Last Sunday I noted that Easter does not quite end the church calendar – that there is one more big day for which we wait. I quoted Isaiah about the importance of waiting itself and then hinted at what we wait for. If you follow links, then you know what we wait for because I linked to:
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
Yep, we wait for the Holy Spirit – the most misunderstood and abused member of the Trinity. As I said, I hope to unpack some of that while we wait. This Sunday I want to focus on the phrase, “He abides with you and will be in you.” Somebody asked me in a Bible Study one time if the Holy Spirit was around in the Old Testament. The answer, if you believe that God is eternal and unchanging (which I certainly hope you do) is, “Of course.” But it is still an excellent question because the events of Christ’s life, and specifically of Holy Week, radically changed our relationship with the Holy Spirit. In fact, so much has the relationship changed that it would be easy to think He was not around in the Old Testament.
We tend to think of the salvation given us with the cross and resurrection as about eternity – which it is, but it is also about far, far more.
Recall the story of the fall of man from Genesis. Prior to the fall God walked in the garden with us. It was an intimate and deep relationship. But after the fall we were banished from the Garden. God could no longer dwell intimately with us because we had become unholy in some fashion. Yes, God still acted in our lives, but once the act was complete, He retreated to a distance. For the Jews, once settled in Israel, God even dwelled nearby in the Temple – He was close, but the intimacy enjoyed before the fall was gone.
The Holy Spirit can most easily be thought of as God among us. When God, the Trinity, acts on Earth it is the Holy Spirit taking the action. Thus, after the fall, it is the Holy Spirit that withdraws to a distance from us. But notice what Jesus says will happen after the events of Holy Week – “He abides with you and will be in you.”
The salvation we receive through the cross and resurrection purifies us sufficiently that the Holy Spirit can once again, as He did in the Garden, dwell with us and in us. Now, thanks to Christ, our relationship with the Almighty is once again deeply intimate. Moreover, because of that intimacy, we no longer have to implore God to act in history. Because the Holy Spirit now abides with and in us, we share His power and we can act in history in His behalf with that same power.
The salvation we received from Christ during Holy Week changes everything…everything. It does far more than grant us eternity, it grants us the ability to make this place once again beautiful.