The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit
In Christian circles, the early 70’s were marked by something called the charismatic movement. Charisma is the Greek for gift, and talk about the Holy Spirit was the buzz in churches and conferences across the nation. The conversation seems to have changed over the years, but the genuine work of the Holy Spirit is more important than ever. I've never met a church that didn't need more work of the Spirit.
Paul ends his letter to the Corinthians by reminding them about the amazing access to God believers have through Christ; he calls this the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14). What a thought! We get to engage, encounter, and enjoy the Spirit of God!
One of the great promises in scripture is this statement by Jesus, talking about the person, presence, and work of the Holy Spirit: ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father--the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father--he will testify about me’ (John 15:26). Several key points are packed into this verse:
First, the Holy Spirit is an advocate (Gr. parakletos), which means to call alongside, to encourage, to exhort. In secular Greek, this word means someone who helps in a court, whether an advocate, witness, or representative. This word is sometimes translated as counsellor or comforter. This all informs our understanding of the Spirit’s role in our lives – He comes alongside to help us, to speak to us, and to guide us.
Second, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. The Spirit inspired scripture and works to bring our lives in line with His revealed truth. Thus, anyone claliming to be influenced by the Spirit will be growing in conformity to God’s truth as expressed in scripture, not deviating from it.
Third, the Spirit goes out from the Father but is sent by Jesus. Thus, Father and Son cooperate in the sending of the Spirit. This underscores the idea that the Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of a believer is not an add-on; it’s central.
Fourth, Jesus refers to the Spirit as he. The Spirit is God; the Holy Spirit is a divine Person, the Third person of the Trinity, not an impersonal force. When we are interacting with the Spirit, we are engaging a person.
Fifth, the work of the Spirit is to ‘testify about Me’ – that is, Jesus. The clearest, most demonstrable proof of the Spirit’s work is that Jesus is glorified. That’s why the work of the Spirit is always related to the mission of God.
What the charismatic movement got right is that we need the person, presence, and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. What sometimes gets missed is that the work of the Spirit is to glorify Jesus.
When the Spirit is present and active, Jesus is praised, honoured, glorified and celebrated. The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus all through scripture; Jesus is the star of the Bible, and that's just the way the Spirit wants it.
The Spirit doesn't shout, 'look at me, me, me!' but rather, 'look at Jesus, Jesus Jesus!'.
Jesus said that you will receive power to be witnesses when the Spirit comes upon you. When the Spirit breaks into our lives, we do the same thing the Spirit does - we point to Jesus, praise Jesus, worship Jesus, and celebrate Jesus.
In short, when the Spirit is active in our lives, we work hard to be faithful in God’s mission, giving the Spirit room to empower us and send us on God's mission of engaging people with the gospel.
So the fellowship of the Spirit is a partnership of mission. Come, Holy Spirit!