Author: Ron Graham
—the Gift of the Holy Spirit
This outlined lesson is about God's presence with us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
1 God’s Presence When Jesus Was on Earth
(a) David in the Psalms mentions God’s presence about 17 times. In one place he says, "Where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven you are there. If I make my bed in the place of death, behold you are there. If I take the wings of dawn, or dwell in the deepest part of the sea, even there your hand will lead me" (Psalms 139:7).
(b) Question: Is God present with human beings only in the sense that he is everywhere? Or is there a more particular and special presence of God?
(c) God was present, in a many special ways, through his holy prophets. Yet those prophets, and the events that accompanied their ministry, pointed to an even more special presence —the coming of God’s Son (Hebrews 1:1-2, 2Peter 1:16-19).
(d) Emmanuel, one of the names given to Christ, means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
(e) The Word dwelt among humans as a human (John 1:1-3,10,14).
2 God’s Presence When Jesus Ascended
(a) Jesus said he was going to heaven (John 14:2-3).
(b) The disciples saw him ascend (Acts 1:9, Mark 16:19).
(c) Peter preached that Christ was at God's right hand (Acts 2:32-33).
(d) Christ now represents us in heaven (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 9:24).
(e) Question: Was God no longer present with his followers?
(f) Jesus promised another Helper would replace him (John 14:15-21).
(g) The Holy Spirit was to be Christ and his Father’s representative on earth (John 14:23).
Note —VICAR: The term vicar means acting representative or substitute. In a similar sense, an act is said to be vicarious. Regarding the title, Vicar of Christ, the Holy Spirit is the vicar of Christ on earth, (John 14:15-23). No one else should be called the Vicar of Christ.
(h)Through the abiding Spirit, the church enjoyed the virtual presence of Christ (Romans 8:9-11, Ephesians 3:16-17).
3 God's Presence in Our Time
(a) Question: How long was God’s presence through the Holy Spirit to last? Only for the first century, or into the 21st century?
(b) God’s Son ascended to heaven, and the Holy Spirit came as was promised. We do not read that he ever ascended into heaven.
(c) Christ promised, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20). His representative, the Holy Spirit, therefore remains indwelling Christians throughout the Christian age.
(d) Peter applied the promise of the Holy Spirit to all Christians down through the generations (Acts 2:38-39).
(e) Look back to John 14:16, and note that the Spirit was to be with Christians "forever".
(f) The world by itself is unable to know or receive the Holy Spirit so that Christ and the Father can come to make their abode (John 14:17-24).
(g) However if anyone will love God and Christ, and not the world, and will keep God's word, they will have the blessing of the Holy Spirit (John 14:23, 1John 2:15-16, 4:4-6).
(h) The presence of the Holy Spirit is not merely a general presence on earth (Acts 17:24-28), but an indwelling presence enjoyed by every Christian (John 7:37-39).