Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 6/1/03
"Guard the good deposit through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us" (II Tim. 1:14, Recovery New Testament).
The springboard for today's essay is a question e-mailed to us by a friend, who wrote, "A question came to me and I was a bit stumped because I wanted to give a correct answer. I know this may sound simplistic, but 'Who or what is the Holy Spirit?' We have the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. We know that Christ is the anointing, etc. We know the Godhead. We know we have an unction from the Holy One, and we know all things. But without getting into the theology I would like to know your definition of 'Who or what the Holy Spirit is, or is not'." End Quote.
I immediately pounced on Lenny saying, "You just start talking here and I'll type it in. I'll be your scribe." He grinned at me and said, "Have fun." Of course, I thought of how unqualified I feel to answer such a question, but two things made me feel "good to go." First, is the Apostle John's wonderful statement about this unction my friend referred to: "but the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him" (I John 2:27, RSV).
Secondly, our friend asked for my personal definition or explanation of the Holy Spirit, by-passing the traditional statements with which theologians have weighted us down. John Gavazzoni recently commented that for every complicated subject, a profession has arisen with even more complicated words to explain the unexplainable, so that the person seeking truth ends up more confused at the end than he was at the beginning. Lord, deliver us from that intellectual quagmire.
I told our friend that he asked a "dilly" of a question, but nothing is too hard for the Lord, and if he would bear with me, I would see what flows out. The first thing that came to me was the evidence I always get when the Spirit is brooding over me, that feeling of an electric current passing over my body. I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (are you ready for this?) when I was soaking in a bubble bath, up to my neck in fragrant bath oil, bubbles, and soothing relaxation. The heavens opened up and I saw, felt, and tasted, that Jesus died on that cross for Jan. Instantly, I felt the atonement, up close and personal. As I wept and praised the Lord, the electric current was so powerful, I thought for sure I would be electrified in the bath water. That was my first experience at feeling His presence in a visceral way.
Since then, He has been a constant source of love, affirmation, guidance, and correction when necessary. He is like a spiritual "traffic light." Green means "Go." Red means "Stop." Yellow means, "Proceed with caution."
It is impossible to define the Holy Spirit, but I can speak of how I know Him through the relationship we have. Read John Gavazzoni's five part series on, "The Coming of the Lord" (See End Note), for an excellent description of the Godhead in relational terms: Father/Mother God from whom the Son was birthed, is birthed, and continues to be birthed in each of us as the Spirit does His work within.
The Holy Spirit is perhaps the least known aspect of God because He never calls attention to Himself, but as Jesus affirmed: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13-15, RSV). The Holy Spirit always glorifies Christ, never Himself. Notice the delicious statement Jesus made that "all the Father has is mine." Part of the Holy Spirit's job description then, is to take what is Christ's and declare it to us. God's children need never walk in darkness, for we have the Light of the World within us at all times.
Heads of State always have spokespersons. The President of the United States has a Press Secretary. Saddam Hussein had "Baghdad Bob," the infamous and bumbling Iraqi Minister of Information, who didn't know a camel from a casaba melon. All human spokespersons spin information so it will be favorable to their bosses, which in Baghdad Bob's case, was to save his skin. The Holy Spirit is God's Information Minister, supplying truth, unconditional love and power for each son, 24/7, giving us what we need to live an overcoming life. In fact, I will say without hesitation, it is IMPOSSIBLE to live an overcoming Christian life without the unction of the Holy Spirit.
The church I grew up in taught that the Holy Spirit went back to heaven after the last Apostle died. How in the universe did this blasphemous doctrine came about? I believe it developed from reading the bible with the natural mind. Paul stated in I Cor. 13:10, that certain gifts of the Spirit would cease when "That which is perfect has come," and they interpreted it to mean that the word of God is "the perfect" he meant. I have no problem affirming that truth, because Jesus IS the WORD of God (John 1:1; Rev. 19:13), but I tear my hair out at their conclusion that the leather bound book we call The Holy Bible is that perfect word. These dear brothers and others have elevated a book into the godhead and worshipped it. They have recanted their position on the Holy Spirit in recent years, though there will have to be a lot of funerals of the old saints schooled in this doctrine before anything much will change.
Trying to live the Christian life without the power of the Holy Spirit would be like sending David out to fight Goliath with one hand tied behind his back, quite impossible, in other words. When I understood that the topic of this essay was the Holy Spirit, I waited to see what the Lord would do next, and I waited and waited some more. Finally, I protested, "Lord, I don't have a title!" (A title and a graphic are my "security blanket," that I want before I begin, and He has always honored that.) He said, "Put 'Holy Spirit' into your computer bible program."
Why didn't He just tell me what it was? Perhaps because the journey teaches us almost as much as the destination. He uses mysterious ways and circuitous routes His truths to impart. When I typed in, "Holy Spirit," there were 93 scriptures, which I printed out and began to read. It wasn't long until "Sealed by the Holy Spirit" jumped off the page and into my heart and I knew that this was the title.
I have enjoyed the Recovery New Testament and some of Witness Lee's study notes, so I'll use that translation for Eph. 1:13-14: "In whom you also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, in Him also believing, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of the promise, Who is the pledge of our inheritance unto the redemption of the acquired possession, to the praise of His glory." Brother Lee observed that the Holy Spirit is a "living seal" used by God to "mark us out, indicating that we belong to God. The Holy Spirit, who is God Himself entering into us, causes us to bear God's image, signified by the seal, thus making us like God."
Regarding the "pledge of our inheritance," Lee calls it a "token payment; a partial payment in advance, guaranteeing the full payment. Since we are God's inheritance, the Holy Spirit is a seal upon us. Since God is our inheritance (Notice that we are His inheritance and He is ours, JA.), the Holy Spirit is a pledge to us of this inheritance. God gives His Holy Spirit to us not only as a guarantee of our inheritance, securing our heritage, but also as a foretaste of what we will inherit of God, affording us a taste beforehand of the full inheritance. In ancient times the Greek word for 'pledge' was used in the purchasing of land. The seller gave the purchaser some soil as a sample from the land. Hence, a pledge, according to ancient Greek usage, is also a sample. The Holy Spirit is the sample of what we will inherit of God in full." End quote.
The RSV translation speaks of the "guarantee of our inheritance," and the King James refers to the "earnest of our inheritance." You can see an example of this in real estate transactions today, where the buyer gives the seller what is called, "an earnest money deposit." This shows his good faith that he will perform at the end of the contract and come up with the entire purchase price. The deposit can be a small percentage of the down payment itself, or whatever buyer and seller agree upon and the agent feels comfortable with.
The Holy Spirit is therefore, the "earnest money," securing the delivery of our inheritance, which bears witness to us that God is going to give us the whole thing. Christ, the anointed of the Father had the Spirit without measure: "For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit; the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand" (John 3:34,35, RSV). We do not YET have the Spirit without measure, which is why I have problems with those teaching that we are Christ in the world today. When these folks can do as Jesus did, heal the sick, open blind eyes, unstop deaf ears, raise the dead, and set the captives free, then they can bill themselves as Christ in the world. I feel the same about the slogan, "What would Jesus do?" I've just mentioned what Jesus would do, and I haven't seen people doing any of those things either.
John the Baptizer declared to those he was baptizing in the River Jordan, "I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." So, with many other exhortations, he preached good news to the people" (Luke 3:16-18, RSV). Notice that this baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire is what Luke calls, "good news." That in itself should remove the fear of fire that so many Christians have. Fire is the cleansing agent of God to burn up the chaff. If you haven't read it, you might appreciate Lenny's writing, "Send in the flames" (See End Note), which deals with this subject. God is holy, and no unholy thing can exist in His presence. It is the fire which refines us, which I have come to welcome as God's grace for me.
There is great confusion out there in Christendom about the trials and tribulations which are a part of God's grace for us all. It's all a function, I think, of our stage of maturity in Him. We had an e-mail from a dear friend who often expresses very well the angst I think a lot of people feel about suffering, but can't express as eloquently as she does.
She wrote, "These are the 'seeming' contradictions that have some (me) confused as to when to resist the devil when in essence, the devil has been authorized by God to do the very thing we labor to resist. Or is God just exposing us to 'resistance training' to increase our level of trust in Him as well as our understanding of His loving Sovereignty? The problem all these years for me has been that I never knew when to resist, rest, or respond with some combination of the two; frequently fearing that I might be considered by the Father and others to be 'disobedient' or rebellious' or worse, both."
She concluded, "This life of rest, trust, dependency, and relying on Christ is most difficult when I face emotional tribulation and just want to abort or terminate the process and substitute my own deficient process for immediate (but not lasting) relief. I'm so very thankful I now know that my way (which has and will be tried by countless others) does not work so I'm less inspired to implement substitutions." End Quote.
John the Beloved gives us the progression of our spiritual growth: "I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father" (I John 2:13, RSV). I have always found it interesting that children and fathers know Him who is from the beginning. Perhaps this is why Jesus admonished, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God" (Luke 18:16, RSV).
The fact is that when men tell us what to do, how to worship, where to go and not go, we always end up traumatized by the guilt trips and shame games so often played by Christians (See End Note). When we listen to the Holy Spirit, we are freed to be who He created us to be. Our spirits were originally created in the image and likeness of God. When He fashioned our bodies out of clay, the stakes went up and the game became more dangerous, though He always knew what He would do about it. Lenny's writing entitled, "Echoes of the Fall" (See End Note), deals with the evolution of flesh and spirit.
Adam's fall created the perfect milieu or environment for Christ's incarnation as the Son and His return as the Holy Spirit to empower and enlighten us. "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (II Cor. 3:17, RSV). He is the friend who is closer than a brother and the One who will never leave us nor forsake us. In Him, we cannot fail, for we HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD. He is our joy, our peace and our righteousness. Paul wrote the Romans, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Rom. 15:13, RSV).
The Good News is that the Unction of the Holy Spirit does not depend on our faith, our confession, or even our awareness of Him, as my experience in the bubble bath proved to me without a shadow of doubt. It is impossible to separate the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for they are One, and nothing can prevent the anointing in our lives from regenerating and renewing us (Tit. 3:5). Father, we fall on our faces before You in awe of Your will and grace which called us, chose us, saved us before the foundation of the world, and even now is transforming us into the exact image and likeness of Your firstborn Son. We wait with eager anticipation for Your inheritance to be unveiled in flesh, and manifested in glory before the waiting world, which longs to drink at Your fountain of eternal Life. In the Name above all names, we thank You for Your provision for us in ALL things and in ALL circumstances. Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
"Send in the Flames," by Lenny
"Guilt Trips and Shame Games"
"Echoes from the Fall, " by Lenny
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 5/30/03
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/27/08.