The Person and the Power
‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8)
A person’s final words always have special significance – whether it is those of a politician leaving office, or of a loved one slipping from this world to the next. Final words are always special words, something to be kept and remembered. Likewise the final words of Jesus before his ascension must have powerfully engraved themselves on the minds of his disciples for the rest of their lives. For those final words not simply ‘words’; but words that became reality. For the following ten days the disciples must have wondered what Jesus meant; but then, at Pentecost, it happened; the Holy Spirit came. The promise was kept; the person and the power had arrived!
It is so important that we remember the link between the person and the power. God’s power is not some ‘thing’ that can be manipulated like primitive magic, as Simon Magus discovered to his cost. He saw Peter praying for the believers in Samaria to be filled with the Spirit – and he wanted ‘it’. But this wasn’t about an ‘it’; it was about a ‘him’. God’s power comes in the package of a person - the person of the Holy Spirit – whom we therefore need to respect and call upon in the right way.
We so easily forget that the Holy Spirit is a person. Perhaps it is because of the images that are sometimes used to describe him when he comes, especially in the Old Testament. For example, he comes in the form of wind, fire, water, oil, and at Jesus’ baptism, as a dove – hardly images that make us think of a person. But all these images describe more what the Spirit has come to do, rather than who he is.
Don’t go looking for the power of God; look for the person of God! For when you do, he will come – just as Jesus promised!
‘He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world at large cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognise him. But you do, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.’ (John 14:17, NLT)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont