The transformative ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is paramount in Pentecostal theology, church life and the personal experience of believers. Rather than merely be understood as, ‘a force’, the Holy Spirit is better understood as a person, a mentor, a friend – who is one of the three persons in the Godhead, equal to the Father and Jesus.
Pentecostal spirituality is more than any of the gifts or any individual experience granted by the Spirit – as Warrington states, ‘Pentecostals aim to know God experientially, whether it is via an intellectual recognition of his being, or an emotional appreciation of his character….Pentecostals embrace a spirituality that expects to touch God and to be touched by him’. Warrington summarises Pentecostal spirituality as one of ‘Encounter’, informed by reading and exploring the Bible, which Pentecostals, as well as other Evangelical Christians, accept as being inspired by God.
The Bible is the source of much that better helps us to appreciate the person and mission of the Spirit. So, for example, some of his titles are defined as follows in the Bible….
The Spirit who guides us also promises to walk with us on our journeys and stay with us in times of achievement and times when we fail. He sometimes leads us in green pastures, but also through the valley of the shadow of death. But even when the other end of the valley is a long way off, he promises still to be our partner on the way.
‘The quest for a Pentecostal theology: a theology of encounter’(chapter 1) by Dr.Keith Warrington in Challenges of Pentecostal Theology in the 21st Century(edited by Phyllis Thompson, SPCK 2020).
Ideally every participant should have their own preferred version of the Bible including youth versions to help young people to understand difficult passages.
Paper and pens for note taking is always a good idea…
Some questions for discussion
In what ways does the Holy Spirit affirm you as a Christian? Read Rom. 8:26 and Gal. 4:6 for extra guidance.
Identify some of the consequences of Stephen being described as ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 6:8, 10, 15; 7:54-60).
John uniquely calls the Spirit ‘our Paraclete’ translated as Helper, Advocate, Comforter or Counsellor (John 16:7). The word is made up of two elements that provide an insight into its meaning; he’s alongside us (para) and he’s been called (kaleō) to be there, to be ‘alongside’ us, and thus be best able to comprehensively support us. He’s so close to us that if we stumble, he’ll catch us. Which of the possible meanings of the term Paraclete,as a description of the Spirit, is most meaningful to you – Counsellor, Advocate, Comforter, Advisor, Mediator, Helper, Friend? Why?
The value of John 20:19-23 is at least fivefold:-
Firstly, we are encouraged to realise that in the absence of Jesus, the Spirit is still present. Indeed, the ascension of Jesus did not actually signify an absent Jesus because the Spirit functions as his replacement, offering the same quality support as that offered by Jesus to his disciples.
Secondly, the same Spirit who operated in association with Jesus is now promised to us.
Thirdly, the provision of the Spirit to believers is presented as being the fulfilment of the wishes of all the members of the Godhead. The breathing on the disciples indicates a very intimate impartation of the Spirit.
Fourthly, the Spirit is described as providing resources relevant for the purposes of evangelism.
Finally, the description of the reception of the Spirit is associated with a commission to function as people who have been sent by Jesus (20:21).
Which of these are particularly meaningful to you?
A number of different terms are used to describe the involvement of the Spirit with believers, though they are often used synonymously. For example, Stephen is described as beingfull of the Spirit (6:3); believers were filled with the Spirit (2:4) and baptised with the Spirit (11:16); Peter speaks about receiving the Spirit (2:38) who is poured out (2:33). How do these descriptions help us appreciate the involvement of the Spirit in our lives?
Read Ephesians. 4:30. Provide 5 different words for ‘grieve’ that help clarify how the Spirit reacts when we let him down. How does it make you feel that you can impact the Spirit in this way?
Gifts of the Spirit are…
gifts of grace (1 Cor. 12:4)
given by the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7)
for the benefit of others (1 Cor. 12:7)
varied (1 Cor. 12:8-10)
intended to be available to all believers (1 Cor. 12:11)
expected to be sought for (1 Cor. 12:31)
given in order to be used (Rom. 12:6-8)
Which of these facts are worthy of being emphasised more today amongst believers?
Praise and Worship
Use the below songs to enter into a time of praise and worship.
Something to think about and do in the days to come…
One of the reasons for the Spirit’s involvement in our lives as Christians is to creatively develop our strengths. So, to help you remember this, take an apple and cut it in two pieces. Take out a seed, stick it to a small card andplace it somewhere prominent – to remind you of your potential for bearing fruit.
Write a poem or some prose exploring your special place with God as a result of the Spirit in your life and/or write a prayer of gratitude to the Spirit for his involvement in your life and read it aloud, slowly.
One of the major manifestations of the Spirit in believers is that he speaks through us(Luke. 1:41b-42, 67; 4:18; Acts 4:31b; 13:9-12, 52-14:1).Ask the Spirit to help you to be ready for such opportunities in your own life.
Paint a picture or write a 12 word sentence that captures an aspect of the Holy Spirit.
Prepare a 1 minute presentation to share with the group in session 3 about your experience of the Holy Spirit.
Ask each group member to select one of the following texts: Joel 2:28-32, John 14:15-31, Acts 1:8, Acts 2:1-4, Acts 4:31, Acts 8:12, Acts 11:15 and prepare a 1 minute presentation to share with the group in session 3 to reveal what it communicates to you about the Holy Spirit.
Writing a journal as you progress through this course will be a useful tool to aid your reflection, clarify your thoughts, feelings and chart your learning. Try to write regularly after each session. Here are few prompts to get you started:
What have you learnt?
What has challenged you?
What do you want to explore further?
How are you going to use what you have gained from the course?
Holy Father God, we seek to know you.
Through spiritual encounters led by the Holy Spirit, we seek to have a relationship with you.
You are the One who parted the Red Sea. You saved Daniel in the lion’s den and you still do miracles today.
As joint-heirs with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we cry Abba, Father,
Holy Spirit, we acknowledge that there are times when we have not done everything you told us to do and we have also done things that you told us not to do.
Help us to listen to your Spirit every day, especially as we read the Bible.