What Do We Expect from The Holy Spirit?

Acts 2:1-4 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

This event must have been impressive, and now two millennia later we look back and say we want some of that too. In fact, some churches make a show of praying for the Holy Spirit to come on them to the extent that they fall over in a faint or babble uncontrollably. Even in Seventh-day Adventist Churches I have seen services where people have been praying repeatedly for the Holy Spirit or Jesus to come and fill everyone’s hearts. And those in charge of the service are unsatisfied until some folk in the congregation come down to the front and shed tears and say how much they want the Holy Spirit to fill their lives.

Without raining too much on their parade – is this what being filled with the Holy Spirit is about? Is it too much to suggest that much of what passes as a “Holy Spirit” experience nowadays is little more than an emotional high.

The real story of Acts is not about the cloven tongues of fire, the rushing wind, the speaking in tongues, but that the disciples were motivated to spread the Gospel. They went on to preach the Good News and even, as we shall see later, perform humble tasks because of being “filled with the Spirit.”

If our vision of the Holy Spirit stops at the physical light and sound show, then we have lost the point of what the Holy Spirit is here for. When you pray for an “in-filling of the Holy Spirit,” are you praying for an emotional roller-coaster ride, or are you committing yourself to some good solid work?

I admit that I am not a highly emotional person. Church services that make a strong play for emotional involvement leave me cold – especially when they occur every week. My preference is for logic and reason, rather than emotional “Jesus talk.”

Having said that though, I recognize others need a spiritual experience which expresses itself in emotion. This post is not about removing emotion from our spiritual lives, but about accepting that the work of the Holy Spirit is much more than just an emotional response.

It is worth noting that when we get to Acts 6, the disciples had a typical “growing church” problem to solve. The Greeks and Hebrews were at odds with one another because apparently, the Greek widows were being treated unfairly. They prayed about it and came up with a plan:

Acts 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

Fixing this problem required a practical approach, appointing people (deacons) responsible for seeing that the widows were treated fairly in the community life of the early church. The work of the Holy Spirit is as much about acting the Gospel behind the scenes as it is about preaching the Good News in the public eye.

If you are praying and waiting for the event known as the “latter rain,” it is worth remembering that the Holy Spirit can use you now in lots of small ways. We do not have to wait for the big event.

Luke 19: 17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

If we are responsive to the Holy Spirit in the little things, who knows where the Holy Spirit will lead us?

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Why the Church Needs Sabbath School

There are many reasons why the church needs Sabbath School. Our foundation as a denomination is an outgrowth of serious Bible study. It led to an appreciation of the Heavenly Sanctuary, an understanding of the still-binding Moral law, including the seventh-day Sabbath. It led to a proper understanding of the state of the dead and an appreciation for the promised immortality. It gave us an understanding of the end times and insight into Christ’s second return. And so much more.

Black man holding Bible in front of church.

Image © Erik Stenbakken from GoodSalt.com

From Bible study, we learned how to live victorious, meaningful lives of service. We learned how a body of believers should function. Compassion, forgiveness, charity –are all brought into clear view through the study of the Bible. And Sabbath School is the mechanism in our church to continue on that path of growth and discovery.

“If Christians would earnestly search the scriptures more hearts would burn with the vivid truths therein revealed. Their hopes would brighten with the precious promises strewn like pearls all along through the sacred writings. In contemplating the history of patriarchs and prophets, the men who loved and feared God and walked with Him, hearts will glow with the spirit that animated these worthies. As the mind dwells on the virtue and piety of holy men of old, the spirit which inspired them will kindle a flame of love and holy fervor in the hearts of those who would be like them in character, and as they gather the golden truth from the word, the heavenly Instructor is close by their side.” Ellen White, WM Herald October 26, 1904

As I travel the US and abroad doing Sabbath School ministry, I sense that the Bible is playing less and less of a role in our churches. For many of our churches, especially in the US, Sabbath School is barely attended. There are various reasons given for this lack of attendance, from “boring” (which it often is), “not relevant” to “stuck in the past.”

I can’t argue that those opinions are not true, because in many churches they are. The greater question is why are our Sabbath Schools in such a condition? Why is the only mechanism in our church designed for group Bible study in such poor and dying shape? I believe it is because we no longer see corporate Bible study as vital to our existence and growth.

The evidence cannot be disputed. For many churches, the Sabbath School period is just something that happens before the real service starts. Our resources are mostly funneled into the 11:00-hour church service. In many of our churches, pastors never attend or promote Sabbath School. Members take this lack of interest from the leaders as evidence that Sabbath School is not important. That should not be.

Corporate Bible study is key to the discipleship process. Growing boys and girls, men and women into the full stature of Christ can only be done by making the Word of God the guide for life. Why would we ignore the mechanism in our church that creates that very atmosphere?

We are always on the lookout for the latest ways to evangelize and grow our congregations. We look for any strategies and techniques other denominations are employing, and we race to adopt them, hoping that we too will grow. We seek to be contemporary and relevant as a church, yet ignore a unique aspect of the Christian faith – the Word of God with which Christ identified Himself.

I believe that Sabbath School, done right, would be the solution to many of the challenges we face as a church. I believe that, done right, it will lead to stronger, more dedicated members. Done right, it would lead to church growth and mission. Done right, it would give us guidance on how to make an impact in our lives, homes, and communities. But it’s the done right part that seems so vexing.

Here’s what I know. Most Sabbath School ministry members receive zero to little training over the course of years. Our teachers and leaders are doing the best they can. Many get little support from their pastors. While the budget for training is nil, often our churches find funds to bring in a guest speaker or singer for the main service. Where is the funding for training our people?

This is not a blanket indictment against our pastors. I have worked with many wonderful, committed pastors who are vitally invested in their church’s Sabbath School ministry. I applaud them and wish that more would adopt their level of commitment to this vital ministry.

We need the leaders of our church, from the General Conference down, to really appreciate this ministry. We need the best minds to invest in reviving this ministry throughout our denomination. We need pastors with an appreciation of the role Sabbath School can play in the discipleship and growth of their congregations.

Beyond pastoral support, we need our conference Sabbath School departments to implement regular, systematic, high-quality training. I have been fortunate to work with many conference leaders who want to do all they can to provide resources to the local churches. What would help would be a concerted effort that is well thought out.

On many occasions, I have been privileged to have a front-row seat to seeing Sabbath School done right. I have experienced the ‘aha’ moments that make learning enjoyable. I have witnessed Bible truths being revealed and new concepts of righteous living being expounded – all through the mechanism of Sabbath School.

I have seen children, youth, and adults engaged in meaningful Bible study discussions through the efforts of dedicated teachers who volunteer their time every week, teaching the ways of God and love of Jesus. But they need help.

Will this be another year where everything but corporate Bible study is tried? Or will this be the year that our churches realize the value of the Bible study foundation we are built on and continue that building process through the mechanism of Sabbath School?

The answer will be shown on what we emphasize. If the goal of the church is just to be good neighbors in our communities, nothing will change. If the goal of the church is to have the highest level of oratorical skills behind our pulpits, or the best music each Sabbath, nothing will change. If our goal is to be a place for fun and good clean diversions from the evils of society, nothing will change.

Our goals must be higher. Numbers are important but not everything. Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

My prayer is that when we look back on 2017, we will have seen a shift in emphasis back towards the Bible. And Sabbath School is the church’s mechanism for that.

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Hugs From Heaven


I love giving and receiving bear hugs at church. Of course I realize not everyone does, so if you’d rather have a hand shake that’s fine, and if you’d rather, a fist pump will do too, especially if you think you have a cold. If you would rather not touch at all, I am happy to just smile and wave at you. With my Christian sisters I accept sideways hugs, so as not to misconstrue the intent of the hug. Of course some of the old-fashioned elderly ladies have no concept of a sideways hug, and just give me a huge bear hug as though I was their son, and so I graciously just grin and “bear” their big bear hugs. I know their motives are pure.

Some people are afraid to hug or touch others, for fear of it being misinterpreted, and that is exactly what Satan wants! Satan knows how important appropriate hugs and touching are to one’s physical and emotional health. In Matthew 8:2-3 Jesus heals a man’s leprosy by saying “I will, be thou clean.” But He touched the man in order to heal his loneliness. Of course we should only touch people who want to be touched, and only the appropriate ways I already described.

Now in Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26 Paul says to greet each other with a “holy” or “sacred kiss,” depending upon the translation you use, but it all translates to a literal kiss. I am not suggesting we give literal kisses today, and would prefer a hug myself, but my point is that the Bible encourages appropriate touching beyond husband and wife. If you are not sure what appropriate touching means in your Christian culture, I strongly recommend, no, demand that you stick with just smiling and waving. Smiles cure loneliness too.

Do you know that the Holy Spirit likes to give big bear hugs too?

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. Luke 15:20 NKJV

This is one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible. The father, who represents our heavenly Father, ran out and fell on his son’s neck. Does that mean he tripped and fell on his neck? No, of course not! It means he gave his son a big bear hug. The phrase, “fell on” is an old English term for “bear hug.”

When Peter was speaking to the Gentiles, and the Holy Spirit “fell upon” them, we can see that as the Holy Spirit giving them a big bear hug!

Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. Acts 10:44 NLT

Again we see the phrase “fell upon” which does not mean tripping and falling, but actually giving a big bear hug! The Holy Spirit loves to give bear hugs! Let that sink in.  When God sends His Spirit, He’s not sending us power to do legalistic works in legalistic self righteousness. No! When God gives us the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit gives us a big bear hug, giving us all of heaven’s love so that our works and righteousness will be filled with God’s love!

I published an article a while back, about how I was praying one night that God would continue supporting my ministry so I could continue sharing His love with others. The following morning I went to my church community center, where an elderly lady from church gave me a big bear hug, and told me that God knew about all my needs and that He would continue supporting my ministry. It was as though she heard my conversation with God the night before. That is when I realized the bear hug she gave me was just as much from God, as the words of hope she shared.

Friend, as important as physical hugs are, you may have had some unfortunate experiences that prohibit you from giving hugs or receiving them. And when I say prohibit, I mean  you may even be legally prohibited because of a mistake you made in the past. God wants to restore and heal you. He wants to forgive and change your life, and if you are never able to physically hug another person on earth, please know the Holy Spirit’s hugs are real. Ask for the Holy Spirit and let God give you a big bear hug!

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The Gift of Tongues in the Bible

I hadn’t been a Bible Worker very long, when I found myself talking to a man who felt he was led by the Spirit because he spoke in tongues. However, it was not the Bible version of speaking in tongues, where “every man heard in his own language.” He was speaking things no one understood. He told me about a Pentecostal prayer meeting he recently attended, where he was “filled with the spirit,” spoke in tongues and ended up at a hotel with a lady he met at the meeting! I assured Him the Holy Spirit would not have led him to do such a thing. He would not listen to me. He was on an emotional high, going strictly by feelings.

This man was not the only one who put emotions and feelings above Scripture. Not long after, I began studying with three members of a 7th-day Pentecostal church in west Texas. They explained the wonderful emotions that overtakes them when speaking in tongues. Interestingly enough, I preached in their church a handful of times, but they never spoke in tongues while I was there. Still, for years, they put their emotions over Scripture, telling me they knew it was real because they felt it. I sure am glad Jesus did not put feelings above the Word of God, after fasting 40 days in the wilderness, when Satan questioned if He was really the Son of God. I am glad I don’t put need to consult my emotions before the Scripture, when John tells me if I confess my sins, God is faithful to forgive me, even though I still feel terrible about what I have done. It took me several years of study and friendship before this trio were convicted and put God’s Word above their feelings and were baptized and joined my local Seventh-day Adventist Church.

What I find ironic, is how many people sincerely believe that a church has to speak in tongues in order to be spirit-filled, while at the same time scoffing at the Seventh-day Adventist Church for claiming to have the Spirit of Prophecy. Fact is, though, that the Spirit of Prophecy is an identifying mark of God’s last day church, and not speaking in tongues.

And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.  Revelation 12:17 NKJV

the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10 NKJV

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 1 Corinthians 14:1 NKJV

God’s church has the Spirit of Prophecy, and the Spirit of prophecy is the gift the Bible tells us to pursue above all others, and not speaking in tongues. Why?


Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. 1 Corinthians 14:22 NKJV

According to Acts 2:6 Biblical speaking in tongues is when people hear the gospel in their own language.

About ten years ago I heard a young lady preaching. She was a student at Southern Adventist university near Chattanooga Tennessee. She spoke of a mother she knew who was at a local park with her 6-year-old English-speaking daughter. The daughter met a little Spanish girl at the swings, and started talking to her about Jesus. The two little girls continued talking, and both of the girls’ mothers were amazed to hear them  speaking to each other, because the English girl only knew English and the Spanish girl only knew Spanish! God created a miracle so the little girl could hear about Jesus in her own language just like on the day of Pentecost. According to 1 Corinthians 14:22 speaking in tongues is for the unbelievers to hear the gospel in their own language. It is not for the believers in church, because they have already heard the gospel. That’s why they are there.

By contrast, prophesying is for those who already believe. This is very important to understand. We are not supposed to use the Spirit of Prophecy to convince unbelievers. The Testimonies for the church are directed to the church, not unbelievers. It was the same in Isaiah’s day.

Tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Isaiah 58:1 NKJV

Isaiah was given the Spirit of Prophecy to show the church its sins, not the world. The world is to be told there is a Savior, and then they can be instructed through the Spirit of Prophecy, not before. What that means to us today is that we need to be telling our neighbors that Jesus loves and died for them, and not that they need to stop eating cheese or drinking with their meals. But I digress…

So Biblical speaking in tongues is when someone hears the gospel in their own language. Speaking in tongues does not need to be used in the church. It needs to be used outside the church to share the gospel with unbelievers in their own language. When unbelievers accept the gospel and become believers, they are welcomed into the church, where the gift of prophecy is shared with them.

To study more in the Bible about speaking in tongues, please click here. 

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Thursday: The Importance of His Divinity

What would be lost if the Holy Spirit were not God? If the Holy Spirit is not fully God, the implications for salvation and worship are serious. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is responsible for regenerating believers. He dwells in them and fills them. He renews our thinking and changes our character. He has the power to resurrect. He makes Christ’s followers as God is: holy.

I am with you always

Image © Review and Herald Goodsalt.com

If the Holy Spirit is not God, how can we be certain that He can do any of these things and do them in such a way that they are acceptable to God?

Read 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Corinthians 13:14; and Matthew 28:18-19. What does the fact that the Holy Spirit is mentioned side by side with God the Father, and Jesus Christ, the Son, in baptism and benedictions tell us about the place of the Holy Spirit in the adoration and worship of God?

The divinity of the Holy Spirit helps us to relate to Him in appropriate ways that acknowledge Him for who He truly is. His divinity is the presupposition for a God-centered spirituality. The New Testament church without hesitation mentions the Holy Spirit side by side with the other two members of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit occupies the same rank and position in the act of baptism as do the Father and the Son. Baptism has a deep spiritual significance and is an ordinance of profound worship. What is true in the act of baptism is equally true of the apostolic benediction. It is an invocation of adoration where the Holy Spirit is praised just as are the Father and the Son. All three persons of the Godhead are mentioned side by side and are equally affirmed.

The Holy Spirit is affirmed as a proper object of worship in the New Testament, not just in baptism and in the apostolic benediction, but also in the constant requirement that we depend on Him for all spiritual good and should obey Him as our divine teacher and sanctifier. Does it matter that the Holy Spirit is God? Yes, very much so. If we know who He truly is, and recognize and acknowledge His deity, we will honor His work and rely on Him for our own personal growth and sanctification.

Think about what it means that the Holy Spirit, God Himself, is working in your life. What great promises are found here for us in knowing that it is God who is working in you to change you into what you can be in Him? Why is this an uplifting and affirming truth?
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HopeSS: The Divinity of the Holy Spirit

You can view an in-depth discussion of “The Divinity of the Holy Spirit” in the Hope Sabbath School class led by Pastor Derek Morris. (Adobe Flash Player version.) A Youtube version of this week’s lesson at Hope Sabbath School is below.

Hope Sabbath School

Hope Sabbath School

You can download the video, the MP3 audio, and the lesson outline from the HopeTV Sabbath School Site. You might also want to bookmark the HopeSS YouTube Channel.
Click Here to Watch.

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Wednesday: Divine Word of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit performs certain works, which the Bible ascribes only to God. He is active in the divine work of the creation, and He is just as active in God’s re-creation of sinners.

Read Titus 3:4-6. How does Paul describe the involvement of the Holy Spirit in the process of re-creation?

Image © Sally Weimer from GoodSalt.com

The Holy Spirit is mentioned side by side with “God our Savior” (Titus 3:4, NASB) in the context of the washing of regeneration (baptism) and our spiritual renewal (Titus 3:5). He is the agent of our new birth. He renews our hearts. He awakens our desire to follow Christ. He is the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2). He is the One who sanctifies sinners and transforms their character. He helps us to be obedient to Jesus Christ, who saved us. Only a divine being is capable of such wonderful things.

Compare Isaiah 6:8-10 with Acts 28:25-27. Whom do the biblical writers attribute the divine speaking to?

There are several biblical passages in which, on the one hand, God is said to be speaking and in which other biblical writers state that the Holy Spirit is said to be speaking. It is the Holy Spirit who supernaturally imparted the Holy Scriptures to us (2 Pet. 1:21), something that elsewhere is described as God’s inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16). Giving the Scriptures is another divine work of the Spirit.

What does Romans 8:11 teach us about the divinity of the Holy Spirit?

The Bible states that the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead and will also raise us. Only God has the power to raise people from the dead. Hence the Holy Spirit is God.

What are changes you can make that would cause you to be more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit? That is, what practices might be keeping you from clearly discerning His leading in your life?
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The Divinity of the Holy Spirit – Teaching Plan
Michael Fracker

Key Thought: Understanding the reality of the Holy Spirit’s Divinity brings a better appreciation of who He is and His desire to change us.

Lesson for January 21, 2017

1. Have a volunteer read Acts 5:1-4.

Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Image © Lars Justinen Goodsalt.com

a. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
b. How does this Scripture help us understand that the Holy Spirit is God and a personal being?
c. Personal Application : How does this story help us in being careful about how we justify our actions? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : One of your relatives states: “They volunteered to give money to the church. They gave some to the church, but not all of it. Were they killed for lying, for greed, for not giving all they had? How about church members who give money, but not a faithful tithe and offerings? Or are they supposed to give everything they have? Are they under condemnation as well?” How would you respond to your relatives?

2. Have a volunteer read I Corinthians 3:16,17; 6:19,20.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
b. What are some mental, physical, and spiritual ways we can glorify God in our bodies?
c. Personal Application : Are there any habits or challenges you have that may not be treating your body as God’s holy temple? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : One of your friends states, “There are a lot of health nuts in the world. Some are in the church; many are not. Are these church members actually glorifying God by bringing a holier and healthier than thou attitude toward others? Are those outside the church who are health conscious led by the Spirit, or are they just athletically minded?” How would you respond to your friend?

3. Have a volunteer read Titus 3:4-6.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. What role does the Holy Spirit play in the regeneration or rebirth process?
c. Personal Application: How can one tell if they have received the Holy Spirit in their lives? Is it manifested in any way, or could it be? And how would that be manifested? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : One of your neighbors states, “What does it mean to be renewed by the Holy Spirit? Is it a feeling you get that makes you feel right with God? Is it a renewed mind that gives you the assurance of peace with God? Is it in a renewed life and focus in life that changes a person’s outlook and attitudes?” How would you respond to your neighbor?

4. Have a volunteer read Matthew 28:18,19.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. Why would Jesus ask the disciples to baptize in the name of the Trinity if there was no Trinity? Why would Satan have the false trinity of the beast, dragon, and false prophet if there wasn’t a true Trinity?
c. Personal Application : When you think of the Holy Spirit, what thoughts come to mind?? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).

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3. The Divinity of the Holy Spirit – Discussion Starters
Joyce Griffith

  1. The Holy Spirit is God. Is that a subtle reality? Not all Bible-believing Christians accept the divinity of the Holy Spirit with equal ease. What about you? Do you believe that the Holy Spirit is divine? Do you see the Holy Spirit as a member of the godhead on an equal standing with God the Father and Jesus the Son? Why is the concept of the Holy Spirit so hard for some of us Christians to grasp?
  2. The Holy Spirit and God. “Lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God.” How does the tragic story of Annanias and Saphira link the Holy Spirit to God? Hint: In what way does Peter’s questioning of Annanias about his lying indicate that he has sinned against God? What was the punishment meted on this couple for their sin? Will God punish all of His people by death if they are less than honest in their dealings with Him and His church? How can the Holy Spirit help us prevent such a dramatic and tragic twist of rebellion in our Christian life?
  3. The Holy Spirit’s Divine Attributes. What does Paul say is the only means through which God makes His wisdom known to us? What makes the Holy Spirit so qualified to understand God’s inner thoughts? What beloved story of the Bible is known as a “miracle of the first magnitude”? How did the Holy Spirit contribute to the spiritual lives of Paul? According to this week’s lesson, what is the most amazing work of the Holy Spirit?
  4. Interchangeable References. How can the use of parallel structure of various statements about the working of God among His people point to the presence of the Holy Spirit? For example, the Lord said to Moses, “The Spirit of Israel said…to me.” (2 Samuel 23:2) and in the next verse, “The God of Israel said…to me.” Who, then, was the speaker? Another example is found in 1 Corinthians 2:11 where Paul writes about the Holy Spirit distributing spiritual gifts to believers and a few verses later (28), he assures us that God gives us spiritual gifts.
  5. Divine Work of the Holy Spirit. Can we gain insight into spiritual development that is dramatically assisted by the Holy Spirit? How? Try to explain the new birth without the Holy Spirit’s involvement. Can it be done? Why not? How can we help believers who are troubled by different verbal structures in writing or speaking describe the steps of conversion and other miraculous events in the Christian life?
  6. The Importance of His Divinity. Once we have declared the Holy Spirit to be God, how should we determine to relate to Him? Is it always appropriate to pray directly to the Holy Spirit? How can our weekly and daily worship be magnified by our being aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our meditation and life. What is the best thing about having God in our hearts through the Holy Spirit?
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Tuesday: Biblical Hints

There are various references to the Holy Spirit in the Bible that are interchangeable with references to God.

Read Isaiah 63:10-14 and compare it with Numbers 14:11 and Deuteronomy 32:12. To whom was the writer referring in these passages, and what does this tell us about the divinity of the Holy Spirit?

Compassionate consoling

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

In Isaiah 63:10, the people rebelled and grieved the Holy Spirit. However, the parallel account, as found in Numbers 14:11, states, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘How long will this people spurn me?’ ” (NASB). And in Deuteronomy 32:12, we are told “The LORD alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with him” (NASB). Obviously the biblical writers saw God and the Holy Spirit on par with each other.

In 2 Samuel 23:2, we read that “the Spirit of the LORD spoke by me” (NASB) whereas in the parallel statement in verse 3, it says: “The God of Israel said . . . to me” (NASB). Again, the conclusion from this biblical parallel is that the Holy Spirit is considered to be equal to God.

Compare 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 with 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and compare 1 Corinthians 12:11 with 1 Corinthians 12:28. How are the references to the Holy Spirit and to God used interchangeably in these passages? What is attributed to God and to the Holy Spirit alike?

In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Paul uses similar language as in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. For the apostle Paul, to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit is to be inhabited by God. By equating the expression “God’s temple” (NIV) with a temple “of the Holy Spirit” (NIV), Paul points out that the Holy Spirit is God.

In 1 Corinthians 12:11, Paul writes that it is the Holy Spirit who distributes the spiritual gifts to each believer. A few verses later in 1 Corinthians 12:28, we are told that it is God who is doing it. The basic message is clear: the Holy Spirit does the same action as God is doing, powerful evidence that the Holy Spirit is equal to God.

Read again Numbers 14:11. In what ways might this be applied to us today? Think about the miraculous ways God has worked in our church. Think about all the reasons He has given us to believe. How can we make sure we aren’t doing today what God’s people did thousands of years ago?
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Monday: The Holy Spirit’s Divine Attributes

In several biblical passages the Holy Spirit is described as having divine attributes.

What attributes and activities of the Holy Spirit are listed in the following Bible passages that, otherwise, can be attributed only to God?

Jesus consoles young man

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1 Cor. 2:10-11; compare with Ps. 139:7

Heb. 9:14; compare with 1 Tim. 6:16

Luke 1:35; Rom. 15:19; compare with Ps. 104:30

In his examination of the wisdom of God, Paul argues that it is the Holy Spirit who makes this wisdom known to us. “Like knows like” is the reasoning Paul employs here in his argument. Only one who is equal to God can know the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:10-11). There is no knowing God as does the Spirit, for He knows God from the inside. He knows in a way that an outsider does not. The Holy Spirit is indeed omniscient.

The presence of the Spirit is the presence of God. If I cannot flee to a place where the Spirit of God is not, He is omnipresent (compare with x).

The Holy Spirit is said to be eternal (Heb. 9:14). According to the Bible, how many eternal beings are there? Only God is eternal (1 Tim. 6:16). If the Spirit is called eternal, then He must be God.

The Holy Spirit also is all-powerful or almighty. In Luke 1:35 the phrases “the Holy Spirit” and “the power of the most High” (NASB) are synonymous constructions. Here they refer to a miracle of the first magnitude, the virgin conception. In Romans 15:19, the apostle Paul acknowledges that his ministry was achieved by “mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God” (NKJV). Indeed, the Holy Spirit can do divine miracles.

Jesus also says that blasphemy against the Spirit is unforgivable (Matt. 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-29). This is incomprehensible unless the Spirit is divine.

But perhaps the most amazing work of the Holy Spirit is His ability to change human hearts and minds. It is the Holy Spirit who accomplishes a new spiritual birth (John 3:5-8). He has the power to accomplish something that only God can do.

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Sunday: The Holy Spirit and God

The Bible does not present a systematic description of the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Instead we find interesting traces that indicate that the biblical writers considered the Holy Spirit to be equal with God. There are several biblical passages where the same activity is attributed to God and then also to the Holy Spirit.

Read Acts 5:1-4. What can we conclude about God and the Holy Spirit from Peter’s words to Ananias?

Comforted by Scripture

Image © Kevin Carden Goodsalt.com

If the Holy Spirit were not God, then Peter would have been speaking here in a very careless and fatally misleading manner. The interesting aspect about the nature of the Holy Spirit, however, is the fact that the apostle Peter puts God and the Holy Spirit on the same level. In verse 3, he asks Ananias why he has lied to the Holy Spirit, and he continues at the end of verse 4: “You have not lied to men but to God” (NASB). Peter clearly equates the Holy Spirit with God. His point is that Ananias was not just lying to the apostles, but to God Himself. Lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God. The Holy Spirit is God. The point is made here very clearly.

Why such a harsh punishment for what these two people did?

We must remember that the believers of the early church in Acts were “one in heart and mind” (Acts 4:32, NIV). This unity was a product of the Holy Spirit, and this is the reason they voluntarily and freely shared what they possessed. To lie with regard to the sharing was to deny the unity of the community and to belie the Spirit that undergirded that unity and made it possible.

This is why the lie of Ananias and his wife falsified the divine work and presence of the Holy Spirit in the early church community. Such dishonesty toward God is destructive and hinders the Spirit of God from working effectively in the lives of the believers. God wants us to serve Him undividedly. Because the new faith community was at a crucial juncture, God used drastic consequences to make sure that the new church would work in unison and truthfulness with one another and be willing to be led by His Spirit.

Think how easily Ananias and Sapphira may have justified their sin. After all, haven’t we sold our own property and given some of it to the church? What’s the big deal if we keep a little? What should this story tell us about how careful we need to be regarding how we justify our actions?
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Sabbath: The Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Read for This Week’s Study: Acts 5:1-4; 1 Cor. 2:10-11; Isa. 63:10-14; Titus 3:4-6; Rom. 8:11; 1 Pet. 1:2.

Memory Text: “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, NASB).

Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Image © Lars Justinen Goodsalt.com

All through the Bible, the deity of God the Father is simply assumed. We find this truth expressed both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. It is one of the most crucial and foundational of the many revealed truths in the Word of God.

The deity of Jesus also is affirmed in many places in Scripture, especially of course in the New Testament, both in the Gospels and the Epistles.

However, the deity of the Holy Spirit is taught in more subtle terms. It can be inferred from various indirect biblical statements. Here we need to compare scripture with scripture in order to study carefully what God has revealed in His Word about the Holy Spirit. In doing so, we should not affirm less than what Scripture states, and we also should not “exceed what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6, NASB). This topic demands a teachable attitude of humility; we should not make our human reasoning about God the standard of how the Holy Spirit should be understood. Instead we should accept and testify to what Scripture affirms, no matter how hard some of the concepts might be for us to grasp fully.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, January 21.
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Friday: Further Thought – The Holy Spirit Working Behind the Scenes

No question, the work of the Holy Spirit is crucial to our walk with the Lord. Again, we might not be able to see Him work, but we can see the effect of His work in our lives and in the lives of others. If your life has been changed through faith in Jesus, it has been changed only through the work of the Holy Spirit in it. “While the wind is itself invisible, it produces effects that are seen and felt.

Image © Stan Myers from GoodSalt.com

So the work of the Spirit upon the soul will reveal itself in every act of him who has felt its saving power. When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven.” – Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 173. These are wonderful promises, and an untold number of lives have shown just how real they are. But the work of the Holy Spirit is not instantaneous. We don’t automatically become the kind of people we ought to be. A life of faith and submission to the Lord is a life of struggle, of surrender, and of repentance when we fail. The Holy Spirit is the Divine Agent that works in our lives to make us new creatures in Christ. This is, though, the work of a lifetime. Though our faults and weaknesses should spur us onto a greater surrender to our Lord, we must not let the devil use them to discourage us in our Christian life, which he is always eager to do. When taunted by our sins, we must always remember the death of Jesus on behalf of sinners. It’s precisely because we are what we are, sinners in need of grace, that Jesus died for us and gives us that grace.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What can the Holy Spirit’s example teach you about ministering from behind the scenes? That is, doing the work of the Lord in a manner that many people don’t know about, see, or even appreciate?
  2. How does the Holy Spirit elevate Jesus and put Him into focus? How can you elevate Jesus without putting yourself at the center of the attention? Why is that sometimes so hard to do? How can we fight the natural inclination to self-promotion?
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The Holy Spirit Behind the Scenes – Teaching Plan
Michael Fracker

Key Thought: When we respond to the Holy Spirit and allow Him full control of our lives, we will reveal the fruit in our interactions with others..

Lesson 2, January 14, 2017

1. Have a volunteer read John 3:5-8.

Holy Spirit Behind the Scene

Image © Lars Justinen Goodsalt.com

a. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
b. Why is the Holy Spirit likened to the wind a good comparison?
c. Personal Application : What are some unforeseen forces in nature that can affect our lives? What does this tell us about the reality of powerful unseen Spiritual influences in our lives? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : One of your relatives states: “Most people I know that do good things for others usually want everyone to know about it. Why is it hard to promote Christ without putting yourself at the center of attention?” How would you respond to your relatives?

2. Have a volunteer read Ephesians 4:23,24.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
b. How does the Holy Spirit glorify Jesus?
c. Personal Application : How does the Holy Spirit reproducing the character of Christ in our lives bring glory to God? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : One of your friends states, “In my church we ask for and praise the Holy Spirit because we need to recognize more the work of the Spirit in our lives. We focus more on the Holy Spirit than on Jesus.” How would you respond to your friend?

3. Have a volunteer read John 16:13,14.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. In what way does the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth?
c. Personal Application: Do you think there are things the Spirit wants to do in your life that you don’t recognize yet? Are there other things that other people see about us that we don’t see? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : One of your neighbors states, “How does the Holy Spirit tell us of things to come? By dreams and visions, a still small voice, through prophecy, by helping us understand Biblical prophets?” How would you respond to your neighbor?

4. Have a volunteer read Luke 24:46-49.

a. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
b. For what purpose does the Holy Spirit come to us?
c. Personal Application : How has the Holy Spirit helped you to witness for Christ? Share your thoughts.
d. Case Study : Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).

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Thursday: The Holy Spirit and Christ

The Holy Spirit effected the incarnation of Jesus (Luke 1:34-35). He anointed Jesus for His mission (Luke 3:21-22). The anointing of Jesus endued Him with power to fulfill His Messianic mission and qualified Him to bestow the Holy Spirit on His disciples. The Holy Spirit guided and sustained Jesus in His temptations (Mark 1:12; Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:1-2, Luke 4:14) so that Jesus “is able to aid those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:18, NKJV; compare with Heb. 4:15-16).

Holy Spirit

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

The Holy Spirit empowered Jesus for this redemptive work (Heb. 9:14) and made Jesus’ resurrection possible (1 Pet. 3:18). In all this the Holy Spirit remained in the background and helped to bring Jesus Christ to prominence.

Read Luke 24:44-49; Galatians 5:16-23; and Ephesians 4:23-24. What do we learn about the work of the Holy Spirit in these passages? How does the Holy Spirit glorify Jesus?

The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus in at least the following ways:

  1. By teaching about Him in the Holy Scriptures in a trustworthy and reliable manner. Nothing that is necessary for us to know about Christ and His salvation is missing or misleading. It’s all there in the Word of God, if we would but read it in faith and submission.
  2. By drawing men and women into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit gently works on people’s hearts and minds. He gives them understanding so that they understand spiritual things and so that they will be willing to place their trust in Jesus Christ and accept Him as their Leader and Redeemer.
  3. By reproducing Christ’s character in us. He thus brings to life Christlike virtues in our lives (Gal. 5:22-23). Through the blood of Jesus we are given victory over sin (compare Rev. 12:11) and the Holy Spirit enables us to walk in faithfulness to God’s commandments.
  4. By enabling us to live a Christlike, selfless, and loving life of service to others. He calls men and women into specific lines of work for God and enables us to reach out to others in the attractive Spirit of Christ.
How does the work of reproducing the character of Christ in our lives bring glory to the Father?
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