Lesson 2

The Holy Spirit: Working Behind the Scenes

(Genesis 1, Acts 2, Luke 1)
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Introduction: The title to our lesson challenges our understanding of the Holy Spirit. When I think of "scene" it reminds me of a play which has several scenes. Does the prominence of the Holy Spirit vary with the "scene?" Does it vary based on where the scene is taking place? I think it does. Consider our tradition understanding of the work of the Godhead. Jesus, according to Hebrews, is acting as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary presenting His sacrifice on our behalf. On earth, the Holy Spirit is pictured as the omnipresent substitute for Jesus. The Spirit is living within Christians to advance the Kingdom of Heaven. God the Father is running the Universe. While we might debate the exact role of each, in my mind this puts the Holy Spirit front and center in our life, in our modern "scene!" Let's dig into our study of the Bible and see what it tells us about the work of the Holy Spirit in various "scenes" in the history of the world!

  1. Creation


    1. Read Genesis 1:1-2. Why do you think God decided to start the Bible with Genesis 1:1? Of all the things God could have said to introduce Himself to us, why choose this statement?


      1. Is the Holy Spirit the first member of the Trinity that is introduced to us in the Bible?


      2. One of the main criticisms of Christianity made by the other two major monotheistic ("one god") religions, is that Christianity is not really monotheistic because it believes in three Gods. They say God has no father and no son. What problem do these verses create for their argument against the Trinity? (The Hebrew word for God used in Genesis 1:1 is "Elohim," which is not singular but plural. Thus, those who oppose the Trinity must, from the very beginning of God's revelation about Himself, explain why a plural term is used and why the Holy Spirit is independently referenced.)


    2. Read Genesis 1:3. Who is speaking, God the Father or the Spirit of God? If it is the Holy Spirit, this is hardly a "behind the scene" role!


      1. Read John 1:1-3. Who does this say created the world? (If you read this entire chapter, you understand that the "Word" is a reference to Jesus. Thus, this says that Jesus created the world.)


      2. Read Colossians 1:15-16. Who does this say created the world? (Jesus.)


      3. Read Genesis 1:3, Genesis 2:7 and Job 33:4. What do all three of these texts have in common? (Exhaling breath. When we speak we exhale, when we breath into someone's mouth we exhale. Job says that this breath is the "Spirit of God.")


      4. What, then, should we conclude about the Creation and the role of the Holy Spirit? (The Bible specifically identifies "God," Jesus and the Holy Spirit as involved in the Creation. I think the message is that all three of the Members of the Trinity were involved. However, the Holy Spirit in the actions of speaking the Creation into existence, and in breathing life into humans, plays a very central role.)


  2. Our Practical Scene


    1. Read Exodus 25:8-9. How was God's sanctuary on earth to be made? (By humans, according to precise directions from God.)


    2. Read Exodus 31:1-5. What would you call Bezalel's profession today? (He is a craftsman. He is an artist. He works with several kinds of materials. He works with his hands.)


      1. What does the Holy Spirit do for Bezalel? (He gives him wisdom, understanding and knowledge in his craftsmanship.)


      2. What does that teach us about the Holy Spirit and our work? What role can He play in our work life every day? (The Holy Spirit is not simply a source of spiritual understanding, He will give us wisdom, understanding and knowledge to do our every day job - even if that job is construction! Have you asked the Holy Spirit to make you better at your job?)


      3. Notice that the "construction" work here was creating the sanctuary. Do you think that makes a difference? Would the Holy Spirit still help if Bezalel was doing design and construction for his next door neighbor? (Yes. Read 1 Peter 4:10 and Romans 12:6-8. We can have the gift of "serving" or "contributing to the needs of others" and this is something given by God.)


  3. The Scene of Our Minds


    1. Read John 16:13-14. We studied this text last week, but let's see if we can find something new. Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will lead us into "all truth." What does our knowledge of the truth do for Jesus? (It brings glory to Jesus.)


      1. Does the world argue that science is opposed to the Bible? What do these verses tell us? (Truth is on Jesus' side. It is so aligned with our God that truth brings glory to Him.)


    2. Read John 15:26. What terms are used for the Holy Spirit? ("Counselor" and "The Spirit of truth." This reinforces the idea that the Holy Spirit is here to guide us and to bring truth.)


      1. What "truth" is particularly mentioned in this verse? (The Holy Spirit will "testify" about Jesus. That testimony is that Jesus is God. That Jesus became a human in order to save us from our sins.)


    3. Some argue that a focus on the Holy Spirit might take the focus away from Jesus. Have you seen that?


      1. Do you think that is possible?


    4. Read Acts 2:1-4. Put yourself in this place and tell me what you are experiencing? (The sound of a wind storm, the sight of fire resting on people, and the sound of foreign tongues.)


      1. If I asked you whether the Holy Spirit was focused on Himself or on Jesus in these events, what would you say?


    5. Read Acts 2:14 and Acts 2:22. What do you say now about the focus of the work of the Holy Spirit in these events? (It might seem at first that the focus was on the Holy Spirit because of these extraordinary sounds and sights. But, we see that this was merely the method used by the Holy Spirit to get the attention of the people so that the truth about Jesus might be presented. From this we learn that extraordinary events created by the Holy Spirit are important to focusing the attention on salvation through Jesus.)


  4. The Holy Spirit Working With Jesus


    1. Read Luke 1:30-33. How would you understand this promise if you were Mary?


    2. Read Luke 1:34. What is the most important question on Mary's mind? (She is a virgin. Not only is there the practical problem of her giving birth, but this will make her look bad.)


      1. In light of the promise that she will be the mother to "the Son of the Most High," how do you explain this is the question (of all things) Mary decides to ask?


    3. Read Luke 1:35 and 1 Peter 3:18. What does this say about the power of the Holy Spirit? (This reminds us that Genesis 2:7 tells us life-giving power resides in the Holy Spirit.)


      1. What does it say about the role the Holy Spirit can play in your life? (If you, like Mary, are willing to be used by the Holy Spirit, He can give your life extraordinary power! He can revive you!)


    4. Read Luke 1:38. What does this tell us about Mary? (Whatever problems are reflected in her "How will this be" question, this is an astonishing statement of faith.)


    5. Read Luke 3:21-22 and Luke 4:1-2. This tells us that Jesus was baptized in the Holy Spirit and that He was "full" of the Holy Spirit. Why would that be necessary since Jesus is God? (While we have a limited ability to understand, this makes perfect sense. The Trinity is "filled" with the Holy Spirit.)


      1. Read Genesis 1:26-27. What does this suggest about you and me and the Holy Spirit? (That if you truly want to be in the image of God, you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit too!)


    6. Read Galatians 5:22-26. Is the idea of having the Holy Spirit live in us and abstract concept? (No. These verses show us that the Holy Spirit living in us brings practical and important changes in our life. We "live by the Spirit.")


    7. Friend, will you ask the Holy Spirit to live in you and make a practical difference in your life? Why not do that right now?


  5. Next week: The Divinity of the Holy Spirit.

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