Biblical Doctrines, Church, Faith, God, Jesus, & the Holy Spirit

Affirming the Holy Spirit in History

In the year 33 AD, Jesus met with eleven of His disciples in an upper room, for Judas had gone out into the darkness to commit his foul deed of betraying the Son of God. Jesus had foretold this would happen. “And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” (Matt. 26:21)

It was an alarming statement, and caused immediate sadness and concern. Individuals lost their appetite as they were filled with self-doubt. The disciples began to ask, every one of them, “Lord, is it I?” (Matt. 26:22)

One of the disciples who asked that question knew in his heart the answer. Judas could have said, “Rabbi, it is I.” But Judas was not an honest, man and so he feigned concern, and alarm, with the other disciples. Soon after that, Judas arose and left the room. Within hours he would be dead, a victim of his own greed. He loved money more than the Master, and so betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

When Judas left the room, the mood of those who remained changed to the point that the Passover meal could be finished, and a Hallel song could be sung.

However, before the Passover meal was concluded, Jesus had other surprising announcements to make, which were not fully comprehended. For example, Jesus told His disciples that He was going away. And, Jesus told them why He must leave. “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7)

Today, many Christians, like the disciples, do not understand how it is better for Jesus to be in heaven rather than to be on earth, so that we can look upon Him, gaze into His eyes, and hear His voice. Like the Greeks, we want to say, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” (John 12:21) We want to see Jesus in the flesh. We want to see Him move. We want to know the touch of His hand. With John, our hearts are crying out, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20) But Jesus said, it is better for Him to go away so that the Holy Spirit could come.

If a choice has to be made between having Jesus, or having the Holy Spirit, it is an impossible choice to make.

In 1982, Meryl Streep stared in the movie Sophie’s Choice. The plot of the movie is haunting. The year is 1947. World War II has ended. Sophie is a Polish immigrant to the United States who shares a boarding house in Brooklyn with Nathan, her tempestuous boyfriend, and a young writer, Stingo. One evening, Stingo learns from Sophie that she has a terrible secret. She is a survivor of a Nazi death camp, but her husband, her father, and one of her two children did not survive the Holocaust. In fact, Sophia reveals that upon arrival at Auschwitz, she was forced to choose which one of her two children would be gassed, and which would proceed to the labor camp. To avoid having both children killed, she chose her son, Jan, to be sent to the children’s camp, and let her daughter, Eva, be sent to her death. That was Sophie’s choice.

Fortunately, we do not have to choose between Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In the plan of God, that choice has been made for us, and our hearts should be grateful. Whatever sorrow there might be in not being near Jesus, for now, at least we are not compelled to make a choice between Him and the Spirit.

When we begin to understand the person and work of the Holy Spirit, we see the Father’s wisdom in having Jesus return to heaven, so the Spirit could be poured out. We come to value the miracles the Holy Spirit performs. We rejoice at the gifts He disperses. We appreciate how He empowers the weak believer, and sanctifies those whom He regenerates.

There are some Christians today who do not understand the person of the Holy Spirit, because they have not given Him much thought. Many are not part of the Charismatic movement where the Spirit is emphasized, and so, to some, the Holy Spirit is the “forgotten” person of the Trinity. That is today.

Historically, the person of the Holy Spirit was not forgotten, but well understood and valued, theologically and practically. This truth is reflected in the creeds of Christendom.

The Apostle’s Creed states, “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” (c. 390 AD)

The Nicene Creed affirms, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.” (325 AD)

The Athanasian Creed provides an expanded statement of faith on the Holy Spirit. “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic [universal] faith;

And the catholic [universal] faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;   Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.

For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.

But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.

The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.

The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.

As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.

So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord; And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;

So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.

So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity. (Athanasius died in 373 AD)

Rejoice Christian, that the Holy Spirit is come. Study church history to see that His person, power, and presence is affirmed. Then, learn of Him.

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