Studying the Holy Spirit-Part One

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.Snails

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:

PieDuring 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!

Apostle Paul Made Me Laugh this Morning

I just finished reading the book of Acts. Take a minute real quick and read chapter 26.

Okay. Did you read it? Good. Did you crack up at verse 29 like I did? Maybe that’s just me! Because to me, it went something like this:

Paul (who in my mind looks like strangely like Gandalf the Grey) finishes sharing his conversion story and following, and shares a taste of the gospel. It’s beautiful, it’s profound, and it’s compelling.


Loud, fat ol’ Festus recognizes the brilliant mind that Paul has but makes fun of him, saying he’s probably just thought too hard for too long and gone bat crazy.

King Agrippa on the other hand is impressed and drawn to Paul, and responds, “Wow, Paul, you’ve only spoke for a few minutes and I’m already almost convinced of this whole “Christianity” thing.

Paul then responds-“That would be wonderful! That is exactly what I want! Whether it takes me minutes, or hours, or days, or years-I want you all to be just like me!”

Then he looks down at himself.

“Well…except for the chains of course. “

“Yeah, you guys can do without the chains.”

And it just made me giggle! Maybe Paul wasn’t being funny, and that’s okay! I know that that is not the point of the passage! But I do like it when I am reminded of the simple truth that God created comedy, and humor, and little giggles, and side splitting laughter. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that God is witty, and funny, and the most hysterical being in the universe. I love that we can laugh with our God. It’s not His most important attribute, but it is just as perfect as all His other attributes and should lead us to worship Him.

We CAN Trust God

I think I’ve learned more about truly believing in the sovereignty of God these last few months than ever before in my life.  For a long time I’ve trusted and believed He was sovereign over the “big things” but that truth never really trickled down into my life and the things happening to me.  I would fear that I made a wrong decision and fear future outcomes because  of it. It’s through the power of the Holy Spirit, a deeper look into Scripture, and the wonderful encouragement of a mentor-that I’ve began to see how little I truly trusted God and his sovereignty and HOW MUCH I can and should.

Peace in every circumstance comes when I remind myself of His sovereign plan and purpose for me.  I cannot put into words the blessing that it has been to be able to stop my tears when I ask myself, “Is God not sovereign? Is He not working things out for your good and his glory? Does He not know you best and love you most? Is He not intimately involved and invested in your life? Are not His purposes greater than all else? Are not His ways perfect?”

Yesterday, I found this little hymn and was so encouraged by its words of truth. I put a new little tune to it and committed it to memory. I’ve already had to sing it to myself in a moment of anxiousness! Hopefully it blesses your heart as it blesses mine, and you too can be reminded that all your times are in His hands!

My Times are in Thy Hand

My times are in thy hand

Father I wish them there

My life, my soul, my all I leave entirely to thy care.

My life, my soul, my all I leave entirely to thy care.


My times are in thy hand

Whatever they may be

Pleasing or painful, dark or bright, As best may seem to thee

Pleasing or painful, dark or bright, As best may seem to thee


My times are in thy hand

Why should I doubt or fear

My father’s hand will never cause his child a needless tear

My father’s hand will never cause his child a needless tear


My times are in thy hand

Jesus the crucified

The hand my many sins once pierced is now my Guard and Guide

The hand my many sins once pierced is now my Guard and Guide


Practice Sharing the Gospel!

I am the Teaching Assistant for a Public Speaking class at Lancaster Bible College, and I love it! One of the things I appreciate most about it is that it is taught through a biblical worldview. We are training and working hard to speak well, not so that we can be well liked, successful, or just to pass a class-but because we as believers want to be articulate and confident in communicating truths to people.

The gospel is the MOST important thing we will ever say or share. I encourage my students to practice their graded speeches beforehand because it helps with nerves, flow of thought, and dramatically increases the effectiveness of their presentation.  Why would we not practice sharing the gospel?! I told my class that it should come so naturally to them that I should be able to sneak into their dorm rooms in the middle of the night, shine a flashlight in the face, and say, “Tell me the gospel!” and they should be able to do it!

After assuring them that I won’t actually do that, I explained how I am incorporating a new game into class whenever we end early or have “down time”. Right now I just call it “Gospel Dice”, but if you can think of a better, more creative name-please let me know in the comments below!

Anyway, it’s simple-I choose a student at random and they roll the die, whImageatever number they land on is the amount of minutes they have to share the gospel! They tell us who their target audience will be (i.e. Children, Atheists, Hindus, Family, Amish, etc.) and we start the timer; they don’t stop until their minute/minutes are up!

I know you are not in my Public Speaking class, but I encourage you to try this sort of thing too! Maybe next time you pop something in the microwave for three minutes, practice sharing the gospel during that time. Or if you’ve got a commute to work, instead of jamming to the radio, turn off the music and thing about how to explain the gospel to someone who doesn’t believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, or the deity of Christ. With your best friend, take turns practicing at a local coffee shop, asking each other questions when you use confusing jargon. It’s the most important thing you’ll ever say-why not practice?

Feel free to comment below with any thoughts/experiences you have with this sort of thing!

What Not to Say to Someone Who’s Suffering-video

In response to my post yesterday that suggested “You Might be the Answer to your Own Prayer“, which is about talking to suffering people about the gospel, I’m posting this video. It was super helpful for me to listen to and think about the different reactions I have and things I say to Christians who are suffering.

I wonder how/if these three men would respond differently if the question was “to unbelievers”? What do you think? If we are talking to our atheist or agnostic friends, should our response to their suffering be the same as how we respond to believers who are suffering? Do we still remain silent, just “let them hurt” and tell them, “I don’t know how you feel. This is horrible.”? Or do we find ourselves in a glorious opportunity to share of Christ’s suffering and offer of salvation?