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The Spirit of God


Nearly all the natural things that God has created are visible illustrations of unseen spiritual realities, to help us understand them and grasp their truth. The marriage relationship, for example, is God's illustration of the relationship we have with God's Holy Spirit. It far surpasses the pleasures of sex, which are just a symbol of the spiritual unity of Jesus and his Bride --- us!

Some people undergo an overwhelming emotional experience as soon as they hear the teachings of Christ, like the household of Cornelius in the book of Acts. (Acts 10:44) When Peter preached the word, "the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word." In fact, the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit) is the Word. So when Peter preached the Word, he was actually giving them the Spirit of Jesus.

John says, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made." (John 1:1-3)

Genesis 1:2 & 26 says "The Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters and God said, 'Let us make man in our image'."

The Spirit was with God, see, and the Spirit was God; without him nothing could have been made. The Spirit and the Word are the same. Eventually, the Word (Spirit) became flesh, in the form of Jesus, and Jesus said, "The words that I speak, they are Spirit and they are life." (John 6:63) Jesus' teachings are, in a very real way, his Spirit too. He said that when he ascended into heaven, he would leave his Spirit to remind us of everything that he taught. (John 14:26) When anyone hears the words of Jesus, they are being baptised (or covered) with his Spirit.

As they receive (or believe) what those teachings say, they are being filled with his Spirit. Today people accept truth more slowly, because we are more skeptical. There is so much being forced on us all the time, in the form of advertising... in print, on billboards, on radio and TV, etc. So even when we hear absolute truth from God, we don't usually open up immediately to it; and when we do accept Jesus' teachings, we often have so many reservations that we are like a frigid wife on her wedding night, tormented with so much guilt and so many rules that we cannot really enjoy our love relationship with Jesus. We have a formal marriage to him, but we lack the intimacy, trust, and yieldedness to really let him love us.

A formal marriage should be followed almost immediately by a satisfying love life. But some wives take years to learn to let go of all their prim and proper hang-ups so that they can really enjoy the love their husbands want to give them. The same is true of people who accept Jesus with their intellect, but who fear giving him total control of their lives‚ including their emotions and their tongues.

God wants to affect everything we say, so that we become his mouthpieces to the world. To do this, he often starts by teaching us to "speak in new tongues". Speaking in tongues is one of the most common and simple manifestations of God's Spirit; but many people resist it for fear they will lose control of themselves by letting God totally possess them. Are you willing to drop your pride and become like a little baby, learning to talk all over again? Just make happy loving sounds to God as you praise him for all that he has done for you.

This letting go can be quite an emotional experience for some people; but it has many practical benefits too. It teaches us how to communicate better with other people as well as with God. I will explain.

Almost all communication is more emotional than rational, more non-verbal than verbal. So if someone shouts at you angrily, "All right! I'm sorry! Are you satisfied now?" you don't really believe the words, because the non-verbal, emotional content of what they are saying contradicts the actual words. God's Spirit teaches us that attitudes are more important than theology, and that actions speak more loudly than words. People who speak in tongues are generally better communicators, and they are also better at discerning the truth in others (i.e. through non-verbal clues).

Babbling what seem like nonsense sounds while trying to express a feeling (e.g. love for God) can also help us to learn a language. Pride is the biggest barrier in learning a language. But when we stop trying to be perfectly correct, and just start playing around with the sounds of a new language (the way a baby does when learning its first words), we can get over that hurdle and start actually thinking in the second language. This is very helpful for people travelling to other countries as missionaries.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not given so you can just play with little spiritual gifts in your church buildings. The main reason for the covering of the Spirit is to give you power to witness. Jesus said, "You shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me..." (Acts 1:8)

A new Christian with God's Spirit and a will to witness can accomplish more than all the Bible College presidents put together if he/she just learns to obey Jesus. Yielding to God's Spirit is like overcoming frigidity and impotency. It allows God to sow his seeds in you, so you can bear more children for your husband... children of God!

Paul said, "My preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." (1 Corinthians 2:4) People will usually respond to our love and joy and peace more than they will to the intellectual content of what we are saying... no matter how correct it might be.

Faithfulness

But another lesson we learn from sex is that it is not the most important ingredient in a marriage. The most important ingredient is faithfulness. A marriage without sex can be pretty dry and boring. But a marriage without faithfulness isn't a marriage at all. So whether or not you feel ecstatic about all that Jesus says, the important thing is to believe him and obey him. Emotional experiences come and go. Enjoy them when they come, but do not stop serving God when the feelings stop.

In I Corinthians 13, Paul talks of something that is translated as "charity" or "love". But it goes beyond emotional experiences (v. 1) and even beyond great works (v. 3). It is faithfulness. "Faithfulness bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Faithfulness never gives up."

Many have run after emotional experiences, to the exclusion of faithfulness, and have ended up being totally worthless to God, nothing but hot air. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not faithfulness, I am become as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." In other words, just a lot of noise.

The Holy Spirit, or Comforter as Jesus called her, represents the feminine side of God, or the right side of the brain... the intuitive, creative, spontaneous, emotional side of our personality. Too often we repress this side and miss out on much that God wants us to have. But while the feminine side of our personality needs to be expressed, it should always be expressed in submission to the masculine (left) side of the brain, which controls our intellect and reason.

Paul encouraged anyone to "prophesy" in the church, providing when they were finished, the church leaders had a right to pass judgment on whether or not the prophecies were genuine. (I Corinthians 14:26-33) So the feminine (emotional, intuitive) side needs to be given freedom to express itself; but it must also be subject to the masculine (rational) side.

How to receive the Spirit

If a child asks for milk, will its father give it a snake, or something just as bad. No, the father will give what is best for the child. So if you believe Jesus, and simply ask for his Spirit, you must expect that what you will get is from God. Every place where you open your heart to him, his Spirit will flow in and fill you.

Jesus said, "Everyone that asks receives, and he that seeks finds, and to him that knocks, it shall be opened. If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask." (Luke 11:10-13)

But God wants to know if you want his Spirit more than anything else in the world. He says anyone who hungers and thirsts after righteousness will be filled. (Matthew 5:6) Jesus told about a widow who changed the mind of a stern judge who could neither be bribed nor threatened into changing his verdict, but he changed his mind in her case because she would not stop asking. (Luke 18:3-5) If such persistent asking could convince the judge to change his stand, how much more will it influence God if we do not stop asking every day of our lives for more of his Spirit. Pray and ask (and keep on praying and asking) Jesus to fill you with his Spirit and he will.

(See also No Effeminate Person, and Speaking in Tongues.)

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