The Holy Spirit and the spiritual family
‘When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance’ (Acts 2: 1).
‘These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers’ (Acts 1: 14).
‘So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart’ (Acts 2: 46).
‘Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common’ (Acts 4: 32).
‘Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit’ (Ephesians 2: 19 – 22).
The above verses highlight that all who believed and joined the Church were of one heart, one soul, and one accord. They were together and had all things in common.
They continued in this manner, expanded, and then small churches were established in various places. Therefore, Apostle Paul revealed what he called ‘the mystery of the Church’; he was the one granted this ministry as the teacher of the Church.
Apostle Paul spoke about the Church in a very clear way in the epistle to the Ephesians; and so, the scholars usually call this epistle: the epistle of the Church. In the first chapters of the epistle, the apostle speaks about establishing the Church according to God’s plan. In the second half of the epistle, he turns to the practical part –having explained the theological part –and he speaks about the life of the church being a testimony on earth while her place is in the heavenly places; he also refers to the church’s mission as well as her battles.
The central verses that speak about establishing the Church highlight that we are ‘members of the household of God’ and ‘a dwelling place of God in the Spirit’.
When God visits a person, He works in him true change and transformation by the Holy Spirit. This is the grace of Christ which we experience when we live the true life of daily repentance and obedience to Him. Yet, in numerous references, the bible mentions that a true Christian who lives in Christ is a living stone. Previously, he was seen in spirit as a piece of dead stone in the unseen mountains of the world; then, the Holy Spirit took him off, revived him and brought him to be part of the temple of the Lord.
Now, let us find out how the story usually begins!
The Holy Spirit takes the role of a matchmaker, as we read in the book of Song of Songs, and He talks to the human soul about her Bridegroom, the Bridegroom who desires to make this soul His bride: ‘I awakened you under the apple tree’ (Song of songs 8: 5). The Holy Spirit draws near each person and speaks to him/her about Christ, the Bridegroom.
The hardened stones of the world would probably not pay attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit; they are happy the way they are.
The Holy Spirit does a lot of introductions and preparation for every person. Those of us who have tasted the life in Christ would remember that there was a lot of preparation done by the Holy Spirit in their lives, possibly over several months or even more, which they may have not noticed at the time. They would now realise that God was visiting them and calling them in various ways. This was actually the Holy Spirit who was preparing the hearts so that the eyes may be opened and we know Christ as the true Bridegroom of the soul, the true Deliverer, the true Giver of Life, the Giver of the true vision that fulfils and satisfies the heart, and the One who has prepared true goals and aims for each person since eternity.
As soon as the person knows who Jesus is, that person is transformed from being a dead stone into being a living stone. The Holy Spirit cuts this person off the world and transfers him to the Church. As a result, this person would feel that a big change has happened in his life; he became a stranger to some people and closer to others; also, many concepts in his life started to change.
It is a true change that the Holy Spirit does in one’s life. He makes the person a stranger to the world, as Jesus said: ‘they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world’ (John 17: 16); planting him in the true Church which is established in the Spirit.
Therefore, this living stone, this person who has experienced the true life in Christ, gets placed in a sort of building, that is, the Church.
What is expected of this living stone?
God wants to bring these stones together to build a house with these living stones, a house where He would dwell.
The Holy Spirit dwells in all of us. When we start to live in Christ and live a true life of repentance, we start to experience the accompaniment of the Spirit. We feel that He is our companion. However, the Holy Spirit desires more than that; He desires to dwell in our midst as the Lord the giver of life and the Lord, the comforter, the Paraclete (John 14: 16, 26).
If we are living stones that are joined together and built together, we form a building. This building is not seen by the physical eyes, but it is a spiritual house, a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
This means that the Lord, the Holy Spirit, desires an actual dwelling. However, the conditions are that this house or building should be made of living stones and these stones should come together, become joined and form a building. In this case, the Holy Spirit would actually draw near them in a way different from what each one experiences on the personal or individual level.
On the personal or individual level, each one receives a special spiritual taste and experience in their fellowship with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Companion who walks with them step by step in their days of sojourning. This experience has its sweet and special flavour where one experiences divine overflow from heaven to one’s heart. Also, the divine Companion, the Holy Spirit, satisfies my needs in various ways; and as He walks with me, He also teaches me new mysteries.
The Kingdom of God is full of mysteries. We remember that the disciples said that Jesus taught them the mysteries of the Kingdom. After Christ’s Ascension into heavens, the Holy Spirit was sent to us to teach us all things (John 14: 26), exactly as Jesus taught His disciples.
Therefore, the people of God in every generation are given the Holy Spirit to teach them exactly as Jesus used to teach His disciples during His life on earth.
What will the Holy Spirit teach us?
He will teach us what Jesus had taught.
What did Jesus teach His disciples?
He taught them the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.
When we are together, we form the Kingdom of God where He is the King and we are the citizens of this Kingdom. Therefore, the people of the Kingdom need to learn to live according to the standards and the principles of this Kingdom.
The Lord, the Holy Spirit, teaches us day by day how to live as the people/citizens of the Kingdom of God. He teaches us the ways and the principles of the Kingdom. As a result, we live victorious and not in frustration or despair. We learn to live the life in Christ, strength, victory, steadfastness, and moving forward. We also learn to live as a testimony and message which we carry to others and we reap its fruits that are full of life from its source, the Lord the giver of life.
Every time we come together, we need to have this longing and desire for the presence of the Lord, the giver of life and the Comforter in our midst. This should be a point or a station which we wait for and look forward to it with great joy because we know what this entails. It simply means that the Holy Spirit will be with us, in our midst. This in turn means that He will surely touch every heart because no one leaves the presence of God empty. Anyone who enters His presence shall definitely receive filling, in accordance to his measure, needs and circumstances: the confused will find an answer; the despairing will receive hope, the frustrated will receive a new push forward; and so on, each according to one’s real need.
After that, we gradually learn to receive more than the mere satisfactions of the needs. We will learn to come before the Lord with specific questions in our hearts and have faith that we will receive immediate answers to them because the presence of the Lord in our midst is different from the individual experience of everyone. This is because together we have made a dwelling place for Him. Gradually, everything in our lives would change to clear richness which bestows beauty and glory on the whole Church.
Therefore, we need to come together as units that are being built and established together, giving the Holy Spirit the chance to connect us together.
Before talking about how this can be achieved practically, I want to share with you some points about this matter because the purposes come before the steps. It is therefore important to highlight the purposes clearly first.
There are 2 important purposes:
- The glory of Christ
- The work of the Kingdom
1. The Glory of Christ
Each Person of the Trinity glorifies the other; the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ and Christ glorifies the Father. Jesus prayed to the Father saying: ‘I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do’ (John 17: 4). It is clear here that Jesus glorified the Father. Similarly the Spirit glorifies the Son.
If we desire to taste and experience the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the Lord the Giver of Life and the Comforter who is in our midst, we need to have one purpose in our hearts and that is to glorify Jesus, the King, alone. We should neither glorify ourselves, nor glorify any person nor anything else, but Jesus alone.
It is a very serious matter if we find in our hearts a desire to glorify anything or anyone apart from Jesus. For example, we may think of ourselves as a select group of ministers in the church; and so, without noticing or intending to, we start to glorify ourselves. We may also have hidden pride or a sense of superiority. Sectarianism may also enter unnoticed in our midst. These things may happen unintentional; however, we need to search ourselves and be watchful because if any of this enters in our midst, this would mean that our purposes became different from the purpose of the Holy Spirit which is to glorify Christ.
The Holy Spirit would thus say: ‘I would have loved to be close to you and fill your camp with glory. I desired to make you witness great things. Yet, if you will glorify yourselves, this would mean that I am giving you something that you would misuse. You want to take my gifts and glorify yourselves with them. I am obliged to withdraw. Enough what you received; you will have to remain limited. You have taken a true step in the spirit which is full of life; yet, this is sufficient because you will not bear more than that; if I give you more than that, you will misuse it.’
This is like a child whose father gives him something precious; yet, the child does not value it and so he misuses it. The father would say: ‘I will have to keep it for you for later, for when you grow up; otherwise you will lose this precious thing’.
The Holy Spirit does a similar thing. There were many gifts and blessings that He wanted to give us, the good gifts of the Father: ‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights’ (James 1: 17). However, the Holy Spirit would find that He is not able to give us these great gifts because we would misuse them. He would have to wait until we grow up more in order to give us more gifts.
Yet, if we do not want to be delayed and hindered; if we do not want to stop along the path; if we have given our back to the world and turned to Jesus not desiring to do what the old Israel did when sometimes they turned their back to God: ‘And they have turned to Me the back, and not the face’ (Jeremiah 32: 33); if we will not do so because we have made our decision to follow Jesus and have given our back to the world, it will be the delight of the Holy Spirit to grant us grace upon grace, glory upon glory, power upon power, day after the other.
If we desire this, we need to put the correct purpose before us no matter what the cost is, even if this requires from us to cut off our desires, change our mind and way of thinking, and humble ourselves to the dust, seeking the glory of Christ not our own glory.
As much as we learn to humble ourselves, putting ourselves at the feet and service of others, the Holy Spirit would be pleased because His purpose as we said is the glory of Christ and the work of the Kingdom.
Not only should we not seek our own glory but we also should not seek to glorify other ministers in our midst. If we start to look at ministers judging that one is good and another is not, we would again be taking the glory of Christ and giving glory to people. The Holy Spirit would therefore look and see that we are acting in a very childish way and so He would be obliged to wait until we grow up a bit.
Instead, we need to see the ministers of God in the Church as being granted gifts and talents from God and so each ministers according to the gift granted to him/her, as God had appointed; and so, all the glory would be God’s: ‘that God may be all in all’ (1Corinthians 15: 28). If this is the case, the Holy Spirit would find rest in our midst and would move us forward further.
Our heart has to be tuned to one thing only and that is the Glory of Christ alone where each one disappears in Him, whether ministers or those ministered to, teachers or speakers; everyone should disappear and hide in Him. In Colossians, Apostle Paul wrote: ‘your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory’ (Colossians 3: 3, 4). This means that no one will be able to glorify anyone, but there is a day when Jesus will appear and will make each one appear in the glory granted to him/her by God. Jesus Himself prayed saying: ‘And the glory which You gave Me I have given them’ (John 17: 22). Jesus knows how to give us glory in His way and in His time, when we get rid of our weak fallen humanity and we are granted the glorified humanity. Jesus will then give glory to each one. None of us has any credit or merit for the gifts and talents that were bestowed upon him; yet, the question is whether one is faithful to what he is given or not. Each one will be glorified according to his faithfulness on this great day. At this point, we will look at one another and we will see that there is a different beauty and honour in each one; yet the source of it is the same; Jesus is the source of glory and honour and beauty.
However, if we try to do this now, before its appointed time, we can become self-centred and self-absorbed. This grieves the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit does not give us the gifts to glorify ourselves nor glorify any person in our midst but to glorify Christ alone. To Jesus alone is all the glory. All glory goes to the only One who took the form of our humanity to free us from the corrupted humanity and make us enter into the glorified humanity. We need to remind our hearts and our minds to continually give the glory to Christ. Even if the conversation is about a certain person, we need to learn to say: ‘yes, it is true; this person has a grace, but all glory is the Lord’s’. We need to also gently teach those around us, the people we deal with, that whenever the focus is on any person, we redirect the focus in the correct direction and understanding. As a result, the Holy Spirit would find comfort in our midst and would overflow more in our midst, as individuals and collaboratively. Consequently we would be more filled by the Spirit and would move forward in the direction of the divine purposes and towards the glory of Christ.
2.The work of the Kingdom
The Holy Spirit is the Person of the Trinity responsible to prepare the Bride, the Church, for her Bridegroom, Christ. He seeks and longs to prepare the bride inasmuch as the bride is united with Him in His purposes. His purposes are the glory of Christ and the work of the Kingdom.
What is the work of the Kingdom?
Inasmuch grace we are given, we are entrusted with a responsibility.
Inasmuch grace we are granted, we need to humble ourselves putting ourselves at the feet and service of others.
Inasmuch as the Holy Spirit flows in us and we experience the flow of life in our midst and in our meetings, we should not be enclosed in ourselves, or reserved or haughty because this simply means that death will approach us and is so close to us.
However, if the flowing of the Holy Spirit in our midst makes us more humble, more open to others, more giving and sacrificial, the Holy Spirit will flow in our midst in an unlimited way. It is written: ‘for God does not give the Spirit by measure’ (John 3: 34). This means that in God, there are measures that have no limits; and it is a shame if we feel self-sufficient and not hunger for more. Yet, if our attitude is correct, God will never stop giving us in an unlimited way. We will receive things that we never thought of or imagined due to their sweetness, greatness, glory and unceasing flow which puts an end to every deadly routine in our lives and even heals its past memories.
We would thus taste the overflow of life which is ever new and renewed in Christ.
We would then learn to be servants for others. Apostle Paul wrote to the Church of the Corinthians: ‘For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake’ (2Corinthians 4: 5).
Jesus should be the Lord and all glory should go to Him; while we need to be servants for others for the sake of Jesus. We need to be bearers of the message of life to those around us; yet, we need to be bondservants.
 Ephesians.3:2 – 4
 1Pet.er 2:5
 1Kings 5:15-17; 2Chronicles 2:18
 1Corinthians 12:13
 1Corinthians .3:16
 Matthew 13:11
 If we see but a glimpse of the heart of the Father, we will see the great desire in His heart to grant His children good gifts every day, gifts that probably we do not know, perceive or even seek because we often lack the true fellowship with the Father.
 John 3:30
 Romans 8:18,23
 1Corinthians 15:41b
 2Corinthians 4:5
 There were different levels of servants/salves in Paul’s time. Paul used a Greek word that refers to the lowest level which is a bondservant and he chose to put himself at this level.