Study Guide: Who Is The Spirit?

Sunday July 3, 2016 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

This second sermon in our God in Us series focused on the broad question of, “Who is the Spirit?” This message focuses on three characteristics of the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is God, The Holy Spirit is personal and the Holy Spirit is distinct in nature. Greg emphasized that the main role of the Spirit is to show us clearly the person of Jesus and help us to recognize God when we would have no other way of recognizing Him. The Holy Spirit is working to remove the veil in our mind and can do this through our imagination.

Extended Summary:

This second sermon in our God in Us series is about taking a broad view of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Greg Boyd asks the question, “Who is the Spirit?” Is there a way to find a middle ground between hyper, radical charismatic Pentecostalism and staunch Cessationists who believe that the charismatic gifts ceased after the early church? This sermon begins with three foundational realities of the Holy Spirit. First, the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4). The Holy Spirit is equated with God in a variety of passages in the Bible and is consistently described as God. Second, the Holy Spirit is personal and not just an ethereal force in the world. Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 that the Holy Spirit can search, know and be referred to with personal pronouns; all things consistent with a personal being. Third, the Holy Spirit is distinct from the Father and Son. Matthew 28:19 clearly separates the three persons of the Trinity and emphasizes their distinctness.

The Trinity itself is a theological concept that continues to confound believes. Greg points us to Ephesians 2:18 as a potential way to understand the workings of the Trinity. The character of God emanates from the Father to the Son and the Holy Spirit allows us to see the Son and we are reconciled to the Father. The Spirit is the part of the Trinity that allows us to recognize what is coming to us through the Son. If we have any faith at all it is because of the power of the Spirit at work in our lives.

The primary work of the Spirit (as explained in John 15:26 and John 16:13-14) is to guide us to and reveal to us the person of Jesus. The humility of the Spirit can be seen in His constant pointing away from Himself to others. The Holy Spirit is like a photographer who rarely appears in the picture because He is arranging the most beautiful way for us to see Jesus.

Our calling as people of God is to make time frequently to spend time with Jesus through the Holy Spirit and our God-given imagination. It is through the unveiling of our minds in our imagination (2 Corinthians 3:14-18) that the Holy Spirit works to allow us to vividly engage with the person of Jesus. We are also called to pay attention to what is going on in our imagination throughout the day so we can be listening for the nudging of the Spirit and act in ways that will advance the beautiful kingdom of God.

Reflection Questions:

  1. How does the description of the Holy Spirit as God, personal and distinct from this sermon challenge your experience now or growing up?
  2. Do you tend over-emphasize or under-emphasize the role of the Holy Spirit in your day-to-day life? Why do you think that is?
  3. What is one thing you could do during the day to help you keep one ear open to the voice of the Spirit?
  4. Have you cultivated the usage of your imagination in your prayer life? If not, we would encourage you to speak with someone in your community, local church or pick up the book, Seeing is Believing.