george hancock stefanThis morning, I read a small article as a part of my devotional. It concluded with this prayer: Dear Lord, we long to be in your presence, especially when we face pain and sorrow. Yet, You have not left us on our own. The Holy Spirit lives with us—and gives us joy.

As I was reading, I asked myself if the person who wrote this understood that Christianity is trinitarian. We believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, the God forever blessed. I thought of the time when Philip came to Jesus and said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me?”

Understanding the complexity of the Holy Trinity is beyond the ability of the human mind. In his book Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem writes: Finally, it may be said there are no differences in deity, attributes, or essential nature between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Each person is fully God and has all the attributes of God.  The only distinction between the members of the Trinity are in the ways they relate to one another and to creation. In those relationships they carry out roles that are appropriate to each person.

It sounded to me like the author of the article was saying to Holy Spirit, “Thanks for being here and helping us with everything, but we wish that Jesus was here!” In Romans, Paul tells us that he who does not have the Holy Spirit does not have Christ. Jesus Himself tells us that it is better for us that He goes to the Father; if he does not go, the Holy Spirit will not come.

Apostle Paul reminds the Corinthian Church that when he came to preach the gospel for the first time, he did not want to be known for his oratorical, rabbinical skills but for the power of the Holy Spirit. He summarizes his ministry in these words: “In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of this world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. That is what we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.” The passage concludes by saying that the unity of the Holy Spirit with Christ is similar to the unity that existed between Christ and the Father. “But who has known the mind of the Lord that we may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:18)

As I was writing this, I remembered that I have seen the word spirit used this week in many ways. At the beginning of the 20th century, the German sociologist and philosopher Max Weber used the expression the “spirit of capitalism” and yesterday a journalist used the expression ‘the spirit of confederacy.” New Testament scholar Donald Carson said that the word spirit is used in many ways, so he always uses the term Holy Spirit when he talks that about the Spirit of God to remind himself who he is talking about. Thus, as we pray to the Father and to the Son, we can pray to the Holy Spirit; as we sing to the Father and to the Son, we sing to the Holy Spirit; as we worship the Father and the Son, we can worship the Holy Spirit.