by Jerry A. Stevens
Editor/Director, Reading Services
Christian Record Services, Inc.
Have you ever wondered what role (if any) the Holy Spirit might have after the close of human probation? Once His mission to act as Christ’s personal representative, or vicar, on Earth comes to an end, will the Spirit any longer have a distinctive role, and if not, what is to become of this Third Person of the Godhead? Then again, have you at times tried to imagine how we will ever be able to see this presently invisible One or to touch Him, once we ourselves have been given the gift of immortality?
Well, don’t worry—we shall not here endeavor to attempt to explain, in the present issue featuring the Holy Spirit, that which has not been revealed to men! Wisely, the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary offers the following counsel: "There has been much speculation regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit, but revelation has been largely silent on this subject. His personality is implied, for He is presented as performing the acts of a person. He searches, knows, intercedes, helps, guides, convicts. He can be grieved, lied to, resisted. He is listed with other Persons—God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son—in such a way as to imply that He, too, is a Person. But regarding His essential nature, silence is golden" (p. 505).
Herself under Heaven’s inspiration, Ellen White stated that "after the close of the canon of the Scripture, the Holy Spirit was still to continue [His] work, to enlighten, warn, and comfort the children of God" (The Great Controversy, p. viii). She also commented on the fact that Joel’s prophecy of the outpouring of the Spirit "will reach its full accomplishment in the manifestation of divine grace which will attend the closing work of the Gospel" (ibid., p. ix).The profound mysteriousness surrounding the Holy Spirit is nothing new. Acts 19 recounts an incident during Paul’s Third Missionary Journey when he arrives in Ephesus, capital of the Roman province called Asia (in the western portion of Asia Minor). Upon "finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost" (vv. 1, 2).
Imagine that! Twelve Christian disciples that don’t even know Who the Holy Spirit is! But wait a minute before coming down too hard on these Ephesian brethren. Is it possible that even among Christians in our own day there are some, truly, who really know nothing of the Holy Spirit’s peculiar roles and functions? The Spirit is so often talked about, His operations even shamefully distorted, and yet so little experienced personally. Given the great light God has been pleased to shed on the generation of these last days, willful ignorance on this subject is profoundly to be regretted. In an earlier age "God winked at the times of this ignorance" (Acts 17:30); in our generation it cannot longer be so.
But despair not, friends. Though all too often much of what we know has been sadly neglected or left entirely unimproved, there is much that we do know of the workings of the Spirit of Jesus. This issue of Adventists Affirm offers some fresh perspectives that will greatly repay the time you take to meditate on them. As you do so, you will be assimilating quite a variety of thoughtful and provocative insights into our need of Him in our lives. In previous issues we have already dealt with such counterfeit forms of the Spirit as are often manifested in charismatics and tongues-speaking. You may wish to consult the list of previous issues in the back of the current one.
To get you started just now, consider this quote from Doug Batchelor’s sermon: "Do you want to be filled with the Spirit? Are you aware of what you are praying for? If you pray for the rain, you may get caught out in the storm." There is significant difference between the talk and the walk, isn’t there?
Ron Clouzet approaches the same topic of our great need of the indwelling Spirit from a somewhat different angle. He says, "Without the Breath of God, we are mere frozen children of circumstance." Keep reading to find out exactly what he means by that. Elder Clouzet writes from Southern Adventist University in Tennessee.
Next, new contributor Helene Thomas documents her own personal struggle to yield completely to the Spirit’s control. "Every time we are tempted to ignore the voice of the Spirit in some ‘small’ thing," she says, "we should beware of the ripples we cannot see." Surely all of us experience the tension of opposing forces in our lives. The Christian life is, indeed, a battle and a march. Helene writes from her home in Georgia.
Dr. Koranteng-Pipim always seems to bring entirely fresh insights to the understanding of God’s Word. This time, in his coverage of Acts 2, he discloses something that took place far away from old Jerusalem—an "unknown truth regarding what actually took place on the Day of Pentecost." "On that day, in the courts of Heaven above,…" well, I don’t want to give away the wonderful surprise! You’ll have to read it for yourself.
Author Richard O’Ffill, as have authors Batchelor and Clouzet, contributes another facet to the gemstone called the infilling of the Holy Spirit. In one place he says that "the fruit of the Spirit is not Heaven’s wish list for the believer." Something else is to be "the deciding factor for those who will finally be saved." It would seem more than prudent to learn what that something is. See if you can discern it for yourself as you read through the article.
As a former Muslim, Shakeela Bennett brings to her essay a perspective not to be gainsaid. Perhaps it will shock some out of their complacency to learn that "as individuals and corporately, God’s people must be so convicted of the absence of His Holy Spirit among us, that we prostrate ourselves and offer up fervent prayers for His latter rain to fall upon us. We will then be reminded that we are God’s remnant church and that we have been given a great responsibility to sow the seeds of truth, together with faith in that truth." Catch the larger context by reading carefully her entire article.
Professor Emerita Beatrice Neall (Union College) served for many years with her pastor-husband Ralph in the missionary work in Cambodia. Bea contributes a piece that reads like the most exciting fiction. But there is much more that riveted my attention until the very end of this account. Find out what happens when true revival breaks out. Pray that it will happen again and again!
Are you concerned that the campuses of certain Seventh-day Adventist institutions are too lenient and that parents aren’t getting a return on their sacrificial (in many cases) investments in their children’s Christian education? Would you believe that such a condition of things presents no barrier to genuine revival? Please read Laurel Damsteegt’s "sequel" to Dr. Neall’s previous article. It thrills us to the depths of our souls when the Laurels we have invested in can say many years afterward: "I will forever know the infectiousness of a Spirit-filled meeting; soulful prayers; simple but prayerful songs sung to God."
Speaking of thrills, "Near the close of Earth’s harvest, a special bestowal of spiritual grace is promised to prepare the church for the coming of the Son of Man." These are a few of the consoling words from the pen of God’s messenger for our times. This issue appropriately concludes with Ellen White’s inspired insight into the ministry of the Holy Spirit for just such a time as this. May our gracious, merciful Lord bless you, dear readers, with the unction of His Holy Spirit as you read, ponder, and absorb the precious material in your hands. Our prayer is that your faith be AFFIRMed in the process.