Monday, September 28, 2009

Stand for the Rule of Faith, Part 9

While the Apostles' Creed developed in great detail its teaching about Jesus Christ, the affirmation, "I believe in the Holy Spirit" is short and to the point. However, this nascent affirmation of the Trinity required more explanation later. By A. D. 381 the Council of Constantinople expanded this short sentence to "And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified." In the Western Church another addition was made later so that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son."

Evangelical Christians need to take a stand for the full deity and personhood of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, we need to remember that the work of the Spirit is not to draw attention to himself but to point people to Jesus (John 15: 26). There is a lot of confusion in our churches about the Holy Spirit. Taking a stand for the biblical teaching of the Holy Spirit could help clear some of that confusion.

What does the Holy Spirit do? He convicts the conscience of sin (John 16: 8). He, by his sovereign will, applies the benefits of Christ's work and causes the new birth (John 3: 8). He indwells every believer (Rom 8: 9). He, by his sovereign will assigns gifts to every believer for the benefit of the whole congregation (1 Cor 12: 11). He guides God's people into truth (John 16: 13). He seals every true believer as a pledge unto the day of redemption (Eph 1: 13--14). The best evidence of the Spirit in your life is not some "sign gift" but the "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal 5: 22--23).

Baptists became so "program" driven that one wag once remarked that "the Holy Spirit could leave the average Baptist church and no one would notice." I've seen churches where I'm not sure that hasn't happened. To take a stand for the Spirit means to live your life in awareness that nothing, nothing you can do will have any lasting impact for the Kingdom without his blessing. To take a stand for the Spirit means to oppose every teaching that denigrates the Spirit as less than fully God. To take a stand for the Spirit means to uphold the biblical teaching of gifts in service of the church, for its edification, not to puff up people and make them feel "super spiritual" (Col 2: 18). Lastly, to take a stand for the Spirit means living your life in the awareness that it is his sanctifying power that enables you to persevere in the faith, keeping you to the end.


  1. After 14 years in the signs and blunders movement, I ran straight to the Baptist Church where the focus was on Christ and evangelism. In the WOF circles, I think the Holy Spirit was the main focus, or at least supposed manifestations were what we sought.

  2. Baptists, in their reaction to the Pentecostal and Holiness movements, have, at times tended to ignore or so down play the Holy Spirit so as to give the impression that he wasn't that important. What is always needed is a kind of balance on the issue that gives the Holy Spirit his proper place in the Godhead and in the life of the believer.