How is the Holy Spirit at work in (1) the life of the church, (2) the life of the individual believer, and (3) the world at large?
The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity. The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is understood to be 1. Three separate beings, 2. Each one is equally God, and 3. There is only one God. This is a concept we cannot find in our restricted human understanding. To answer this question and understand HOW the Holy Spirit works, we must first understand the purpose of the Holy Spirit.
The Father: God the Father is the designer (the architect) of the Universe and the plan of salvation.
The Son: God the Son is the Creator (the Contractor) that spoke the Universe into existence and also Died on the Cross to fulfill the Fathers plan for salvation.
The Holy Spirit: God the Holy Spirit Manifests God’s power and His presence before all of creation. The Holy Spirit also reveals the mysteries of God at God’s will.
Gen 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
The Hebrew here for waters is: מים. Originally in the ancient Hebrew text, letters were represented by pictographs… we might call them emoji’s today. In the original ancient Hebrew “ ” was the pictograph that represented water, but it also represented “chaos”. It was later changed to the letter we know today as “mem”, . Therefore, in Gen 1:2, “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters (or chaos)”. The word translated here as “water”, is a figurative use for water, since water was not yet created, it should therefore be translated as “chaos”. We also need to understand WHEN this was written and by whom. The author of Genesis is believed to be Moses, whether verbally or written is not known. Whomever wrote it down, they had no knowledge or understanding of the universe. There was no word for universe at the time. This information was, therefore, given to us indirectly by God through the Spirit, to those that eventually wrote it down.
It is also interesting to note that we use water in our analogies of knowledge. In the liquid form, water (knowledge) is fluid. It can move from one person to another. We drink it and it nourishes us, and we grow. Water (knowledge) is needed to give life on earth. Too much water (knowledge), like a tsunami, can destroy and kill.
Water in the vapor form is not always noticed. We feel it as humidity, and it makes us uncomfortable. In vapor form, knowledge is hidden.
Water in the solid form is like ice. It is solid. We can touch it. We can understand it.
Eph 3:4-5 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit, to God's holy apostles and prophets.
The Holy Spirits roll is to manifest and reveal God’s mysteries, His presence, and His power to all of Creation.
Mat 3:16 says: “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’."
It is not the roll of the Son to reveal God’s power and presence to creation (man). Until the Holy Spirit descended on Him, Jesus could not begin His ministry.
So, in answer to the 3 questions: How is the Holy Spirit at work in (1) the life of the church, (2) the life of the individual believer, and (3) the world at large?
The Church is dead without the Holy Spirit. A church may grow in number, but it will not manifest God’s power or presence. The people are checking off a box for that week by attending. Without the Holy Spirit in the Church, it is nothing more than a social group.
The people are aware of God, but they will not radiate His presence to those around them. They cannot begin a ministry for Christ that will manifest His presence and power. People cannot minister successfully within themselves. They will grow weary and fade away. It is only with the Holy Spirit that a church and its people grow and fulfill God’s plan within their ministry.
The world has made many discoveries through science that they have then attributed to chance. As the Holy spirit reveals the mysteries of life and the Universe to our scientists, we move closer and closer to the return of Jesus. It is through the Holy Spirit that we understand God in the Universe.
What are the Scriptures for?
Rom 15:4 says: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”
The Biblical term for “Scriptures” refers to the Old Testament writings (in the Greek, scriptures is – graf-ay’ meaning: a document or holy script). The New Testament was not written yet and those that wrote it did not refer to their own writings as Scriptures, in the way they thought of the Old Testament writings. Today we can use the same mind set shown in Romans 15:4. We can consider the entire Bible as scriptures to teach and encourage us and provide us with hope for eternal life with Christ, so that we may walk in the cool of the day with Him.
What is the purpose of preaching and teaching?
In 2Tim 1:11 Timothy says, “Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” Through this we can infer that preaching and teaching are not the same. They are listed here separately. In Ephesians 4:11(NKJV) we are told, "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers." Since this says "... some pastors and teachers." rather than "... some pastors and some teachers." one might say that these are rolled into one. A pastor leads the church. the Greek word here is is ποιμενας (pronounced poy-mane') meaning shepherd, or today, pastor. A shepherd leads his sheep to greener pastures and sees that they are properly fed. A pastor sees that his "sheep" are properly fed the word of God and might fill the roll of both a preacher or a teacher. A teacher does not include the role of preacher.
The words “preach, preaching, preacher” did not exist in biblical days. They came to us later and are used in interpreting the scriptures to help us understand. In the biblical days, this would be called “to herald, heralding, and one who heralds” respectively. The Greek word for herald, is κηρυξ (kay-roos’-so) meaning: “to publicly cry out, to proclaim the truth, particularly the Gospel”.
The Greek word for Teacher is διδασκειν (did-as’-ko), meaning: “to instruct”.
These are two different, although seemingly similar, callings. The purpose of preaching, is to publicly cry out the Gospel, to bring awareness of Christ and God’s salvation plan, to the sinner. In Mark 1:38, for example, “Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come’." The purpose of teaching is to instruct God’s children in what to say and how to act. In Luke 12:12 we are told: “…for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."
A preacher is one that is called to cry out publicly to bring the sinner to repentance, while a teacher is one that will instruct them in the ways of Christ.
How does God save us?
I think a good question is WHY does God save us as well as How. Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God, we are all born into sin and deserve to experience God’s wrath.
When God created man, and he put Adam in the garden, He walked with Adam in the cool of the day. This is God’s desire, for us to walk in the “cool of the day” with Him. But Adam and Eve disobeyed Him when they ate the fruit from the tree, in the center of the garden. But it was not because of this disobedience that they were banished from the garden. There were two trees mentioned in Genesis. The first is the forbidden fruit, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The second tree is the tree of life. We are told that they could eat from all the trees, except the one. Which means that they could eat from the tree of life and, for as long as they were eating from it, they could live forever. So, we do not know how long they lived there before being cast out.
In Gen 3:22,23: And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
God desires us to have eternal life with Him. So, because of this “sin”, Adam and Eve were separated from the tree of life and would eventually die like all the others. Rom 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God gave us the 10 commandments to show the Israelite’s his Grace. They had been committing acts (sins) that angered God, but they had not been told what they can and cannot do. Rom 5:13 says: “To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone's account where there is no law.” God’s grace was on them, but He decided to tell them what was angering Him. Sodom was a sinful City before the commandments (laws) were given. Those people did not turn from their wicked ways because they didn’t know it was wicked. God had not told them yet.
It was once required of man to make a sacrifice to God for redemption of their sins. God sent Jesus to become that Sacrifice. But Jesus did not come to redeem all men!
Mat 15:21-28: Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly." Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."
He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." (emphasis is mine)
The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said. He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs." "Yes it is, Lord," she said. "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table." Then Jesus said to her, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed at that moment.
Jesus went to the cross, and while on the cross Luke 23:34: “Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…" It was not the soldiers that nailed Him to the tree that He was referring to. It was all gentiles. At that moment, Jesus asked the Father to include the gentiles into the salvation plan. By accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, by believing that Jesus is God and that He died for our sins, becoming the sacrificial lamb and taking on our sins, we can be saved. Then we can live with God in His kingdom throughout eternity and once again walk in the cool of the day with Him.
What part does the church, and its ministries play in Christ’s ongoing work?
Mat 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
The word “church” in the Greek is εκκλησιαν (ek-klay-see’-ah) to mean: an assembly of members. It is not the building that makes a church, it is the assembly of the members. Today we see many groups of people that gather together to provide “support” to their members. Groups such as AA, the Freemasons, advocacy groups, lobby groups, and trade unions to name a few. The church is a support for the believers in Christ.
Within the church are many ministries, such as the children’s ministry, the mission’s ministry, the worship ministry, the prayer ministry, etc. Each ministry is designed to support God’s children in the effort to spread the Gospel. This is our primary calling. As a group, we teach and support each member to go out and spread the Gospel, we pick each other up when we are down, and we encourage each other when things seem to go wrong.