Some time ago a challenging event occurs in our family. The problem is this: It is an invisible event. We need to know what has happened and what to do about it. However, we have no way to access that information since it is hidden from sight. The incident occurs as my daughter is playing in the park. Not being adept at soccer, she steps up on a soccer ball in a clumsy way and falls awkwardly on her right arm. The arm immediately becomes extremely painful, limp, and useless. A most significant event has just occurred. Hidden behind skin, tendon and muscle, though, that event is not open to view. Thankfully, her friends take her to a local emergency room where the physician does the wise and predictable thing—he orders an X-ray. That which has been invisible now becomes visible. Her mother and I arrive in time to see the picture. And what a picture it is! My daughter’s arm has experienced a classic, extreme dislocation at the elbow. With the help of the X-ray, what has occurred is now plainly observable. The humerus and its socket lie distinctly separate from the ulna. Since we can now observe what occurred outside of human view, the physician knows just what to do about it. In short order—and with the help of anesthetic—he “reduces” the dislocation. Though the elbow remains tender and sore for a time, our daughter progresses rapidly toward healing. Important passages in the NT tell us that the Holy Spirit serves as the X-ray for a most important event in salvation history—the exaltation-coronation of Jesus. The event occurs well outside the capacity of human beings to observe it. Yet it is crucial for us to know of this central, cosmos-shifting event. It is the Holy Spirit who offers access to the distant celebration of the Lordship of Jesus. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, what is invisible and inaccessible becomes as obvious as a dislocated elbow in an X-ray. Human eyewitnesses could offer their reports of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus (e.g., Matt 27:32-61). They could testify to their encounters with Jesus after His resurrection (e.g., 1 Cor 15:3-8). They could even give accounts of the departure of Jesus to heaven, His ascension (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:6-11). What they could not do was share the narrative of what happened next. That had to await the witness of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. In studying the NT materials about the Holy Spirit for this essay, I experienced an insightful moment of self-knowledge. The story of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the early Christian community at the time of the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-42) is a singular narrative. Nowhere else in the NT is the story told. I came to realize that I had compartmentalized this unique story, separating the Pentecost narrative about the descent of the Spirit from the rest of the NT with its instruction about the presence of the Holy Spirit in the community of believers and in the lives of individual Christians. Should we unite that which I, and perhaps others, have divided? What would be the result if we read the NT evidence about the Holy Spirit from the vantage point of Acts 2 and its narrative of the Spirit’s descent at Pentecost? Could the central themes and ideas of the Acts 2 story be employed to structure a review of the expansive NT materials relating to the Holy Spirit? This effort is founded on an important conclusion about early Christian believers and the NT documents they write. What fired the imaginations of those early believers was their belief that Jesus, who had walked the dusty trails of Judea with them, was now not only resurrected and ascended but was also exalted at the right hand of God. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, they had heard the distant echoes of Jesus’s coronation and those echoes resounded in their hearts and minds and ignited the zeal of their witness. The NT documents which they composed bear evidence everywhere to this central, compelling conviction of Christian faith.2 I propose, then, to read the NT evidence about the Holy Spirit in the light of the theme of the Holy Spirit as Revealer and Proclaimer of the exaltation-coronation of Jesus. In the process, I pray that we may catch a little of that early, Christian zeal.
McVay, John K.
"The Holy Spirit in the New Testament,"
Journal of the Adventist Theological Society: Vol. 29:
1, Article 7.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/jats/vol29/iss1/7
Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."