holy spirit

Retreat Epilogue: The Holy Spirit in Ephesians

In our recent three-day retreat in Pennsylvania, we laid a foundation of what the Scriptures teach about the Holy Spirit. In this follow-up lesson and in light of those foundational teachings, we look at Paul's letter to the Ephesians in perhaps a new light, as Paul has much to say about the Holy Spirit, and its role and importance in our lives as Christians.

The Holy Spirit (Pt. 3 of 3): Walking in the Spirit

In this third of three foundational lessons on the Holy Spirit, we build upon Old Testament stories (introduced in the previous lesson) to explore what it means to live a life that is led by the Spirit today. We review the Spirit’s role in leading the apostles to “all truth” and inspiring the Scriptures; and consider how Jesus urges us to pray boldly and persistently for (more of) the Spirit. The Spirit also calls us to live holy lives, as Paul calls us to avoid immorality because “our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit”. Finally, we consider the Spirit’s role in helping us toward one of the toughest challenges of all: the unity of all Christians.

The Holy Spirit (Pt. 2 of 3): The Mission of the Holy Spirit

Understanding the nature, purpose, and role of the Holy Spirit is essential to our Christian faith. In this second of three lessons on the Holy Spirit, we begin by looking at the Trinity. We borrow from early Christian insights to understand (and explain to others, including 1.6 billion Muslims in the world) the "oneness" of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as well as their distinct roles and characteristics. Next, we look at pictures from the Old Testament that help us understand the role of the Holy Spirit, including: the pillar of cloud and fire in Israel's exodus journey and the rock which produced water in the desert. These examples provide great insight into the role of the Spirit in our lives individually, as well as collectively in the Church.

The Holy Spirit (Pt. 1 of 3): The Nature of the Holy Spirit

The night before He was crucified, Jesus told His closest disciples that He must depart in order to be able to send them the Holy Spirit: a Helper who would abide with them and be in them. Yet some churches today virtually ignore the role of the Spirit! We start this lesson by recounting the clash in perspectives that took place 100 years ago in the Churches of Christ on this subject, and its tragic aftermath. From there we begin the process of taking a fresh look at the character of the Spirit, starting with key insights from the Old Testament. This is the first lesson of a foundational 3-part series on the Spirit.

More on the Holy Spirit (John 14:25-26a)

In this lesson we continue our study of the Holy Spirit. We turn to important passages from the Old Testament that reveal the Spirit as the guide on our journey from spiritual slavery, through the Wilderness of this life, to heaven. We also look at the critical role of the Spirit in guiding the writers of Scripture: the basis of our confidence in the Bible as the inspired Word of God.

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-24)

Before Jesus leaves His followers, He tells them that the Father would send them a Helper, the Spirit of Truth and that this Spirit would be in them. In this lesson we look at the relationship of the Spirit with the Father and the Son, the personality of the Holy Spirit, whether the Spirit actually lives in us, and the danger of quenching the Spirit. We also look at several images that can help us understand the Spirit's role as guide, comforter and protector in our lives individually and collectively as the Church.  

Rivers of Living Water (John 7:14-39)

What a marvel to listen to Jesus teach the crowds! In this passage, Jesus uses the Old Testament to confront hypocrisy, reveal His identity as the Christ, and promise the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. His enemies were confounded; others were convinced and began to follow Him. There are lessons here for us as well, including God's provision of "rivers of living water," which alone can quench our spiritual thirst and satisfy our souls.  

Encounter with a Samaritan Woman at the Well (John 4:1-45)

In John 4 Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well and has a noteworthy discussion with her. This passage has often been used to depict Jesus as the Great Women's Liberator. But, is this really what this passage teaches us? We will dig into the history of the Samaritans and their relationship with the Jews to gain insight into the liberation Jesus offers to all people of all the nations. We are also introduced to "living water", and called higher as we learn of Jesus' food: to do the will of the Father. 

You Must Be Born Again (John 3:1-12)

In John 3, Nicodemus encounters Jesus at night and is told that to enter the Kingdom of God, a person must be born of water and spirit. Nicodemus, a good-hearted teacher of Israel who will later stick his neck out for Jesus, is confused about what it means to be born again. Such is the case for so many Christians. This lesson deals with water baptism, an extremely controversial topic for much of the church today. We take a close look at Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments that address water baptism, as well as at some of the stumbling blocks that make baptism such a difficult teaching for so many. 

1 Corinthians 14:1-33 - The Gift of Tongues and the Church Meeting

1 Corinthians 14:1-33 includes two somewhat controversial issues: speaking in tongues and what it was like when Christians came together for worship. The lesson addresses three questions in regards to the gift of tongues: 1) What is speaking in tongues? 2) What was the purpose of speaking in tongues? and 3) Is speaking in tongues available to the Church today?  We are also asked what we can learn from this passage as to what Church should look like when we come together as Christians. 

1 Corinthians 12 - The Miraculous Gifts of the Holy Spirit & Church Unity

In chapter twelve, Paul turns his attention to the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. What does the Bible teach about the miraculous gifts, including gifts of healing, speaking in tongues, and the working of miracles? Are these spiritual gifts available today? Many Christians understand the miraculous gifts to have died within a generation of the Apostles. But is this what the Bible teaches?  

This passage also paints a beautiful picture of Christian unity within the body of Christ, a major theme in the book of 1 Corinthians. What can we learn from Paul about building a healthy, unified church?  

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 - Immorality and the Body as the Temple of the Holy Spirit

In the second half of chapter six, Paul addresses immorality in the Corinthian church.  Paul explains the importance of the physical body, that Christians are united with Christ, and that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.  This lesson looks at these blessings and the responsibility Christians have to keep their temples holy.  We look specifically at the sin of pornography and images that pollute our bodies.

1 Corinthians 3 - Examples from Daily Life for a Stronger Church

PDF of Lesson Outline

In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul uses four examples from daily life to instruct his listeners on church unity, peacemaking, Jesus Christ as the only foundation of the Church, how we will be judged (and rewarded) by God as to how we build the Church, honoring God by how we care for our physical bodies, and the importance of the Holy Spirit.