At times, the work and role of the Holy Spirit is mysterious in the life of the believer. Because of the mystery involved, we often neglect or fail to grasp the magnitude of what it means that the Spirit of God has indwelt us as believers. For various reasons, some churches are a bit “light” on teaching about the Spirit while of those that place more of an emphasis on the Spirit some misrepresent the work and expression of the Spirit.
This devotional will not be exhaustive or conclusive. I have much to learn about this topic and even if I knew more could not hope to synthesize it in a few hundred words. My hope here is to point us to a few scriptures about the Holy Spirit that will begin to help us grow in our understanding of this marvelous mystery.
“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’
John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” – Matthew 3:1-6
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” – Matthew 3:11
“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” – John 13:1
This phrase, “he loved them to the end” is powerful. A little later that same night Jesus says,
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:12-13
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:14-16
The idea that because of Christ and through Christ we can boldly approach the “throne of grace”, that we can go with confidence into the throne room of the creator of the universe, is hard to grasp. I try to picture what the throne room must look like, knowing that my imagination does not and cannot come anywhere near a resemblance of what it is actually like. Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4 have descriptions that help, but I am sure they were at a loss for words trying to describe the indescribable.
“For no word from God will ever fail.” – Luke 1:37
The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:31-33)
“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’
He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” – Luke 10:17-20
In Luke 10 Jesus sends out 72 disciples to minister. Jesus enables them to work miracles healing the sick and driving out demons as they proclaim the kingdom of God. When they return from being out in the field they joyfully report to Jesus that “even the demons submit to us in your name.”
“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.” – Luke 1:5-7
Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous in the sight of God” and yet the blessing of children had been withheld from them. From Elizabeth’s later statements in verse 25, we can see that she had felt disgraced “among the people” for being unable to have children. Not only was it a personal desire that had gone unfulfilled for a long time, but it was also a cultural mark of honor that they lacked. Their personal heartache was on display for the entire community.
“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” – Luke 1:1-4
Luke took on the role of an investigative journalist. He looked into “everything from the beginning” and spoke with “eyewitnesses” so that he could lay down “an orderly account” for Theophilus and in turn us. That he and now we could “know the certainty of the things [we] have been taught.”