No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.
I Corinthians 12:3
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
Thomas Merton, the distinguished writer on Christian spirituality, observed “The Holy Spirit is closer to us than we are to our own selves, and that is why we do not notice Him”. But noticing the Holy Spirit is something I want to do today, paying attention to some of the ways He is moving and working within us. I want to give some attention to the Person “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). I do this while acknowledging that theologians refer to the Holy Spirit as the “shy person” of the Trinity. The Spirit does not seek to focus attention on Himself but on the Father and the Son, in order to glorify them (John 16:13-16).
The Holy Spirit has been aptly compared to a floodlight that is focused not on itself but on the building it illuminates:
When floodlighting is well-done, the floodlights are so placed that you do not see them; you are not in fact supposed to see where the light is coming from; what you are meant to see is just the building on which the floodlights are trained (J. I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit).
So the Spirit trains His ‘floodlight’ on the Father and the Son, as in the deepest parts of ourselves, our spirits. The Spirit reveals the Father’s love for us, and leads us to make Jesus Lord of our lives.
Today’s two Scriptures capture this foundational ministry of the Spirit, summing up what the Spirit prompts us to do: confess, “Jesus is Lord” and “Abba! Father!” Obviously this means more than merely saying the words “Jesus is Lord” and “Abba! Father!” Rather, the Spirit is focusing us on Jesus and His Father, leading us to give Jesus first place in our lives, reveling in the joy of knowing that Jesus’ Father is our Father too! The Spirit invites us into Jesus’ own relationship with Abba Father. As the “Spirit of freedom” (II Corinthians 3:17), the Holy Spirit yearns to set us free from the tyranny of the Self, and usher us into the glorious reign of Jesus and Abba.
All other ministries of the Holy Spirit, such as worship, missions, fellowship, spiritual gifts and fruit, flow out of the Holy Spirit giving us this inner ‘knowing’ that we are special and loved by God. Moment by moment, insight by insight, the Spirit leads us to repent of our unbelief and deeply entrenched fears, giving us permission to believe in the love and goodness of Abba.
At the very core of our being the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are made for glory and not for shame, for life and not for death. From the moment of our conversion until we see God face- to-face, the Spirit moves to make the Father and the Son personally, subjectively, and emotionally real to us. The Spirit mediates their presence to us, floodlighting that they are for us.
As each believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19), we are closer to God’s Spirit than we are to our selves. We do not often notice or pay attention to the Spirit’s closeness and His stirring within. We get distracted by many things, but the Spirit longs to show us Jesus, and the love of the Abba Daddy for us. Let us then, “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16).
What this means for me in a practical sense is that I daily repent of my fears and distrust of God’s goodness and love. And I make it my prayer for me, and my prayer for you, that the Spirit will act as a floodlight, giving us this deep ‘knowing’ of Jesus as Lord in our lives, and His Father as our Father too!
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given us.
Grace and peace,
photo by Lars Hammar