A while ago I went to my home group and we split off into even smaller groups just to talk about "where we are with God". I said (honestly) that I'm really bad at reading my Bible and praying, and I was getting very very confused about the Holy Spirit. You may remember a few months ago I wrote a post on this blog about how I was finally getting to know the Spirit for myself and how I had resented Pentecostalism a little for making the Spirit seem so foreign to me. That was all true, but I have still been totally confused. Perhaps the fact of trying to be closer to the Holy Spirit has done this, because I've had to question my earlier perspectives a lot. Perhaps the Spirit has taught me that I haven't been quite fair to Pentecostal ideas, although I think I had to go through that step to get to the next one. On the other hand I still have serious problems with extreme Pentecostal ideology. Basically - I've been getting very twisted up with different points of view. But in this home group another girl suggested I take the subject of the Holy Spirit, look him up in a concordance, and just go through the Bible methodically - thus solving two problems at once. This seemed such a simple idea that at first I was a little taken aback, but slowly it grew on me, and I decided to do it. (Why didn't I think of it myself?!)
So for the last few weeks I've been going through every Bible reference that mentions the Spirit of God or the Counsellor etc etc. This has been fantastic for me, to see what the Bible says about who the Holy Spirit really is and what he does, and to try to draw my own conclusions from it, without the baggage that denominational interpretations inevitably bring. I think the methodical approach suits me, because so far I've organised all the verses I copied down into subgroups, and I'd like to write a few posts sharing what I discovered. I still haven't figured out all of it - I'd like to study a few of the subgroups a bit more carefully, such as "Baptism of the Spirit" or "Difficult Bits", and check out what a few commentators have written about them. But there are also sections I found really helpful without having to read other people's opinions on them, and here's the first subgroup I'd like to share:
Exodus 31:3 regarding Bezalel: I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts...
1 Samuel 16:14 The Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him. v.23 Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.
2 Samuel 23:1-2 In his last words, David refers to himself as Israel’s singer of songs, and says The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.
Ephesians 5:18-20 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It was a huge encouragement to me to learn that music or creativity in general is an agent of the Holy Spirit. I love and rely so much on music that it has sometimes concerned me a little; what if that's wrong? But now I feel like my feeling for music is a big bonus in my quest to understand in some way the character of the Spirit of God and how he works and what he gives people. I mean, if the Holy Spirit is a lover of music and he shows us things through music, he must really like us.
I also love that God is a God who shares his best gifts with everyone. Some of his gifts can be destroyed or mutilated, like the gift of family. But you don't have to do what God says to enjoy music although I have a theory that perhaps it's not until you know him yourself that you can enjoy things like music to their full extent. God is a truly generous God.