Sabbath School Lesson for January 21-27, 2017
We recognize the Holy Spirit’s influence in providing us with the written Word, in the form of our Bibles, and that His work is mostly behind-the-scenes. But many people don’t think of this member of the godhead in terms of a Person.
His invisibility, for many people, has relegated Him to the category of a mystical force of good in the universe, not as a Being with feelings and thoughts identical with God’s, and similar to ours, since we are made in God’s image.
This week we rethink our views of who the Holy Spirit is and how we are to relate to Him. Unless we see Him in the full light of His personality, what makes Him a person, we will not be inclined to be used by Him in the greatest way.
Memory Verse: ” ‘But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.’ “ John 14:26 NASB
The Greek word parakletos used here for the word Helper or Comforter could also be translated “advocate”, “intercessor”, or “consoler”. It incorporates the duties of someone who has our best interest in mind, one who has been charged with our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual care.
Also, this verse verifies that the word pneuma, which also translates Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost, is obviously talking about the same Person, since they are used side by side in Jesus’ statement.
On the human level, we might think of a lawyer, mentor, pastor, mother, doctor, or family caregiver as having these duties.
The verse that says to cast “all your care upon Him, for He cares for you,” could actually be talking about the Holy Spirit’s care for us (1 Peter 5:7) He is the Caregiver of us all.
No matter our need, the Holy Spirit can and does direct our care on this earth, in a way that most benefits us,
- for now and for the hereafter, and
- in a way that glorifies our Creator God.
It’s difficult for us to understand the “hereafter” part, let alone what glorifies God. That’s why we need the Holy Spirit’s direction and power in our lives.
Sunday: Jesus’ Description of the Holy Spirit
Jesus is easily thought of, especially because He was on our earth in human form. We don’t have a problem with visualizing what He may have looked like.
John 1:14 clearly says that the Messiah was the Word made flesh and that He dwelt among us. Later in chapter 14, we are told that another Comforter would be sent to us after Jesus left His disciples and went back to heaven. This Comforter would dwell AMONG us, but also dwell IN us.
“the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:17 NKJV
Not being in human bodily form would naturally make the Holy Spirit harder for the world to relate to. But Jesus was adamant that His followers would recognize Him for His work, for the kind of transformations and spiritual blessings He would bring to energize all those who believe in Him.
Discussion Questions: Read John 14:16-18. What three Persons are spoken of here, and why can we be assured that they are still active in our world today? What does the word “another” mean in verse 16? In what ways are the Holy Spirit with us and in us?
Read John 15:26, 27. What do we further learn about where the Spirit comes from and how He would help the disciples? Why was their witness special and how did the Holy Spirit at Pentecost bring it about?
Read John 16: 13, 14 and John 14:6. What was the “truth” that the Holy Spirit would teach them? Was it doctrinal truth or the Person of Jesus?
Monday: Personal Aspects of the Holy Spirit, Part 1
What particular aspects are present in the making a person? What gives us our personality? Generally speaking, in order to be classified as a full, functioning person, three characteristics must be present:
- the ability to know things beyond ourselves, to have knowledge
- the ability to feel and communicate those feelings, to have emotions
- the ability to decide right and wrong, to have a will, or conscience
We find through many Bible passages that the Holy Spirit fulfills each of these categories, to a degree that makes Him a part of the deity. For example…
- “…no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God”–1 Corinthians 2:11 NKJV
- “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…” (called the unpardonable sin)–Ephesians 4:30 NKJV
- “…the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”–1 Corinthians 12:11 NKJV
Discussion Questions: Read Romans 8:14-16, 1 Corinthians 2:10, 11, Acts 10:19, 20, and 28:25. How do these verses inform us that this Spokesperson for God is indeed a Person in His own right, with thoughts, feelings, and a capacity to make decisions?
Read Ephesians 4:30, Acts 5:3, 9, and 1 Corinthians 12:11. What do these verses tell us about the Holy Spirit not only being a Person, but a Person of divine stature, equal with God?
What changes occur in our relationship with God when we see the Holy Spirit as a Person, rather than a mere force or heavenly influence? How are we limiting our capacity to love God, when we misunderstand or casually dismiss one third of who He is?
Tuesday: Personal Aspects of the Holy Spirit, Part 2
The Holy Spirit has been described as impalpable, meaning intangible, or that He can’t be felt or touched. It can also mean “not easily discerned by the mind”. No wonder we grapple with the identity of this third Person of the godhead, whom we’ve never seen in person.
I recently visited my sister in another state and got to meet for the first time some of her grandchildren there. Before my visit, they only knew me from what their grandmother had told them. But now when I answer the phone, I’m not just a mysterious relative they’ve heard some things about, but a real, live person with whom they can enjoy a happy conversation.
The Holy Spirit will always remain somewhat nebulous and vague in our minds too, because we haven’t been given the privilege to see and touch Him up close. But we will find that the more we know about the Comforter, the more comforting and personable He will be to us.
Discussion Questions: Read Romans 15:13 and 1 Corinthians 2:4. Some say that the Holy Spirit is simply a source of power from God. How would these verses change if the word “power” were substituted for the Holy Spirit? Why wouldn’t they make sense?
Read Acts 15:28 and Matthew 28:19. In what way does the Holy Spirit sound like a Person from these two statements?
Is “Holy Spirit” a title or a name? It’s usually prefaced with “the” (such as with “the” president or “the” pope, which are both persons, by the way)? Is Jesus the only member of the godhead who has a personal name, and if so, why?
Wednesday: The Spirit of Truth
Since the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of truth on more than one occasion (John 14:17 and 16:13), we might be tempted to ask ourselves, like Pontius Pilate, “What is truth?”
In reality, we might be shocked, like Pilate would have been, to find that the Truth was standing right in front of him. Jesus said plainly, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)
The modern world, shaped by Greek philosophy (and seen in Pilate’s statement), tends to see truth as a theoretical, abstract entity. We find in the Gospels, however, that truth carries a more personal meaning.
Since the Holy Spirit is said to lift up Jesus, pointing us to Him, and leading us into a more satisfying relationship with Him, we might be correct in referring to the Spirit of truth as the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
How much closer to the truth would Pilate have been if he had asked, “WHO is truth?” Jesus must be taken into our hearts, not just our minds. We can know truth in our minds, those precious teachings in the Bible, but never know Truth, our Lord and Saviour.
Discussion Questions: Read John 14:6, 17:17, and 1:14. How are we sanctified? By the true and correct teachings of the Bible (a “what”) or by Jesus (a “who”)? What part, if any, does the Bible and the Holy Spirit play in our sanctification?
Read John 4:23, 24. What did Jesus mean by telling the woman at the well that we must worship God in spirit and in truth?
Read Deuteronomy 32:4 and Psalm 31:5. In what sense is God the God of truth, as well as the Spirit of truth? How does this confirm the closeness of the divine trio? Can they really be separated?
Thursday: Why Does It Matter?
The Holy Spirit is the Person of the godhead who deals most directly with humanity and our salvation on a personal level. Although it may be more difficult to visualize Him as a Person, we can get to know Him more readily if we at least recognize Him as one.
Without the Holy Spirit’s guidance and support, how can we…
- follow Him in joyful obedience
- rely on Him to make us more like Jesus
- honor Him as the one in charge of our bodies
- glorify Him with how we live?
The Holy Spirit invites us to work with Him, but unless we know Him as a Person, we will find it easier to
- overlook or ignore Him,
- deafen our ears to Him, and
- maybe even harden our hearts towards Him.
We must see the Holy Spirit less as a tool and more as a Person, if we are to have a full, satisfying relationship with God. After all, He is one third of who God is.
Discussion Questions: Read Romans 5:5 and Ephesians 2:18, 19. In what ways is the Holy Spirit important to our Christian experience? What does He do to connect us with God?
Read Philippians 2:13 and Hebrews 13:20, 21. Do we use the Holy Spirit, or does He use us?
Read Matthew 23:37 and Psalm 91:4. We find it easy to visualize God the Father, as a loving, fatherly parent or grandparent, and God the Son, as our brother or close friend. What human counterpart would you associate with the Holy Spirit, and why?
We will never see the full impact of the Holy Spirit’s influence in our lives without first seeing Him as a Person. This week we have seen that He is a Person, even though He’s mysteriously intangible to us.
- He dwells with us, but also in us–Sunday
- He has knowledge, feelings, and a will–Monday
- He is on the same level as God the Father and God the Son–Tuesday
- He is the Spirit of truth, and therefore the Spirit of Jesus, who IS truth–Wednesday
- He can use us more effectively if we recognize Him as a Person–Thursday
Consider the many ways the Holy Spirit is your Caregiver…how He impacts all areas of your life:
- He strengthens us when we are tempted by the things of the world,
- guides us to sources of tangible help when we encounter pain and suffering, and
- provides for our physical needs.
- Mentally and emotionally–
- He encourages us in times of trial,
- gives us courage to face our enemies, and
- shows us how to love others with a pure heart.
- He helps us make right choices in life,
- fills us with hope for the future, and
- directs our worship of God in a way that glorifies Him the most.
What can you add to the list? What blessings has the Holy Spirit shown you on a personal level? Allow these blessings to help you see the Holy Spirit more as a Person and a Friend.
These are ways we benefit from the Holy Spirit.
Now, make a list of how the Holy Spirit can use YOU.
What can you do to magnify the name of God, with the power of the Holy Spirit?
Next Week: The Baptism and Filling 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/