Sunday, July 31, 2011

Not a Power, but a Person

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-- "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
John 14:16,17 NKJV

We are not alone. Am I the only one who finds comfort in that knowledge? I doubt it. I remember when my daughters were very young and were terrified of thunderstorms so that at the first sight or sound of an approaching storm they would run to either their mother or I and hold on for dear life. As they grew that changed only in that instead of needing a hug and wanting to be held, they just wanted to be with us. Years ago we built a mother-in-law apartment on the back of our property for the girls to live in while they each went to college, and one of my favorite memories is remembering the sight of them quickly walking from the apartment to our back door during thunderstorms even when they were in their twenties.

In this passage of scripture we find the disciples in much the same position. They have gotten used to having Jesus with them, and relying on His leadership and comfort. They now are faced with the reality of His leaving and are seriously in need of some reassurance. So here we find that Jesus addresses that need by telling the disciples that He is going to send “another” to take over the responsibilities that He had been providing up to this point in time.

The Greek word for another used here is allos, which is important to know because in the Greek there are two different words that can be used for another. One means another of the same kind, and the other is used when referring to another of a different kind. The word allos means another of the same kind, so what Jesus is saying is that He is about to send them a helper that is just like Him. Why is this distinction important? Jesus knew that the disciples strength and confidence was in Him and His power, so He wanted them to know that He wasn't about to send them something “different”, but rather just Himself in another form.

I think of it this way; my daughters were assured by my presence, not someone else. If I were to leave knowing a storm was coming and just tell them to go see a neighbor if they were scared wouldn't work. It's not the same. What Jesus was telling the disciples, and us, is that He was leaving because while in the form of a man, He couldn't be everywhere but in the form of the Holy Spirit He could. The Holy Spirit is the same Jesus who walked this earth, but simply in a different form.

How do we know this? Because Jesus went on to explain;

"At that day you will know that I [am] in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
John 14:20 NKJV

What Jesus taught, and what He wants us to understand is that we have a relationship with a real person, not a power. In this chapter alone there are 13 personal pronouns used when referring to the Holy Spirit. Personal pronouns are used to refer to people, not powers or inanimate objects. People have personalities, and from what we read in the Bible, the Holy Spirit does as well. To have a personality you must have three things; intelligence, emotion, and will. Does the Holy Spirit have these?

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
John 14:26 NKJV

In order to teach, it's a given you must have intelligence, or knowledge to impart. Here we are told the Spirit will teach us “all things” as well as reminding us of all the things that Jesus said while He was here. So the Holy Spirit has intelligence, but what about emotion? Well, let's use a verse we talked about a couple of weeks ago.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30 NKJV

There have been many times where I have had an emotional response to a force of nature like rain or snow, or even being shocked by touching the wrong wire while working with electricity. So was the force of nature affected by my reaction? Nope. I can yell or carry on in a display of frustration towards whatever it is but the rain and snow keeps falling and the electricity keeps shocking. The Holy Spirit, however, can and is affected by our actions and we can “grieve” Him by our actions or lack of them. The knowledge that we can hurt the feelings of the Holy Spirit should seriously affect the choices we make every day. So does the Holy Spirit demonstrate that He has a will also?

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
1 Corinthians 12:11 NKJV

The Holy Spirit has a will, and He does as He sees fit in relation to His followers. Those who choose to believe are evaluated by an intelligent, emotional person called the Holy Spirit who then gives power and ability to serve Him in the way He deems appropriate. These are the actions of a person, not a power, and this person is none other than the same Jesus, God the Father in human form, who walked the earth 2000 years ago and now lives in each of His believers in the form of the Holy Spirit.

Why is this so important? Because God wants us to understand that we can have a personal relationship with Him, and the Holy Spirit is His affirmation to us that not only is He real, but He can live inside of us giving us the help we need every day of our lives. We can talk to Him, ask Him for help, share our thoughts and emotions with Him, all because He is right here with us in the person of the Holy Spirit.

Not a power, but a person.

Keep watching.