Every Sabbath, Seventh-day Adventists from around the world meet to study the Bible with the aid of specially prepared lesson studies. This quarter, the lesson study focuses on the topic of the Holy Spirit.
These notes to the Sabbath School lesson have been prepared by Shevanthi Bastiam Pillai – a member of Belfast Seventh-day Adventist church in Northern Ireland. Shevanthi’s prayer is that these notes will offer additional insight and understanding into the topic of study for this week.
THE HOLY SPIRIT: WORKING BEHIND THE SCENES
“He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you” John 16:14
The Holy Spirit does not draw attention to Himself; He uplifts Christ. From the beginning of the Bible story we find Him actively working behind the scenes to fulfil the plans of the Godhead.
The Elusiveness of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is likened to the wind in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. We do not see the wind; we are only aware of its effects and of its power. The power of the Holy Spirit is so great that He can resurrect the person dead in trespasses and sins to new life.
The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.” Ezekiel 37:1-5
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8
While the wind is itself invisible, it produces effects that are seen and felt. So the work of the Spirit upon the soul will reveal itself in every act of him who has felt its saving power. When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God. Desire of Ages: pp 173
The Holy Spirit at Creation
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2 The word ‘hover’ in this verse means ‘to cherish, with tender love’.
We know that the 3 Persons of the Godhead were involved in Creation.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. God 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. John 1:1-3
For by Him (Jesus Christ) all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. Colossians 1:16, 17
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. Hebrews 1:1, 2
The Holy Spirit too was involved in Creation:
By His Spirit He adorned the heavens…Job 26:13
The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth. Psalm 104:30
The Holy Spirit and the Sanctuary
“And let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them” Exodus 25:8
In Old Testament times God had His people build a visible sanctuary in the midst of the camp, and later, the Temple in Jerusalem. His purpose was to dwell among His people and His glory dwelt in the Most Holy place where no-one could enter except the High Priest once a year.
Since Jesus died and rose to Heaven, He has anointed the Heavenly sanctuary of which He is High Priest. Everyone who accepts Him becomes a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit and God dwells in the hearts of His people instead of just dwelling among them.
“…the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:17
The Spirit was active in the building of the sanctuary. The Bible makes it clear that those who are gifted in the arts if they will surrender their talents to God will be inspired by the Spirit.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship. Exodus 31:1-5.
The Holy Spirit in Glorifying Jesus Christ
The Holy Spirit works to glorify Christ in many ways.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” John 15:26
He convicts the world of sin and righteousness and judgement (John 16:8-11). He points mankind to Christ who is the answer for sin, righteousness and judgment.
He illuminates us when we read the Scriptures.
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13, 14
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. 1 John 2:27
He baptises us into the unity of the body of Christ.
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13
He produces the character of Christ in us – the fruit of the Spirit, so that we are restored to the image of God and bring Him glory.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22, 23
By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit. John 15:8
He gives us gifts for service that the church may be built up, that we can reach out in mission and that God may be glorified.
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
The Holy Spirit and Christ
The Holy Spirit was active in the incarnation of Christ.
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:34, 35
The Holy Spirit anointed Jesus for His mission on earth.
When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21, 22
The Holy Spirit was with Jesus through His temptations.
Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. Mark 1:12
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1
Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Luke 4:1
Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. Luke 4:13, 14.
The Spirit enabled Jesus to fulfil His mission on earth.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18, 19
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power…Acts 10:38
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ – Romans 8:9, 1 Peter 1:11.
“It is expedient for you that I go away.” John 16:7
Jesus went away that the Comforter might come. “It is expedient that I go away. I will depart and send the
Comforter. There will be no summons of sorrow which He will not be able to answer. He will abide with men forever. Everywhere He will come and go. He will be like the noiseless invisible wind, blowing all over the world wherever He wishes.”
The doctrine of the Holy Ghost is very simple. Men stumble over it because they imagine it to be something very mysterious and unintelligible. But the whole matter lies here. Our text is the key to it. The Holy Spirit is just what Christ would have been had He been here. He ministers comfort just as Christ would have done—only without the inconveniences of circumstance, without the restriction of space, without the limitations of time. More: we need a
personal Christ, but we cannot get Him, at least we cannot each get Him. So the only alternative is a spiritual Christ,—a Holy Spirit, and then we can all get Him. He reproves the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Christ had to go away to make room for a Person of the Trinity who could deal with the world. He Himself could only reprove the individual of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. But work on a larger scale is done now that He is gone. This is what He refers to when He said, “Greater works than these shall ye do.” And yet Christ did not go away that the Spirit might take His place. Christ is with us Himself. He is with us and yet He is not with us, that is, He is with us by His Spirit. The Spirit does not reveal the Spirit. He speaks not of Himself, He reveals Christ. He is the nexus, the connection between the absent Christ and the world—a spiritual presence which can penetrate where the present Christ in His human body could not go.
Christ ought to be as near to us as if He were still here. Nothing so simplifies the whole religious life as this thought. A present, personal Christ solves every difficulty, and meets every requirement of Christian experience. Henry Drummond: Why Christ Must Depart.
I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
Not borne on morning wings
Of majesty, but I have set my feet
Amidst the delicate and bladed wheat
That springs triumphant in the furrowed sod.
There do I dwell in weakness and in power;
Not broken or divided, saith our God!
Is your strait garden plot I come to flower:
About your porch my vine
Meek, fruitful, doth entwine;
Waits, at the threshold, Love’s appointed hour.
I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
Yes! on the glancing wings
Of eager birds, the softly pattering feet
Of furred and gentle beasts, I come to meet
Your hard and wayward heart. In brown bright eyes
That peep from out the brake, I stand confessed.
On every nest
Where feathery patience is content to brood
And leaves her pleasure for the high emprise
There doth my Godhead rest.
I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
My starry wings
I do forsake,
Love’s highway of humility to take:
Meekly I fit my stature to your need.
In beggar’s part
About your gates I shall not cease to plead—
As man, to speak with man—
Till by such art
I shall achieve my immemorial plan,
Pass the low lintel of the human heart.