Holy Spirit Theology 101

Here are my notes for the third session of The Forgotten God, by Francis Chan, which includes questions for my Poster-TheForgottenGodsmall group, quotes from the book, and other observations. Remember these are notes, and not a complete article on the topic. Please purchase the book to support the author.

If we stop short of applying the truth to our lives, then we do not actually grasp that truth. Our belief determines action.

More important than what we know is how we act. For lack of understanding we grieve the Spirit.

Think about KGBC in light of the huddle analogy. How have you been running from the huddle to the bench?

God gave the Spirit so that we might change the world. How might we look if we all began running plays?

We study biblical truth, which makes us smarter and knowledgeable, but doesn’t affect our lives. We are educated far beyond our obedience.

So, the result of this study could be that we walk around with more knowledge of the Spirit, or we can know the Spirit.

  1. The Spirit is a person, rather than a force, an it, or a ghost. (Matthew 28:19, the trinity / Ephesians 4:30, emotions)
  2. The Spirit is God, not less than the Father or the Son. (Acts 5:3-4, the Spirit is called God)
  3. The Spirit has his own mind and will (Romans 8:27, 1 Corinthians 12:11) and enables & empowers us to fulfill our mission.
  4. The Spirit has emotions (Ephesians 4:30), grieving when there is disunity, or lack of love for others or God. Sin affects God.
  5. The Spirit is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable. (Zechariah 4:6, First Corinthians 2:10, Psalm 139:7-8).
    1. The point is not to completely understand God but to worship him. Allow him to lead you to value him more.
    2. Jesus left this earth and gave his followers an impossible task (Acts 1:8). He made it clear the Spirit’s power was needed.

What the Spirit does in and through us:

  1. He helps us when we are in precarious situations ((Mark 13:11, Luke 12:12).
  2. The Counselor teaches and reminds us of what we need to know, and remember what Jesus taught (John 14:26).
  3. The Spirit brings peace in the midst of turmoil (John 14:27, Romans 15:13).
  4. The Spirit works in the hearts of all people, convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11, First Thessalonians 1:5).
  5. The Spirit seals us in Christ, and is a pledge of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14).
  6. The Spirit confirms in us that we belong to Christ (Romans 8:9).
  7. The Spirit is the revealer of truth that helps and guides us to understand and interpret God’s Word (John 16:13).
  8. The Spirit is our Helper, Counselor, Comforter, (Paraclete) (John 14:16).
  9. The Spirit convinces us of the deity of Christ (John 15:26).
  10. The Spirit is a gift-giver (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11, Romans 12:6).
  11. The Spirit is a fruit producer (Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Corinthians 3:18).
  12. The Spirit is a witness empowerer, and equipper (Acts 1:8, Romans 8:26, Ephesians 3:16-19).
  13. The Spirit is a slave redeemer, he sets us free (Romans 8:2, 10-11, Second Corinthians 3:17).
  14. The Spirit is an adoption confirmer, being witness we are God’s children (Romans 8:15-16).
  15. The Spirit is a weakling strengthener (Romans 8:26-27).

Now that we know all this, we must ask, “What does the Holy Spirit want from me right now?” “How can I cooperate with him in his work?” Don’t just ask what he can hypothetically do, but ask what he can do in your life.

Ponder the amazing power of the Spirit…

Here are some quotes from the book:

  • What you do and how you live are absolutely vital. Without action and fruit, all the theology in the world has little meaning. But theology is still important—what you believe absolutely determines how you act.
  • The point is not to completely understand God but to worship Him. Let the very fact that you cannot know Him fully lead you to praise Him for His infiniteness and grandeur.
  • I have heard the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit described like the three parts of an egg: the shell, the white stuff, and the yolk. I have also heard people say that God is like a three-leaf clover: three “arms,” yet all are a part of the one clover stalk. Another popular comparison is to the three forms of H2O (water, ice, and steam). While these serve as cute metaphors for an unexplainable mystery, the fact is that God is not like an egg, a three-leaf clover, or the three forms of water. God is not like anything. He is incomprehensible, incomparable, and unlike any other being. He is outside our realm of existence and, thus, outside our ability to categorize Him. While analogies may be helpful in understanding certain aspects of Him, let’s be careful not to think that our analogies in any way encapsulate His nature.
  • Yet when the Holy Spirit descended and indwelt them, a radical change occurred. From that point on, none of these disciples was ever the same. The book of Acts is a testament to this fact. We read of Stephen, the first martyr. We see Peter, a changed, courageous man. We see Paul (formerly Saul) go from killing Christ followers to becoming one and showing many others how to do so too.
  • I believe that if we truly cared about the Holy Spirit’s grief, there would be fewer fights, divorces, and splits in our churches. Maybe it’s not due to a lack of belief but rather a lack of concern. I pray for the day when believers care more about the Spirit’s grief than their own.
  • In 1 Corinthians we read that the gifts of the Spirit are “empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (12:11). This is an important reminder of who is in control. Just as we don’t get to choose which gifts we are given, so also we don’t get to choose what God intends for us or for the church.

What is God’s Glory?

In a recent class on Wednesday nights, I have a friend who asked an interesting question: “What is God’s Glory?” Admit it, that’s not really an easy question to answer. I always sense that it was ascribing to God the honor due him, that he is worthy of our worship, praise and obedience.

If you spend much time in church, you hear God’s glory mentioned all the time. Contemporary songs and classic hymns celebrate God’s glory. Many worship traditions include the Gloria Patri: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit…” Preachers tell us we should seek to glorify God in all we do. In the Reformed tradition, the catechism reminds us that the chief purpose of our lives is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

But, have you ever wondered what the glory of God really is? When we speak of God’s glory, what are we talking about? How do you answer my friend’s question?

According to theologian Millard Erickson, the Hebrew word for “glory” refers to a perceivable attribute (an individual’s display of splendor, wealth and pomp), but in relation to God, it does not point to a particular attribute, but rather to the greatness of God’s entire nature.

Ezekiel 10:4 helps us to get a glimpse of and understand God’s glory: “Then the LORD’s glory rose from above the winged creatures and moved toward the temple’s threshold. The temple was filled with the cloud, and the courtyard was filled with the brightness of the LORD’s glory.” The word translated here as “glory” is kabod in Hebrew. This word comes from a root with the basic meaning of “heavy.” From this root word came a word meaning “rich.” Ancient Hebrews would refer to a rich person as “heavy in wealth” much as we might say someone is loaded. The literal sense of kabod also included being loaded with power, reputation, or honor. It’s from this use of the word that we get the meaning of glory.

So, God’s glory is God’s weightiness in wonderful qualities such as might, beauty, goodness, justice, worthiness and honor. When it comes to these characteristics and so many others, God has them in superabundance.

When we think of God’s glory, we remember that God has all good things in greater quantity and quality than we can ever imagine. Notice, also, that God’s glory is solid and substantial. It isn’t mere reputation. It isn’t dependent on anyone or anything else. God’s glory reflects his essential nature.

Yet the notion of heaviness does not fully convey the glory of God. In fact, if we equate God’s glory with heaviness, we might miss an essential quality of his glory. Look again at Ezekiel 10:4. God’s glory is not like a giant rock that sits there passively because it is so large it cannot do anything else. Rather, God’s glory shines like the sun.

In fact, if we’re looking for an image to represent the glory of God, the sun is a strong candidate. For one thing, the sun is the heaviest object in our solar system (with a weight estimated at more than a hundred times that of the earth). But, of course, the sun doesn’t just sit there. It is continuously active, burning so fiercely that it lights and warms the earth, which is about 93 million miles away.

The similarity between God’s glory and the sun is found in Scripture. Consider the promise of Isaiah 60:19: “The sun will no longer be your light by day, nor will the moon shine for illumination by night. The LORD will be your everlasting light; your God will be your glory.” This promise comes true in the vision of the heavenly city found in Revelation 21:23: “The city doesn’t need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s glory is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

In the New Testament, the Greek word for “glory” is doxa, which conveys the meaning of brightness, splendor, magnificence and fame. Check out how it is used in the New Testament:

  1. Jesus prays that the Father would glorify him as he had glorified the Father (John 17:1-5)
  2. We see his glory at the resurrection (Acts 3:13-15, 1 Peter 1:21)
  3. We see it at the glorious second coming of Jesus (Matthew 24:30)

You and I are called to live our lives in the light of God’s glory. We do so when we acknowledge his glory in worship, and when we live worshipfully each moment, reflecting the glory of God in the world.

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