Few things are as troublesome for a soul than to be left alone. We cringe when we listen on the news of men, women, or children who are alone in the mountains, only to be found dead because they had no one to rescue them and provide necessary sustenance.
You may have heard about Randy Udall, Senator Mark Udall’s brother who was found dead solo backpacking in the Wind River Range in Western Wyoming. The family commented that Randy died doing what he loved in his favorite mountain range. He died of natural causes, but one wonders how he would have managed had he not been alone.
This coming Saturday, we shall have a self-defense class here at church at 10:30 a.m. My karate instructor, Jason Strong, has agreed to come out and help us. Why do this? Simply put, we want everyone to stay safe. So many issues happen; you guessed it, when we are alone. Just ask the families of Jessica Ridgeway and Dylan Redwine. There’s no way around it.
There’s an old hymn that many of you who may have grown up in church used to sing, I’m sure:
No, never alone; no never alone;
He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone.
Jesus fulfilled that promise as He called on the Father to send the Holy Spirit. We don’t talk much about the Holy Spirit. If you look at the hymnal, we have dozens of hymns on the Father and the Son each, but only 8 in the Holy Spirit section. But Jesus, after telling them that he would be leaving them, along with the note that one of them would betray him and another would deny him. All would forsake him at his most grievous hour.
When the disciples heard from Jesus that he would be physically leaving them, they were horrified at the notion. Is the dream over? If not, how can we carry on? We seem to fail at every point. One of the only things in which the disciples were consistent is failing. Christ gave them many teachable moments–if only he could stay around!
He promised that he would. So he gives them not just any promise, but the ultimate promise between the time he would leave them and the time he would come again. That would be the Holy Spirit. Who is the Holy Spirit?
Sadly, many understand the Holy Spirit only in the context of what they have seen on TV, and the over enthusiastic folks whom they see falling on the ground or speaking in a way that’s not immediately intelligible, or used in other over-the-top ways has made others ignore the Spirit all-together.
Yet, Jesus makes this promise in such a way that He lets them know that the Spirit will be a gift to them.
Look at John 14:15-17:
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
What qualifies the Holy Spirit to be our counselor? The Spirit is Holy God—sent by the Father to show the Son.
What gives the Spirit the ability and the necessary qualifications to be our advocate? First of all, it’s because He is holy God. What better helper could we have than Holy God coming to be with us (v. 16), to dwell in us (v. 17), to teach us all things (v. 26), to convict us (16:8), and to glorify the Son (16:14).
So the Spirit is our Helper, our Counselor, our Advocate. We see from this short passage a number of things about the Spirit.
- He would be with us forever—not temporarily like Jesus.
- The world cannot receive him.
- The world does not see him nor know him.
- He dwells with His disciples.
- He dwells in his disciples.
This can only happen if we understand the very nature of the Spirit. Where do we first see the Spirit? We see the Spirit back in Genesis 1:1-2:
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2). Later in the chapter, when God was making man, he referred to himself in the plural: “Let US make man in our image in in OUR likeness.” The word used for God is the word elohim, which in Hebrew is an actual plural. Yet, God reveals himself as God in Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”
Many have used various ways to try and reconcile the Oneness and the Threeness of the Christian God. They fall short in numerous ways. Consider the aspect of using water (H20) as a way to explain. You have ice, liquid, and steam. All three are considered water because all of the molecular structure is that of H20.
Or the egg: you have the shell, the yolk, and the white. All three are considered ‘egg,’ even though they are in a different part.
But we must be careful that we are not promoting a heresy. Hang with me for a moment: go back to explaining the Trinity in terms of water, H20. If you take a set of those molecules, those molecules cannot be steam and ice at the same time. Why? It would depend on the temperature to determine the state of those molecules. It can’t be steam and liquid, or liquid and solid. Do you see?
The heresy is modalism. Meaning that there is only person in the Godhead who revealed himself in three different states, depending not on temperature but on the season of history. For instance, God revealed himself as Father in the OT, the Son in the NT, and the Spirit in the church age.
One problem. Go with me to John 1:32-34:
“And John bore witness: ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
Why is this account so important? Simply put, all three are present, all three interact with one another in unity, and clearly there is not just one person in play, but three. We must be careful. At times, we need to simply recognize that God has revealed himself in a way that may not be explainable to our minds.
But this Spirit is not simply a force, as New Agers say, or simply an ‘it.’ He is a person, the Third Person of the Trinity.