Holy Spirit Intro – part 2September 20, 2017
(Ruach HaKodesh, Session 1b)
This is the second half of our introduction on the Ruach HaKodesh series. In this session we look at some of the tools we use to approach the topic of the Holy Spirit, and some of the contributions that a Messianic Torah perspective can bring to this study. This session also offers an overview of the series and some of the questions we hope to answer. And finally, we conclude with a challenge to seek more of God in our lives.
The following is a condensed version of the audio teaching. You can also subscribe to this podcast here.
How We Approach the Topic of the Holy Spirit
In part one we left off discussing two charts that help orient our thinking about how we approach this topic, or any topic in general. In looking at these charts, we see two broad approaches to the Holy Spirit:
- The Holy Spirit is something we have by default as believers
- The Holy Spirit is something we must seek as believers
There is a sense in which both are true. If we emphasize one at the expense of the other, we can run into problems. For example, if we ignore #2, we might conclude that there is nothing more for us spiritually, that there is no room to grow. On the other hand, ignoring #1 is problematic for reasons we will explore later in this series.
I believe there is more to the Holy Spirit than what we currently have; none of us are living to our maximum potential. We need to seek more of Him in our lives. I believe that the Holy Spirit is something we can experience. And I believe that our experience to date is less than what it could be.
But on the other hand, experience is not the ultimate test of truth. The Apostles were constantly quoting the Bible (the Tanakh) to validate or prove their experience with Yeshua. They didn’t see their experiences as the ultimate authority or test of truth. God’s Word is the ultimate authority. People have all kinds of experiences, but if those experiences don’t line up with God’s Word, they prove nothing.
Our Contributions to this Topic as Messianic Believers
As Messianic believers, our study of this topic is going to have some differences from a conventional Christian perspective. The following are some of the contributions we can make to this subject:
- Using the Tanakh (Old Testament) to inform our theology
- Appreciating the contributions of Judaism
- Recovering a Hebraic mentality
- Understanding the Gospels and Acts in their First-century Jewish context
- The ongoing validity of Torah
- A Messianic eschatology, particularly believing in a literal millennial Kingdom and the restoration of Israel
The following are some terms that we will be using in this series:
- Ruach = Spirit; Ruach Hakodesh = Holy Spirit
- Tanakh = “Old Testamet”
- Apostolic Scriptures = “New Testament”
- Kehillah = congregation, “church“, Body of Messiah
Overview of the Series
A table of contents for the series is available here. After going through some background information, we will do a whirlwind survey of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures, followed by a more detailed look at the gifts of the Spirit. Finally, we will take a look at some theological implications and practical applications of this topic.
This study will incorporate various sources and offer quotes and references. Obviously, just because I quote a source doesn’t mean I agree with everything the author says. But I include these references as part of due diligence in study, and so that those who are interested can find more information.
There are not very many Messianic resources on the Holy Spirit. In fact, most of the Messianic movement has simply imported whatever theology of the Holy Spirit they happened to have prior to entering this movement. This has sometimes resulted in confusion and division in Messianic communities, due to unspoken assumptions about God’s Spirit. My purpose in this study is to back up and realize where and how we have been influenced. We have all been influenced by our various backgrounds. There is nothing wrong with that, but it important for us to identify those influences. This will help us understand not only ourselves better, but also one another.
Questions We Hope to Address
Here are some questions to ask as we embark on this series:
- Is the Holy Spirit a person in the Godhead, or just an agent of God (like an angel)?
- Is the Holy Spirit simply a name of God, or simply a description of God’s presence?
- What is the difference between the Spirit’s work in the Tanakh and His work in our day?
- How and when do we get filled with the Spirit? Does it happen the moment we become a believer, or is it a separate experience from salvation? Is it something that happens by default as a believer, or is it something we have to work up to?
- How should the gifts of the Spirit function in our Messianic communities? What about speaking in tongues, prophecy, and miracles?
- What about signs and wonders, holy laughter, and other stuff you hear about today? How should we in the Messianic Torah movement evaluate such phenomena?
- Are we in danger of quenching the Spirit? Even worse, are we in danger of blaspheming the Spirit?
- What does walking in the Spirit look like?
As we go through this series we hope to find answers to these questions and more.
Conclusion: A Challenge for Us
I want to close this session with a question: What is it that you want to be good at? Are we all striving to be “good at” our relationship with God? Are we striving to make that relationship better? Is that a priority in our lives? Are we putting Him first in our lives? Are we seeking Him first?
Without God’s Spirit, we are nothing. We can accomplish nothing for Him on our own. We need to acknowledge our utter dependency on Him. We need His Spirit empowering us to walk in unity. We need His Spirit to enliven our hearts and fill us with His passion. We need His Spirit to empower us in prayer, to empower us in love, and to empower us to serve Him. Just as your body without your spirit is dead, so the Body of Messiah without the Spirit of Messiah is dead. The Holy Spirit is the life-force of the Kehillah.
It is far too easy, both as individuals and as a community, to allow our zeal to wane. To be utterly honest, we are not the vibrant healthy body of Messiah that we ought to be. We are not the glorious spotless bride that we are called to be. We need more of Him in us.
A. W. Tozer wrote over 60 years ago:
Current evangelicalism has… laid the altar and divided the sacrifice into parts, but now seems satisfied to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel. But God be thanked that there are a few who care. They are those who, while they love the altar and delight in the sacrifice, are yet unable to reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire.A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications), p. 8.
Three times in Leviticus 6:8-13, the commandment is emphasized to not let the fire go out on the altar.
General Booth urged his people, “The tendency of fire is to go out; watch the fire on the altar of your heart.” Our constant danger is to cool off spiritually, to lose our fervor, and to slow down in zeal. Personal revival comes through renewed commitment and reaffirmed consecration. Everyone needs such personal revival again and again.Wesley Duewel, Ablaze For God (Grand Rapids: Francis Asbury Press; Zondervan, 1989), p. 26.
Wesley Duewell, who was a missionary colleague of my grandfather in India, wrote the following:
…[Our ministry] demands our spiritual best, and more. To our best must be added His supernatural enabling touch. We must offer our best; then we must look to God to add His holy fire. Our best is never enough. We constantly need God’s extra touch. We need His fire.
In the service of God we need more than ability and skill. We need the manifest presence of God, the consciousness and evidence of God’s special touch upon us. We rely, not on our knowledge, training, and experience, but on God’s transforming addition to our highest and best.
…God created you to be filled with and anointed by His Spirit. That fullness makes your personality complete, enables you to be Christlike and radiant with God’s presence, and your service to be Spirit-guided, Spirit-empowered, and used to capacity by God.Deuwel, Ablaze For God, pp. 16-17.
There may be conflicting ideas out there about the Holy Spirit. But we cannot let all the confusion out there discourage us from seeking hard after God. We need to be hungering after God on His terms, not on our terms. We need to hunger after the Holy Spirit to come in His own definition of what that is, rather than our definition of what that is. Everything must be in submission to His Word. His Word must take the place of primacy in seeking Him.
I am by no means presenting this as an expert or a veteran. I have so much to grow in this area. Rather I am a fellow pilgrim. I hope and pray that we can all grow together. And if nothing else I pray that these sessions would give all of us a greater hunger to know God and to experience His presence in our lives every day.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications), p. 8.|
|2.||↑||Wesley Duewel, Ablaze For God (Grand Rapids: Francis Asbury Press; Zondervan, 1989), p. 26.|
|3.||↑||Deuwel, Ablaze For God, pp. 16-17.|