FIRST POSTED ON 1 MARCH 2020.
Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!
In our last session, we saw how no one could enter the Kingdom of God unless they were born again in the Spirit. On the night before He was to be crucified, Jesus prepared His disciples for His soon departure, promising them that He would not leave them as orphans but would send them “another advocate … the Spirit of truth.” Jesus reassured them that He would come to them - because the Holy Spirit is none other than the Spirit of Christ Himself.
The Holy Spirit - from the Hebrew words Ruakh (meaning breath/wind/spirit) and Hakodesh (meaning Holy) or the Greek word Pneuma (which also means breath/wind/spirit) - is the third person of the Holy Trinity after God the Father and Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the very breath or spirit of God.
Now, the Holy Spirit is not new or the result of Jesus’ finished work on the Cross. He is mentioned in the Old Testament and is the channel through whom God most often worked in history. In His Spirit, God initiates and accomplishes His will through men. In fact, we cannot please God apart from His Spirit working in us to do so.
And now, through Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit and are born again into the new life as promised by God in the Old Testament (Ezek 36:25-27). This new life marks the start of the Fifth Day of Creation.
It is worth noting that the Fifth Day of the original Creation Account concerned new life in the water and sky. Throughout the Bible, we see the Holy Spirit described in relation to these two elements - as living waters (here, we have the words baptism/cleansing/pouring out of the Spirit), wine (to contrast against the infilling of the Spirit), or oil (symbolic of the anointing of the Spirit), and as wind or breath (making up forty percent of all Old Testament references to the Holy Spirit; being born again from above, the wind in Pentecost), tongues of fire or dove. It is only on the Sixth Day of Creation that we speak about life on earth - the earthly rule of Man (being literally formed from dust) in contrast to the divine rule of the Spirit.
As mentioned earlier, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ in us, through whom we are born again into the new life. We receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit usually at the point of conversion when we are convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit, repent and receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour (References).
Thereafter, as we grow in our spiritual walk with God, we continually experience the Infilling of the Holy Spirit as He cleanses, transforms and empowers us for His work and purposes (References). The Holy Spirit is our Comforter/Helper/Counsellor who leads us into all truth - teaching, bringing to remembrance Jesus’ words and glorifying/testifying of Him; who intercedes for us; who adopts us into God’s family - restoring our true identity; and who guards our salvation until the day of redemption (References).
But beyond being just individuals, we are also joined with the larger Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, to be used by Him to bring the Body to maturity with the fullness of the Gentiles. I want to stress this very important point - our new life in Jesus’ Spirit cannot be separated from our new life in His Body the Church, regardless of its imperfections, challenges and failures, especially as Christ’s return draws nearer.
As we turn next to study the book of Acts, we will see how the Holy Spirit grew the early Church as He empowered both the Apostles and ordinary believers, baptising them into the Body of Christ and equipping them for service, building up the Church to be a fitting dwelling place for God, bringing about true unity, raising up leaders and commissioning and making competent those to be sent out (References).
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