It’s the last in our series on the Trinity. And to round it off, here’s a wonderful guest post from Glen…
“Remember guys,” said the youth leader, with wide-eyed, hyper-Haribo, youth-leader enthusiasm, “the Spirit is NOT an it. It’s a He!”
The lesson the youth leader wanted to teach is the lesson he needed to learn. He knew that the personhood of the Spirit was important. Technically. But that didn’t change the way he related to the Spirit. He knew he should call the Spirit ‘He’. In practice he still thought of the Spirit as an it. What about us?
I fall into that youth leader’s thinking too. I know I ought to love and honour the Spirit. He’s the 3rd person of the Godhead after all — coequal with the Father and the Son. But in practice many Christians (especially those in the churches I’ve grown up around) believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Bible. So who is the Spirit?
Well first let’s follow through with the point the youth leader made. He really is a He!
gives (Isaiah 63:14)
teaches (John 14:26)
speaks (Acts 13:2)
sends (Acts 13:4)
chooses (Acts 20:28)
He can be:
blasphemed (Matthew 12:31)
lied to (Acts 5:3)
tested (Acts 5:9)
resisted (Acts 7:51)
grieved (Ephesians 4:30)
He really is a person. In fact He is super-personal. As we’ll see, He’s the personable person and the personalising person. The person who makes persons persons!
How so? Well He’s linked to life throughout the Bible. From the second verse of the Bible He is pictured as brooding over creation, like a mother hen (Genesis 1:2). The life-giving Word (Genesis 1:3; John 1:1-3) goes out on the Breath of the LORD (“Breath” and “Spirit” are the same words in the Bible’s original languages). As Job says, “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4). Repeatedly the Bible says “the Spirit gives life” (John 6:63; Romans 8:10; 2 Cor. 3:6).
Who is the Spirit? He is LIFE. And He always has been.
As the Spirit of the Father and the Son, the Spirit IS the life of God. Some have called Him the “Go-Between God.” They are reflecting on many verses (like Isaiah 11:2; 42:1; 61:1; John 3:34-35), where the Spirit goes between Father and Son. He is closely related to the love of God, flowing back and forth. After all, “God pours His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:3). But remember, He’s not a flow or a force. He’s not an impersonal stuff. He’s definitely not an it! He’s a He! But this person seems to be the Go-Between God — the One who communicates the life and love of God.
Hold that image in mind — the Go-Between God — because, as we’ll see, we really need a Go-Between. The truth is, without the Spirit, the life and love of God would be alien to us. Shut away from us in heaven. Jesus said this in Matthew 11:27:
No-one knows the Son except the Father and no-one knows the Father except the Son…
The Father and the Son seem to have a family secret. They know each other. But no-one else seems to know them. How do we break in on this family secret? Jesus continues…
…and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Jesus opens out the life of God to us. He can bring us into the family. How does He do it? He reveals Himself by the Spirit! As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:3: “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit”. The Spirit reveals Jesus. As He does so we are led to the Father. And as we are led to the Father, so He sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts (Galatians 4:6). The Go-Between God sweeps us up into the Father-Son love! Now we share in the eternal life of God. All thanks to the Spirit!
Right now the Spirit is crying “Abba, Father” from deep within me (Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:15) — He’s speaking love up to God. And at the same He’s reassuring me that I’m a child of God (Romans 8:16) — He’s speaking God’s love down to me. The Go-Between God!
And that’s why the Spirit is so often associated with comfort / consolation / fellowship / peace. Taking “the grace” from 2 Corinthians 13 as our model — if God the Father is associated with love; and God the Son is associated with grace; the Spirit is associated with fellowship. He is the personal life and love of God poured into me and, through me, He offers my love back to God.
No wonder the Bible tells me to “walk by the Spirit”! (Gal 5:16-18) Everything else is just flesh! (John 6:63). He’s the Spirit of the Father and of the Son.