Reverencing the Holy Spirit


The more we reverence the Holy Spirit, the greater His active influence will be among us. By reverence, I mean a strong feeling of respect and admiration, a deep and joyful awareness of and honor for the Holy Spirit.

Luke presents this precept in the unfolding life of the early church. In Acts 5, a man named Ananias sold some property and gave the proceeds of the sale to the church. However, he claimed that he withheld none of the money for himself. Peter called him out for lying to the Holy Spirit (not for keeping what was rightfully his). Consider this clearly: Ananias tried to mislead the apostles (in order to appear generous), but Peter called this lying to the Holy Spirit. Peter recognized the prevailing presence of the Spirit in the church. This reverent awareness seemed to allow for or produce a powerfully active influence of the Spirit, so much so that the lying man and his wife (who was part of the plan to “test the Spirit of the Lord”) both fell dead (Acts 5:1-10).

As a result, great fear come upon all the church, and as many as heard these things. And (as further result) many signs and wonders were performed by the hands of the apostles (vv. 11-12). I believe the same joyful awareness of and honor for of the Holy Spirit fueled the compassion and confidence to work miracles. Luke continues in vv. 13-14, describing a broad respect for the church: no one dared join them under pretense, and the community held them in high regard. This sentiment was not due to a program or a strategy of the church; it was not in any way due to the church’s attempts to fit in or be accepted. This was directly because of the reverence the church possessed and practiced toward the Holy Spirit, which fostered His active influence in and through them.

Luke brings the narrative to crescendo in vv. 15-16 when he describes people bringing the sick and oppressed from neighboring cities and lying them on the streets so that Peter’s shadow would fall on them, and “they were healed, every one.” We can probably assume there was no mojo in Peter’s shadow. What we can assert is that Peter walked with a reverent (bold, joyful, respectful) awareness of the Holy Spirit. As a result, both he and the church he helped lead bore a reputation as carriers of divine presence. This reputation fueled not only a healthy respect and admiration from the world around them, but also a robust hope in the Christ they served.

It is easy to hear the Apostle Paul’s affirmation of such reverence: “Do not grieve the Spirit” (Eph. 4:30), “Do not quench the Spirit” (I Thess. 5:19), “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18), “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). Apostolic faith is that which prizes, prioritizes, cherishes, and reverences the Holy Spirit.

I am challenged to centralize my own awareness of the Holy Spirit, to reverence Him deeply and happily. I am determined to humbly lead my family and encourage my church to foster such reverence for the Spirit. Because, I believe, the more we reverence the Holy Spirit, the greater His active influence will be among us. I want nothing less and nothing else.

Thanks for reading,
~ Dav

Isaiah 6: A few thoughts for today’s willing messenger


In the year that King Uzziah died, the prophet Isaiah has a spectacular vision that forged the future of his ministry. While the events and immediate consequences of the vision are directed to Isaiah and his contemporaries, that which is revealed or affirmed regarding the mission of heaven remain constant and timelessly informative, edifying and applicable.

​The passage includes material that, although inspired and worth study, will not be included in this essay, which will instead focus on how the passage portrays the nature of God, atonement, and the message of repentance and healing.

​In his vision, Isaiah sees Adonai enthroned high and exalted. The train of his robe fills the temple. The Hebrew syntax accentuates the majesty of the moment with an apparent use of the “plural of eminence” on the noun “robe” and verb “fills.” (As if said that Adonai’s robes filled and filled and filled the temple.) Accompanying Adonai are angelic beings called Seraphim, or “burning ones.” These blazing creatures use their sets of wings to cover themselves in the presence of the Lord; they revere the Sovereign Master, the Lord of Hosts.

​The Seraphim cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” There is a beautiful paradox in this cry. Thrice the blazing ones shout, “Holy!” Hebrew uses repetition for emphasis. God is exceedingly Holy. Holiness is God’s supreme nature, it is God set apart, unique, distinct; God alone is “high and lifted up.” God is the exalted One, transcendent. And yet, the whole earth is full of His glory. God’s glory is His majestic splendor, beauty, and magnificence. God’s glory is His radiance and our ecstasy. His Glory pervades creation. God is transcendent in Holiness, but immanent in Glory. This paradox reveals God’s design and desire to be manifestly present in our midst, borne out in the incarnation: The Word became flesh and dwell among us, and we have beheld His glory.

​At the sound of the Seraphim’s shout, the temple door-posts shake, and the whole house is filled with smoke. God’s presence seems too great for even the heavenly structure to bear as it sways under the weight of glorious cloud of Glory. This scene in heaven seems echoed in Acts 4, when the place is shaken as the Spirit of God fills all in the house.

​At this Isaiah cries out, “woe is me for I am undone…a man of unclean lips among a people of unclean lips…I have seen the King.” The majesty of God’s Holiness and Glory invokes this self-condemning sentiment. God does not condemn Isaiah, nor do the angels. Isaiah condemns himself with his words. Isaiah is convinced he must die, he is “undone” in the presence of Adonai’s splendor.

This scene, too, has and echo in Peter’s confession before Christ in Luke 5:8, “depart from me, Oh Lord, for I am a sinful man.” But Jesus does not condemn Peter, rather he assuages his fear and calls him into service, saying, “do not fear, for now on you will be catching men.” And likewise, though Isaiah would sentence himself (rightfully) to death, heaven does not. One of the seraphim flies over to Isaiah with a live (burning) coal and touches Isaiah’s lips, saying, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away (cut off, taken away, lifted) and your sin is purged (atoned for).” The flaming coal from the altar, having born the sacrifice, is applied to Isaiah. His iniquity is taken away. His sin is atoned for – and this verb in the imperfect tense indicates that this atonement continues – all of Isaiah’s sin is atoned for.

This altar speaks to us of the atonement of Christ, who was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the resurrection of the dead (Romans 1:4).

The Holy Spirit’s fire applies what Christ’s sacrifice has accomplished.

​Isaiah, too, is then sent to carry the message of atonement. But here is where the language in the text feels awkward. It seems as if Adonai intends to prevent his people from hearing the message. But it may be better understood that although God’s desire is not to preclude restoration, He here recognizes that the hearts of His people are bent on rebellion. Isaiah’s preaching will only harden their hearts further. Because their hearts are hard, they will not hear or understand. They will not return (repent), and will not be healed. But in these consequences, the reader can hear the hope of heaven.

Adonai desires for men to hear His message, to understand it and to return to Him, repenting of their futility and rebellion. And in this returning, they will find healing.

​Isaiah’s mission was sad. But ours is not. From this passage we can be assured that a Holy God is still expressing His glory in the earth. The Holy Spirit blazes with the purging flame of Christ’s atonement for sin. And heaven still seeks fire-born messengers to call men and women to hear and understand, to repent and be healed.