This is a different kind of message. It’s more a set of mini-messages and biblical background to help us stay earthed in our discussions of the spirit.
Biblical Pictures of the SpiritDove – (Matt 3:16) – Noahs Ark – (Peace)
Fire – (Isaiah 4:4) – Judgement and cleansing (Repentance)
Wind – (John 3:8) – air in movement, breath, a certain ‘hard to contain-ness’, more felt than seen.
Oil – (Luke 4:18-19, Acts 10:39) Linked to anointing, to smell, to holiness.
Water- (Isaiah 44:3) Linked to life and renewal. We can’t live without it.
Questions for Discussion : What picture stands out to you and why ? Are there other links you can see ?
Thumbnail sketches of the Spirit in the Bible
Spirit in the Old testament
Genesis 1:2 has the Spirit hovering over the waters, present in creation at the start. There is no place that God’s spirit isn’t. God’s spirit seems to fall on individuals at certain times (Saul, Gideon) but doesn’t seem to stay on them. God’s spirit seems to do different things in different settings (Hard to figure out a clear formula)
Spirit and Jesus
Jesus is conceived by the spirit, the spirit descends on him in baptism (and stays – just as John the Baptist had promised). He performs wonders by the spirit (Matt 12:28) and promises the same spirit to us (Luke 24:49). In a move startling like a Maori hongi he breaths on the disciples and gives them the spirit (John 20:22)
Spirit and Acts
In Acts the followers of Jesus become the body of Jesus and the same spirit moves through them (Acts 2:38). There is a connection between baptism, repentance, belief and prayer, but not a straightforward formula. The community starts to make group decisions on the basis of it seemed “good to the Holy Spirit and to us”. In Acts the Spirit seems to be the starter of Mission and the empowerer of Mission
Questions : How much of this is true today ? What might it look like ? have you had experiences of the Spirit pushing you into Mission ? Share them ?
Paul writes about spiritual gifts as if they vary from believer to believer(We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us(Rom 12:6). He lists them in 4 different places and the lists are different each time (Rom 12:6-8, 1 Cor 12:8-10, 12:18,12:29-30). I suspect this means the lists are not definitive.
Some gifts appear to be dramatic and ‘super spiritual’ (healing, prophesy…) and others seem more practical and down to earth (encouragement, hospitality, giving, administration)
Note : If you work making things, you might want to read about Bezelal in Exodus 31:2.
Paul seems to have 4 Guidelines.
1- Love first (1 Cor 13)
2- Gifts are to build up the church (1 Cor 14:26)
3 – Everyone has to ‘discern’ – i.e. we can get things wrong
4 – Paul seems to be concerned that what we do does not look ‘crazy’ to outsiders and newcomers.
So what do you think ? Share some experiences of God at work (or feeling the absence of that ) together. What can you learn. Is there anything that clashes with your understanding of the Spirit ?
Final thought. What does it tell you that Paul talks of the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit ?”
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV)