What’s Up with the Holy Ghost?

From Chris Hodges, at Charisma Mag:

Invisible, unpredictable, powerful…

As the years passed, I learned to dismantle my misconceptions and inherited prejudices about the Holy Spirit. One of the main reasons was because my own Christian experience—fueled mostly by my own efforts—ended up being a failure, to say the least. When I finally invited the Holy Spirit to fill me, my prayer was a mixed bag of double messages—something like this: “Holy Spirit, I want to receive You, but at the same time I don’t want to lose control. I want You to come in on my terms. I’ll receive You, but I still have some concerns about You and Your ways. If You can behave Yourself, then You’re welcome to come in and stay awhile.”

If it sounds like a halfhearted contract with an unruly tenant instead of a commitment of love with the God of the universe, you’re right. Like so many people, I’d let my religious prejudices taint my beliefs and color my perceptions. Finally, though, I said, “I want You and everything You have to offer—all of me for all of You.”

It changed everything. I went from being a weak, milk-fed Christian to a radical, on-fire believer who couldn’t stop reading his Bible and inserting Christ into conversations with my friends. The best part is I wasn’t trying to be a “good Christian”! I was simply being myself and allowing the Spirit into my heart, my mind and my life. I surrendered all I’d heard about the Spirit so that I could experience the adventure of God’s presence in my life .

I’m concerned that many people today are in the same place I was in—they misunderstand and misperceive God’s gift to us of the Holy Spirit. Most of us understand God the Father because we all have an earthly father. We know what a father is like or what a good father should be like.

It’s pretty easy to understand Jesus the Son, too. God with us in the flesh, Emmanuel, came to earth as a baby in a manger, died as a sinless man on a cross and returned to life as the radiant Son who made it possible for us to know His Father. Most of us have some understanding of Jesus because we’ve seen pictures and movies that depict Him, even if they’re not close to being accurate.

But what’s up with this Holy Ghost? If you’re like I was for years, it may seem easier to stay away and avoid the topic altogether. We don’t have a positive association with “ghosts” and all the spooky, supernatural mystery that surrounds them—who wants that? As it turns out, He’s not a ghost at all.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://www.truthtolove.com Brad

    “Finally, though, I said, ‘I want You and everything You have to offer—all of me for all of You.’”

    Now that’s a prayer!

  • http://brokenstringsworship.blogspot.com/ Mark P

    As I survey the history of both my own journey and the less recent PentecostalCharismaniaDispensationalSpiritusInteruptus…I have to admit He seems quite unpredictable…and He apparently is quite comfortable with outrageous manifestations and taking the blame for messing up our orthodoxy…perhaps if we had some tenant of faith or cliche we could wrap him up in…

    “I believe in the Holy Ghost”…the creed says about as much as we seem to know.

  • Percival

    The spirit blows where it will; you don’t know where it is coming from or where it is going.

  • Bev Mitchell

    Chris,

    Thanks for writing this. Hard to believe there are so few comments. The wordings are various but so many people express the same sentiments and experiences – especially it seems among those who work so hard ‘for’ the Lord in early ministry who then discover what it means to work with the Lord, who is Spirit, who is Holy Spirit, who is Love.

    To make all of those above connections without lots of theological/biblical argument would be unfair. But I am not equipped to do it. Fortunately a new book has just come out that presents essentially this thesis. There are lots of other excellent books on the workings of the Holy Spirit of course, but this new one by a well recognized Pentecostal theologian will help all of us put into theological language what you so wonderfully express in your testimony.

    Oh yes, the book. Amos Yong, “Spirit of Love: A Trinitarian Theology of Grace” Baylor University Press, 2012.

  • http://www.twitter.com/aaronlage Aaron

    I love that line – “He’s not a ghost at all.”

    I wish there were more comments as well… There is sooo much to talk about!

  • Bill

    Since we really don’t understand him or take the time to try, my theory is this:

    He was replaced by the Virgin Mary or CS Lewis or Scripture or just pushed aside.


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