The Way of the Paraclete

holy-spirit

*ding-dong*, *door opens* “Hi, Ma’am Gonzales! Good morning. We are a team from the Manila Pest Control Services Inc., and we’re here to work on your faulty plumbing system.”

It’s 8AM in the morning and you have a pest-control team on your doorstep who wants to do the broken sink pipe in your kitchen. Something’s not right. Surely one of the two characters in this scenario is mistaken. It could be that Ma’am Gonzales, not knowing who to call, dialed the Manila Pest Control Services Inc. to help her fix the broken pipe. Or it could be that the lady called because she actually wants to get rid of the legion of cockroaches in their ceiling’s compartment but unfortunately, these pest control chaps literally have no idea what their company is paying them to do.

Not knowing how pest control team works. Ha! funny. Of course, a simple plumbing/bug problem needs nothing more than an easy fix. You can just tell these guys (politely) to go away and call a real plumber or real cockroach gunners. But what if the case is more serious, like matters of life and death? Or matters of eternity? Like, what if we fail to recognize how the Holy Spirit works? The third Person of the Trinity, very God of very God1?

To be sure, we’re not crafting a new puzzle to solve here. Failing to recognize the Spirit has already been a problem back then even in the infancy of Christianity, when false teachers were roaming around the churches (1Jn4). It has already been a problem back then even on Jesus’s ministry on earth, when the Pharisees accused Him of doing miracles by the power of darkness even though He was actually doing it by the aid of the Holy Spirit (Mk4). It has already been a problem even back then when the Israelites were led out of Egypt into the wilderness where they rebelled. The Holy Spirit actually said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known My ways (Heb3:8-10).’ Knowing how He works has always been crucial. And we have to recognize Him, not only so we can be spared from the errors that lead to injurious consequences, but because it is only through Him that our Christian life and labor can bear any fruit. And because He is God Himself.

Before anything else, this article will not be targeting the age-long debate regarding the spiritual gifts2 (though some points may do a sidesweeping on the subject). There are countless of occurrences in the Bible where the Spirit is described in a much clearer and a less debatable manner, which sadly, many Christians still fail to see. I believe a special kind of keenness is very vital in this age where various religious sects are trying to enlist the Holy Spirit into their respective camps and where so-called miracles and experiences, ranging from bleeding statues and stigmata and audible voices from nowhere and euphoric sensations and etc. are being attributed to the Person of the Spirit. Thus, the pivot of this article will be to quickly and precisely recognize Him, as described in the Scriptures. More specifically, this will be about the undeniable Christ-centeredness of the Spirit.

The Spirit Points Us to Christ

“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 have said to you.” (John 14:26)

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me.” (John 15:26)

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

The role of the Holy Spirit since day one of this whole redemptive story has been “to put the spotlight on the person of Christ”, as contemporary theologians would say it. One would be hard-pressed to support the notion that the Holy Spirit does things autonomously, that is to exercise and display power only for the sake of exercising and displaying it. He works to exalt Christ(Jn16:14), not some phenomenon nor experience, not the believers, not even Himself(v13) but Christ only. This is the summary and goal of the Spirit’s ministry. So regarding the term “Spirit-filled” that’s being coined around in many circles, Dan Philipps has got it on point when he said:

Show me a person obsessed with the Holy Spirit and His gifts (real or imagined), and I will show you a person not filled with the Holy Spirit.

Show me a person focused on the person and work of Jesus Christ—never tiring of learning about Him, thinking about Him, boasting of Him, speaking about and for and to Him, thrilled and entranced with His perfections and beauty, finding ways to serve and exalt Him, tirelessly exploring ways to spend and be spent for Him, growing in character to be more and more like Him—and I will show you a person who is filled with the Holy Spirit.3

Therefore any “miracle”, signs and wonders, experience, ministry, preaching, teaching, what have you, is not from the Spirit if they do not revolved around Christ and if they are not aimed to uplift Christ.
 

The Spirit Confirms Christ to Us

Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. (1 John 4:2,3)

One of the tests of orthodoxy (or proper Christian belief) is the acknowledgement of Christ’s divinity and messiahship. In fact, the whole chapter of 1 John 4 is a razor-sharp blade that cuts through the veil that conceals the anti-Christ. How so? Because it is the Spirit Himself who confirms the deity and office of Christ.

And this is not a head-level profession of Christ’s deity. For when 1 Corinthians 12:3 that “no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit,” it is not talking about a mere intellectual assent. It means that only those who are indwellt by the Holy Spirit will be convinced and will confess in their hearts that Jesus is Lord. Those who are apart from the Spirit may make doctrinal pronouncements about Christ’s divinity and all, but in their hearts they will detest His authority, contrary to what they claim to believe.

 
The Spirit Unites Us to Christ

And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God. (2 Corinthians 3:3)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Just as it is the Spirit who has brought us back into life from spiritual deadness and grafted us into Christ (Eze36:26,27, 1Cor6:11, Titus3:5,6), it is also Him who will keep us and continuously mold us into the image of Christ up to our glorification(2Cor3:18, Eph4:30). It is the Spirit who gives us the power to obey Christ and delight in His laws, so that “they are not burdensome” for us (Jn15:26, Rom8:2). It is Him who inwardly verifies our union with Christ so that we can pray to the Father in confidence (Gal4:6). Through Him, we have the endurance and gladness in suffering for Christ (1Thess1:6, 1Pet4:14). It is Him who reveals the Word whose totality points to Christ (Jn16:13-16).

The Spirit unites us in Christ by shaping us and pointing us to Him. When the Bible calls Him the Helper (παράκλητος/parakletos), this is His role: to promote Christ in, to, and through us. These are His greatest works of miracle. And this is His only working trail, not because the Holy Spirit is unable to do otherwise (for He is all-powerful as well), but because He chooses not to. So any spiritual gift, revelation, emotion, teaching that does not aim to elevate Jesus can be easily dismissed as not from the Spirit.

In all of these, we can conclude that in the whole history of redemption and even in our lives as Christians, the Paraclete is beautifully assigned to magnify the Son. He is not glorified when we focus on experiences, miracles as ends. The Holy Spirit is not even glorified when we aim to put the spotlight on Him in such a way that we push Christ behind the curtains. He is glorified by glorifying Christ, through which His office and role proves to be effective.

 
 


Notes:
[1] The Nicene Creed, 325AD
[2] This would be the continuationism/cessationism debate. For a primer on both sides, I would suggest Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology and John Macarthur’s Strange Fire.
[3] Dan Philipps, The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Hanging on Tight pp.272,273

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3 thoughts on “The Way of the Paraclete

  1. Pingback: Victory Blogroll (October 26)

  2. Pingback: Victory Blogroll (October 27)

  3. Pingback: Victory Blog Roll - The Holy Spirit - Patrick Mabilog

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