Monday, May 23, 2011

Holy Spirit: no one "gets" Jesus but by Him

The Word for today:
Acts 2:1-13

mark this: 2:1-4
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

In Acts chapter 2, a pivotal event known as "Pentecost" is described.  (Pentecost means the "Fiftieth Day" after Passover.)

There were forty days between Jesus' crucifixion (at Passover) and His ascension into heaven (1:3).  Then there were ten days between the ascension and Pentecost, during which time the apostles were directed by Jesus to wait for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit--"the Promise of My Father." (See Acts 1:4, 8; Luke 24:49).

"The Promise of My Father."
From the earliest chapters of the Bible, a Savior is promised.  He is the Seed of the Woman, promised to Eve.  He is the Son through whom all the earth will be blessed, as promised to Abraham.  He is the direct descendant of David, who will rule forever from David's throne.  The Promised Son is the great theme, the grand scheme of the Old Testament. 

But when was the Spirit promised to us?  Over the next few days, Stand in the Rain will take a whirlwind tour through scripture in search of the "Promise of My Father."  We invite you to come along…


The Trinity is a tricky concept.  People get it mixed up all the time.  I once said, in a Bible class, that the Trinity is "three Gods in one person."  Rest assured that my students nearly jumped out of their seats as they straightened out my misstatement:
"No!  You mean 'one God in three persons!' "  Which is exactly what I meant, despite the way it came out!

Well, the Holy Spirit makes sure that what God thinks is what comes out!  As the Author of the Bible, He has conveyed God's counsel to us;  he takes the things of Christ and shows them unto us  (John 16:14-15).  He makes the Word of God (the Bible) and the Word made flesh (Jesus) real to us.  He makes them come alive.

The Three are so inextricably bound together that they are One.  To explain this, we grope for metaphors and analogies, which always fall short:
To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him?  (Isaiah 40:18)

But when metaphor and analogy are all we've got, that's what we must use.  So, here goes:

I sometimes think of the Trinity as the indispensable elements of a smile.

A mind, unseen, issues the directive to smile.  This can be equated with God the Father, who remains unseen to this day:
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. (John 1:18)

What is seen is the incarnation of the eternal Son.  He is the express image of God (Hebrews 1:3).  He responds to his Father's direction.  He smiles (or cries, etc.) according to God's will. 

(Though Jesus responds to God's directives, there is no "rank" in the Trinity.  There is a "chain of command," but each Person's role is as indispensable as the others'.  Better, then, to think of the Trinity as a Harmony, not a hierarchy.  It must also be understood that God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8).  In the Kingdom of heaven, our notions of "greater" and "lesser" are turned upside down: the last shall be first, the greatest is the one who serves, etc.)

As Jesus puts God's will into action, it is the Holy Spirit who conveys Jesus to us.  He emanates from Jesus, getting him through to us.  The Nicene Creed states that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son."

Unless the Son obeys, God's smile is unseen.  Unless the Spirit illuminates it, God's smile is uncomprehended.

All right, enough of my illustration.  Let's find a picture of Trinity in the Bible.  It won't take long to locate, because it's the first thing we ever glimpse in scripture:

(verse 1) In the beginning, God…

(verse 2) And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters…

(verse 3) And God said, "Let there be Light…"

The Light of the World is, of course, Jesus.  But does this mean Jesus was created in verse three by the Father?

No way!  Jesus is the eternal Son, as eternal as the Father.  God hadn't lived in darkness all this time!  When God says, "Let there be Light," it's a directive to the Spirit to proceed--to shine, to illuminate, to reveal, to unveil Jesus! 

(verse 4)  And there was light.  The Spirit's work is effective.  The Light was made apparent--real--to us.   So in the Bible's first three verses we have "The Revelation (the unveiling) of Jesus Christ."  (And you thought you'd have to wait until the end.)


The Light is always shining, but he is uncomprehended…

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  (John 1:5)

Unless he is illuminated…

In your light we see light.  (Psalm 36:9)

We will return tomorrow to chase the Holy Spirit, "the Promise of My Father," all the way through scripture.  

But until then, remember two scriptures which must go hand in hand:

1.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one gets to the Father but by Him. (John 14:6)

2.  No one can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.   (1 Corinthians 12:3)

The Holy Spirit reveals the Way (1).  No one gets to the Father but by Jesus, and no one "gets" Jesus but by the Holy Spirit.

(1) 1 Corinthians 2:10-13; Ephesians 1:16-17; Isaiah 40:13-14

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