Conversation: What is the Holy Spirit?
It is the personal witness God gives to all believers giving them assurance and guidance in their faith.
How did this come about?
Well after Jesus rose from the dead, and before he left, he said that he is going to send the Holy Spirit to be with all people. The Holy Spirit can be with individuals, whereas Christ is just one physical person. Jesus living in us is even better than Jesus living with us! So it came about so God could be with all of us. It is like an engagement ring—it’s a pledging you to God and a foretaste of things to come as it works in your life.
How do you get this “Holy” Spirit?
For the person searching, if there is a moment where you come to believe Christianity is true, then the Spirit joins you in your life. This brings new understanding and guidance.
How does it work?
Well, when I became a Christian I prayed and asked God to guide me and walk with me through my decisions. So In my life as a Christian my consciousness seems to be more cautious, more aware of the things God wants.
Put it like this, The Holy Spirit is like a friend making suggestions which you can choose to do or not. It can be like a “spiritual” nudge.
For example, when I became a Christian, I became aware of certain Christian values through these spiritual nudges even before I’d read those teachings in the Bible (and no, I didn’t know them previously). The spirit is making us more like Jesus called “progressive sanctification”.
That is a very basic level understanding of how the spirit works.
Let me give you an illustration of how it works
Borrowing an illustration from C.S. Lewis
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
Do you get these nudges all the time?
No not all the time, there’s usually a point to them. I don’t really get them when I’m in the shop choosing between chicken and sausages for example.
When I do get them, it’s either warning me to keep me away from sin or the nudge may be God wanting me to do something (say, strong feeling to go over and talk to someone)
What if I become a christian and it’s not like that?
If you’re a Christian and you feel like “it’s just me” I don’t feel a “nudge” by the Holy Spirit, then pray, ask God to make himself more aware in your life. God hears our prayers.
Why does it seem to vary from Christian to Christian?
For some it’s like WiFi, it’s clear and they know when God’s nudging them, for others it takes ages to figure out “oh, is that God giving me a hint?”. We as Christians believe God influences our conscience. Of course we can ignore it. We call that quenching the Holy Spirit in your life.
What If it was a stronger feeling and it’s more of a rarity now? Or even not feeling it at all?
Don’t worry, you’re still a Christian if your thinking about this. This happened to the Galatian church Paul write about, they lost their “joy”. They are trying to do good, follow the rules to be close to God but that treats God like a teacher. We need to ask God that we can “tune” our ears to the spirit, listen to God and drown out the distractions.
Couldn’t God just give us the evidence? Why give us a witness to be with us?
Well firstly, God knew it would help sustain us in our Christian walk. It’s guidance also gives us a hint of things to come. Where now we have to fight off bad desires, one day we will freely reject those desires.
How would that work?
It was once explained to me like this: I know picking up a pencil and sticking it in my eye is stupid, why is it stupid? Because I could blind myself! This life, in one way is an education—we learn what’s good and bad for us and the spirit helps us identify these things. So taking a greedy share of the pudding may feel as silly as sticking a pencil in your eye, you’ve learnt that in a good world these acts don’t fit in.
What does it mean to be “filled” with the spirit?
Paul talks about this in the Bible and when he does he’s talking about the church as a whole. A spirit filled church is:
- One where members encourage each other with the truth of the Gospel
- Singing Christ’s praises with excitement
- People full of joy for Jesus even in the tough times
- The love of Jesus motivates them to serve others
This is what Paul means by a spirit filled church. Christians individually are all to be doing of these things and God will guide that church.
Is the spirit a person or a force?
A person, not a force, it is one of the three parts of the trinity of the Godhead. Because the Spirit is God that means God is literally “with us” So when the Bible talks about your body being a temple for the Holy Spirit, it’s saying, God wants to be present in you!
Why does the Holy Spirit seem more intense in the Bible?
It was well summed up to me once like this, The Holy Spirit was aiding the apostles writing the Bible, establishing the foundations. Now the Spirit assists us in reading the Bible and living out Christianity.
So in summary?
- It is God’s witness to each and every Christian
- This witness assists us in living a Godly life
- It helps us understand the Bible
- It supervised over the Bible’s writers
- We can ask God to make his spirit more present to us today