Holy Spirit

HOLY SPIRIT: What If God Doesn’t Come Through? by Francis Chan

March 8, 2019

From: Forgotten God Before we delve further into this conversation about the Spirit, I believe some other fears need to be identified and dealt with.  One concern I’ve often heard (and felt) is, what if I pray for the Holy Spirit and nothing happens?  What if I ask for more of the Spirit’s fruit in my life and don’t see any apparent “results”?  It’s scary to pray boldly for change or freedom from sin, because if nothing happens, then doesn’t that mean God failed?  Doesn’t that mean his Spirit isn’t all we’ve been told he is? I think the fear of God failing us leads us to “cover for God.”  This means we ask for less, expect less, and are satisfied with less because we are afraid to ask for or expect more.  We [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: What Are You Afraid Of? by Francis Chan

March 1, 2019

From: Forgotten God The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess him.  He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless.  He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit.  This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit.  A Christian is fearless. (Tertullian) Fear of rejection has paralyzed me more than once.  God has answered my prayers for greater boldness, but I would be dishonest if I did not admit there are still times when I worry about how others view me.  Even as I write this book, I wonder how friends will respond and how I will be labeled or even misunderstood. Maybe caring too much about what other people think is [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Joni Eareckson Tada by Francis Chan

February 22, 2019

From: Forgotten God Recently I was asked, “Who is the most Spirit-filled person you know?”  My response: Joni Eareckson Tada. A 1967 diving accident left then seventeen-year-old Joni a quadriplegic.  Lying in a hospital bed, she was filled with an overwhelming desire to end her life.  The thought of spending the rest of her years paralyzed from the neck down and relying on others to care for her basic needs was staggering. But Joni did not end her life that day.  Instead, she chose to surrender it to God.  Little did she know that the Spirit of God would transform her into one of the Godliest women ever to grace this Earth.  God gave her a humility and a love that enables her to look beyond her own pain and to see others’ [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: I’ve Got Jesus. Why Do I Need The Spirit? (Part 3) by Francis Chan

February 15, 2019

From: Forgotten God My hunch is that most of you reading this book have basic knowledge about the Holy Spirit; but when it comes to experiencing the Spirit in your life, it’s a different story.  Take a moment and ask yourself this question: When was the last time I undeniably saw the Spirit at work in or around me?  If it was recently, consider taking a few minutes to reflect on what the Spirit of God did and how you saw him at work.  Thank God for his active presence in your life, and praise him for the way he is leading you even now. If you are having trouble recounting a time when the Spirit was at work in or around you, perhaps that is because you have been ignoring the Spirit.  Perhaps it is because you have a lot of head [...]

BIBLE: “I Will Never Forsake You” by Brother Roger of Taizé

February 6, 2019

From Seeds of Trust Jesus said to his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.  This is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  You know him because he abides with you, and he will be in you.  I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.  In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14:15-20) Jesus knows the human heart.  He knew that his death on the cross would be a scandal for his disciples.  That is why, [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: I’ve Got Jesus. Why Do I Need The Spirit? (Part 2) by Francis Chan

February 1, 2019

From: Forgotten God I think the worst part is when you get outside the church’s walls and interact with believers and nonbelievers in the same sphere.  Can you really tell a difference?  If you didn’t recognize their faces from church, would you know from their actions and lifestyle that they were followers of Jesus?  Honestly, sometimes I am embarrassed by some of my “Christian” neighbors because my unbelieving neighbors seem more joyful, welcoming, and at peace.  Why does this happen?  And how is it even possible? Romans 8:9 says, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.”  According to this verse, if I am a believer, the Spirit of God dwells in me.  Paul [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: I’ve Got Jesus. Why Do I Need The Spirit? (Part 1) by Francis Chan

January 18, 2019

From: Forgotten God We may as well face it: the whole level of spirituality among us is low.  We have measured ourselves by ourselves until the incentive to seek higher plateaus in the things of the Spirit is all but gone.  We have imitated the world, sought popular favor, manufactured delights to substitute for the joy of the Lord and produced a cheap and synthetic power to substitute for the power of the Holy Ghost. (A. W. Tozer) I am convinced there is a desperate need in the church for the Holy Spirit of God to be given room to have his way.  I think we can agree that there is a problem in our churches, that something is wrong.  But I don’t think we can reach an agreement on what to do about it.  Most people do not connect what [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Forgotten God, Introduction by Francis Chan

January 11, 2019

From: Forgotten God You might think that calling the Holy Spirit the “forgotten God” is a bit extreme.  Maybe you agree that the church has focused too much attention elsewhere but feel it is an exaggeration to say we have forgotten about the Spirit.  I don’t think so. From my perspective, the Holy Spirit is tragically neglected and, for all practical purposes, forgotten.  While no evangelical would deny his existence, I’m willing to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced his presence or action in their lives over the past year.  And many of them do not believe they can. The benchmark of success in church services has become more about attendance than the movement [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: God’s Gift To Us In Christ / God’s Gift To Christ In Us (Part 2) by Tom Smail

November 23, 2018

From The Giving Gift Let us, therefore, start again from Thornton’s valid and helpful insight that both Christ and the Spirit indwell us but in quite different ways.  Christ indwells us, in that we live our renewed life in a relationship with him that constitutes and controls all that as Christians we are and do.  We live his life, we die his death, we share his suffering and his victory.  We pursue his mission by participating in his risen and renewed humanity and all his authority and his love.  All this happens in the sovereign dynamism and his initiating and self-giving grace. To describe our union with him the New Testament uses language that stresses in the strongest possible way the organic oneness of Christ and Christians.  [...]

PRAYER: The Thanksgivings by Harriet Maxwell Converse

November 22, 2018

Translated from a traditional Iroquois prayer We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here to praise him. We thank him that he has created men and women, and ordered that these beings shall always be living to multiply the Earth. We thank him for making the Earth and giving these beings its products to live on. We thank him for the water that comes out of the Earth and runs for our lands. We thank him for all the animals on the Earth. We thank him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming from them for us all. We thank him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows for our shelter. We thank him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder and lightning that water the Earth. We thank him for the [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: God’s Gift To Us In Christ / God’s Gift To Christ In Us (Part 1) by Tom Smail

November 17, 2018

From The Giving Gift We have seen that in the New Testament there is first of all an undifferentiated speaking of Christ and the Spirit, almost as if the two were interchangeable, because experience of the one was found to involve experience of the other.  But, as the first Christians came to reflect on what is involved in confessing and glorifying Christ and the Father, they began more and more to distinguish the Christ who is confessed from the Spirit who promotes and enabled the confession. Pannenberg argues that an important factor in this was the waning of expectation of the imminent, second coming of Jesus – the Parousia.  As awareness of the absence of Christ grew, so awareness of the Spirit, who was more unambiguously present, [...]

PRAYER: Petition For The Presence Of The Holy Spirit by Nicholas Ridley

October 15, 2018

Written during his final imprisonment O Heavenly Father, the Father of all wisdom, understanding, and true strength, I beseech thee, for thy only Son our Savior Jesus Christ’s sake, look mercifully upon me, wretched creature, and send thine Holy Spirit into my breast; that not only I may understand according to thy wisdom, how this temptation is to be borne off, and with what answer it is to be beaten back; but also, when I must join to fight in the field for the glory of thy holy name, that then I being strengthened with the defense of thy right hand, may manfully stand in the confession of thy faith, and of thy truth, and may continue in the same unto the end of my life; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ. [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: The Person Of The Spirit—The New Testament Evidence (John) by Tom Smail

October 7, 2018

From The Giving Gift Of all the New Testament writings it is in John that the identity and distinctness of Son and Spirit become subjects of conscious interest and reflection.  Where other New Testament approaches major either on the identity of the two or upon their distinctness, John wants to hold both together.  For John the coming of the paraklatos is the going away of Jesus, (16:7) – here he is nearest Luke – but in another sense the coming of the Spirit is the coming again of Jesus, (14:8) – where he gets nearest the Pauline tendency to identify the two.  In the upper room discourses (Chapters 14–17) there is a subtle interplay of the two themes of the identity and distinctness of Son and Spirit in a manner that goes a [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: The Person Of The Spirit—The New Testament Evidence (Luke) by Tom Smail

September 23, 2018

From The Giving Gift In the writings of Luke the distinction between Son and Spirit is emphasized more strongly than anywhere else in the New Testament.  In Luke’s account of the conception of Jesus, it is the Son who is born, but it is by the action of the Spirit that he is formed in Mary’s womb.  In the baptism of Jesus, the implicitly Trinitarian element is at its clearest.  The Father gives the Spirit to the Son, a statement that makes no sense unless Father, Spirit, and Son are in some sense three distinct entities, even if it is still not clear in this context to what extent the Spirit is being thought of in a fully personal way.  The Spirit here is the Gift, the Father is Giver, and the Son is the recipient of that Gift. [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: The Person Of The Spirit—The New Testament Evidence (Matthew) by Tom Smail

September 9, 2018

From The Giving Gift A parallel and even more explicit contrast between the one confessed and the enabler of the confession may be found in Matthew 16:17, where Jesus, at Caesarea Philippi with his disciples, responds to the confession that Peter has just made.  The object of that confession is Jesus himself: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” (v. 16).  It is made in response of Jesus’s own question, “Who do you say I am?” (v. 15)  In the answer given Jesus discerns a divine activity that is not Peter’s own: “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man but by my Father in Heaven.” Here the work of opening Peter to the truth about Jesus is attributed not to the Spirit, but [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: The Person Of The Spirit—The New Testament Evidence (Paul) by Tom Smail

August 13, 2018

From The Giving Gift To answer that question we must turn to the New Testament to see if it will really allow such an abbreviation in our doctrine of God.  Will we be able to say what the revelation of God, to which the New Testament bears witness, requires us to say about Christ and the Spirit, if we regard the Spirit simply as a mode of activity of Jesus? At the outset we need to recognize that these are not questions that the New Testament authors were themselves concerned about, so that the material that they provide for answering them is implicit and indirect, coming to expression as a by-product of their dealing with the quite different questions that occupied their attention. Furthermore, we have to recognize that there are [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: The Spirit As Distinct Divine Person, Part Three by Tom Smail

August 5, 2018

From The Giving Gift Proposal 2: The Spirit should be understood totally in terms of Christ. Here we are invited to regard the Spirit not as a third Trinitarian person with the Father and the Son but as the mode of action of the risen and ascended Christ in the church and in the world.  The one who acts when the Spirit acts is none other than the risen Jesus.  The word, Spirit, functions as an adverb rather than a noun; it is a description of how Jesus acts after his physical body is withdrawn.  To say that Jesus now acts through the Spirit is just to say that he now acts in a spiritual way.  One of the chief modern protagonists of this view is the Dutch theologian, Hendrikus Berkhof, in his important book, The Doctrine of the Holy [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: The Spirit As Distinct Divine Person, Part Two by Tom Smail

July 15, 2018

From The Giving Gift We turn now to our second question, which requires a longer answer.  Is the Spirit a distinct person from the Father and the Son?  When we call him the Spirit of God, do we mean that he is a source and center of personal action distinct from God the Father, or simply that he is the personal God in outgoing action towards his creation?  When we call him the Spirit of Christ, do we mean that he is another person who acts in the name of Christ after he himself has departed, or simply that he is none other than the ascended Christ acting now in a spiritual and invisible way?  In other words, is the Spirit an extension of the divine personalities of the Father and the Son, the means by which they extend their activity [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: The Spirit As Distinct Divine Person by Tom Smail

July 1, 2018

From The Giving Gift But none of these passages answers or even raises the question that is to be central to this chapter, Is the Holy Spirit a distinct, divine person?  The doctrine of the Trinity is that God is one divine substance in three distinct persons.  The passages we have quoted give good grounds for thinking of the Spirit as participating in the being of God; but, is there a New Testament basis for believing that the Holy Spirit is a third divine person in unity with, but also in distinction from the other two? Before we can tackle that question, we must clarify it and ask first what in this context we mean by speaking of a person.  To embark upon a history of that slippery term in Trinitarian theology would take us far out [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: The Person Without A Face by Tom Smail

June 24, 2018

From The Giving Gift Our title phrase is from the French theologian, Yves Congar.  It points to the elusiveness and anonymity of the Holy Spirit which are, as we shall see, among his defining characteristics, both in the New Testament and in subsequent Christian tradition.  “He will not draw attention to himself,” is a clear implication if not an actual translation of John 16:13. We know the Spirit, not because we have a face-to-face encounter with him, as we do with the Son and through him with the Father.  Rather we begin to know the Spirit when we begin to realize that our ability to recognize and respond to Christ and his Father does not have its source in us but is given to us from outside ourselves.  The Holy Spirit stands [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Beginning With Mary—The Holy Spirit And Mary by Tom Smail

June 17, 2018

From The Giving Gift But if all this involves dynamic personal relationships, then it is to one of the most significant of these in all its particularity that we must now turn.  The place at which, according to Matthew and Luke and the creedal tradition of the church, the Holy Spirit begins to reveal himself in his New Testament fullness is in relation to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Of course when the creed brings the Holy Spirit and Mary together, the subject of the sentence is not either of them, but “Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.”  If the Spirit works revealingly in Mary, it is not for her sake or yet for his own, but so that Jesus Christ can be formed in her [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Beginning With Mary—Three Basic Affirmations by Tom Smail

June 10, 2018

From The Giving Gift 1.  To describe the Holy Spirit as Gift emphasizes that we are here in the realm of grace. Free giving is not by any  means the only kind of exchange that can take place between two parties.  A check can pass from me to you as a contracted payment of wages in return for services rendered.  It is then not a gift but a payment, a quid pro quo in which one party fulfills agreed conditions and the other party is in duty bound to pay the agreed reward. Some Christians have tended to understand God’s sending of the Holy Spirit in this contractual way.  God gives the Spirit when we fulfill the conditions that he has laid down.  This view has both a typically Roman Catholic and a typically Protestant form. In much [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Beginning With Mary—The Spirit As Giving Gift by Tom Smail

June 3, 2018

From The Giving Gift We shall therefore be asking how the distinctive work of the Spirit in salvation and creation is to be understood in its connection with and distinction from the work of the Father and the Son and how therefore the person of the Spirit is to be understood in its connection with and distinction from the persons of the Father and the Son.  Put more simply: How does what he does relate to what they do, and how does who he is relate to who they are? We may give a preliminary answer to both these questions in terms of our title by saying that the Holy Spirit is the Giving Gift.  First question: What does the Holy Spirit do within the God-man relationship?  Answer: He gives the things of God and the things of Christ to [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Beginning With Mary—Introduction by Tom Smail

May 27, 2018

From The Giving Gift A Hymn for the Baptism of Jesus Father, behold your Son made man To baptism comes in Jordan’s stream, And thus fulfills your ancient plan All Adam’s children to redeem. Your voice from Heaven your will attests, “My Son, on whom my favor rests.” Blest Spirit, who in Mary’s womb The new humanity began, Who soon from Joseph’s darkened tomb Will bring to life the Son of Man, The baptized Christ with gifts endow, Anoint the new Messiah now. Lord Jesus Christ, now Son proclaimed, Baptized with Holy Spirit’s powers, Unsullied Lamb of God now named, The sins you bear, not yours but ours, Go forth the Devil’s wrath to face Live, die and rise to save our race. O Triune God, your people claim, The Father’s [...]

PRAYER: The Flaming Dove by Hildegard of Bingen

May 21, 2018

I beg you, O God, to reveal to me the mystery of your love.  Let your love be to me a new dawn at the end of a long night of gloom.  Let your love be to me a new plan, showing the way of spiritual slavery.  And let that plan be so simple that I can understand and follow it.  Your love is like a white dove with orange flames bursting from its wings.  The dove brings the promise of peace to my troubled soul, and the flames promise joy to my miserable heart. [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: Water And Thirsty Soil by Raniero Cantalamessa

March 9, 2018

From: Come, Creator Spirit Now, to apply what we have seen in a practical way, let’s call again to our help the symbol of “Sister Water.”  Water is something that always runs down, never up.  It is always trying to find the lowest place.  So it is with the Holy Spirit: the Spirit loves to visit and fill the lowly, the humble, those who know their own emptiness.  Francis of Assisi, in his Canticle of Brother Sun, makes water a symbol of humility: “Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Water, / who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.” One of the most disquieting phenomena of the physical world in our time is the creeping menace of desertification.  Scientists calculate that hundreds of thousands of hectares of [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: The Life Of The Spirit by Raniero Cantalamessa

March 2, 2018

From: Come, Creator Spirit Now all that the reading of certain texts of the New Testament will tell us about the Spirit “who gives life” will afford us a better understanding of what we have seen so far.  Paul writes: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death,” (Romans 8:1-2). Let us leave aside for the present the theme of the “new law,” as we will be considering it at another time.  The principal point that we gather from the text is this: The Spirit is the Spirit of Life, and the life that the Spirit gives is none other than life in Christ, the life that flows from his paschal mystery.  To [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: Supernatural Life, or Natural Super-Life? by Raniero Cantalamessa

February 23, 2018

From: Come, Creator Spirit In the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries something changed in the significance given to this aspect of Christian life, following the emergence of a philosophy that exalted the notion of vitalism.  In various forms, this philosophy was the central message of biological evolutionists like Darwin, of the positivists, of the historicists, of the pragmatists and of intuitionists like Bergson with his seductive theory of the “élan vital.”  But it was Nietzsche who made a religion of this vitalism.  He put forward the theory of a superior form of well-being as the essential means by which the course of history, as he conceived it, would be realized.  He spoke of Christians as [...]

THE HOLY SPIRIT: What Life? by Raniero Cantalamessa

February 16, 2018

From: Come, Creator Spirit But now it is time to ask ourselves about what kind of life are we speaking when we say that the Spirit gives life.  The faith of the church has never had any hesitation or doubt in answering this question.  We are talking of divine life, that is to say, the life that has its source in God the Father, which in Christ “was made visible,” (1 John 1:2), and in baptism is given to the believer.  Between this life and the natural life that we have from our human birth there is no real opposition (both come from God who is the absolute master of all life, physical as well as spiritual); yet the two are diverse and in contrast on the moral level, as we see in the well-known antitheses: nature / grace, flesh / [...]