The Holy Spirit Revisited: Introduction
No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21).
Any discussion of The Holy Spirit is bound to stir up strong opinions and reactions among God’s people. I do not have to tell you that much controversy and confusion surrounds this topic—too much. As a result, many people have an unbalanced perspective on The Holy Spirit. This ought not to be. But why is this?
As human beings, we are creatures prone to extremes. At one extreme, people fear any mention of The Holy Spirit (at all) because of the excesses they perceive among those on the other end of the spectrum. As a result, some groups of Christians say little or nothing about the Holy Spirit. What is taught is minimal because of a fearful, reactionary, and unbalanced view. This ultimately leads to ignorance, fear, and theological error—a misunderstanding about the things of God.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who seem to be obsessed with the Holy Spirit. It is as if the Holy Spirit has replaced the Trinity and stands ‘head and shoulders’ above God the Father and God the Son. In some cases, it appears that the mission of the Holy Spirit is to call attention to Himself rather than glorify the Father and the Son. These individuals tend to misunderstand the primary mission and ministry of the Holy Spirit. They major on the minors and employ obscure passages and verses to define their understanding and practices relating to the mission and ministry of the Holy Spirit. These Christians tend to emphasize the lesser roles of the Spirit at the expense of understanding the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a spiritually healthy way. This ultimately leads to ignorance, fear, and theological error—a misunderstanding about the things of God.
In contrast to these two extremes, the aim of this book, is to identify and embrace a biblically centered view of The Holy Spirit. We aim for balance rather than extremes, remembering that whether or not one swerves off to the right or left side of the road, one always ends up in a ditch when one leaves the trail. That said, we seek to chart our course down the middle of the road that is the Bible. We want to avoid going off the road, remaining on track and in line with God’s will, which is found in God’s word. We want a clear, biblically informed understanding so that we can worship God (including God the Holy Spirit) in ‘wisdom and in truth,’ as Jesus teaches. So, as we begin this journey together, our approach will be simple. We’ll look at a text or a passage, asking three questions: (1) what do the words say; (2) what do the words mean; (3) how should we respond? We will confine our investigation to the text of Scripture. After all, who inspired the Scriptures? Who carried the writers of Scripture along (2 Peter 1:20-21)? So, let’s look to the Scriptures to see what the Holy Spirit who inspired them has to say about Himself. Where to begin? In Chapter 2, we’ll start with the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John.