Monday, July 05, 2021

Anonymous Asks (152)

“Should we worship the Holy Spirit?”

Long before the Word was made flesh, the Holy Spirit was present in the world and active on behalf of the Godhead. We find him in the second verse of Genesis, the fourth-last verse of Revelation, and everywhere in between. He is mentioned approximately 100 times in the Old Testament and well over 200 in the New. It has been demonstrated from the scriptures that he possesses the same attributes as both Father and Son.* His significance to us can hardly be overstated, since without him we would not have the written Word at all.

So it’s a good question: Why not worship the Holy Spirit? He’s certainly worthy of our worship.

All the same, here are a couple of reasons most Christians do not make a habit of singling out the Spirit of God for special attention:

He Will Glorify Me

The foremost is that the work of the Spirit of God is all about Christ. In turn, the work of Christ is all about bringing glory to the Father. “He will glorify me,” declared the Lord Jesus. Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, but when they opened their mouths, it was Jesus about whom they invariably spoke. The “testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”.

When the Spirit fell at Pentecost, the result was certainly spectacular, but he did not come to display his own glory or draw attention to himself. He was pointing to Christ. Peter begins his sermon with the obvious — the miracle and the Old Testament’s attestation to it — but he ends with “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” And in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, but it is not the Spirit but Christ who is its head, “that in everything he [Christ] might be preeminent”. The Holy Spirit is the means by which we worship, but true worshipers will “worship the Father in spirit and in truth”. Even the method we are given to test the spirits points to this objective: “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.”

To assign the Spirit a priority in worship which he evidently does not covet for himself would seem to miss the point he is here to make and to ignore the role in which he willingly casts himself. Since the Spirit is seeking to draw attention to the Son and the Father, we would be wise to look where he is pointing rather than fixating on the divine messenger.

Arguments from Silence

A second reason is the complete absence in scripture of commands to explicitly worship the Spirit of God. A quick search for the words “worship” and “Spirit” in combination finds Christians worshiping “in spirit” or “by the Spirit”, but never worshiping the Spirit. Nor can we produce a single example of a biblical prayer that begins, “O Holy Spirit.” Instead, it is “Our Father in heaven” or “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” or even “I thank my God”.

These things do not prove it is wrong to address the Holy Spirit directly in prayer or to single the Spirit and his work out for our praise and worship, but they are strongly suggestive that the emphasis of both the scripture itself and of godly men throughout history has been elsewhere.

* Fred Cundick writes, “We may mention the following absolute attributes. Omnipresence is attributed to the Spirit, ‘Whither shall I go to flee from thy spirit?’, Psa. 139.7. Again, ‘For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body’, 1 Cor. 12.13. The Spirit must be in every locality to perform this ministry. Omniscience: ‘The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God’, 1 Cor. 2.10. Omnipotence: The work of salvation is ascribed to the Spirit [in Titus 3:5]. The mighty act of resurrection is likewise: ‘If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by the Spirit that dwelleth in you’, Rom. 8.11.” (Treasury of Bible Doctrine, 1977)

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