The Holy Spirit = God = All You Need to Know

We make Christianity entirely too complicated. The whole point of it is supposed to be as simple as a child’s smile. In order to merge yourself with the full truth of God, you don’t need a seminary degree, classes, sermons, home study tapes, the latest Christian bestseller, or anything else. All you need to be is alive, and you’ve automatically got, right there within you, virtually everything about God that you could possibly need to know.

“But the Counselor,” says John 14:26, “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” [Italics mine.]

The Holy Spirit is God. Not part of God. Not an aspect of God. Not God Lite. Not God in any way modified particularly for your needs and limitations. Being a Christian means nothing less than constantly having within you the entirety of what God ever was, is, or will be. (We’ll here let go the question of whether, or to what extent, the spirit of God does or doesn’t dwell within the hearts of non-Christians—which is exactly the kind of superfluous question that Christians too often use to distract themselves from settling down and just being with God.)

That the indwelling Holy Spirit is fully God is as central to Christianity as the sacrifice of Jesus. Yet relatively it receives almost no attention.

In my next post, I’d like to explore why I think that is.

As always, I look forward to your own thoughts and comments.

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Related post o’ mine: The Trinity Explained in Four Sentences.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://nirakia.blogspot.com Karin

    Oh you had me giggling now with "God Lite". So true

  • RogerC

    Down here in the South that topic receives a lot of attention!

  • http://www.xanga.com/delaferriere kris sexton

    Fabulous.

  • phil

    amen john.Gen 1:2 Spirit of God and Mt 1:18 Holy Spirit. and 2 Ti 3:16..All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching…

  • http://namesake.wordpress.com Dale

    I'm thinking you weren't nearly as emphatic as you'll need to be. Not everyone heard you. They got confused at that first "=" sign. Maybe you could speak slower and louder, and pause, strategically for thoughts to catch up. Bold font. Megaphone. Period.

  • http://honestfaith.blogspot.com Barry

    The problem here is one of interpretation. What does "all things" mean here? If it is taken to mean "everything", then clearly we have a problem. If it means "everything necessary", then again we have a problem, as there are many different interpretations of what the Holy Spirit has said to people.

    If it is taken to mean "all sorts of things" or "all kinds of things" then it becomes easier to marry up scripture with the reality we see around us, of many believers claiming contradictory things to be inspired by the Spirit. The Spirit teaches some things, but not everything we need. That's why we have the Bible and intellects to grapple with it.

  • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

    John: "We make Christianity entirely too complicated. The whole point of it is supposed to be as simple as a child’s smile. In order to merge yourself with the full truth of God, you don’t need a seminary degree, classes, sermons, home study tapes, the latest Christian bestseller, or anything else. All you need to be is alive, and you’ve automatically got, right there within you, virtually everything about God that you could possibly need to know."

    Does that also mean you dont need a bible? Or even be a Christian to know god?

    (Sorry, it's the 'or anything else' that got me wondering….)

  • http://dani-kelley.deviantart.com/ Dani

    Amen! We are indwelled by God Himself, and every Christian is a priest. Thinking that you need "formal teaching" to really learn about God and know His will and even to be able to preach is entirely man's idea and completely foreign to God's Word.

  • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

    Dani, does that include having to read a bible or beliving in JC?

  • http://dani-kelley.deviantart.com/ Dani

    Julia, the definition of being a Christian is believing in Jesus Christ. Upon belief, we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, who is God (as John so wonderfully pointed out). I suppose "technically" you don't *have* to read a Bible…but if God lives in you, and His Word is available to you, I think it's logical to conclude that He will point you to His Word (and help you understand it!). In places and situations where the Bible isn't available, I don't think God is going to hold that against someone. Similarly, if the Bible is available to you and you read it and ignore what you've read, you will be held accountable for the knowledge you had that you didn't let affect your life. I do have references to support what I've said, but I don't want to write an entire blog post on John's blog post :)

    That's what I believe, but I also know that only God sees the thoughts and intents of the heart. I think we'd all be surprised if we could see who really is a Christian and who isn't (meaning I'm sure that there are some people who are Christians that I'd have never thought were, and there are some who aren't Christians that I'd have sworn were).

    Also, as a side-note, "you" is meant to include the general population, not you in particular :)

  • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

    Dani, thanks for replying. But John made one HUGE claim and it is critical to this discussion:

    ‘All you need to be is alive, and you’ve automatically got, right there within you, virtually everything about God that you could possibly need to know.’ The is one mighty big claim and a HUGE critical qualifier to this whole discussion. It implies that one does NOT need to be Christian.

    IOW’s God is Everywhere and thus for EVERYONE.

    That's HUGE.

    IF God is indeed everywhere then god is indeed with non-Christians and has been since the beginning. Which means one does NOT need to be Christian or even know about JC to know God.

    If they do need JC then they really do NOT know God for all they think they know is only shallow surface ripples. I do not think God would only superficially work with billions while favoring a few select chosen for many millennia. It smacks of favoritism which means God is withholding Himself from many and thus is not completely ‘everywhere.’

    Which of course brings us back to the age old debate of: You absolutely must believe in JC to know God. Which also of course means that (We’ll here let go the question of whether, or to what extent, the spirit of God does or doesn’t dwell within the hearts of non-Christians—which is exactly the kind of superfluous question that Christians too often use to distract themselves from settling down and just being with God.) MUST be addressed in this discussion for it can NOT be overlooked.

    Either all you need to know to know God is to be alive thus God is everywhere and thus accessible to EVERYONE without having to subscribe to some sect, deity, godling, ceremony, special handshake or some secret decoder ring is acturate, OR: God is NOT everywhere and being alive is NOT all you need to know God.

    Which is it?

    For if God only completely reveals himself to those who subscribe to one particular line of thinking; believing in the bible and JC, i.e.: CHRISTIANS ONLY; then this discussion is yet another ‘God is Great And We Are Blessed For Only We Have God For We Are Christians And We Must Open The Eyes Of All The Ignorant Non-Christian Masses Out There’ pep-rally.

    In which means of course that this little ignorant non-Christian obviously has nothing of value to offer and will respectfully bow out.

    Peace and Happy New Year Y’all.

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty (Michael)

    If God is really inside me, then I have one question, and one statement:

    Question — Why can't I find compassion for Carrie Prejean?

    Statement — the creator of the universe looooves pizza

    I find that I can get a pretty good sense of people's understanding of the spirit when I hear them pray. If they're praying in a way that sounds like it's being thrown into the oblivion, hoping that the distant God way out there will hear, then I know they're not really feeling God inside them.

    In my church, it seems that the majority of people pray that way. My own prayers probably look, to the observer, much more like an introspective conversation.

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty (Michael)

    p.s. — Merry Christmas, John! Thank you for making mine very special.

  • http://dani-kelley.deviantart.com/ Dani

    Julia, if I hit a nerve, I apologize – I didn't mean to sound accusatory or pep-rallyish in any way. From my study of the Bible, in the day in which we live, to know God we must believe in Jesus Christ. I believe that very strongly – but, in my mind, that doesn't make anything you say, think, or believe valueless if you disagree with me. I'm not one to believe that we can't talk because we believe different things.

    I might be reading into what John said too much (or assuming something he didn't mean), but I assumed he meant that, if you have believed in Jesus Christ and are a Christian (thereby having the Holy Spirit living within you), then there's nothing else you need to do to know more about God since He lives within you. The examples he used were all academic, making me think that he was referring to the persuasion that you must be educated to know God or know more about Him. What I wrote was based on my understanding of what he wrote – but I very well may have misunderstood him, especially since he's going to elaborate more later.

  • http://www.sisterfriends-together.org anita

    John, John, John,

    Here's my "thought and comment" you so graciously invited us to contribute on the Holy Spirit.

    So. There's you. A separate being. There's Cat. A separate being. And there's the relationship that flows between you. A relationship that has taken on a life of it's own yet totally dependent on the interplay, love, and connection between you and Cat. People might make a comment like "your relationship is such a blessing to me," which isn't the same as saying "You and Cat are such a blessing to me" because "the thing" they're commenting on it's you and it's Cat but but the relationship you two share in together. This is more than semantics in my mind.

    I tend to think of the Holy Spirit as a separate entity but one that's birthed out of the union between the Father and the Son, just as eternal and just as holy as the other two members of the Godhead but fully dependent for it's existence in the relationship between Father and Son. This certainly isn't the orthodox view of the Holy Spirit but neither is it a new notion.

    By the way, and totally on the margins of this discussion, I still have memorized from my childhood church camp teaching the 12 names given to the Spirit in Scripture which I now recite to you as quickly as I can type them without use of cheat notes: Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, Comforter, Holy Spirit, Spirit of Promise, Spirit of Truth, Spirit of Grace, Spirit of Life, Spirit of Adoption, Spirit, Spirit of the Lord, and Eternal Spirit. I can also sing allthe lyrics from "I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No" from Oklahoma that I learned in fifth grade but THAT would be entirely off topic.

  • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

    Hiya Dani.

    You didn’t hit a never. I am merely pointing out the big hole in John’s statement: ‘All you need to be is alive, and you’ve automatically got, right there within you, virtually everything about God that you could possibly need to know.’

    Oh sure, we could talk. We can talk about all kinds of things; sports, kids, jobs, news, cooking, TV, etc. Talk about everything under the sun.

    Except God.

    I cannot talk you to about God. Well, more accurately I cannot talk. But you can.

    I mean, think about it:

    We cannot talk about God, cannot share our individual experiences with God for you don’t believe I even know God. How can I, a Non-Christian, speak to you; a Christian, about God? How absurd! It's ridiculous! Non-Christians dont know God for crying out loud. That's whey they are called NON-Christians! Duh! Maybe a better to call them NOT-Christians, dont you think?

    It’s simple: I cannot talk to you about God. We have no common ground to talk about God for your religion claims exclusive and sole rights to that ground, claims exclusive ownership of God.

    And that is the little hitch with John’s statement that I only need anything but to be alive to know God. I need to be alive AND I must ALSO be a bible believer and a JC worshiper. I must first be a CHRISTIAN. Otherwise all I can do is look at God as an outsider.

    Sure, we can talk about God. But the conversation would be very short: “Oh, you’re not a Christian? I’m sorry, I didn’t realize… So. Well, um… well… How about them Broncos…?”

    Any conversation we could have would be rather shallow and superficial, don’t you think? I mean, really, how could there be any real depth when you know I don’t have God in my life? And everyone knows that if you don’t have God in your life then your life is shallow and nearly meaningless, correct?

    The simple fact of the matter is that I am disqualified from speaking about God for I am not a Christian.

    So, in reality John’s statement really isn’t that simple, isn’t accurate for even though I am alive I don’t have God inside me for I am NOT a Christian.

    And that is the problem with the whole ‘We got God and you don’t’ thingy: We have no common ground to share. Other than superficial, shallow, meaningless ground that is. Heck it isnt even ground. More like dust… How did that go again? Kick off the dust of your sandles and move on…?

    When it comes to God, I, as a Non-Christian, have nothing of value to share. How could a non-Christian possibly have anything of worth to share when it comes to knowing the fullness of God, right?

    Now, I could be completely wrong, of course. But, I somehow doubt it. But, we’ll just have to see where John goes next…

    Peace,

    ~juila~

  • http://cadoah.wordpress.com cadoah

    "Not God Lite." :-)