I don’t know how most 20-30 year olds feel about their “head pastor” but we at Grace Baptist Church of Millersville adore ours. Last night he started a 6 part series (meeting every other week) on the Holy Spirit and around 20 of us crammed into a room to learn under him. I was so encouraged by those who came, their overt desire to learn and understand, and their deep appreciation for the intellect that God has given to Joel. I heard several people comment on the depth and variety of his tangential thoughts, and express gratitude for the way he develops and cultivates his mind.
So I thought it would be beneficial to type up some of my notes for those who miss the study, and for those who want to learn along with us via the world wide web. Realize that the study is about two hours long, and I’m just giving you the “bones” of it.
We started the night brainstorming facts we knew about snails, verses our actual experiences with snails and used that to segue into and a discussion about the difference between knowing and experiencing. What does it feel like to know the Holy Spirit? To experience Him? Should I be able to speak in tongues? Should I be expecting God to speak to me in dreams? Am I missing out if that doesn’t happen?
Before I go on, let me insert that our Pastor is very secure in his cessationalistic thinking. He will be teaching from this view found and supported by the Scriptures. Though he verbally and humbly recognized that there are good, godly, brothers and sister of the faith who disagree with him…and he added, “and the Apostle Paul”. 🙂 He’s a funny one that Joel.
We went on to discuss the Theology Pie (see my messy notes below!) (also I spelled Pneumatology wrong!) and pointed out that out of this pie, and the utensil we use to partake of it (Holy Spirit) spiritual gifts is a very small part! We went on to discuss why we make such a big deal about such a “small thing”. After we made some observations here, Pastor Joel carefully articulated this truth:
During this study, as we discover the purpose of the Holy Spirit and the direction it takes us, we will also seek to discover the purpose and direction of the gifts of the spirits. If the gifts of the spirit ever take us in a different direction than the one the Spirit is taking us-there is something very wrong.
After this we then discussed reasons why the Holy Spirit himself (not itself-we get fined for calling him an “it”!) is so neglected. He is ambiguous; there are evidences for the life of Jesus, philosophical truths to reason for God, but what about the Holy Spirit?
Next was a dip in systematic theology as we looked at the following passages asking “Who He is”, “How He Comes” and “What He does”:
- John 14:16-17
- John 14:25-26
- John 15:26-27
- John 16:7-11
- John 16:12-15
Who He is– The Spirit of Truth, Another Advocate, Helper, the Holy Spirit, Counselor, Partner
(one of many wonderful side notes that Pastor Joel made was about the difference between the Old Testament language and the New Testament language and why in the Old Testament “the Spirit of God” is used instead of “the Holy Spirit”)
How He Comes-Through the Father, Through the Father via the request of the Son, From the Son
What He Does– Helps, advocates, teaches, reminds the apostles, testifies, bears witness of Christ, convicts concerning guilt, righteousness, and judgment, guides to truth, declares things to come, glorifies Jesus.
We spoke of the roles of the trinity, who though are completely equal, have clearly defined roles. The Spirit’s role and delight is to do the will of the Father and of the Son. We don’t need to sing songs all about the Spirit and worship the Holy Spirit because the Spirit wants us to worship the Son. Imagine a late night visit to the Washington Monument. Is the purpose of the light being shone on it to say “wow, look at these lights!”? No! Of course not! Be grateful for them, because it’s only through them that you can see the monument, but it’s purpose is for you to relish in the splendor of the monument’s architectural magnitude. In that same manner, the Holy Spirit is a flood light whose greatest joy is for you to behold the glory and majesty and dominion of Jesus. If you adore Jesus Christ, then you are in step with the Holy Spirit!