Monday, January 4, 2010

Let God Arise!

I am exulting in the action and presence of the Spirit in recent weeks. Since confirmation He has showered me with His presence and power.

My church is both liturgical and charismatic, offering validly consecrated Eucharist, healing prayer teams, and everything in between. While my own leanings have been toward the sacramental end, I have had quite a bit of exposure to charismatic worship and prayer.

What I have traditionally seen in charismatic settings is for the one who prays to "call down" the Holy Spirit, asking it to fall.

But we may have this backwards. Or if not exactly backwards, we may be missing a vital opportunity:

We should be asking the Spirit to come forth from us. To come out from the temple. We should be asking for it not to simply fall, but also to arise.

Such a fundamental thing to overlook; that we are God's temple, and that He dwells within us. We say it and believe it without actually understanding it. We forget that He is there, and that He wants to act in and through us. He loves working through His creation. He formed us in His own image and likeness, to do His work.

He wants to breathe on the world as He breathed on the disciples, sending out His Spirit through our very breath...

More on this to come.


Ike said...

Being filled with joy by the river of hope that overflows in the freedom to love, all to the glory of God—this is what the New Testament means by being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). There are passages which make this very plain. For example, Romans 15:13 says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, in order that by the power of the Holy Spirit you might abound in hope." How can we abound in hope? Answer: by the power of the Holy Spirit. When Paul says in Romans 5:5, "Hope does not disappoint us because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us," he means that the work of the Holy Spirit is to open our eyes to the staggering implications of the love of God for our future and thereby fill us with hope.
And since joy (Romans 15:13) and love (Colossians 1:4-5) flow from hope, which abounds by the power of the Holy Spirit, therefore it's not surprising to hear Paul say (in Galatians 5:22) that love and joy are the fruit of the Spirit. So there are two ways to describe the key to the treasures of the Christian life. One way is to say that the key is to abound in hope which gives fullness of joy which overflows in the freedom of love to the glory of God. And the other way is to say that the key is to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Hope is not some vague emotion that comes out of nowhere, like a stomachache. Hope is the confidence that the stupendous future promised to us by the Word of the Spirit is going to really come true. Therefore, the way to be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with his Word. The way to have the power of the Spirit is to believe the promises of his Word. For it is the word of promise that fills us with hope, and hope fills us with joy, and joy overflows in the power and freedom to love our neighbor. And that is the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

It's not an accident that in Psalm 1 the tree planted by streams of water that brings forth fruit for others is a picture of the person who meditates on the Word of God day and night, while the tree planted by streams of water in Isaiah 44 is a picture of the person who has experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It's not an accident because the Spirit of God does not produce hope apart from the Word of God; and the Word of God does not produce hope apart from the Spirit of God. But the Spirit through the Word, and the Word by the Spirit, takes away fear, nourishes hope, fills with joy, overflows in love, and glorifies God. That's what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Therefore the way to experience the outpouring of the Spirit is to pour the Word of the Spirit into your mind and heart every day and believe it.

Suzanne Marie DeWitt said...

Thanks for your reflections Ike. Your comments about living water line up with that of Marie2Marie (offline). It is good when the Spirit aligns things for us... I plan to read the passages you have cited for further reflection.

The way that you intertwine the Word and the Spirit hint at the trinity, given the one-ness of the two. Any thoughts on how the Father fits in as well?

Ike said...

The Trinity is an unfathomable, and yet unmistakable doctrine in Scripture. As Jonathan Edwards noted, after studying the topic extensively, “I think [the doctrine of the Trinity] to be the highest and deepest of all Divine mysteries” (An Unpublished Treatise on the Trinity).

Yet, though the fullness of the Trinity is far beyond human comprehension, it is unquestionably how God has revealed Himself in Scripture—as one God eternally existing in three Persons.

This is not to suggest, of course, that the Bible presents three different gods (cf. Deut. 6:4). Rather, God is three Persons in one essence; the Divine essence subsists wholly and indivisibly, simultaneously and eternally, in the three members of the one Godhead—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Scriptures are clear that these three Persons together are one and only one God (Deut. 6:4). John 10:30 and 33 explain that the Father and the Son are one. First Corinthians 3:16 shows that the Father and the Spirit are one. Romans 8:9 makes clear that the Son and the Spirit are one. And John 14:16, 18, and 23 demonstrate that the Father, Son, and Spirit are one.

Yet, in exhibiting the unity between the members of the Trinity, the Word of God in no way denies the simultaneous existence and distinctiveness of each of the three Persons of the Godhead. In other words, the Bible makes it clear that God is one God (not three), but that the one God is a Trinity of Persons.

In the Old Testament, the Bible implies the idea of the Trinity in several ways. The title Elohim (”God”), for instance, is a plural noun which can suggest multiplicity (cf. Gen. 1:26). This corresponds to the fact that the plural pronoun (”us”) is sometimes used of God (Gen. 1:26; Isa. 6:8). More directly, there are places in which God’s name is applied to more than one Person in the same text (Ps. 110:1; cf. Gen. 19:24). And there are also passages where all three divine Persons are seen at work (Is. 48:16; 61:1).

The New Testament builds significantly on these truths, revealing them more explicitly. The baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19 designates all three Persons of the Trinity: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” In his apostolic benediction to the Corinthians, Paul underscored this same reality. He wrote, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God [the Father], and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14). Other New Testament passages also spell out the glorious truth of the Triune God (Romans 15:16, 30; 2 Cor. 1:21–22; Eph. 2:18).

In describing the Trinity, the New Testament clearly distinguishes three Persons who are all simultaneously active. They are not merely modes or manifestations of the same person (as Oneness theology incorrectly asserts) who sometimes acts as Father, sometimes as Son, and sometimes as Spirit. At Christ’s baptism, all three Persons were simultaneously active (Matt. 3:16–17), with the Son being baptized, the Spirit descending, and the Father speaking from Heaven. Jesus Himself prayed to the Father (cf. Matt. 6:9), taught that His will was distinct from His Father’s (Matt. 26:39), promised that He would ask the Father to send the Spirit (John 14:16), and asked the Father to glorify Him (John 17:5). These actions would not make sense unless the Father and the Son were two distinct Persons. Elsewhere in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit intercedes before the Father on behalf of believers (Rom. 8:26), as does the Son, who is our Advocate (1 John 2:1). Again, the distinctness of each Person is in view.

The Bible is clear. There is only one God, yet He exists, and always has existed, as a Trinity of Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit (cf. John 1:1, 2). To deny or misunderstand the Trinity is to deny or misunderstand the very nature of God Himself.