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Doctrine (Part 3). Pnuematology.

July 15, 2009

One of the sweetest doctrines to say is “Pnuematology” (‘nooma’). Pnuematology is the study of the Holy Spirit. So buckle up, shut up, and turn to your favorite Christian television channel because this post will blow you away (No pun intended Greek geeks).

The Spirit is the often neglected, third person of the Trinity. Usually he is avoided and/or ignored for two reason: lack of understanding and poor experience. In the words of Raz al Ghul (Batman Begins), “we always fear what we do not understand.” Therefore an overt fear of the Spirit has grown out of ignorance. As Christians and thinkers we must not allow ignorance to dictate a perspective on theology; especially when that theology focuses on a person of the Trinity.

In addition to an anemic understanding of the Holy Spirit, many have had awkward, scary, and alien experiences which have been accredited to the Spirit. Often these supernatural interactions (or manufactured experiences) lead observers to questioning and more fear. By way of these two deterrents many churches and individuals alike are left with a two member Trinity. Any understanding of God void of the Holy Spirit, is really no understanding at all.

The Spirit among equals, God the Holy Spirit, perpetuates the divine unifying qualities within his unique activity. It was the Spirit of God that hovered over the face of the water as a co-creator (Gen 1:2). The Holy Spirit breathed into the dry bones of the valley in which Ezekiel prophesied (Eze 37). He descended on Jesus in the form of a dove subsequent to Christ’s baptism (Mat 3:16). The Spirit rains down on the early church giving them abilities to speak in other languages (Acts 2). Throughout Scripture the Spirit is seen as a divinely powerful and gracious giver of direction (Isa 11:2).

The power of the Spirit is unmatched (Rom 15:13). The presence of the Spirit is the presence of life and freedom (John 3:6-7; 2 Cor 3:17). He gives life by his very presence and life vanishes when the Spirit is removed (Psalm 51:10-12). The power of God rests in the person of the Spirit and it is a gift that is given to all who believe (Joel 2:28-32). Therefore, followers are empowered to do good works, reflecting the communicable attributes of God (Gal 5:22-24). Through the Spirit’s power meaningful service is made possible to God and the world (Acts 1:8). The believer has the ability to accomplish much for the Kingdom and the glory of God when they are surrendered to the power of the Holy Spirit.

In addition to empowering the people of God, the Holy Spirit directs followers toward the things of God (Eze 43:5). However, in the same way that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, believers may find themselves being led into difficult places (Mark 1:12; Psalm 23:4). The Spirit leads to both pleasant and seemingly dangerous situations, nevertheless his direction is always toward holy purposes.

Combining the scope of both empowering and directing the believer, the Holy Spirit is active in the process of justification and sanctification. The Spirit is God’s gift to the believer once they have followed Christ; he is the seal, the promised Holy Spirit (Eph 1:14). The Spirit also labors to sanctify and protect Christians and enables the assimilation of sound teaching (2 Tim 1:13-14).

The Spirit also entrusts believers with the various spiritual gifts. There is a continuation of these gifts today that propel the ministry of Christ’s Church (1 Cor 1:7). Though the dispersion of these gifts are in proportion to faith they are nevertheless all present and effective today (Rom 12:6). All things considered, gifts are often not possessed and only imitated–usually imitation is combined with helmet hair and expensive suits. Therefore, through discernment and love it is important to test the spirit of the supposed manifestations of the gifts (1 John 4:1).

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