Sunday, January 22, 2017

This week's lesson (January 21-27): the Personality of the Spirit

The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force; instead, He is a person -- like God the Father, or God the Son.

Pity.

If the Holy Spirit was an impersonal force, after all, then we could use Him to get what we want -- the same as we do with electricity. Yes, we could channel Him. Manipulate Him. Maybe even hold seminars and write books on "How to be Filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit."

But we can't.

No, He's a person. That means we can work with Him. Talk with Him. Maybe even hold seminars and write books on how to have a relationship with Him.

But reduce this relations to a set of techniques -- to a series of steps that will get us what we want?

It doesn't work when we try this with people.

And that means it doesn't work when we try it with the Holy Spirit.

Pity.

Friday, January 20, 2017

This week's lesson (January 14-20): the Divinity of the Holy Spirit Spirit

Something will go wrong.

And someone will be there to help.

That's the advice on travel I got from Rick Steves' radio program . . .

And that's pretty much what Jesus says in John 14-17.

Anytime I'm on the road, after all, there's always a glitch -- yes, wallets go missing, flights get delayed, reservations are made for the wrong week. This used to frustrate me; I used to believe that proper planning would ensure a perfect trip . . . but now, I just take it in stride. (Mostly.) "Something's gone wrong," I tell myself, "and that means . . . "

Sure enough, somebody's always there to help. Could be my wife. Could be a clerk. Could be the stranger who stops what they're doing to ask if I need help (and it's amazing how often that happens).

But when things go wrong (as they always do), both Rick Steves and John 14-17 have always been right: I've never had to deal with it on my own.

That's why the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is important.

That's why the divinity of the Holy Spirit is important.

You see, we know that things go wrong.

But as believers, we also know that Somone's always there to help.




Sunday, January 08, 2017

This week's lesson (January 7-13): the Holy Spirit - working behind the scenes.

The Holy Spirit works behind the scenes.

Except when He doesn't.

Read the Book of Acts, for instance, and it's clear that Things Happen when the Holy Spirit shows up.
  • Yes, the sick are healed.
  • The dead are raised to life.
  • And sometimes, the healthy are smitten with sickness -- or even killed!
Yet in each case, the Holy Spirit does not perform a miracle in order to draw attention to Himself; instead, its purpose is to glorify Christ.

Like Jesus Himself, in other words, the Spirit exists to make somebody else look good . . .

Even if this means He needs to make a scene.

Go, and do likewise.

Friday, January 06, 2017

This week's lesson (December 31-January 6): the Spirit and the Word


God provides tech support.
Not only that, but He doesn't outsource. 
Some companies, after all, don't provide any help; no, you buy their product and you're on your own . . .

Like the time I bought a cheap MP3 player that turned out to have no manual, no website, and no toll-free number I could for help in figuring out how to turn it on.

In consumer electronics, this is called "lousy customer service."

In philosophy, it's called "Deism" -- the idea that God made us, then kind of . . . lost interest.

Then you have the manufacturers that do provide tech support -- or rather, they've given this job to another company located somewhere in South Dakota India the Philippines that is committed to providing fast, friendly service at the lowest possible price (with an emphasis on "the lowest possible price").

In business, this is called "outsourcing."

In philosophy, it's called "Neo-Platonism" -- the idea that God does not deal directly with His creation, but does so only through a near-infinite "chain of creation."

But when we need help, our prayer does not go to an angel . . . who passes it to an archon . . . who turfs it to a saint . . . who transfers it to a call center located somewhere in South Dakota India the Philippines South Dakota.

Instead, God picks up the phone Himself -- and sometimes, He doesn't even wait until we call to get in touch! No, He calls us to see how we're doing. He drops by to see how we're doing. And if He needs to be there with us all the time, then we know where you'll find Him.

In business, this is called "on-site support."

In philosophy, this is called "immanence" -- the idea that God is close to us.

But if you need a personal name for God when He does this, then you call Him, "the Holy Spirit."

This first appeared in 2014.