Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Request: The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

An exchange :

N: According to Marsha West, this is one of the things people should not be doing:
Wouldn't that aid the Holy Spirit to work within them?
It is not for people to have spirits work through them. That's what ministers are for.

Me: Whoa on that idea for me: the Holy Spirit is the helper Christ sent so we could understand and hear the voice of God since Christ was gone. Pastors should be pointing us to the spirit of God and certainly not be working through us.

WP: Bro, I'd really like to see you diary this (bold section above). YOUR diary, not somebody else's, though I'd also love to see links to other writings on the topic, which I'm sure you have at your finger tips.

Ok. As someone pointed out once (they were mean - waaaaaah) all of my ideas are derivative :-) - so I will do the best I can to have this be my post and not someone else's. It will, however, be extremely derivative of Christ and other parts of scripture.

The key scriptures for the highlighted statement above are:
John 14:16 "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. 18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 20 "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

John 14:25 "These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. 27 "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.

John 15:26 "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27 and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

John 16:7 "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. 12 "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 "All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.

Paul: 1 Corinthians 2:10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

[Read Jesus's prayer for his disciples in John 17:1-24. Its not "on topic" per se but it is incredible]

All but the Paul quote are from the Olivette Discourse - Jesus' after-dinner final chat with his closest disciples the night He was arrested. Jesus tells the disciples He is leaving and they object (Peter: "Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You." ).

Jesus talks about many things in John 14-17. This teaching by Jesus is my favorite even compared to the Sermon on the Mount. This was the Jesus of Mercy and Grace consoling his disciples before His death: no millstones for those who harm little children in this chat. One major consolation, as seen in the scripture above, is that the disciples will be better off without Jesus than with Him. In this day of "What Would Jesus ------- (Do, Say, Think, etc)?" if He were here, this seems a radical concept - that not having the physical, incarnated, loving Master strolling around with us is to our benefit.

However, Jesus was not omnipresent (able to be everywhere at once) and the Holy Spirit is. Having Jesus "in us" and "us in Him" is definitely preferable to having to go find whatever mount He would happen to be teaching from and listen to Him there. Or, deal with the butchering of His message on the 5 O'clock News - or listen to the wagging tongues dissect the message after the talk. Nor, am I really fired up about the next group of people who would kill Him.

So, indeed, the answer to "What Would Jesus ------- (Do, Say, Think, etc)?" is in us all the time. We just have to listen and recognize what we are listening to - which is, of course, the HUGE rub in all of this. I do believe we hear all sorts of voices in our lives other than the Holy Spirit and our deep conscience - the famous three for followers of Christ are "the world, the flesh and the devil". The world gives us all sorts of messages about who we should be, how we should behave, and how we should treat others. Our sin nature (our flesh) wants to be satisfied and strives to warp most messages to that which is most self-satisfying, self-involved, and least sacrificial. I believe Satan and his friends and comrades exist and strive to undo the work of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit - "prowling like lions seeking those to devour". Even Christ had to turn Himself over to the "ruler of this world" [that was not the Romans] in order to defeat death, and that ruler, for the rest of us.

For the follower of Christ then, being "true to oneself" is only good if one's self is "being true to God"; or else it is one of the truly horrendous enlightenment phrases that opposes God almost absolutely: for almost all people our "self" is the thing we least want to be true to because for almost all people our self is the part of us least true to God. In fact, the small, still voice you may be listening to may not be connected to the Trinity at all and may be the last thing you should listen to.

Luckily, Jesus did promise that His sheep would hear and know His voice - and that voice is the Holy Spirit He sent as a helper to us. For the answers to how to sort through the voices to find His - and how to even want to follow that in order to

love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength; and your neighbor as yourself
I can do no better than to point you Back to Basics and, particularly: I just couldn't avoid the words of others. I should say though that nothing in this post is "theoretical" or "theological" for me: I have experienced it all in myself and those closest to me.

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How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly