Thinking about the Spirit (1)
Some notes from Tony Payne on the Holy Spirit…
ru-ach – air that moves… my life… who I really am… non-material part of us… the real me.
Gen 45.27 – the ruach of Jacob revived -personality, emotions, lifted.
The Holy Ruach – how is that different? Looking at a life-history of God’s spirit…
God the Spirit in Creation
– The Wind of God (Gen 1.2) – is it his spirit or breath? Or wind? Hovering over the waters. God’s power and presence right at the very beginning – something is about to happen, and it does (1.3). God is not less presence if wind rather than spirit, for his powerful wind pops up all over to achieve God’s purpose (Gen 8 – receding the flood waters; Exodus – wind from the east building up waters, – the blast from his nostrils saves them – Gen 15).
Psalm 33 – by the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host (Psalm 33.6) – God speaks to create, but it is just as important to say it happens by his breath, his ruach, his spirit is active in creation – powerful life-giving spirit, putting his word into action.
– The Breath of God (Gen 2; Psalm 104) – God gives his ruach to give things life, when he takes it they die. C.f. Number 16.22; Gen 7.15-22; Job 27.3, 33.4; Acts 17.25.
So, do all people have the Holy Spirit? Do animals, simply by being alive? No, the groundwork for what God does finally fully in Christ, is laid by what he does in creation. He causes creation to exist and sustains it by his presence – his ruach.
– God’s own inner life (Isaiah 63.10) – making someone upset. Israel grieves God’s spirit. Spirit of God is God himself – not just an agent/messenger but his very self.
– God’s power at work in people (Ex 31.1-5) – in the character, skills, and intellect of people. Numbers 11.24… Moses’ ability to lead the people: he appoints 70 and they recieve his spirit, and the sign of this is they prophecy – speak the words of God. 11.31 – ruach again, but this time with quail. Link? His dynamic activity in his world – both are the activity of God working in and through his creation.
What the history means…
> God works in and through his creation… he relates to his world, and works within it. The power and agency of Him is seen in his ruach. Gracious, active, powerful presence.
> Can’t think about his spirit without thinking about his word… he always works through both his hand through his word and his spirit. His word is his mind and will, his spirit is his presence to accomplish it.
> This is a unique view of reality… no incompatibility between God and his world – he’s very comfy in relating with his world. He relates to it through his two hands: word and spirit. It’s a unique view diametrically opposed to the idea that there is chasm between him and his world – that it’s evil and God cannot touch it – platonism, mysticism. We need to rise above physical prison – pure spirituality cannot have contact with messy world – need intermediary, e.g. angels, spirits. But Bible has no embarssment about this – Genesis 3.
Same as enlightenment view of world… the big split view of reality – fact, reason, knowledge, science (Kant: the world of the phononemon). Other world: feelings, values, faith, opinion, God. The world precedes as if God doesn’t exist, as if he has no significance. Two ways to cross chasm – 1: Us – leap of faith, rising above the rational – meditation, religious technique, into God area. 2: God – God crosses into ours, by doing something extraordinary. Christians often do this – he is there, and there are ways to get in contact with him, either by us doing something, or him doing something. This is a Big Split worldview – non-Biblical view of world. So, singing, praying in tongues, emotional experience, ‘touch of heaven’ – this was God at work, not when I’m patient, sunrise, breath, reading Bible… God was to be found in feelings – rise up and go into spirit zone.
Danger of opposite: all emotion is dangerous. No! Common evangelical reaction – both implicitly accept big split view of world. Bible says God made world and is at work in world by his presence: word and spirit. He works through reason, feelings, action, unexciting things, extraordinary things, human skill – not more at work in one than the other!
Is there something lacking if I miss the intense experience? No necessary connection between his spirit and intense experience. Human experience greatly varied: different times, different emotions. God is present and able to work in all of them. Do see God more presence in emotion than reason? Or vice-versa? The barrier to his work is not that we have to rise above it, what stops us from experiencing his spirit? Our humanness? No… something else altogether.