John T. Willis

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Holy Spirit

When I first became a member of the denomination called The Churches of Christ, a big issue was the Holy Spirit. Many preachers and author of written articles in pulp magazines argued that the ONLY way the Holy Spirit works is THROUGH the written word of God, that is the present Bible. These advocates based this on two texts:
  1. Ephesians 6:17: "Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
  2. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13: "Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for TONGUES [referring back to 1 Corinthians 12:10 and expanded in 1 Corinthians 14], they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."
  In those days in the 1950s and 1960s, exponents argued that God empowered Christians to speak in tongues through the Holy Spirit (Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 14), but 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 CLEARLY teaches that after the deaths of the early apostles, speaking in tongues and other miracles cannot occur.

At the Highland Church of Christ, a faithful Christian woman who studied the Bible very carefully, taught the elders at Highland that this traditional view was far from the truth of the Bible. She cited numerous texts in the Bible that the Holy Spirit works in our lives  just as much as he did in the first century. Slowly, but surely, the whole church listened and learned and changed our position FOR THE GOOD. This was a VERY IMPORTANT truth. Unfortunately, many of the issues which we used to think were very important were insignificant, to say the least, as future blog will point out.

If ANYONE studies the Bible, it will become clear that the Holy Spirit not only exists, but is very alive and important in the lives of individuals and the church. The problem here is the very same one which we face about God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. For example, there are MANY TEXTS in the Bible [Hebrew Bible and New Testament] which declare that God sends rain on our land. Even Jesus declared this truth in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:45 [see also Amos 4:7-8; Psalm 104:13; Job 37:10-13; 38:25-30; and there are MANY OTHERS]. BUT even today many people do NOT REALLY BELIEVE that God "sends rain" on the earth. Instead, rain is a "natural phenomenon." All such arguments are based on the Enlightenment, not on biblical truth.

Here are ONLY a few texts about the work of the Holy Spirit in the Bible.

1. Romans 8:26-27: "Likewise the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."

2. Galatians 5:16-18: "Live by the Spirit, I say, and do no gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law." All of God's true people must LIVE by the Holy Spirit and BE LED BY the Holy Spirit.

3. Romans 15:13: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Our hope, joy, and peace comes from the power of the Holy Spirit.

4. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body."  The Holy Spirit dwells in our body as a worshipper dwells in a temple.

5. 2 Timothy 1:14: "Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us." The Holy Spirit lives in us as he helps us to carry out God's purposes in life.

These texts are just a tip of the iceberg. I am so thankful that many people in Churches of Christ now realize that the Holy Spirit is vibrant and motivating and transforming all of us into the image of God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. From time to time, we will be discussing the works of the Holy Spirit in future blogs.

Share your wishes and questions and experiences and failures and successes with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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