Sabbath School Lesson for January 14-20, 2017
The importance of the Holy Spirit rises dramatically when we affirm Him as being equal with God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son. When we see Him only as a vague influence or some kind of mystical force, we cannot be used by God as we should.
We must know how to relate properly to the Holy Spirit, if we are to see the full potential of sanctifying power that He brings to our lives. To know how to relate to Him, we must know who He is.
This week we will be shown ample proof that…
- the Holy Spirit is indeed part of a triune God
- the same attributes of the Father belong to the Holy Spirit
- His work is mentioned interchangeably with God’s over and over in Scripture
- their names are linked together for a reason
Memory Verse: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship [communion] of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14 NASB
This apostolic benediction from Paul is not the only time the three members of the godhead are mentioned. When names are mentioned side by side like this in Scripture, we generally find they represent equal entities. We find this again, of course, in what’s been called Christ’s gospel commission, Matthew 28:18, 19…
” ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,’ “ NKJV
Peter likewise greets the churches with this message…
“To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:” 1 Peter 1:1, 2 NKJV
- We have seen the Holy Spirit’s influence in producing the Holy Bible, God’s Word, and the truth this holy literature teaches us about salvation. (Lesson 1)
- We then were convinced that the Holy Spirit’s work is often behind-the-scenes and meant to glorify God the Father and Son. (Lesson 2)
- But this week we will explore just who the Holy Spirit is, in relation to the one and only true God we have been told to worship. (Lesson 3)
Sunday: The Holy Spirit and God
We might be left in confusion about several passages in the Bible when an activity seems to belong to God, but also to the Spirit. One passage where this is prominently noticed is the story in Acts about Ananias and Sapphira. Peter clearly equates God and the Spirit as one when he says in Acts 5:3 that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit, and then in verse 4 says that he lied to God.
Our finite minds can barely grasp the concept of one God being made of three Persons, but how else can these verses be taken? Perhaps considering a family, being united as one, but actually consisting of more than one person. Or a sports team, working together to win a game.
These simple, human illustrations are certainly not flawless, but they might help us understand a little more what the trinity doctrine is trying to say here. The Holy Spirit and God the Father and God the Son can all be the same God, and yet be distinct and different from one another.
Discussion Questions: Read Acts 4:32, Acts 5:1-4, and Deuteronomy 23:21. Discuss the particular times and culture when this story took place.
Read Acts 5:5-10. Why were Ananias and Sapphira punished so quickly and with death? Was it more than just breaking a promise? In what ways were hypocrisy, deceit, and covetousness a part of their offense? Why was it necessary for God to cause their death? Can you see God’s mercy anywhere in what happened?
Read Acts 5:11. What kind of fear do you think resulted from hearing this story at that time? Why was the Holy Spirit’s work in jeopardy when people disregarded the Spirit’s power during these crucial years of building God’s church? Would this account for the immediate death penalties for breaking the Ten Commandments that were pronounced by God during Moses’ time?
Monday: The Holy Spirit’s Divine Attributes
Looking at the Holy Spirit’s characteristics and comparing them with the divine attributes of God the Father will help us recognize who the Holy Spirit really is.
We know that God is:
- omniscient–all-knowing (1 Corinthians 2:10, 11 and Isaiah 40:13, 14 The Spirit knows the things of God, like God Himself.)
- omnipresent–is everywhere (Psalm 139:7 We can’t flee from the Spirit’s presence, neither can we flee from God.)
- omnipotent–all-powerful (Luke 1:35, Romans 15:19, Psalm 104:30 The Spirit caused Mary’s conception, signs and wonders for the early church apostles, and gave life to all creation.)
- eternal–from everlasting to everlasting (Hebrews 9:14 The Spirit is called eternal, having no beginning or end.)
There’s one other trait of the Spirit that we can all see with our own eyes and know that it is God at work. It is the power to cause spiritual birth in individuals who surrender their wills to God. Only God can cause the transformation necessary to make us sanctified and renewed inside and out.
Discussion Questions: Read Psalm 139:7 and Jeremiah 23:24. Why is God’s omnipresence important, especially to our earth?
Read Hebrews 9:14 and Deuteronomy 33:27. How does the verse in Hebrews, which once again mentions all three members of the godhead, show how closely their work is connected? What does it mean to you that God and the Holy Spirit are both called eternal? What’s the difference in having eternal or everlasting life and being eternal?
Read John 3:5-8. What makes this attribute of the Holy Spirit so believable to the average believer?
Tuesday: Biblical Hints
Without coming right out and saying that all the members of the godhead are equal, there are many hints of this concept in the Bible. Often their activities are mentioned interchangeably. This would be confusing to say the least, unless one is talking about the same God.
Briefly, here are some examples. Both…
- are credited with leading the children of Israel out of Egypt
- are said to be grieved, or spurned, by the Israelites
- spoke the same messages to Samuel the prophet
- are said to be the owner of the temple of God
- are responsible for distributing spiritual gifts to the church
We have been told to worship only one God. How can we do that without accepting that these three entities are indeed all the same God when they are so often credited for doing the same thing?
Discussion Questions: Read Isaiah 63:10-14, Numbers 14:11, and Deuteronomy 32:12. Who led the Hebrews in the wilderness? Why is it important to know the identity of a leader?
Read 2 Samuel 23:2, 3. Who spoke to Samuel? Why is it important to know the identity of a speaker?
Read 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17, 6:19, 20 and 1 Corinthians 12:11, 28. Is our body the temple of God, or the temple of the Holy Spirit? Does God or the Holy Spirit distribute spiritual gifts to appointed people in the church? Does it sound like Paul believed that the Holy Spirit and God were equal?
Wednesday: Divine Work of the Holy Spirit
We must examine the activities of the Holy Spirit that are most linked with those that we naturally associate with God. These would include powers to create and redeem us from sin.
Most Christians agree that God is the agent in creating life and in re-creating it through the new birth experience Jesus spoke about to Nicodemus. Can anyone but God have the power to accomplish these marvelous feats? Certainly not. So how does the Holy Spirit fit in?
We have been shown that the Holy Spirit was featured prominently during Creation week. He is mentioned “hovering over the face of the waters”. He also shows Himself helpful in our re-creation. Several verses indicate that He…
- awakens our desire to follow Christ
- renews our hearts
- sanctifies us from sin
- transforms our characters
- helps us be obedient
Another aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work involves the creation of the Bible, God’s Word, which reveals God’s will to us. At times the Lord God is mentioned as speaking to the prophets, and at other times the Holy Spirit is the one speaking.
Certainly the Bible has come to us by supernatural means, through the loving God we worship. This must include the Holy Spirit for His obvious contribution in bringing the Holy Scriptures to us in such a prominent way.
Discussion Questions: Read Isaiah 6:8-10 and Acts 28:25-27. Read also 2 Peter 1:21 and 2 Timothy 3:16. Is God merely speaking through the Holy Spirit, or is God and the Spirit actually the same? Some would say that God speaks through us as well, but that doesn’t make us God. How would you reply to that statement?
Read Romans 8:11, Acts 2:23, 24, and John 10:18. Who resurrected Jesus Christ? How can they all have this power and be credited with the resurrection and not all be the same God?
Read Titus 3:4-6. What is the Holy Spirit’s involvement in our salvation?
Thursday: The Importance of the Divinity
Identifying the Holy Spirit remains extremely important. We must know who we worship and obey.
We’ve been told that it’s possible to sin against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31, 32). So, obviously He deserves our obedience, as does God the Father, and Jesus Christ, His Son.
But does He deserve our worship as well? If the Holy Spirit is indeed the same as our Creator God, then He deserves the same respect and worship as the other members of the godhead. This does not mean that we hold Him any higher than the Father or the Son, but He certainly should not be overlooked in our worship time.
His presence should be invited both in our meetings with each other, and in our individual lives. After all, we depend on Him for all our spiritual blessings. And He stands ready to deliver.
Discussion Questions: Read Exodus 20:3, 4, Deuteronomy 17:3 and 4:19. If God’s people are not to worship or serve (obey) other gods, including those in the heavenly hosts, that are in heaven above, then why is it important that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are identified as God in the fullest sense, and not created beings, albeit heavenly ones, themselves?
Read Matthew 12:31, 32, Mark 3:28-30, and 1 Timothy 1:13. Why is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost different than other sins? Describe how this unpardonable sin might be committed. Does this pronouncement tell us something about the importance of the Holy Spirit’s work in our salvation that we must not take for granted?
Read 1 Peter 1:2, 3, 2 Corinthians 13:14, and Matthew 28:18, 19. What are Peter, Paul, and Jesus telling us about the place of the Holy Spirit in our worship and adoration?
We can call the Holy Spirit divine with assurance, knowing that He is equal with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. There are several reasons why this doctrine of the trinity has become accepted in most Christian circles:
- their names are used interchangeably (Sunday–story of Ananias and Sapphira)
- they have the same attributes (Monday–omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and eternal)
- activities are mentioned as belonging to more than one member of the godhead (Tuesday–God, meaning all three members, guided Israel in the Old Testament and the early church in the New)
- His work of creation and redemption identify Him as God (Wednesday–only God can create us from nothing and redeem us from sin)
- our obedience and worship can only be given to the Holy Spirit, as we’ve been commanded, if He is fully our God (Thursday–otherwise, we would be breaking the Ten Commandments about having other gods)
LeRoy Edwin Froom said in The Coming of the Comforter, p. 159, “The Holy Spirit, who is to fill us, is not some vague influence or mystic force. He is a divine Person, to be received with deep humility, veneration, and obedience. Therefore it is not a question of our having more of Him, but of His having more of us–yes, all there is of us.”
Oh, the bitter pain and sorrow
That a time could ever be,
When I proudly said to Jesus,
“All of self and none of thee.”
Yet He found me: I beheld Him
Bleeding on the accursed tree;
And my wistful heart said faintly,
“Some of self and some of thee.”
Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free
Brought me lower, while I whispered,
“Less of self and more of thee.”
Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
“Lord, thy love at last has conquered;
None of self and all of thee.”
Which of these verses best describes your walk with God?
Next Week: The Personality of the Holy Spirit
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
All Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/