Does the Holy Spirit in Person Help the Christian Today? (Series #6)

by Eusebio Tanicala, Ph.D.

(Editor’s note: The introductory part of this series #6 is the same with that of series #5. This will enable our new readers to understand the premises and direction of our study).
Background

Several decades ago, preachers in the United States exchanged ideas on how the Holy Spirit works in or influences the Christian in the 20th century. We have moved into the 21st century still the questions lingered on. Three questions frequently come out that embody the issues:

1. Is there a personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Christian today?

2. Is there a direct operation of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life today, the 21st century?

3. Does the Holy Spirit in person aid the Christian today?

One side declares: “The Holy Spirit indwells the Christian today representatively through the word; the Holy Spirit operates in or influences (aids) the Christian today through the written/oral word only.
The above statement means that the Holy Spirit having inspired the Bible and the canon of scriptures having been completed in its printed/audio form, it is only through the reading/hearing the word that the Christian could be influenced by the Holy Spirit.
The above position is equated to the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) that trains a crew, writes a survival manual in printed and CD forms and then sends the crew on to the moon. NASA headquarters would watch through powerful telescopes as the spacecraft leaves the earth’s orbit, the landing on the moon and the walk on the moon. But radio communication is cut off. In the spacecraft the faucet doesn’t function, one member couldn’t sleep, the antenna doesn’t function, one booster engine doesn’t ignite. We ordinary people on earth say to ourselves: you astronauts on the moon, you have your survival book, read it to fix yourselves. NASA in its headquarters just sits down and watch anxiously.

The other side of the issue declares: The Holy Spirit indwells the Christian today and the Bible is a source of information/instructions in Christian life and how to go to heaven; in addition to the word, the Holy Spirit in person may help, aid, influence, guide, encourage, nudge, prompt the Christian towards a higher level of spiritual life and service.

The above position is equated to the NASA that trains a crew, writes a survival manual in printed and CD forms and then sends the crew on to the moon. NASA headquarters would watch through powerful telescopes as the spacecraft leaves the earth’s orbit, the landing on the moon and the walk on the moon. All the while radio contact and TV image exchanges are maintained. If the crew wants to ask info how to fix the faucet, if a crewmember wants to solve his lack of sleep, if one booster engine doesn’t function, the crew could radio back to earth and get help from NASA headquarters. NASA headquarters would tell the crew to check their survival manual, but in addition to the manual on board, NASA experts in various disciplines would radio back their analysis and instructions about the problems. We ordinary people on earth would say to ourselves: you astronauts on the moon, you have your book, read it AND get additional help from NASA HEADQUARTERS because the experts are anxious to help.

Background ng kakulitan natin

Recently some preachers in the Philippines became more outspoken in their advocacy over the issues being discussed here which resulted to two formal discussions, one in Pangasinan and the second in the MetroManila area. The affirmative of the second proposition below approached brother Jovencio Gundayao that if he (Jovencio G) or his associates would not debate him in the issues, the proponent of the second proposition would denounce as FALSE TEACHERS all who disagree with him. When Joven G asked brother Santiago Sameon II to represent his side, Santiago S readily accepted the debate challenge and he affirmed the first proposition and negated the second proposition.

The propositions discussed in the two meetings were:

(1) Resolved: The scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian personally and directly together with the word of God.

(2) Resolved: The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit indwells, influences and guides the Christian today through the word of God only.

Kung ilan sa aking mga kapatid ay nakukulitan sa aking mga pagpapaliwanag sa isyung ito, ako ay humihingi ng paumanhin. Hiling ko lang na inyong pagsabihan ang partidong nagbigay ng threat to denounce as FALSE TEACHERS all those who disagree with him. Ang partidong nagbigay ng threat of denunciation ay handang hatiin din ang mga kongregasyon sa mga isyung kanyang itinuturo. Kailangan patigilin din ninyo siya sa kanyang gawaing ito. At kung nakukulitan na kayo huwag na ninyo ako bibigyan ng topiko sa mga lectureships and preachers forum ukol sa persona at gawain ng Espiritu Santo. Kapag mapatigil na ninyo ang partidong ating natukoy sa taas, kaagad din ako titigil magpaliwanag sa paksang ito.

Basic Assumptions

In the study of the main title, the following presumptions should always be in the student’s mind so that he could readily collate the complex information about the Holy Spirit’s workings.

First, by extension, this corollary question should also be asked: “Does God in person help the Christian today?” This idea comes out from our belief in the Trinity. All three persons share the same attributes.

Second, another question should go with the main title, “Does the Holy Spirit help the Christian today through the oral/written word only as processed by the brain of the person in need?”

Third, still another question goes with the first questions: “Does the Holy Spirit in person help the Christian today through other means above and/or beyond the oral/written word, the Bible, but not contrary to it?”

Fourth, this study presumes our acceptance of God’s attributes as defined by dogmatic theology: omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, transcendence, immanence, unity, trinity, indivisibility, infinity, pure spirit.

Delimitation and Definition of Terms

This study temporarily avoids discussing the term “indwelling” and uses the terms: help, aid, work, influence, guide, nudge, prompt, encourage. By clarifying first the area of help and influence, it will be easier later to deal with the term “indwelling.”

This study is delimited within the Churches of Christ’s belief in the “Ordinary Measure” of the Holy Spirit. The “Full Measure” given to Jesus during His earthly ministry and the “Baptismal and Miraculous Measure” given to the Apostles and those they laid hands on should not be invoked in this discussion. Pentecostalism and claims of prophethood/angelship are excluded.

Terms which are central in this study are person, persona, personality, and personal.

(1) Person, or personality (persona) of the Holy Spirit refers to His having “a self-consciousness, a Being that has intelligence, with the power of choice,” (Moss, The Christian Faith: An Introduction to Dogmatic Theology, 24).

(2) Personal, refers to the self-willing act of a person or his direct influence in activating another person or something so that there’s an effect upon another. It is opposed to an impersonal thing/idea either read or heard that is processed by the brain of the Christian as the basis of what a person may enjoy for himself, a belief he might profess, or a command he undertakes.

The Problem Stated

The 21st century Christian asks: “In my daily life, where do some material or spiritual gifts and blessings come from, where do some actions originate, where do some enlightenments come from, where do I derived some ideas and conclusions?”

The Christian sees several avenues and asks:

(a) Shall I read my Bible and process the information with my brain?
(b) Am I limited to reading my Bible as source of blessings, gifts, information and instructions?

(c) Will blessings, gifts, information, instructions, joy be limited according to the limitations of my brain to process biblical information that I read from the Bible?

(d) Do blessings, gifts or imperceptible nudging sometimes come direct from the person of the Holy Spirit?

(e) Do items come thro some persons or things that are moved by the Holy Spirit Himself?

(f) Are there blessings, gifts or information that reside in nature that could help or aid the Christian today which are not written in the Bible but are not contrary to the Bible?

(g) Do items sometimes come from/through a combination of two or more of the above?

Purposes of this Study

First, it seeks to improve our biblical knowledge and teach us to avoid committing glaring inconsistencies in interpretation among Churches of Christ preachers.

Second, it seeks to promote our prayer life with the enhanced awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence, promptings and help in our daily Christian life.

Third, it seeks to promote more spirituality with our awareness of the Holy Spirit’s workings in our daily Christian life.

Fourth, it promotes stronger dependence upon God with the awareness that God in person is personally assisting the Christian today.

Fifth, it promotes Christian humility in that wisdom, strength, victory in life, success and service are not solely produced by the mental and physical prowess of the individual Christian, but that much of these come as grace from a personal God based on the humility and submissiveness of a Christian heart.

Proposition for series #6: The Holy Spirit in person can do many things (help, influence, guide, nudge, prompt, or encourage the Christian) which the word, the Bible, cannot do.

Proponents of the “through the word only as processed by the brain” ask this question: “What can the Holy Spirit do which the word can’t do?” In effect they would like to say that there’s no need for the personal attention and personal help of the Holy Spirit because everything is done by and/or through the word only, the Bible, when read or heard by the Christian.

In this series #6 we basically talk about persona, ability, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, and holiness.

Here are some suggested questions to help us make a decision which claim is more reasonable:

  1. Approximately in what year in the Christian era did the Holy Spirit remove from the earth His personal presence, omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience and leave behind His concern, work, and care for Christians? ___
  2. Approximately in what year in the Christian era did the Holy Spirit start to help, aid, influence, guide, prompt, encourage Christians through the oral/written word only as processed by the individual’s brain? ___
  3. The Holy Spirit garnished the heavens and He understandably would have a share in controlling the expanding galaxies. Question: Does the Bible exert any control in the overall maintenance of the entire material cosmos like in the gravitational pull, expansion of the galaxies, explosions of the supernovas, dying and birthing of stars, and the swing of asteroids and comets in space? __
  4. The Holy Spirit is and does remain a member of the Godhead. Question: Is and can the word, the Bible, remain a member of the Godhead? __
  5. The Holy Spirit is and does remain a persona. Q: Can the word, the Bible, become/remain a persona? __
  6. The HS does have emotion and will. Question: Can the word, the Bible, have emotion and will? __
  7. The HS does have emotion and can be actually grieved. Q: Does the word, the Bible, have emotion and can the word be actually grieved today? ___
  8. Psalm 139:7 says that anywhere in the cosmos a person could possibly go the HS actually is there. Q. Can the word, the Bible, today actually go to these places, too? ___
  9. The HS in person is actually and literally in heaven (139:8). Q: Can the word, the Bible, actually and literally be in heaven today? ___
  10. The HS can go to Sheol. Question: Can the word, the Bible, go to Sheol? ___
  11. The HS is God and God could go to the uninhabited outer fringes of the millions of galaxies and influence these heavenly bodies. Q: Can the word, the Bible, go into those outer fringes of the millions of galaxies and influence these stars? ___
  12. When a Christian flies from the Philippines and goes west to work in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the HS can go before that person. Q: Can the word, the Bible, go before the person in Mecca, Saudi Arabia? ___
  13. When a Muslim flies from the Philippines and goes west to work in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the HS can go before him. Q: Can the word, the Bible, go before the Muslim in Mecca, Saudi Arabia? ___
  14. Psalm 139:11 says that the HS can make a pitch black night into clear day. Q: Can the word, the Bible make a pitch black night into clear day? ___
  15. Psalm 139:13-15 says that God (HS included) form and develop the organs and body parts of a fetus in the womb of Christian, Muslim, and atheist mothers. Question: Can the word, the Bible form and develop the organs and body parts of a fetus in the womb of Christian, atheist and Muslim mothers? ___
  16. The HS can help a Christian who has diarrhea while working in Mecca, Saud Arabia. Q: Can the word, the Bible, help the Christian who has diarrhea in Mecca, Saudi Arabia? ___
  17. The HS can help a Christian who is physically sick and hospitalized in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Q: Can the word, the Bible, help the Christian in this sickness while in a hospital in Mecca, Saudi Arabia? ___
  18. The HS being God can imperceptibly help Muslim doctors and nurses treat a hospitalized Christian in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Q: Can the word, the Bible, help Muslim doctors and nurses in treating a hospitalized Christian in Mecca, Saudi Arabia? ___
  19. The HS can help a comatose Christian who is hospitalized in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Q: Can the word, the Bible, help a comatose Christian who is hospitalized in Mecca, Saudi Arabia? ___
  20. We often pray to God that He (HS included) would bless medicines that are used to treat a comatose Christian for extraordinary efficacy. Question: Can the word, the Bible, bless medicines that are applied on a comatose Christian? ___
  21. Psalm 139:16 says that God (HS included) can see the unborn fetus in a mother’s womb. Q: Can the word, the Bible, see the unborn fetus in a mother’s womb? ___
  22. Psalm 139:16 says that God (HS included) can make a record book on the destiny of people. Q: Can the word, the Bible, write a book that records the destiny of people? ___
  23. The Holy Spirit knows the mind of God. Q: Can the word, the Bible, know the mind of God?___
  24. The HS can be sinned against like in Acts 5. Q. Can the word, the Bible, be sinned against? ___
  25. The HS can be sinned against like in Acts 8 and the sin could be forgiven by the HS. Q: Can the word, the Bible, be sinned against and can the word, the Bible, forgive sins? ___
  26. The HS can be addressed in a prayer for a person’s forgiveness. Question: Can the word, the Bible, be addressed for the forgiveness of sins? ___
  27. From heaven to earth God (HS included) could telecommunicate messages, teletransport matter from one place to another, and telecommand nature to act. Q: Can the word, the Bible, telecommunicate messages, teletransport matter from one place to another, and telecommand nature to act? ___
  28. The HS being an omnipotent God has wisdom and emotion, and by His own choice, could telecommunicate wisdom and emotion to the human brain. Q: Can the word, the Bible, by its own choice, telecommunicate wisdom and emotion to the human brain? ___
  29. The HS can transmit the groaning prayers of Christians from earth to the Father in heaven. Q: Can the word, the Bible, transmit the groaning prayers of Christians from earth to the Father in heaven? ___
  30. God (the HS included) being omniscient and omnipresent, knows all the sciences and technologies in the fields of astronomy, geology, nuclear medicine, microbiology, surgery, teletransportation, telecommunications, petrology, cellphone operation and repair. Question: Can the word, the Bible, know all these sciences and Technologies today? ___
  31. Sometimes we hear Christians pray that God (the HS included) would spare some relatives in typhoon ravaged areas and we believe that some providential care is given even if we believe that God is in heaven above. Question: Can the word, the Bible, extend some providential care in distant ravaged areas? ___
  32. God gives the HS after a person obeys (Acts 5:32). Q: What is the word that is given by God to a person after he obeys? ____
  33. The Spirit intercedes for a Christian (Rom. 8:26). Q: Can the word intercede for you today? ___
  34. Christians invoke the love of the Spirit in prayers. Q: Does the word possess love that we could invoke in our prayers today? ___
  35. The HS in person justifies (1 Cor.6:11). Q: Does the Bible by itself justifies you today? ___
  36. The HS has the word as His sword (Eph. 6:17). Q: Does the word have the word as its sword? ___
  37. The HS can be quenched (1Thes 5:19) by a misbehaving disciple. Q: Can the word be quenched? ___
  38. The HS participated in the eternal offering of Christ for our salvation (Heb. 9:14). Q: Did the word participate in offering Christ for our salvation? ___
  39. The HS possess the emotion of jealousy (James 4:5). Q: Does the word possess the emotion of jealousy today? __
  40. Thro the help of and by the instrumentality of the HS as a person (2Tim.1:13-14), the Christian is encouraged to keep the pattern of sound words which are the words of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of godliness (see 1 Tim.6:3). Q: Does the word provide the aid to a Christian in keeping the word? __
  41. The persona of the HS exists and acts as a person apart but in conjunction with the word (2 Tim. 1:13-14). Question: Does the word exist and act as a person apart from the word but in conjunction with the word? ___

After answering all the above questions, you are now ready to make a firm answer to the query: What can the Holy Spirit do that the word, the Bible, cannot do? Another way of asking the question is: Can the word, the Bible, do all what the Holy Spirit in person can do? If there are many things that the Holy Spirit can do which the word, the oral/read Bible, could not do, then we could safely say that there’s a need for the Holy Spirit persona helping us. ©

3 Comments to “Does the Holy Spirit in Person Help the Christian Today? (Series #6)”

  1. Great post.
    Thank you for sharing this information with us.
    Keep up the great blogging.
    May God continue to bless you in a powerful way.
    In Him,
    Kinney Mabry

  2. Hi brother Tanicala! I like your work on this blog and I have enjoyed reading some of your articles about the Holy Spirit and some other articles, as well. You know that I believe and teach that the Holy Spirit personally indwells, too.

    The person and work of the Holy Spirit is a fascinating topic to study. He is the one who provides us information about himself in the Word because he inspired the scriptures that reveal himself to us. Anyways, it’s a great topic and I believe God is pleased with our discussion of it.

    I went ahead and put the link to Word Ministry on the blogroll of my own blog. I am wondering if you will return the favor for me on your own blogroll, too?

    God bless and keep up the good work.

    Bro. Michael Hildreth

  3. WE ALL DO NEED to have a right attitudes EVEN to all of leaders, pastors, elders too, and they have to lead by a good personal example too.

    There are several basic, ground rules in proper Bible interpretation that must be followed by all persons now before anyone even attempts to fully study the Holy Scripture. The first rule is pray and ask the Holy spirit to guide you, to teach you.. not rather self, mere men or women.. we should seek first and not last the Holy Spirit for illumination. The Holy Spirit wants to share the treasures of God’s Word with those who rightfully do esteem Him. The most important principle to remember in studying God’s Word is that it can only be understood with the help of the Holy Spirit. Those who approach the Bible without the Holy Spirit to teach them, may gain some insight into truths, their lives, but also will receive no definite, permanent, important life-changing revelation. Bible Commentaries should be used only very sparingly if at all. Even the most anointed man or woman, preacher of God clearly still can be wrong, biased, have a hidden agenda, limited, (or just shallow) in their understanding or interpretation of certain Bible topics, subjects. Do not believe any man or women, rather solely Take God’s word for it.

    “A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth” (Proverbs 14:6)

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