Question: On Neglecting The Holy Spirit

Anonymous asked:

Hey JSP! First of all, much love because you’re an awesome brother and one of my favorite people living. I just had a question about the Trinity.. I was wondering why there is so much emphasis on God the Father and Jesus, His Son, and such little praise of the Spirit? Is it because we have a personal relationship with the Father through the Son and that the Spirit is a gift to use? Idk, I feel sorta bad the way we treat the Spirit or the way we talk to Him as opposed to the Father. Ur thoughts?

Thank you so much for the very kind words, my friend.  Humbling and much appreciated.

I’ve written a few things on the Holy Spirit before, and I can tell you it’s really interested no one. The Holy Spirit is like that weird cousin at a dinner party who wears vintage 70s purple-green plaid and probably has great taste in music but gets ignored all the time.

I know the “search engine” thing is a cheap writer’s trick, but on Google the name “Jesus” shows up 448 million times, while “Holy Spirit” shows up 54 million times.  So Jesus is roughly 9 times more popular.

I think it’s mainly because

1) The Holy Spirit is sort of a vague, ethereal, abstract concept that is not as “physical” as Jesus or the Father, and so our anthropological image of the Spirit is like a vapor or “energy force.”  It doesn’t help that for hundreds of years, the King James Bible called Him the “Holy Ghost.”  it has a spooky vibe that no one instinctually goes for.

2) The Holy Spirit is quickly associated with the Charismatic Pentecostal movement, so we generalize that with Prosperity Theology, healing scams, running through the church pews, prophecies run amuck, and a frenzy of speaking in tongues.  It looks like an emotional, unhinged, cult-like trend.  I hear random things like “them Holy Spirit chills” or “the Spirit told me to date you” and a bunch of other weird gut-feeling stuff.  I don’t think all this is wrong, but much of this has turned off people from ever getting Spirit-filled.

3) It’s natural to say, “I love Jesus” or “I love God,” but not “I love the Holy Spirit.”  Doesn’t really roll off the tongue.

4) Most pastors and theologians are not sure how to describe the Holy Spirit’s work in the cross and resurrection.  It’s hard to preach.  The Gospel is easier to understand apart from the Spirit, even though: the Spirit poured out life for the dead from the cross itself (1 Cor. 15:45), the Spirit raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11, 1 Peter 3:18), the Spirit also justifies us (makes us right) from sin (1 Cor. 6:11), and the Spirit empowered Jesus as he offered his blood on the cross to the world (Hebrews 9:14).  But again, I know this isn’t easy theology, so most pulpits never touch that stuff.

5) The idea of the Trinity is extremely difficult for most people to grasp.  I don’t blame them.  Like when Jesus died: was that God dying?  Do we pray to Jesus or the Father?  Is the Spirit just a counselor?  How do we have a relationship with all three parts of the Trinity?  Some of this is a mystery.  But out of all three, the Spirit is the one most mysterious to our own limited brains.

All this being the case, here are some things to consider.

1) Expand your knowledge of the Holy Spirit. 

I recommend Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God, which pretty much changed my life.  I know everyone says that about a lot of books, but really: I was totally cut through, and I still think it’s the best book Pastor Francis has ever written.  It was one of the biggest components in my own spirituality that helped me quit porn.  I was able to see the importance of the Holy Spirit’s role in my daily walk, not just as a “boost” or “helper,” but a huge part of everything I am and do.

You can also consider Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, Mark Driscoll’s Doctrine, or John Walvoord’s The Holy Spirit.  If you’re not a Reformed Calvinist or you’re okay with stepping outside conventional Christianese, then I also recommend The Undoing of Adam by C. Baxter Kruger.  And of course, read the Book of Luke and Romans 6-8.

2) Ask your pastor and mature Christians about their theology and experiences of the Holy Spirit.

I think the reason we don’t emphasize the Spirit enough is because we’re not talking about Him.  He is still an “it” to most of us unless we’re testifying about His work in our lives.

3) Rely on the Holy Spirit in all you do.

We’ve heard this before.  So what exactly does “relying on the Spirit” mean?

Here’s a simple practice.  The next time you’re about to make a decision, ask the Spirit, What would you have me do?

Before you blow up on the guy in traffic, before you write your college apps, before you ask that girl for lunch, before you pick praise songs for Sunday, before you give advice to your kids, before you rebuke your best friend — just ask the Spirit how you want Him to lead you.

Some days, it will be a little more automatic.  Other days, you will need to call on the Spirit’s guidance every few minutes, or more.  But as you seek the Spirit in your daily life, you’ll become more sensitive to His voice and He will become much more clear.  You can certainly still resist Him, but if you humble yourself to Him, you will inevitably embrace the God-centered decision as He reveals His heart to you.

This is what it means when someone says, “That couldn’t have been me speaking, it was all the Holy Spirit”  Or, “I didn’t really want to, but I suddenly knew the right thing to do.”

I believe when we begin to fall under His authority, we will have just as much a relationship with Him as we do the Father and the Son.

— J.S.


14 thoughts on “Question: On Neglecting The Holy Spirit

  1. This is really good stuff J.S. We really need to come to a better understanding of the Spirit as Christians. The suggestions you make are really solid ways to come to know Him better. He is after all God who dwells in US.


          1. I enjoyed it! Though I remain staunchly (and secretly) a Calvinist, I love the language that Baxter uses. Things like re-creation and breaking the curse and liberating from sin — these are all important concepts that can be shared no matter the doctrinal place we’re coming from. I actually went line by line in the book and hand-wrote my own notes in a journal, just to get a right handle on the NPP.


  2. One of the things that helps me is that there are people who always work “behind the scenes” and get no recognition even though those who know see that without them what happened would not happen. The Bible shows Paraclete (Spirit) points the world to Jesus, Who points the world to Creator God, to teach that anyone who keeps credit or looks for self-advantage does not follow the model displayed by God. God is too dynamic for static description, so I affirm your advice to “experience” Paraclete – a much more useful approach.


    1. Right on. The crazy thing is, the Spirit is doing a ton of work on the earth both “behind the scenes” and on the main stage. We just get easily blind to both of them.


  3. Oh, thank you so so much for writing on this. It stirred up something forgotten. How could I forget?
    Will definitely read that book. God bless you and keep you this coming week. Thanks again!


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