What is the Role of the Holy Spirit in the Church Today?
- Thursday, June 28, 2012
Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church today? --Osten
The work of the Holy Spirit in the church today is to indwell Christ followers so they might look like Christ and to empower them to continue the ministry that Jesus had when He was here on earth (Acts 2:1-4).
You have asked a critical question. To many of us the Holy Spirit is the forgotten member of the Godhead. We focus so much energy on God the Father and on Jesus the Son of God that we tend to ignore the Holy Spirit. This attitude needs careful examination because in one sense, the Holy Spirit does more in the Church today than both God our Father and Jesus combined. The Holy Spirit is really busy making us look like Jesus.
Of course, the Holy Spirit has no intention of working to make our outside appearances more like Jesus; He is working to produce within us the character and inner life of Christ for all to see.
But just for fun, let’s consider what Jesus might have looked like when He was on earth in His earthly body. Early in the third century A.D. “The Letter of Lentulus” gave a physical description of Jesus. Holman Hunt used this description for his famous painting of Jesus folding His hands calmly in prayer:
There has appeared here in our time and still lives here, a man of great power named Jesus Christ. The people call him a prophet of truth, and his disciples, the Son of God. He has a venerable face, of a sort to arouse both fear and love in those who see him. His hair is the color of ripe chestnuts, smooth almost to the ears, but above them waving and curling, with a slight bluish radiance, and it flows over his shoulders. It is parted in the middle on the top of his head, after the fashion of the people of Nazareth. His brow is smooth and very calm, with a face without wrinkle or blemish, lightly tinged with red. His nose and mouth are faultless. His beard is luxuriant and unclipped, of the came color as his hair, not long but parted at the chin. His eyes are expressive and brilliant. His face is terrible in reproof, sweet and gentle in admonition, cheerful without ceasing to be grave. He has never been seen to laugh, but often to weep. His figure is slender and erect; his hands and arms are beautiful to see. His conversation is serious, sparing and modest. He is the fairest of the children of men.21
Some believe this portrayal is nothing less than the police description of Jesus at the time of His arrest. Most think otherwise. “The Letter of Lentulus” is obviously a forgery—although it’s not impossible that it embodies a genuine tradition. Surely, a physical description of Christ was passed down in the immediate years after His resurrection. But, it stretches the mind to think that an accurate description would survive over 200 years without massive corruption. It may be that we have to say of the appearance of Jesus, with Augustine, “We are utterly ignorant.”
OK, Osten, let's get down to business.
Adam was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Unfortunately, Adam’s and Eve’s sin detonated an emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual bomb. Adam and Eve were now in Satan’s image (Genesis 3:1-6).
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