Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Holy Spirit, Batman!

Another term used freely and abundantly in Christianity that may be confusing to the non-Christian is, the Holy Spirit. And that’s for good reason, since the Holy Spirit is the 3rd leg of the tripod upon which our faith is based, (the Holy Trinity…. the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost/Spirit), and thus utilized in most of the New Testament writings of Jesus' Apostles.

You may have heard a Christian friend say:

-Have you received the Holy Spirit?
-Is the Holy Spirit of God within you?
-May the Holy Spirit bless and guide you.
-Holy Spirit Batman, the Joker just vanished before our eyes? (Okay, that one’s not exactly biblically based)

…and wondered, what they heck and they talking about?

So what is this Spirit, which is Holy? To the non-Christian comic book fan, it may be the worshiping of the creation of Will Eisner by that name, but for the rest of us…. Jesus, prior to his crucifixion, spoke to his apostles (his inner-most circle of 12 followers, among his hundred or so disciples), about the Holy Spirit of God, which would come to lead them. He spoke of “the Counselor” and “Spirit of Truth”, which would come once he had left them:

“When he, the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own, he will speak only what he hears and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”(Jesus words, as recorded in the book of John 16: 13-15)

Jesus was very clear that though this Spirit, or counselor, would be different from him, it would still be of him and God, (since all that God was, belonged to Jesus and the Spirit would be sharing what was his). Who’s on first?… anyone?…anyone?

After his resurrection from the grave, Jesus continued to ready his apostles for the coming of this “Gift from God”:

“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my father has promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John, (the Baptist), baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…You will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses, (his spokesmen), in Jerusalem and in all of Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (Jesus words, as recorded in the Book of Acts 1:4-5, 8

And what Jesus said, was exactly what occurred on the morning of the Pentecost celebration, (The Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks). The Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the 11 Apostles, (the 12 minus Judas), through, “tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” (The physician Luke’s description, from the book of Acts 2: 3-4). “All of them were filled with the HOLY SPIRIT and began to speak in tongues as the spirit enabled them,” (in my studies on this…no, “tongues” does not mean the nonsensical gibberish spoken by TV preachers like Robert Tilton, but rather that his apostles immediately were able to communicate in the native languages of each of the hundreds of people in attendance…and all at the same time)!

Armed the power of the Holy Spirit, this handful of men, who just 40 days earlier, were scared, timid and anxious, (because after all, then man they believed was the Messiah had been brutally tortured and killed before their eyes…and who knows when it would be their turn), became powerful and boldly proclaimed that this Jesus whom was killed by their own high priests, had been resurrected from the dead and was indeed the Son of God, (both very big no-no’s which could lead to their own deaths). Within one day of this event, the hundred or so followers of Jesus grew to over 3000. Within days the 3000, became 5000…and so it went. Since many of these new believers were Hebrews from cultures all over the civilized world, the cult of the Nazarenes, (named because of Jesus’ place of origin…meant to be a derogatory statement, like racial slang names of today) began to spread all over the Roman empire and it’s surrounding cultures.

So to put it in pop-cultural terms, think of the Holy Spirit as (to borrow from G. Lucas), the “Force”…it’s not something we can see or touch, but a binding spiritual presence originating from the one True God, which is there for any one of us to access, (and you don’t even have to have a high meta-clorian count to do so)!

Both the Apostle Peter and Paul, spend a lot of time on the importance of the Holy Spirit throughout their writing in the New Testament and how everyone who repents of their sin and proclaims Jesus as their lord and savior, not only gains forgiveness of their sins, (past, present and future), and eternal life after physical death…but can also receive this same Holy Spirit to empower them to:
-Change, become literally a new man/women in and through Jesus
-Help guide them through life
-Empower them when they feel weak
-Discover and develop their God given spiritual gifts, (that’s another whole message in itself….coming soon)
-And one of the most important…provides them direct access to God and a loving personal relationship.

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