OH! TO WELCOME THE HOLY SPIRIT
What do triplets and DNA have to say about the gift of the Holy Spirit?
By: Frank G. Tunstall
I invite you to release your imagination and picture what Jesus was saying as He began to teach His disciples on the night of the Last Supper about the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was a history making and life changing occasion. So please, see the scene at the meal as eleven men plus Jesus recline around the table. [Judas, arm in arm with the devil, had already walked out of the Upper Room. He left the meal to make final arrangements to betray his Messiah (John 13:30-31).]
Please listen intently as Jesus shared with His disciples. They were hearing fresh revelation – the first persons ever to receive it – the news about the Holy Spirit who would take Jesus’ place.
Yes, the moment was huge.
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:15-16 NIV).
This is such a wonderful section of Scripture, full of prophetic revelation. It marks the beginning of Jesus’ preparation of His disciples to receive the Counselor, the heavenly Father’s great gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ incarnate ministry that culminated with His crucifixion and resurrection was necessary to provide for mankind’s redemption. The gift of the Holy Spirit was indispensable follow up for putting together the New Covenant and taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, thus carrying out the Lord’s international vision. The mission of the Holy Spirit then to teach all who would listen about Jesus and make Him known; that objective has not changed to this day.
The love Jesus identifies here – “If you love me…” is calling for agape, the God kind of love that always acts in the best interests of another. Jesus served in our best interests – even going to a cross – when we had absolutely no way to realize what He was doing, or why. His kind of love changes people so that they want to love Jesus in return and “obey” His commands.
The Spirit of Truth
In John 14:6 Jesus describes Himself as “the Truth;” in 14:15 Jesus presents the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of Truth.” Thus, Jesus interpreted the Holy Spirit as His equal. It is a revelation that as Jesus is Deity, so is the Holy Spirit.
We are a monotheistic people who worship one God and at the same time accept the revelation of the Trinity – that God can be both one and three at the same time. We know the Bible reveals God is a Trinity but our struggle is how to illustrate what we already know so that the Lord’s followers can more easily grasp the message.
The scientific advances regarding DNA open a door that provides a good word picture of the unity of essence in the Godhead.
The Holy Trinity and DNA
We know, of course, most triplets that are born are not identical. An identical birth occurs when each of the triplets has exactly the same DNA. This is true for triplets or for twins.
DNA or the Deoxyribonucleic acid is the carrier of the genetic information that defines the growth and development of all living organisms.
Researchers say the odds for identical triplets being born begin at one out of about 60,000 infants and go up from there; some even place the number as high as one out of 200 million. With identical twins it is much lower, 3 out of 1000 babies, for example.
No illustration perfectly reveals how the God who is One exists in three persons who are equal in essence. Genetic understanding of DNA, however, opens a window to better comprehend the Tri-Unity of God. In the Godhead, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, with no exceptions at all, not even miniscule, have the same substance or essence [consubstantial is the theological term]. We serve one God who exists in three persons of exactly the same essence – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The writer of Hebrews, having no knowledge of genetics, explained God’s Son Jesus Christ as “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3 NIV). The Greek word translated as “exact representation” is charakter. It can also be translated as “exact copy.” The King James Bible uses “express image.”
Our English word, character, has its roots in charakter. Character in contemporary usage refers routinely to a person’s moral fiber. When applied to Jesus Christ, charakter refers to much more than Jesus’ sinless integrity, as important as that is. It communicates that Jesus is the express image of the heavenly Father, totally and perfectly His identical essence.
The illustration of identical DNA in triplets certainly adds illumination to understanding the essence of God. The weakness of the word picture is in showing God is also truly One; the three persons in the Trinity are not to be understood as three gods. We are not tri-theists. DNA does come close to covering all the bases, but to come close is also to miss the mark. Yes, DNA helps, but there will always be mystery in our understanding of the Trinity.
The Eternal Spirit as Counselor
Jesus-the-Prophet began His teaching on the work of the Holy Spirit by saying this counselor will come to you as the Father’s gift and will “be with you forever” (John 14:16 ESV). This statement establishes eternality as an attribute of the Holy Spirit. Eternality is an attribute of God. We conclude as Jesus is eternal so is the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14; Matthew 28:20; 1 John 5:20). This eternality of the Holy Spirit is solid proof of the Deity of the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Peter actually referred to the Holy Spirit as “God” (Acts 5:4).
THINK ABOUT IT. Jesus’ prophecy said God the Holy Spirit would be with us “forever.” Blessed truth this! It affirms on earth and in heaven too. The Apostle Paul taught “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6-8).
Please, my dear reader, please assimilate this in your heart. The Holy Spirit is our counselor now, in this life; but that’s not all. Heaven will be a busy place with lots of teaching and learning going on. In that eternal process we will continue to have the Holy Spirit as our counselor to aid our understanding of the “riches” of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The word translated counselor in Greek is parákleeton (John 14:16). It embraces meanings such as intercessor, advocate, helper, and comforter. The English word paraclete comes from this Greek word and is often used as a synonym for the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is our intercessor in the presence of the heavenly Father, and so is the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27). This level of intercession on our behalf – intercession at the very throne of God – is wonderful news and that shows grace without measure.
The fact that the Holy Spirit fulfills this role as counselor and intercessor along with Jesus is another strong affirmation the Holy Spirit is God, because Jesus and the Holy Spirit serve the needs of believers and do it with the same ministries. Yes, the God who is One exists in a Tri-Unity of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each having the same essence, or equality, and DNA illuminates the relationships. The Spirit is another counselor (intercessor, advocate, helper, and consoler); another like Jesus, and of the same essence. Hence, as Jesus is the Son of God, so the Holy Spirit is Deity too.
The Holy Spirit’s mission is to draw unbelievers to Jesus and then bond them to the Lord in their daily living. The years that have followed have now turned into centuries, and even millennia. In all of these 2,000 years the Holy Spirit has been a pillar of stability, adding blessing worldwide in every generation of the church, and continues to do so to this day.
1) The Holy Spirit would come and quench the spiritual thirst for relationship with God of anyone who is thirsty (John 7:37-38).
2) The abiding presence of the Holy Spirit would continue around the clock, day after day.
3) The Spirit’s presence will remain as long as there is time, and then when time gives way to eternity, the Spirit will continue as companion and teacher “forever,” for as long as eternity rolls (John 14:16).
Mind-boggling, but true.
Jesus’ prophetic objective at the Last Supper was to begin to prepare His disciples for the big transition from His personal, physical presence, to the perpetually abiding spiritual presence of God the Holy Spirit. This shows just how closely connected the work of the Holy Spirit is to Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension.
The Spirit is another of identical kind, or “DNA,” who has taken Jesus’ place in the age of the church. At the same time, Jesus remains the head of His church for which He died (Ephesians 1:10; 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 1:18). Since there is no egoism or divisiveness in the Godhead, Jesus and the Holy Spirit always serve in perfect, harmonious mutuality.
The Great Danger
So many underestimate the importance and power of God the Holy Spirit, especially in the Lord’s church. George Barna tells us that almost three out of five evangelicals believe the Holy Spirit is only a mere symbol of Jesus’ presence, meaning the Spirit is not understood as a living, personal, and all-powerful member of the Godhead.
[I am not aware of research that shows how our people in our Pentecostal pews think about the identity of the Spirit.]
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not accept the Deity of the Holy Spirit and assert the Spirit is only a mere force in the earth. In Islamic thought, the angel Gabriel is the Holy Spirit.
Is it possible for pastors and teachers to take a stand defending the Trinity and the Deity of the Holy Spirit, but at the same time make a huge mistake by soft pedaling their teaching and preaching about the person and work of the Holy Spirit?
Oh! that we all could sing with full sincerity of heart:
Holy Spirit thou art welcome in this place.
Holy Spirit thou art welcome in this place.
Omnipotent Father of mercy and grace,
Thou art welcome in this place.
By: David Huntsinger and Dottie Rambo
June 1, 2017 3:15 pm|
Thanks, Dr. Tunstall, for your keen insight and excellent presentations in all the messages you send to us by way of “The Cutting Edge”. It is very informative and inspiring! I am thankful to our Lord for giving you to us “for such a time as this.”