Apostles’ Creed: The Holy Spirit

Have we forgotten the Holy Spirit? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

For the past year or so, my wife and I have been attending a Lutheran church, which is what led to my writing this series on the Apostles’ Creed, since in our church, we regularly quote the creed. I think this is an excellent idea since it gets us in touch with what it is that we really believe. The creeds do happen to be an important part of Christian life both from a doctrinal perspective and a historical one.

We’ve already covered earlier what it means to believe so there’s no need to repeat that again, so let’s just look at what it is that we are supposed to believe this time and as it turns out, Christians are supposed to believe in the Holy Spirit.

One reason I mentioned I attend a Lutheran church at the start is too often, we seem to have this idea that the Holy Spirit is for charismatics, or if we make an emphasis on the Holy Spirit, someone might think we are charismatic. Now I don’t agree with my charismatic brothers and sisters on many issues, though I do think that aside from groups like the Oneness Pentecostal Church that denies the Trinity, that charismatics are indeed Christians.

If there is a great service the charismatic church has done us, it’s to remind us to not forget about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is often seen as the silent person of the Trinity. He’s the one that is talked about the least. He’s a difficult figure to conceptualize. It doesn’t help that many times we have heard the term “Holy Ghost” which makes us think of something that is dead or something that we would expect the Ghostbusters to deal with.

Of course, when we think of a person today, we tend to think of someone with a body, but this is not so in the Biblical world. It really refers to a center of consciousness where a person possesses a mind and a will. Some of you might want to include emotions, but I don’t think God really has emotions. That’s another problem of ours. We think of attitudes as emotions when instead for bodied creatures, they just result in emotions.

If we see a person as someone with a mind and will, then the Holy Spirit qualifies, contrary to what Jehovah’s Witnesses think. In Acts 13, the Holy Spirit is said to think. The Holy Spirit is said to be something that knows in Romans 8. (Btw KJV-onlyists. Consider for a moment that in Romans 8:26-27 we read about the Holy Spirit itself.) The Holy Spirit is said to be a comforter in John 14. I could go on and on.

Simply put, belief in the Holy Spirit is essential to being an orthodox Christian. Now that can come about in many ways. Some readers might be people that get very excited in church services and want to raise their hands. That’s okay. Some people like myself are more mild-mannered. In fact, if anything gets us excited a lot of times, it’s reading a good argument for Christianity or some philosophical or historical insight into theology or the Scriptures. That’s also okay. This body has many parts.

I say this also because the Holy Spirit can too often be used as a trump card. Many Christians pride themselves on being “spiritual.” These are Christians who put an undue emphasis on spiritual gifts (usually tongues) and think they know what the Holy Spirit is saying in every circumstance. This can cause difficulties for maturing Christians who don’t have a firm knowledge of the Holy Spirit yet and think that there’s something wrong with them.

All that is from the Holy Spirit is good, but what is said to be spiritual is not necessarily from the Holy Spirit. Always be cautious of people who claim to tell you what the Holy Spirit is saying. (The exception of course is Scripture itself) When we think something is good because it is spiritual, we leave ourselves open to many false and dangerous beliefs and these are usually based on our emotions and experiences and giving them more authority than Scripture. Too often we interpret Scripture in light of our emotions and experiences instead of interpreting our emotions and experiences in light of Scripture.

The bottom line is that the Holy Spirit is not just an add-on and He doesn’t just belong to the charismatics. Trust in the Holy Spirit and His sanctifying power should be an important part of every Christian’s life. Make sure you’re obedient to the proper leading of the Holy Spirit today, which is not for personal decisions about non-moral issues, but about leading you into righteousness.

In Christ,

Nick Peters