A while back in our Christian Believer classes, we spent some time studying and discussing the Holy Spirit and how it works in our lives. As we watched a video presentation by the commentator Gordon Fee, we were somewhat startled when he called the Holy Spirit the “neglected member of the Holy Trinity” and a “sort of Divine step-child”. But then as we began to discuss our understandings of the Holy Spirit, we realized that we had many different experiences and definitions around the actions of the Holy Spirit. This was not surprising—for most of us, it is the Father and the Son that are more easily understood and grasped, while the Holy Spirit continues to be the member of the triune God that can often fly under our “spiritual radar”. And so we do tend to neglect the kind of self-examination and prayer that it takes to fully be aware of the Spirit’s power working in our lives.
Perhaps a part of our problem in being fully aware of the action of the Holy Spirit is that the Bible gives us so many names for the Holy Spirit, especially in John’s gospel (“Teacher”, “Advocate”, “Friend”, “Counselor” to name just a few). And while we are familiar with the story of the Holy Spirit coming down as fire at Pentecost, most of us are less familiar (and comfortable) with so-called “spirit-filled”, “Pentecostal” worship practices.
On the other hand, the scriptures do give us some helpful reminders of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. For example, in 1 Corinthians 12:3 Paul says that “no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” In other words, he is stating the reality that the Holy Spirit in within all of us Christians (whether we are always aware of it or not). Right after that verse, he goes on to list numerous “gifts of the Spirit”, which remind us that the Holy Spirit gives each of us tangible gifts to use in tangible ways to serve others.
The book of Acts is also very helpful in showing how the Holy Spirit can act in our lives. While most of us know this book as the “Acts of the Apostles”, actually it is more accurately an account of the “Acts of the Holy Spirit”, since again and again, the apostles are only able to do their work through the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through them. Given the nature of these stories, I am excited that from the Sunday after Easter (April 12th) through Pentecost Sunday (May 24th), we will be embarking on a worship series entitled “Acts of the Spirit”, where we will be examining a number of these stories that show clearly the Holy Spirit acting in the lives of the apostles. It’s my hope that by hearing and studying these stories in creative ways, we will begin to more fully understand how the Holy Spirit works in our lives in the same kinds of ways. And even more than that, it’s my prayer that we will come to a new assurance that all acts of God are acts of the Holy Spirit!
In the Spirit,