Today’s Reading: “I believe in God, The Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day, He rose again. He ascended into heaven. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit.”
Near the end of John’s Gospel, right before Jesus goes to the cross, the Master tells His disciples…
If you love Me, keep My commands. (John 14: 15 NIV)
Now let me ask you, dear friends. Have you ever tried keeping the commands of Jesus for very long? I don’t know about you, but from my perspective, it’s not an easy job!
First off, there’s this problem of dealing with my own sin! I mean, I thought I was a pretty good guy until I gave my heart to Jesus and then He began showing me all of my self-centeredness, my sinful thoughts, and my self-gratifying behaviors!
Then there’s that turning the other cheek thing, where Jesus asks me to forgive others as I want God to forgive me. Ouch. It’s one thing to know the mercy of the Lord for my own goofiness, but how in the world does Jesus expect me to not be offended by all that awful stuff done to me by others?
And then, there’s that caring for others as I want to be cared for. How in the world did Jesus love all those sinners? But more importantly, how, for Christ’s sake, am I to love all these goofballs around me?
Which now brings us to the next line in The Apostles’ Creed…
I believe in the Holy Spirit.
As I see it, the Father and the Son had to have had a deep conversation about this “follow Me and do as I do” concept that Jesus is promoting. They must have known from watching us from the very beginning that there was no way these homo sapiens could live out the Christian life without a big amount of help from the Divine. Sadly, Jesus doesn’t tell us all the details of that holy conversation, but He does say this:
I will talk to the Father, and He’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take Him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see Him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know Him already because He has been staying with you, and will even be in you! I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you’re going to see Me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment, you will know absolutely that I’m in My Father, and you’re in Me, and I’m in you. (John 14: 16-20 MsgB)
The Spirit of Truth, as Jesus calls Him here is a comrade in the faith; a companion sent from God who comes alongside (no, wait…comes inside us!) and walks us through this difficult thing called life. You see, Jesus never, ever expected you or me to do all the things He told us to do out of our human strength alone.
So, who or what exactly is this Holy Spirit who dwells inside me? And what is His role in this world, in the church, and in my life?
Quite honestly, it’s too bad The Apostles’ Creed doesn’t give us more detail here, but in truth, if it attempted to do so, it would make The Creed way too long to remember. Allow me to reference here the excellent website GotQuestions.org, which offers a wonderful overview of the many roles the Holy Spirit plays in God’s master plan…
Author of Scripture: (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16) The Bible is inspired, literally “God-breathed,” by the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity. The Spirit moved the authors of all 66 books to record exactly what He breathed into their hearts and minds. As a ship is moved through the water by wind in its sails, so the biblical writers were borne along by the Spirit’s impulse.
Comforter/Counselor/Advocate: (Isaiah 11:2; John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7) All three words are translations of the Greek parakletos, from which we get “Paraclete,” another name for the Spirit. When Jesus went away, His disciples were greatly distressed because they had lost His comforting presence. But He promised to send the Spirit to comfort, console, and guide those who belong to Christ. The Spirit also “bears witness” with our spirits that we belong to Him and thereby assures us of salvation.
Convicter of Sin: (John 16:7-11) The Spirit applies the truths of God to men’s own minds in order to convince them by fair and sufficient arguments that they are sinners. He does this through the conviction in our hearts that we are not worthy to stand before a holy God, that we need His righteousness, and that judgment is certain and will come to all men one day. Those who deny these truths rebel against the conviction of the Spirit.
Deposit/Seal/Earnest: (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14) The Holy Spirit is God’s seal on His people, His claim on us as His very own. The gift of the Spirit to believers is a down payment on our heavenly inheritance, which Christ has promised us and secured for us at the cross. It is because the Spirit has sealed us that we are assured of our salvation. No one can break the seal of God.
Guide: (John 16:13) Just as the Spirit guided the writers of Scripture to record truth, so does He promise to guide believers to know and understand that truth. God’s truth is “foolishness” to the world, because it is “spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Those who belong to Christ have the indwelling Spirit who guides us into all we need to know in regard to spiritual matters. Those who do not belong to Christ have no “interpreter” to guide them to know and understand God’s Word.
Indweller of Believers: (Romans 8:9-11; Ephesians 2:21-22; 1 Corinthians 6:19) The Holy Spirit resides in the hearts of God’s people, and that indwelling is the distinguishing characteristic of the regenerated person. From within believers, He directs, guides, comforts, and influences us, as well as producing in us the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). He provides the intimate connection between God and His children. All true believers in Christ have the Spirit residing in their hearts.
Intercessor: (Romans 8:26) One of the most encouraging and comforting aspects of the Holy Spirit is His ministry of intercession on behalf of those He inhabits. Because we often don’t know what or how to pray when we approach God, the Spirit intercedes and prays for us. He intercedes for us “with wordless groans,” so that when we are oppressed and overwhelmed by trials and the cares of life, He comes alongside to lend assistance as He sustains us before the throne of grace.
Revealer/Spirit of Truth: (John 14:17; 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:12-16) Jesus promised that, after the resurrection, the Holy Spirit would come to “guide you into all truth.” Because of the Spirit in our hearts, we are able to understand truth, especially in spiritual matters, in a way that non-Christians cannot. In fact, the truth the Spirit reveals to us is “foolishness” to them, and they cannot understand it. But we have the mind of Christ in the Person of His Spirit within us.
Spirit of God/the Lord/Christ: (Matthew 3:16; 2 Corinthians 3:17; 1 Peter 1:11) These names remind us that the Spirit of God is indeed part of the triune godhead and that He is just as much God as the Father and the Son. He is first revealed to us at the creation, when He was “hovering over the waters,” denoting His part in creation, along with that of Jesus who “made all things” (John 1:1-3). We see this same Trinity of God again at Jesus’ baptism, when the Spirit descends on Jesus and the voice of the Father is heard.
Spirit of Life: (Romans 8:2) The phrase “Spirit of life” means the Holy Spirit is the one who produces or gives life, not that He initiates salvation, but rather that He imparts newness of life. When we receive eternal life through Christ, the Spirit provides the spiritual food that is the sustenance of the spiritual life. Here again, we see the triune God at work. We are saved by the Father through the work of the Son, and that salvation is sustained by the Holy Spirit.
Teacher: (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2:13) Jesus promised that the Spirit would teach His disciples “all things” and bring to their remembrance the things He said while He was with them. The writers of the New Testament were moved by the Spirit to remember and understand the instructions Jesus gave for the building and organizing of the Church, the doctrines regarding Himself, the directives for holy living, and the revelation of things to come.
Witness: (Romans 8:16; Hebrews 2:4; 10:15) The Spirit is called “witness” because He verifies and testifies to the fact that we are children of God, that Jesus and the disciples who performed miracles were sent by God, and that the books of the Bible are divinely inspired. Further, by giving the gifts of the Spirit to believers, He witnesses to us and the world that we belong to God.
Whew! What a list, huh? See why the Holy Spirit is better than an American Express card? You never want to leave home without Him!
My prayer: Father God, I stand amazed at the “solution” You and Your Son came up with for those of us who want to follow Jesus but find ourselves woefully unable, (and many times even stubbornly unwilling), to do all the things Jesus asked us to do. You’ve got my attention, Jesus, when You tell Your disciples that they are “about to come alive.” I say, come, Holy Spirit, come. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Am I trying to live the Christian life, (i.e. doing the things Jesus asks me to do), through my human strength alone? Am I fully aware of the indwelling and empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, calling upon Him to breathe new life into me today? What needs to change in my day-to-day existence as a follower of Christ, so that I’m making more room for the Spirit of Truth to dwell deep within me?
So, what are you experiencing today as we are Contemplating The Creed?
Over a seven-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Apostles Creed. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Creed home page for ease of use.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!