As much talk as there is these days about how so many doctrines are in need of a fresh look & possibly revision, in light of concepts like Covenant Protology & Eschatology, one subject that has come under scrutiny lately is that of 'pneumatology', or the Study of the Holy Spirit! Although related by necessity to the doctrine of the Trinity, or the three-in-one, this post will focus, not so much on whether the Holy Spirit exists as a separate Person from the Father & Son, but whether the Holy Spirit continues to work in this day & age since His Purpose was fulfilled in the first century!
To really fulfill our purpose here, however, we must decide whether our eschatology, or rather our view of the Eschatology of Israel necessitates a cessation of the specific position of the Holy Spirit & whether the Holy Spirit ever existed ( as a separate Person )! In other words, is the construct of three separate persons, Father, Son & Holy Spirit, first, a Scriptural one post-AD70 & second, must He remain as He was ( Scripturally ) in order to be the Holy Spirit! If our Heavenly Father IS the Holy Spirit, as we've discussed previously, then He obviously has not left us alone, but still supplies our every need!
In order to get down to the 'nitty gritty' ( so to speak ) , then, one must first establish in their own mind & heart whether this conception ( of the Trinity ) is true, righteous & good altogether, then that one can ascertain how that doctrine affects how they live their lives! How do we treat others who, though they may not believe in any sort of traditional ( orthodox ) concept or doctrine of the Trinity, believe that the Spirit of Almighty God dwells within them & directs their every step? If we are are condemning those who don't believe according to our orthodox doctrine, though they are living obvious Spirit-filled lives;; are we ourselves living Spirit-filled lives?
Human beings are, as we have seen & witness daily, divers creatures! You may have heard the expression, 'opinions are like assholes; everybody's got one'! We all have different opinions on a limitless host of subjects; it's very rare to find two people who believe exactly the same about much more than a half-dozen subjects! When/if you find that person, you better latch on to him or her with all your heart, mind & strength ( or not; two such people would likely end up killing each other )! As diverse humanity, then, we all may have differing opinions about, in this case, the Nature of God, but if our view or understanding of His nature causes us to remain at odds ( to the point of separation ) with our brethren who hold to a different view & have a different understanding, then of what real use is that understanding?!
'Doctrine divides'; nowhere is this more true than the doctrine in question, the focus behind this post! Doctrine is good, doctrine is even necessary, in a sense, because if a person believes the wrong thing & acts according to that belief, we are faced with wrong actions, but if one acts according to right beliefs, then one can only act rightly! Unity is not uniformity, however; although, as diverse human beings, though we are never uniform in our beliefs, we can yet practice unity in community! Uniformity is not necessarily a bad thing, but let's face it; if it means a lack of unity, it should be shunned! if we can't all get along because we believe differently, we might as well put our hopes in the future return of Christ!
Back to our discussion now, 'what is a spirit?' Is a spirit the ethereal presence that we have become all too familiar with in the movies & TV shows of recent decades? Are spirits simply the remaining essence of those who have 'crossed over', but are still stuck here in the visible realm, for whatever reason? Most everyone you ask has differing opinions of what a spirit is, but simply put, a spirit is the essence of what a person is! Some people are accused of having a 'mean spirit', therefore they are usually rightly judged as being a mean person; some people, on the other hand, have 'a forgiving spirit', therefore, they are usually well-known & loved as a forgiving person! The spirit of any being, including a divine one, defines that person! There is no getting away from that; a person, for instance, claims to be a follower of Jesus & may have all their doctrinal 'ducks in a row', but if they don't love their neighbor as themselves, what good is their doctrine? Again, on the other hand, one may claim not to believe anything, yet loves their neighbor as themselves. Which of these two, do you think, would make a better neighbor?
A spirit, then, is the Essence of Being; it defines the person! If the Person is Divine, or Holy, then that Spirit, or person is, by definition, a Holy Spirit! In that sense then, one might say that those who are part of the Body of Christ are holy spirits/Holy Spirits! Since we are IN Christ, or rather, He is IN us ( John 14:23 ), we are the dwelling of the Holy Spirit!
So, with that explanation ( I know, it's just an opinion ) of what a spirit is, we can now determine whether our Heavenly Father, as THE Holy Spirit, still works today, spreading His Good News through sowing His Divine Essence through us! Simply put, 'YES'; of course He does! there will always be those that choose to let doctrine divide them, just as there will always be those who choose unity over uniformity, who choose to live out the Good News rather than to wait for that which is already Present with us!
Another question to ponder ( although you shouldn't ponder it too long ) is, 'is the Holy Spirit of today the same one who comforted the oppressed & persecuted Saints in the 1st century?' Again the answer must be a resounding 'YES': the same Spirit now comforts us in our tribulation & even though any trials & tribulations that we may suffer in this day & age ( which is 'the age to come' of Scripture ) pale in comparison to what those in the first century faced, we may say with certainty that the Holy Spirit still does His work in the 21st century!
Charles Haddon Shank