"I believe in the Holy Spirit."
-- The Apostles' Creed
We see a lot of partnerships in our study of the book of Acts. They include Jesus and the Apostles, Peter and John, Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Silas, and now Paul and Silas and Timothy. There is yet another partner in this and every other Christian enterprise, a silent partner, whom we don't speak about enough. Perhaps it is because he never speaks. Or, does he?
Many editions of the Bible entitle this book, "The Acts of the Apostles." That's not wrong, but there are some older editions that use a better title, "The Acts of the Holy Spirit." Indeed it is the Holy Spirit who is working in every Christian, every Christian partnership, every Christian church, to be the lifeline between God and people in order to bring people to God. Though He is usually off camera and behind the scenes, the silent partner, the Holy Spirit appears prominently in this part of Paul's second missionary journey.
The Apostles' Creed affirms our trinitarian view of God, one God, in three persons. The creed says a little about God the Father, calling Him "Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth." It says a lot about God the Son, as necessities facing the early church dictated a definitive statement about the full humanity and absolute deity of Christ. But the only thing it states about the God the Spirit is "I believe in the Holy Spirit," with no other titles, adjectives, or credits given.
Throughout the Bible, God the Father dons nearly every page, hovering over every person, exerting His divine presence and providence. God the Son is alluded to in a multitude of Old Testament prophecies, bursts into plain sight in the Gospels, and remains a point of reference throughout the rest of the New Testament. But it is God the Spirit who inspired the pages of holy writ and hovers over the entire redemptive plot from creation to consummation, though He is quite hard to hear and almost impossible to see.
Catching the Holy Spirit in the right light is one of the most elusive pursuits of the Christian faith. What does the Holy Spirit look like, a bird, a flame, a man, a woman? What does the Spirit sound like, a gentle breeze, a mighty rushing wind, a still, small voice? How can we know when the Spirit is near us, with us, in us, speaking to us?
Suffice it to say the Holy Spirit does not want to be seen. But, He does not want to be ignored, as in some staid and steadfast denominations of the Christians Church. He does not want to be sensationalized, either, like in some of the more excitable fads in modern Christendom. He simply wants to silently partner with the Father and the Son, to silently partner with existing believers to make new believers, to silently be the power of God that completes the will of God by bringing the elect to the Son of God.
This short article cannot teach us all we want to know about these things, but I can affirm today and elaborate later upon two things. The Holy Spirit indwells and guides every faithful follower of Jesus Christ. And, it is the Holy Spirit who moves in to enable saving faith in the first place. He moves in existing believers before moving on to making belief begin in a new believer.
Next week we'll look closer at how our silent partner, the Holy Spirit, works to save us in the first place, then speak to us and guide us through the Christian life. Hopefully, the Holy Spirit will be silent to you no more!
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]