the Father and exalt the Son. He doesn’t have any trouble working “behind the scenes” and bringing glory to the Son. So what rights do I have? Is there any work too humble, too “beneath me”? I think you know the answer to those questions, don’t you?
Father, may your Spirit fill me with your presence and do the work of molding me into the likeness of your Son. May the gentleness and humility of your Spirit change me from within. Please.