In this section of the chapter, Paula really inspires some great thoughts. Where she has reached her own conclusions on the topic of the Holy Spirit, I must admit I have my own concerns as to whether or not they are accurate. Not because I want to disagree with her, but rather because the Bible doesn’t actually give us a whole lot of information to go on concerning the Holy Spirit.
Paula uses John 12:28-29 to justify the idea that we cannot understand the language of God. But other scholars believe that it is possible that the people who heard a loud thunder instead of the voice simply tried to write off what they heard or the voice only came in the language of the Jews since the gentiles were not yet available to recieve the Word of God.
It’s Jewish Folklore on “Angelology” that we find this idea that man cannot hear God’s voice, and that His mouth-piece is an angel called “Metatron”, but no where in the Bible is this angel’s position supported. In many respects, I think it’s dangerous to assume that man cannot understand God (in the way that Paula describes here), because it takes away from God’s glory. It’s like you’re saying “there is something God cannot do” as opposed to “God isn’t doing, for whatever reason He deems righteous.”
In Exodus 19 and 20, God tells Moses to bring the people out so that they can hear Him speak with Moses and they will know for certain that Moses isn’t lying. Then, after giving the 10 Commandments, the Israelites tell Moses that they are too afraid to allow God to talk with them and tell Moses he can talk with God and relay the information back. We aren’t told for sure whether or not the Israelites could or couldn’t understand what God was saying, we only know that they acknowledged it was God and they were terrified of the storm God brought with Him. It didn’t help that prior to all of this, God had told them not to come near Mt. Sinai or they would be put to death.
So there isn’t a good enough reason to believe that people simply cannot understand God’s language. Nor is there really anything to support the idea that people just cannot see or hear God because they aren’t aligned with God.
Paula goes on to use an incident in John 8:41-43, where Christ explains that the Pharisees will not believe him because they are not following God. There is more to unwrap though. First is that the Pharisees believe they have proclaimed God in their own life, but Christ is making a point to illustrate that under the guise of proclaiming YHWH, they are in fact proclaiming Satan’s doctrines. The next part is that God is known for explicitly blinding people to the truth of what He is communicating. During the Prophet Isaiah’s time, God was so furious with Israel that he wanted them to listen, but not understand, because He didn’t want them to turn away from their evil deeds. He wanted to have them suffer.
If we just think a little bit about the story of Christ, it doesn’t take long for us to realize that if the Satan’s minions had understood what Christ’s sacrifice would mean for the whole world, and believed that it would cause everyone to err from the One True God, they would have sought a means other than death to silence him.
What exactly can we take from the scripture about the Holy Spirit, though? If we know that God can communicate with us and He can make it so we are not trying to guess at what He is saying, then how does the Holy Spirit fit into the puzzle?
Some churches hold that the gift of the Holy Spirit could only be given by the Apostles through the laying of hands. At the very least this ignores Peter’s encounter at Cornelius’ home in Acts 10, and recounted again in Acts 11. In this account, the Holy Spirit comes upon Cornelius’ Household while Peter is talking- not while he is laying hands upon them. It wasn’t until this incident that Peter even knew that people other than the Israelites would be allowed into God’s Kingdom.
Paul also tells us that we are all given the Holy Spirit, and points out in Ephesians 4:30 that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. Paul also notes that we can grieve the Holy Spirit, and in Corinthians makes the statement that it is only by the Holy Spirit we can say that Christ is Lord. But there do seem to be very at least two situations where the scripture makes it a point to say that Paul and Peter were “filled with the Holy Spirit” after their ministries began.
Acts 4:8 (Peter)
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:’”
Acts 13:9 (Paul)
“Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him”
It makes one wonder, is the Holy Spirit simply sealing us and choosing when to speak, or is the Holy Spirit always speaking to us? Christianity mostly teaches that it is the Holy Spirit which whispers in our ear to convict us to Christ, and that when we resist Christ it’s the devil which speaks to us.
Paula Price’s example, however, is that God will begin trying to get you to do something by giving you a word today (Go), a few weeks later after you mull over it and ask for clarification a few more words (Go to the place), and then a few weeks after that when you inquire once more you finally get the message (Go to the church on the corner). If God chooses to work in this method, then He chooses to work in this method. And perhaps I’m wrong, but I just don’t see in the Bible where God works in this way at all.
If you choose to not obey what the God is telling you to do through the Holy Spirit, an Angel or Prophet, that’s on you. Paula goes on to say that maybe God prepared a blessing for you at that church on the corner, but because you were rebellious you didn’t get to recieve it. This assumes that the reason God is talking to you at all, is so that you can be blessed, as in get a reward. Yet again, I don’t see where that is the case in the Bible. Blessings are given for obedience, certainly, but when God speaks it’s not about bestowing blessings- it’s about His Glory and/or you turning from sin. And that is the same function that the Holy Spirit is intended for- to bring Glory for God and to call us out of Sin.
Now, I do agree with Paula that the True Prophet is important. But I differ only slightly on the “why”. To me, because of the example of the Pharisees, it is entirely possible that there are a good chunk of us whom think the Holy Spirit dwells with us and in truth we are actually wrong. With so many people out there that preach conflicting doctrines on things that we should consider important (such as whether or not Sign Gifts have ceased!), one has to wonder why the Holy Spirit would allow so many conflicting theories amongst believers. The only conclusion I can draw, is that not all who profess belief have received the Holy Spirit. And so I am turned to a Psalmist during the exile which laments:
We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be.
When I think about the thoughts going through the heads of the people which agreed with this verse, I can’t help but think that this problem led to Ezekiel 13 and has even lead to today’s various Charismatic movements which seek for and teach one how to be prophets. Did the fact that there were no true Prophets lead people to misjudge their own spirit for that of God’s? To counteract these people, though long after they had become common place amongst the people exiled to Babylon, God sent Ezekiel to set everyone straight.
If there are no True Prophets today…it begs the question, how much longer will we go before God has had enough and sends a Prophet amongst us? And what will he/she be called to do in the modern age to prove God is above everything? In some respects, I’d welcome it because then I’d know what I’m doing wrong…but on the other hand, I’m terrified of the answer to this question.