- The Nicene Creed
I believe in the Holy Spirit: There is much appeal to the Holy Spirit in the Christianity of our day. Yet we are caused to enquire as to whether this is founded on a sound understanding of the third Person of the Trinity or is it due to the moving of the Spirit among us in a special way? Whenever God works there is always the occurrence of phenomena that are bogus and which take developments to an extreme. In his sovereign freedom God may work in ways and at times that are unexpected and new surges of life among the people of God can be upsetting to narrowness of mind and rigidity of form among believers, and more so to those who are purely nominal. And yet the modern day allegation that the Spirit has been absent and unrecognized through large tracts of past history does not seem to be true. Many believers and leaders of the historic church in all generations have had a very lively sense of the Holy Spirit and leaned upon him consciously and heavily. This is proven by the creeds and confessional statements of the church, and the theological, devotional, spiritual, and sermonic records bequeathed to us from the past. There is a rich heritage of vital faith in the Holy Spirit and much personal knowledge of him in personal life and witness.
There are also disturbing accounts of “ultra spiritual” cults, sects, and individuals that claimed the possession and guidance of the Spirit but their thought and behaviour has proved otherwise under the scrutiny of their belief and practice which has not proved holy or helpful. Fanaticism, formerly referred to as enthusiasm, has often presented itself under the guise of orthodoxy. Sometimes the Spirit is viewed as an added extra granted to special people of spiritual superiority and ability. The complex oneness of God is overlooked and the Spirit seems to exist and operate in a detached kind of way. He is seen as the agent, free agent, of novel truth and the one who adds extra verve to the life of the special Christian. This is to remove the Holy Spirit from the ground of his being in the divine Trinity. In substance he is God, and it seems to suggest that the Spirit can float above divine revelation in Scripture and suggest new ideas to those who are keen to listen to his promptings. So often he is identified with human emotions, feelings, whims and wishes that arise from natural desire and willing. It is a spiritual skill granted by God to discern the influences of the Lord and the impulses of the human Spirit. Perhaps when God is moving us most we are least aware and most normal in our psychological state and frame of mind so that we do not mangle his purposes or take credit for his working. The Spirit has come to shine the spotlight on the Lord Jesus and teach us of him, not to elevate us to special attention and importance, or to make us outstanding among our fellows.
The Spirit is Lord, one with the Father and the Son in perfect harmony and fulfilling agreed goals. One in nature, each person in the Godhead never departs from the eternal, inevitable policy of teamwork. God is diverse (plural) but not divided. The Spirit is the donor of life, natural and spiritual. He is God in fellowship with his creation sustaining it, blessing it, renewing it. Life continues and multiplies because he breathes upon all creatures, and he breathes new life into the elect through the Gospel. He generates and regenerates. When a human soul is reborn he is baptized in the Spirit, possesses the Spirit, is indwelt by the Spirit who is no “added extra” but the source and substance of the eternal life that has newly begun. The Spirit unifies the true people of God as their “common” energy and experience. They cannot exist or function without him. He distributes various gifts among them. They may be deficient in their compliance with the Spirit through distraction, carelessness, and neglect, but there is no special class among Christians. All are enlivened and inhabited by the Holy Spirit in varying degrees of conformity to his will.
The Spirit brings no new revelation but illuminates the one that has been given. For reasons of gratification, licence, and hubris many have claimed access to special disclosures of the Spirit that are extra-biblical or even in conflict with the Word of God written. Hence their thoughts and promptings become superior to the biblical text and warrants for irregular or irrational action. Our creed issues a safeguard against fantastic and false notions. The Spirit has spoken through the Prophets. Holy Scripture is his voice to which he opens our ear as we read, meditate, and listen to the testimony of prophets and apostles. The Spirit will never reverse that which has been recorded in the inspired canon, and he will never contradict or relax the revealed will of the Lord. He teaches through the Scriptures, grants understanding and insight, and enables application and obedience.
The greatest gifts of the Spirit are new life, understanding of truth, boldness to declare it, and perseverance in maintaining it, with protection from those forces that would tempt us to abandon or deny truth. The greatest evidence of the Spirit for us and within us is love and adoration for Christ of whom he came to testify and instruct, and the seal of his internal activity is the manifestation of Christ-likeness in character.
As God in our world, our lives, our minds and hearts, uniting his people with the Father, the Spirit is God in closest contact with us showing forth his saving love in Jesus Christ and enabling us to trust and delight in the Redeemer. Through the Spirit we believe and pray, and commune with Father and Son and as connecting link the Spirit ensures that we are in fellowship with the society of the Holy Trinity, lost in wonderment, filled with gratitude, gazing at a smiling Father, in mutual embrace with the Son, revelling in the life of the Spirit. Father and Son give themselves to us in the presence of the Spirit. He gives us link and likeness to God. For all his power and mercy we worship and glorify him. Our affection and adoration for God is threefold, equally rendered to the Father who decrees his purposes, the Son who does his will in creation and redemption, and the Spirit who delivers all divine blessings and gifts to us.
This wondrous privilege and companionship is enjoyed by all believers if only they would rise to full appreciation of it: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. May this One God be with us all evermore.