What the Holy Spirit means to me

Only as I grew older could I value both the importance and equality of the Holy Spirit.

Willie E. Hucks II is associate editor of Ministry

Unlike adults, children think in concrete terms. Growing up in an Adventist home, I heard terms such as Trinity and Godhead, and I attempted to construct physical pictures of these Beings and comprehend Their hierarchical structure (certainly the Son couldn’t be equal to the Father). Having a father, I was able to easily fashion an image of God the Father; being a son, I could do the same for God the Son. But I never could fathom the concept of the Holy Spirit. Adding to the difficulty, my upbringing included the KJV. So thinking about God as a Ghost further complicated the issue! Not only could I not comprehend the Holy Spirit to the degree I thought I understood Him, I found myself relegating Him to a lower status than I attributed to the Father and Son. Only as I grew older could I value both the importance and equality of the Holy Spirit.

Strangely enough, in some respects I have, from time to time, found myself fighting the temptation to place the Holy Spirit on a higher pedestal than the Father or Son. I haven’t done so as others have been accused of doing; rather, I have been tempted to think that since Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be with His people forever (John 14:16) and that His followers would not be left as orphans (a literal reading of the Greek of John 14:18), then the Holy Spirit becomes the most impor­tant Member of the Godhead for me in 2012. I don’t intend to minimize the life and sacrifice of Jesus; rather, I find my heart filled with gratitude for the Member of the Godhead who walks and talks with me, guiding me through life’s challenges, searching my heart, and interceding in my behalf before the Almighty.

While I find Trinitarian principles both simple to picture and hard to understand, many still struggle with these concepts in general and the roles and functions of the Holy Spirit in particular. To this end, in February 2009, Ministry published a special issue on the Trinity. Our editorial team deemed it necessary to do so because in both our travels and hearing from various focus groups, the number one issue that pastors and administrators faced at that time was spurious teachings coming from outside influences regarding the Trinity, creating prob­lems for Adventist pastors and church members alike. Under recent advisement, we felt it important to again address a portion of this same discussion, focusing in upon the life and ministry of the Holy Spirit as this remains fundamental to our Christian identity.

We are pleased to publish articles from several noted scholars in this issue on the topic of the Holy Spirit. Former world church president and theologian Jan Paulsen emphasizes the day-to-day movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s people, noting that He “respond[s] in practi­cal ways to tangible needs—both in our personal journeys and the corporate life of the church.” Frank M. Hasel provides a comprehensive overview of the work of the Holy Spirit both for individuals and the church as a corporate body. Merlin D. Burt takes us on a tour of Seventh-day Adventist viewpoints and the writings of Ellen G. White regarding the Holy Spirit as they developed over time. E. Edward Zinke discusses the role of the Holy Spirit and biblical interpretation, pointing out His role in the origin of Scripture and the impact of the Word on our lives. Finally, Wilson Paroschi examines the Holy Spirit as Paraclete—the One who stands by our side—as expressed in the book of John.

From the inception of Ministry in 1928, one of the goals of the journal has been to provide material that challenges the minds of minis­ters to wrestle with concepts that are often passed over or accepted without question. It remains critical for pastors—the boots-on-the­ground, frontline workers—to exercise their authority as the resi­dent theologians in their congregations. Of necessity, they must be ready to answer anyone who asks about their belief system (1 Pet. 3:15). For this reason, we offer this issue on the Holy Spirit and pray that you will be enriched and blessed as you read it.

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Willie E. Hucks II is associate editor of Ministry

April 2012

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More Articles In This Issue

The Holy Spirit—So what?

Four guiding principles that have helped me understand more clearly how and when the Spirit moves and works.

From Revival to Reformation

Our special revival and reformation feature.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

Read how individuals have been led to a new awareness of the Spirit and His gifts in the lives of believers.

Ellen White and the Personhood of the Holy Spirit

This article explores Ellen G. White’s understanding of the Holy Spirit against the background of early Seventh-day Adventist theology and experience.

The Holy Spirit and Biblical Interpretation

We must recognize and respect the origin of the Bible because of the role of the Holy Spirit in the production, interpretation, and application of Scripture.

Problems with Modeling Clay

From our special revival and reformation feature.

“Another Paraclete”: The Holy Spirit in John 14–17

The author explains how a group of five passages in the apostle John’s Farewell Discourses refer to the Holy Spirit as “Paraclete” or “Spirit of truth.”

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