We began a series on the Holy Spirit this morning in Sunday School. I'm looking forward to hearing so many perspectives from so many different, non-Pentecostal backgrounds, but dreading the inner upheaval that's already begun. It's so difficult to even know where to start when questioning so many years of teaching. Someone asked today about the dichotomy between the Holy Spirit's activity in the Old and New Testament, and I have a few thoughts addressing that. Mind, I did say thoughts, not answers.
The question arises from the verses in the New Testament where Jesus talks about sending the Holy Spirit to the believers and how the Spirit has been withheld until this time, yet He is mentioned frequently in the Old Testament. Someone posited that the difference is in his role and activity, which is slightly dispensationalist, but we'll consider it for argument's sake.
In the Old Testament, the Spirit was present and active at Creation. Adam and Eve, of course, had full communion with God until sin cut them off. It appears that the Spirit then continued to act upon and in certain people at divers times and places for divers purposes throughout Old Testament history. When Moses received the Ten Commandments, the Israelites were afraid and instructed Moses to speak to God for them--they were not bold enough to face Him themselves. I wonder if the great need for priests and prophets as God's mouthpieces would have been lessened in the OT if the Israelites had been bolder at Mount Sinai. I wonder if the Spirit of God would have spoken to more of the faithful, had they evinced a willingness to listen. Or, was that God Himself and not the Holy Spirit speaking at the mountain? I do not know. So, we continue through the OT with the Spirit speaking to believers only through a chosen few. Perhaps the requirements of the law dictated that; perhaps the grace we receive through Christ provided the bridge the Holy Spirit had to have to communicate openly with all believers. At any rate, it does seem that after Christ's arrival is the first time masses of people are visited by the Holy Spirit. Someone brought up Christ's baptism this morning, how the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form for the first time as a dove. They likened it to Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit descended again in bodily form as tongues of fire. I wonder if Christ was, once again, the forerunner and firstborn for the baptism of the Holy Spirit as for our acceptance as children of God. That seems to be consistent with Scriptural teaching, does it not? He was the firstborn, enabling all believers everywhere to likewise receive after he paid the penalty required by the law. Then, what IS the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Is it closely related to water baptism? In Kevin's Bible, where the Holy Spirit is mentioned in Ephesians 1 as the seal of our salvation, there is a note equating the "seal of the Holy Spirit" with baptism. Water baptism? Baptism of the Holy Spirit? One and the same? Christ's water baptism, obviously, was the catalyst for if not simultaneous with the descending of the Holy Spirit upon Him. And that is recognized as the beginning of His ministry, yes? So, following that train, the baptism of the Holy Spirit--perhaps also water baptism--is God enabling us for work in His kingdom. That is different from the baptism-equals-circumcision and symbol-of-the-covenant position.
So many questions. I wish I had answers. This study promises to be challenging, at any rate, and I am grateful for the opportunity. I don't know how much sense I've made of all the rumbling in my brain. . .it translates to rambling, I'm imagine. Productive rambling in the long run, I hope.