Living In the Spiritual World Chapter 6 Divine Personalities



 Divine Personalities




Mikaela: By the sound of the title, this session might include Mommy.


MB: You are close. Laura is divine in many senses, but now we will focus on the truly divine personalities¾the Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one.

Deuteronomy 6:4

In every synagogue around the world, these words are spoken on every Sabbath. Yet we as Christian believers see God not as one but as three. How can we resolve these two concepts? How can we proclaim that God is one, yet refer to God as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?


RS: Most Christians are not aware that both Muslims and Jews consider us polytheistic (believing in more than one God). We are the only people who believe we are monotheistic. One of the reasons is that we cannot easily explain how “three is one.” Scripture does give us background that is helpful and right within the words I just quoted for you, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one,” is a clue.

That term “one” is the Hebrew word echad (one) and is used in a number of scriptures to mean “one in essence” but not necessarily one in the cement or concrete character. For instance, when the Bible says the “two shall become one,” one is echad. In the wedding and the bonding of the marriage, there is a sense in which we become one, but there is also a sense of still being two distinct individuals. My wife would not consider herself the Randy/Dottie person. She still has a mind of her own, and I still have a mind of my own, and occasionally, they need to be settled. We are one in essence, one in direction, one in spirit. We are one in purpose. In this sense, God is one. He has one purpose, one heart, one mind, one will, and one desire. There is no place in the Scripture you could argue that the Son would have a different desire than the Father or that the Spirit would have a different desire than the Father. There are, however, functions of each part of this “godhead,” as we call it, that are different.

If you go all the way back to the beginning, you have a very ancient story of Adam walking in the Garden and standing behind him is God. Now at that time, somebody is running the universe. Somebody is making the planets do what they do. Somebody has got the whole thing under control. So you have a problem. Does God put on human skin in the text of Hebrew Scripture? Yes. Does He walk on the earth as a body? Yes! Is He a body? No. The Scripture clearly says He is a spirit. John 4:23 says, “Those who must worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” because God is not a physical person. He is able to do many things. He is able to appear in many ways. Ultimately, we have to come back to the function of who He is.            


MB: My understanding of the Trinity boils down to function. We see different manifestations depending on the function. Genesis 1:1 states: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” and then in the next verse, we see the Spirit of God hovering over the earth. Was that somebody different? No, it was not, but it was a different manifestation of God¾a different function. In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” It is very interesting that He used the plural (us)¾“in our image.”                                                                                                                                                

RS: God uses that plural us in Genesis 11:7 at the tower of Babel: “Come, let Us go down there and confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” There are many who argue God used plurals of majesty. It’s like the old Queen’s English when she is constantly referring to “we” for “us” but really means “I” and “me.” The bottom line is that functions God performs in our lives and what He does in the universe are in some senses distinct.

You just quoted from Genesis 1 that “In the beginning God created.” Yet Colossians 1 says the Son was actually the agent of creation. Now is that necessary for me to know¾that it is this One and not that One? No, because in essence both are still God.

Many Christians make a mistake in the way they talk. They say the Spirit that hovered over the water is not God. God is the One that created. They are both God. It is one God we are talking about. We talk about Him in different forms according to the way He performs His acts with men. So, you see this model of a loving Father, an obedient Son, and a helpful Spirit. This model is to help you. I suspect it is not a diagram of God.

Let me explain it this way: When my daughter was about four, she asked “Dad, does turning the light switch on make the light go on?” I knew that electrons running across a resistor in a vacuum made the light come on. But I said, “Yes.” I was not lying to her, and I was helping her understand in a language she could relate to. If there is a gap between a thirty-some-year-old man and a four-year-old daughter, what is the gap between the eternal God of ages and me?                                                                                                              

MB: Exactly. I think when we look at God, using the word Trinity, we describe a concept in which we are like a four year old trying to understand the light switch and how that light comes on by the simple act of flipping the switch. We use the word Trinity to describe God in terms we can understand. Jesus spoke of the Father often, made many references to Himself as the Son, and told his disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Finally, He commanded us to “Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (Mathew 28:19)

We see that when Jesus began His ministry He was baptized by John, and the heavens opened. We see a dove—the Holy Spirit—descending upon Him and a voice from heaven speaking. Here we see the three functional personalities of God all at the same time.


RS: There was never a moment in that entire act that these three were not in harmony, one in essence or in desire and in purpose. I can’t say for sure there are not four more things out there that are parts of the manifestation of God. I can only say He didn’t express that to us. He expressed Himself in three persons. I am limited to the wonder of God as it is expressed in Scriptures to me. As the Holy Spirit guides me in understanding the Scriptures, I know this is what I am limited to. It is so big and so much information; I don’t really feel a limitation here. It may seem hard to grasp, but I think it’s in God’s character¾He is not somebody we can figure out!

Maybe it will be helpful to take a close look and dissect, so to speak, each of the personalities.


Arielle: I’m still a little confused.


MB: Let me see if I can help. Think of a cube. It has six sides. If you look at it from one side, it looks like a square. If you look at it from the front, it looks like a rectangle. If you look at it from the top, it looks like another, slightly different rectangle. Yet it is still a box, or cube. Your point of view determines what you see.

God presents Himself in three different forms—the Trinity. They are all three parts of the same, and each has His own distinct “personality.”

Another way to understand the Trinity is to look at water. It is a liquid that flows from the tap; it is ice cubes in the freezer; and it is steam rising from a teapot. It is all H20, but one form is liquid, one is solid, and one the other is gas. These are “form” descriptions.

Peter gives us a functional view of the Trinity when he writes to those persecuted first-century believers:

 God the Father chose you long ago, and the Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Jesus Christ and are cleansed by his blood.                                                 1 Peter 1:2

Peter understood it was the Father who chose you, the Son who saved you, and the Spirit who empowers you to live a life of obedience to God. Having heard the voice of the Father, walked with the Son, and been empowered by the Spirit, Peter naturally shared this unique experience and functional understanding of God with those who were challenged to understand God’s role in their lives.


I think Laura has a perspective here that will really help.


Perfect Relationships


And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And He said to him,            “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

“This is the great and foremost commandment.

“The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”                                                                           Matthew 22:35-40


As big and complicated as life can be, there is only one thing that will last for eternity: relationships.


  • the relationship between God and man
  • the relationships between God’s people.


It’s amazing for us to realize that all Ten Commandments God gave in the Old Testament direct relationships: the first four deal with our relationship to God and the last six with our relationship to those around us. The value our God places on relationship was enough to die for. There is not enough emphasis we can place on the gift of relating. He gave us His most valued possession when He gave His only begotten Son for the redemption of our souls—the redemption of a relationship cut off from His heart. God went the whole length to gain that relationship back as He first intended it.

He longs to touch us. He longs for us to know Him in all of His vastness¾not merely to know about Him, but to know Him intimately and significantly, so much that His life would be totally integrated within ours. He longs to be a living entity through us. That we would not only act like Him, but we would be and live out His divine personality. This is His eternal call. A call that will live on into forever.

Our relationship with the divine personalities so frequently exhibits itself in our lives with others. Thus, the second greatest commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

   “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8  


 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”

1 John 4:12-13

In our abiding in and submitting to God, we find ourselves more and more involved in His eternal purposes. We find ourselves in fuller relationship with Him and others. One cannot exist without the other¾loving God and loving others.

In the three parts of the divine personality, we are given the models for all our relationships.


  • A Father who loves you and wants to give every good thing to you and can;
  • a Friend who will do anything, even to the point of dying for you;
  • a Helper who will guide you through every step of life, giving you wisdom, love, joy, and peace along the way.


As we investigate the various aspects of the personalities of the Trinity, may you receive the guidance and the power to model all your relationships accordingly.

And may the Lord your God, by the relationship established through His Son and by the power of His Spirit, grant to you a renewed love for Him and for all those He brings into your path.


MB: Many years ago I was at a New Age spring retreat on Maui. I was invited there to speak about the crucifixion of Jesus. There was a table with pictures of gurus, Hindu gods, and Jesus, along with flowers, burning incense, and pakalolo. That weekend I heard many “speculations” about who God was and what He was really like. As I asked various people about the source of their information, most referred to a revelation that a guru received while in meditation or a book someone had written.

We all have our opinions of who God is and what He wants from us. On a subject this weighty, it is good that we actually have God’s Word to turn to, which cuts through all the subjective “feelings.” Let’s see what the Bible has to say about God the Father.


God was there in the beginning. He is the only uncreated being.

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and Earth.

Genesis 1:1 nas

According to the Bible, God is



I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me.                                                                                                  Isaiah 46:9 nas


But the Lord abides forever.                            Psalm 9:7 nas


God is not a man, that He should lie.

Numbers 23:19 NAS

righteous and just:

Your throne is founded on two strong pillars--righteousness and justice. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants.                                                                                    Psalm 89:14


For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 4:24 NAS

If there is one characteristic that sums up God, it is love.

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:8 NAS

God is all-powerful, or omnipotent.

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”                                                                      Jeremiah 32:27


He is also all-knowing, or omniscient.

For God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.

1 John 3:20 nas

And He is present everywhere, or omnipresent.

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee.”

1 Kings 8:27 NAS

God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere (but not “every thing”). Isn’t it nice to know the most powerful individual in the universe is not off in some far corner of the galaxy ignoring us? Isn’t it comforting to know that He is deeply concerned about us and His foremost characteristic is love?

We can look at this and ask ourselves, “What do I do with that? It’s a good description, but what does it mean for me?” Let’s look at a passage from Isaiah. The prophet says: “I’ve told you what God is like, but this is what He does for you.” And in chapter 40, he says that “God gives strength to the weary.” Is this important to me?

Have you never heard or understood? Don't you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31


Then I turned to a passage in Psalm 103, which is a great description of the things that God does for me. This has great significance!


Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities; Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit; Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. . . .The Lord is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us; Nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:2-5, 8-12 nas

I see in this passage that He pardons me. I need forgiveness in my life. He heals me. There are diseases and brokenness within that don’t respond to anything except His touch.

He takes my life and redeems me. As a young boy living in North Carolina, I used to look for Coke bottles that had been tossed out of cars along the highway and take them down to the “filling station” and “redeem” them for a Moon Pie and RC Cola. Trash along the highway suddenly became something delicious and refreshing! He does that with the trash of my life, redeems me and turns my life into something of great value.

Psalm 103 goes on to say: “He crowns me with loving kindness and compassion.” I like that phrase “crowns me.” This is where God goes beyond the basics and actually lays some stuff on me far beyond the call. He crowns me; He renews my youth. I started having children when I was thirty-nine. I need my youthfulness to keep up with four young ones! He satisfies me with good things. If there is anything every man and woman wants in their lives, it is satisfaction in the things we do. In living our lives, we want to be able to sit back, draw in a deep breath, and say “Yes! Very nice, thank you.”                                                                                                                        

RS: It is almost as if people have more now and are satisfied less in the world in which we live. When we apply the satisfaction of the Lord to our lives, we touch a nerve¾it’s something everyone in our culture and everyone in our world is looking for today.


MB: We recently took the kids and spent a few days in the Negev Desert, learning about Bedouin culture. One of the stories our guide told us was about a young boy whose father died and left him an inheritance. His last words to his son were the hope that his son would always drink the sweetest water, eat the most delicious food, and sleep on the softest bed. Immediately, the son went to Cairo and spent his money, staying at the best hotels, eating the finest food, and drinking all the world had to offer. After months of riotous living, he ran out of money and returned home to the desert. He asked his uncle for a job working with his herds of sheep and goats. After a week of wandering with the flocks, he was tired, dusty, and worn out. He returned home, had cool water from the oasis spring, hot food from his aunt’s kitchen, and slept on a mat inside his uncle’s tent. It was then that he realized where the sweetest water, the most delicious food, and the softest bed were found¾at the end of a demanding day’s work.

The moral of this story for the Bedouin is that satisfaction is found living life at the “basics.” For a believer, our satisfaction in life is very basic and has only one source: God Himself and doing the things He has planned for you, even if it means having less creature comforts.

Here is a photo  that tells this story. It was in 1987 in Honduras when the war was cooling down. The photo was taken after a long walk on a very muddy trail from Turalaya to Utlamatha. This is the swamp between the Kruta River and the Coco River, and we often made this hike to get to this section of our school district. Sometimes the mud was at mid-thigh and the water at chest level. This particular day was very wet, and by the time I reached the bank of the Rio Coco, I was totally sopped, cold, and exhausted.

It was then that my friend Trano’s wife brought me a bowl of hot, steaming rice. When I felt the warmth of that bowl, I knew this was going to be one of, if not the most, delicious bowl of rice I would ever eat. Someone walked by and took this photo of me with a bowl of plain white rice in my hand, and feeling like I had never tasted anything more delicious!

Jon and Tamaye Hamilton once commented that you do not often see refrigerator magnets with verses on suffering. I made this one for them!

The point is that God is a God who satisfies! We who live in the first world rarely get to the point of realizing that because we try to satisfy our lives by filling it with fast cars, nice restaurants, fashion, vacations to exotic places, skydiving, bungee jumping, and other adventures. When it comes down to it, it is only when we sit in the presence of the Lord and experience Him that we get a truly satisfied “breathe in and breathe out¾Yes!” feeling. And that can happen anywhere God has called you to be, whether in a church in America or on a bank of the Rio Coco. I have had many years of primitive life there in Miskitia, a place devoid of creature comforts, yet because God has called me there, life has been immensely satisfying.


RS: I think the beginning of understanding the satisfaction that comes from God is time when you come to a critical point in your life and when you are really stuck. There is an interesting passage in Exodus 33 and 34 where Moses found himself so frustrated. He was just beside himself with the children of Israel. Now that was not an easy job. He was an older individual who was called to do this often-overwhelming job. All the time, God’s encouragement to him when he said, “I can’t do this” was always, “My presence will go with you. I know you by name.” God was trying to encourage him, and finally you just see Moses pulling out his hair saying, “God show me who you are.”


The satisfaction comes when we have a glimpse of who God is.


Moses was saying he could not do the task if God was not going to show Himself to him. Moses needed to know he and God were going to walk through this thing together and that God would give him the right equipment to deal with his situation. He felt he could not deal with it all in any other way. At the end of the passage in Exodus 33:21-23, God says:

“You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. “Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”

This is a most interesting passage because God says, “I want to tell you who I am.” Not only does He put His hand above the rock and walk by, but also He walks by with a loud recitation¾the word in Hebrew is koral¾meaning to shout with a loud recitation. This is God shouting who God is. This is better than any theology book.

The Lord passed by and said “I am the I am.” God’s name presents a question: I am what? That is what we find out in the rest of the book. You are supposed to read it and find out who He is. God goes on to say in chapter 34 verse 6-8:

“I am the Lord, the merciful and gracious God. I am slow to anger and rich in unfailing love and faithfulness. 7I show this unfailing love to many thousands by forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion.”

In the literal Hebrew, God is essentially saying: “I am the strong and mighty one, I am the tender and compassionate one. I am the open giver who pities you. I am filled up with goodness. I am the absolute sure rock in your life. I am the one that guards my faithful loved ones. I am the one that lifts the guilt off of my children.”

He passes all this information on to Moses, and Moses falls down and bites the dust. He gets into the dirt. The text says he bowed himself into the dust. What a fabulous passage!

Satisfaction can come to me when I understand who my God is, and I am struck with the presence of God. When I begin to see him, then I begin to understand why I don’t need another thing in my life to be satisfied.


MB: I believe this is the whole point God wants to give to us: that entering into His presence is really all we need. The other stuff is just the “fluff,” peripheral things. In the material world, we get so focused on other things to satisfy us that we forget the main point. It is good to retreat to a remote place where you get away from the phone, television, and many creature comforts. Spending a few days in the Negev Desert in Israel is one way to do this. The refugee village in Honduras where we lived for many years had no electricity, no running water, and was isolated from the outside world. No vehicles meant that you heard nature sounds in full volume¾birds, bugs, monkeys, and people. In this environment, I learned that it was the simple things that bring satisfaction.

The portrait of God we see in the pages of Scripture is as our Father. Unfortunately, many have not had an earthly father who gave them the love and care they needed. Often it was quite the opposite! This “earthly experience” sometimes holds them back when it comes to having a relationship with our heavenly Father. If we could just understand how much our Creator loves us, we would run to have relationship with Him. The Hebrew word heard on the playgrounds here in Israel is abba¾literally meaning, “daddy.” God is a “daddy.” He is not a theoretical theological person. He is a daddy who wants to give us every good thing and can. One of my favorite pictures of God is in Psalm 84:11 where the writer says, “No good things will He withhold from those who follow Him.” If we can latch onto this concept, we will not go anywhere else.


RS: It is not only that He can, I think the big test in the life of a believer today is to not doubt the goodness of God. I can’t underscore this strongly enough. Believers need to remind themselves daily that God not only can, but He also desires to do in my life that which will bring the most glory to Him. That should bring a deep sense of satisfaction. When something happens in my life that I interpret to be bad because it’s either not what I want or it does not make things easier or less noisy and predictable, immediately I shake my fist at heaven and say, “God what are you doing? You’ve abandoned me.”

Dottie & Randy dancing in Rome

Ultimately, God only does that which will bring most honor and glory to Him, and I can find rest in that. Whether I open my bank statement and am happy or stand at a funeral where I am obviously in pain, in both of those moments I know what God’s agenda is. If I can get myself there, I can remind myself that God is a good God who cares intimately about what matters to me. He’s not sitting up there as a cosmic killjoy just looking for someone who is having fun so He can zap him. It’s not about Him taking pleasure in my pain. It’s about Him desiring me to be content. The Scriptures say, “If I delight myself in the Lord, He will give me the desires of my heart” (Psalm 37:4) I believe there is a problem with the way that many interpret this passage. I don’t think it says, “If I love Him, I’ll get what I want.” Rather, I think it says, “If I love Him, I’ll want what He wants, and then we will both get it together.” It all has to do with just bringing myself in line with where He is. That’s where I think you can actually capture the satisfaction that comes from getting the goodness of God in your life.


MB: If you can look back after a day or days, and realize that God’s purposes were accomplished, this is what brings us satisfaction and a peace in our lives that surpasses all understanding. The world looks at us and asks, “Why are you so content? Why are you so joyous?” Joy is not an emotional expression of “ha-ha-ha” but rather knowing that God is there and He cares.                                                        


RS: I define joy in my own mind as the resolute assurance that God has neither lost interest nor power. He has the power to deal with my needs, and He has an intimate interest in every aspect of my life. He is not, as 1 Peter says, “slack concerning his promises, but is patient” (2 Peter 3:9). God knows how to wait. My problem is that I live in an instant world and don’t know how to wait. I want everything now. If God is not coming to my defense in a situation, it is because He has a strategy. And it’s only people who act in confidence toward God who can relax and rest in a Father who oversees them as a child and says: “I will not allow that bully to pick on you without recrimination. But I’m going to wait until he gets a long enough rope, and then he is going to tie himself up with it.”

I think often of a story Pastor Joe Stowell of the Moody Bible Institute tells about the time that he took his son to swimming lessons at the YMCA. They had just moved to the Chicago area, and since there was so much water around, Joe felt it was essential his son learn to swim.

It was the first lesson, and, wisely, the YMCA required all the parents to stand behind a glass wall in a separate room as the session began. It was then that a burly instructor walked up to Joe’s skinny eight-year-old son and promptly threw him into eight feet of water. Never having been in eight feet of water, the child began to sink, and Joe found himself terrified but unable to do anything as he watched this child he loved sink to the bottom of the pool. Lo and behold, he came back up, came over to the side of the pool, choking and spitting water, and Joe saw him mouthing the words, “Dad! Why are you doing this to me?

Joe said in that moment, he captured the fatherhood of God. He found himself standing there thinking, “Son, I have a plan for you. I wouldn’t put you through this pain without a purpose. I don’t do that to you. But you must understand you will face real danger in your future, and this is the only way I can prepare you. If there was another way, I would do it, but there isn’t.”

Joe said standing there watching his son he understood so many things that had happened in his life.

The strength of my life is joy, as Nehemiah said, because joy is the assurance that He loves me, and He cares about me, and He won’t give up on me; and when I’m going through tough times, He is working a plan.


MB: Looking at God, you realize He is not dealing with these human situations from a theoretical perspective. The fact that He inhabited the form of a human body and lived a rather harsh life here gives me great appreciation that He knows where I am at. God could have done it in a different way, but He chose to become a man.

One of my favorite authors, Gene Edwards, tells the story of how God grew up in Nazareth with two of His friends. When they reached age twelve, one of them went to Jerusalem to become a scribe. Another went to a rabbinical school to study the Law. Both spent the next eighteen years in study before finally entering into their profession. God chose to remain in Nazareth and live the life of a tekton, literally a “constructor,” working with His hands cutting stone, sweating, breathing dust, dealing with aching muscles and sores on His hands and feet while often receiving low wages from ungrateful clients. He endured a life similar to ours. He had bills to pay! The fact that God chose to do this makes my understanding of His understanding of me so much greater! I can relax, and as the writer of Hebrews says, “Boldly approach the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16), because God has experienced much of what I have.                                                                                                                

RS: I have been thinking about the minute before the birth of Jesus. I don’t claim to know how this whole thing worked with God putting on human skin¾I don’t have the background to know¾but I can tell you this: There was a conscious choice of the One who was sitting on the highest place on the throne of the eternal heavens to put on the skin of a baby and not even be able to change His own mess. That choice fascinates me. Because, here is God who had everything, who decides to put on the limitation of human skin and being in one place all of the time (when He was used to popping into history anywhere, anytime). Then add to that, not only the skin of a man, but the skin of a baby, and to place Himself entirely in His creations’ hands.

We have two hamsters for pets. We just got them. And I want to tell you, I don’t want them to get big and take over caring for me. This is not something I can envision¾to allow them to decide when they are going to feed me, what they are going to feed me. This is the God of creation who knew every evil thought of man and yet He said, “I am going to put on skin, and let them handle Me.”

We think of Calvary and the things that went on during those last hours before His death as being so humiliating, but I think the real humiliation was being placed in that little feeding trough, surrounded with itchy hay, watching the chickens jump over His head. This is the eternal God of the universe. I find that striking. What I love about this picture is what Philippians tells us that we need to be. It says:

Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross. Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Phillipianns 2:6-10

I think it is interesting that we continually see pictures of the Son¾pictures of obedience, of learning, of following after the heartbeat of His Father. That is one of the things that actually helps me when I go to prayer. I can’t really think of a divine Father in heaven, rather I think of someone who has flesh¾someone who is like me. Although I know that He is not like me in every sense, I know He knows what it means to be me. That is a comfort.                                                                                                                                                                              

MB: And somebody you can very naturally talk to.


RS: Yes, somebody like me, who has paid bills, stood in line, somebody who has felt put down.


MB: This is an important point. It is necessary we have a view of God that becomes real and personal. Without it, we can become religious and worship something a few days a week that will not really affect the rest of our lives.

Apparently, God had long planned to reveal Himself fully to His creation. First, He did it with individual visits to Adam and Eve and a few others; then He revealed Himself through His Law to Moses; and the ultimate revelation was yet to come.

Anthropologists often use the term “contextualize,” which means “placing something into a particular or appropriate context for the purpose of interpretation or analysis.” It is an important principle of cross-cultural ministry. For us working with the Miskito Indians in Central America, it means to present the message of the Gospel in a cultural form that they can understand and receive and eventually call their own. Without such contextualization, we dress the Miskitos in our western clothes, teach them Western worship songs, and give them Christian rituals that have little meaning. But to truly reach them, we have to think like them, speak their language, experience their lifestyle, and understand their reality. Then we can present a message relevant to their lives that will make a difference.

Jesus was the ultimate “contextualization” of God to His creation. This is cross-cultural ministry “to the max.” He became one of us, He lived like us, shared our life experiences, felt the emotions that we feel, including pain and sorrow. He is someone we can totally relate to, and who can relate totally to us.

Over five hundred years before Jesus arrived on the planet, God, through Isaiah, told us He was going to provide a miraculous sign¾that a virgin would give birth to a son, and the baby would be called Immanuel, which means “God with us.” In the historical context, this was a sign for King Ahaz, as well as a sign for future generations.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.                                                                                                         Isaiah 7:14 nas

John picked up on this prophecy and witnessed the fulfillment. Look at how he describes Jesus in the first chapter of his gospel. God manifested Himself through His Word, and the creation process was done through His Word. The Word took on human form and lived among us.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. . . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 John 1:1-3,14 nas


Paul gives us another description of Jesus’ role in the Creation in his letter to the church in Colossae:

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before God made anything at all and is supreme over all creation. Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—kings, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities. Everything has been created through him and for him.  He existed before everything else began, and he holds all creation together.

Colossians 1:15-17

 The prophet Micah told us that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem. There are over sixty specific prophecies given concerning the Messiah that Jesus fulfilled. Calculate the probabilities for that!

Randy teaching in Bet Lehem

  “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”                                                                                                  Micah 5:2 nas












When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, all three divine personalities were present.

And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well‑pleased.”                               Matthew 3:16-17 nas


The man Jesus was filled with God’s Holy Spirit. The Father gave His approval. Jesus then began His ministry. John the Baptizer gives a very specific and personal description of Jesus just a few days later:

“He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. I am of the earth, and my understanding is limited to the things of earth, but he has come from heaven. He tells what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Those who believe him discover that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God’s Spirit is upon him without measure or limit. The Father loves his Son, and he has given him authority over everything. And all who believe in God’s Son have eternal life. Those who don’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life, but the wrath of God remains upon them.”

Lukas & friends in Nazareth

John 3:31-36

Jesus came to His hometown, Nazareth, and proclaimed what the prophet Isaiah had described seven hundred years before. Can you imagine this scene in the synagogue where the toddler Jesus had taken small baby steps, where the boy Jesus had learned His first memory verses, where the young man Jesus had worked, serving members of His community? What was the reaction of His clan when He made this announcement? They didn’t believe Him, which was pretty amazing, since the Netzor clan had always believed that the Messiah would come from their village.

 When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll containing the messages of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him, and he unrolled the scroll to the place where it says: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come.” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue stared at him intently. Then he said, “This Scripture has come true today before your very eyes!”

Luke 4:16-21

Jesus openly declared His deity in cultural language that was impossible for a first-century Jew to misunderstand. In many ways He said, “I am God in the flesh.”

Lukas & Mik in Gethsemene 1999

“The Father and I are one.” Once again the Jewish leaders picked up stones to kill him. Jesus said, “At my Father's direction I have done many things to help the people. For which one of these good deeds are you killing me?” They replied, “Not for any good work, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, have made yourself God.”                                                              John 10:30-33

Lukas: OK. If Jesus was God in the body of a human, He would be very different. He would have been an amazing guy!


MB: You are absolutely correct. Jesus had an amazing ministry! Jesus was an amazing guy. You constantly see that word popping up in the Gospels, describing people’s reaction to Him. It is a big word in a neon light. What else would you expect from God in the flesh?


People were amazed:

  • at His teaching, because He taught with authority:

And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Mark 1:21-22 nas


  • that He has the authority and power to cast out demons:

And just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, “What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are¾the Holy One of God!” And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!” And throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice, and came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”                                                                                                   Mark 1:23-27 nas


  • that He has the power and authority to calm the wind and the waves:

But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended upon the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. And they came to Him and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And being aroused, He rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”                                                Luke 8:23-25 nas


  • that He has the authority to forgive sins and the power to heal:

And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. And being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying.

And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” But there were some of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,  “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?”

And immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Arise, and take up your pallet and walk’? “But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins¾” He said to the paralytic¾“I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.”

And he rose and immediately took up the pallet and went out in the sight of all; so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “we’ve never seen anything like this.”

Mark 2:13-17 nas


  • that He has the authority and ability to raise the dead:


Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, “Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him, knowing that she had died. He, however, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Child, arise!” And her spirit returned, and she rose immediately and He gave orders for something to be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed; but He instructed them to tell no one what had happened.

Luke 8:52-56 nas


Yes, Jesus is quite amazing!


When you look at the life of Jesus, He comes across as such a hero. He is the ultimate action figure hero. I confess, as a child, I read Superman and Batman comics. We are in a culture now that looks to heroes, but have you noticed how in the past few years that term has been severely watered down? Now a survivor of an aircraft accident is described in the press as a “hero.” He’s really just a survivor. To me a hero is a person who bursts into the flaming airplane and rescues the trapped passengers at the risk of their own life.

In His life, Jesus portrayed Himself as the ultimate hero¾a man who was willing to do anything and to give totally of Himself to accomplish His mission. He knew what His mission was. He knew that He would have to die one of the most horrible deaths imaginable. We are not talking lethal injection when you feel a little tingling and suddenly you black out; or a gas chamber experience when after a few breaths you pass out; or feeling a sudden jolt of electricity in the chair that immediately destroys your nervous system; or even hearing the sliding of the guillotine blade down the track as it approaches your neck when it immediately severs your spinal cord.

“I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. . . For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”                                        John 10:14-15, 17-18 nas


We are talking about a form of execution that sometimes lasted days. It was public torture, hanging on that cross with nails driven through major nerves in His wrists, unable to exhale unless He pushed up on the nail through His feet to release the stress in His chest muscles, and dying a very slow death of asphyxiation. 

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well‑being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.

Isaiah 53:5-6 nas


Jesus knew this was what was waiting for Him. This was going to be the price for us to become members of God’s family. Yet He went forward with resolve and determination that this was going to happen. Oh yes, there were a few moments in the garden where He asked His Father if He could do it another way; now would be the time, but if not, He was ready to go.


For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and by him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of his blood on the cross. This includes you who were once so far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.                                                                   Colossians 1:19-22


It was God’s plan that He Himself would reconcile the relationship with mankind. Reconciliation is from both sides. The law is fulfilled, justice is done, and so God’s just character is satisfied. Man is forgiven and, in God’s eyes, we are declared “not guilty” and are now holy and blameless. A just God demanded punishment for sin. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. How He paid it is a measure of His love!

Many years ago, in a California courtroom, a defendant was brought before the judge on a drunken driving charge. Evidence was heard, and the defendant was declared guilty and the sentence was a large fine. The judge stepped out from behind his bench, took off his robe, walked over to the bailiff, took out his wallet, and paid the fine. Then he turned to the defendant, who happened to be his daughter, and said, “Don’t ever let me see you in my courtroom again.”

God did a similar thing in His courtroom. Sin was condemned and the penalty paid. I now look at Jesus, analyze what He did, and decide, “This is somebody that I can respect.”

Pilate therefore said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.”                                                                                                        John 18:37 nas


The Bible says Jesus is my King. Now, I grew up in a democracy, and we Americans believe that democracy is the best form of government, and we try to export it to the rest of the world. But growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, I realized there were severe flaws in the democratic system. There were certain people in my government whom I could not trust, and many aspects of the political system were counterproductive for good things for all people. As a result, I became disillusioned with this form of government. Then I met Jesus. Now I am a “monarchist,” and I am waiting for my King to come back and take His throne on this earth. This really excites me because this is a king I can respect. I know He has my best interest at His heart. He is a friend of mine. He will do anything for me. He has already proven that!

I can’t wait for this King to come and take over the government of this world. Whatever happens, whatever is coming, I know I will spend eternity with Him, being part of whatever He is doing. There is nothing better.                                                             


RS: We’ve talked about God the Father, and now God the Son. There is a more illusive character, a personality who is very much in step with what is going on with the Church now because He was there at the inception, or birthday, of the Church as an organism of God’s choosing, but He is a little harder to define. You can put on the Father the title of Great Overseer of all. The Son is much easier because He is concrete¾you can touch Him. He’s an actual person who walked on the earth and died, was raised, and will be back. But what about the Spirit? It seems that His life and His work in our lives are terribly important in the Church.                                                     


MB: When Jesus was with His disciples in the Upper Room in John 16, He talks about how He is going away so the Holy Spirit can come and attempts to explain some of the dynamics of that. It gets a little confusing.

 “But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and none of you has asked me where I am going.  Instead, you are very sad.  But it is actually best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Counselor won’t come. If I do go away, he will come because I will send him to you.                                                                       John 16:5-7



RS: He even said, “It is best for you that I go away” (John 16:7) . It seems every believer I know thinks, “Boy, if we could only have been there when Jesus was there in the room and listened to Him talk.” And yet He told the disciples when He was in the room, “This is going to be even better than what you have with you now.”


MB: It’s like the heart of Jesus was distilled and placed within the heart of the believer in the form of God the Holy Spirit, and this is what is continually touching all of us.


RS: Now, this sounds mystical when you say this stuff and it sounds like people are going to be buying beads and doing some weird things here. But really, all we are saying is that the Spirit functions in a distinct way with a distinct personality, which is what defines the Spirit as different from the Son. He has intellect, emotion, and will. He wills, He desires, He moves. This Spirit of God is active, alive, and working in the Church today.


MB: Right, and it is in a manner every believer can partake of. Jesus Christ could only be in one physical place at one particular time. With the Holy Spirit we can all be “connected.” A significant word for all Christians is koinōnia (gr.κοινωνία), which literally means “sharing” or “partnership” with the Holy Spirit and thus each other. It is a concept that is very important to the lives of all members of God’s family.


RS: Physically, Jesus was a limited item. The Holy Spirit on the other hand is someone who is able to permeate all forms. And He is not different in the respect that if He put on a body it would be like the Son. He is different in that it was never anticipated He would serve the function of the Son but do something totally different.


MB: The Holy Spirit is first mentioned in the second verse of the Bible.

   And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.                                                    Genesis 1:2 nas


During the Old Testament times, the Spirit was given to selected individuals and could be taken away (Psalm 51:11; Judges 6:34, 14:9).


Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “See, I have called by name Bezalel. . . . And I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship”                                                                Exodus 31:1-3


The Holy Spirit is an emotional person:

But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 63:10 nas


It is only though the Holy Spirit that we accomplish the really important things in life:

Then he answered and said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”          Zechariah 4:6 nas


The work of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement; He will guide us in to all truth and tell us what is to come:

“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”

John 16:8,13 nas


Joel prophesied that God would give the Holy Spirit to all mankind:

“And it will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions.”                                                                                                                                   Joel 2:28 nas


The Holy Spirit was given during the feast of Pentecost, which was also called the Feast of First Fruits. This was when people brought the first harvest from their fields and offered it to the Lord.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.                                                                                                                                                          Acts 2:4 nas

Arielle: What does the Holy Spirit have to do with my life?


MB: Jesus told us that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict you; He will display righteousness to you; He will lead you in the truth; He will teach you and remind you of the things that Jesus said. That’s important for me in reading the Gospels, in that the Holy Spirit is helping these authors record what Jesus said.


“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”   John 14:26 nas


He will give us power to accomplish God’s purposes in our lives.

“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Acts 1:8 nas


When the Holy Spirit came in force on the day of Pentecost, He came in a form the Hebrew people would be able to receive Him. We see the Holy Spirit move and gift people in certain ways where they can perform the function God has created them for.


He will give all of us the spiritual empowerments and giftings that we need to fulfill our purpose in the body of Christ. Some of the spiritual gifts are:

  • word of wisdom
  • word of knowledge
  • faith
  • healing
  • miracles
  • prophecy
  • discernment
  • tongues
  • interpretation of tongues


Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.                           1 Corinthians 12:4-11 nas


Other spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit are:

  • service
  • teaching
  • exhortation and encouragement
  • giving
  • leadership
  • mercy


And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;   if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;  or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.                       Romans 12:6-8 nas


There are other gifts mentioned in the Bible. One example is in Exodus 31:1.

We as believers need to ask God to show us what spiritual gifts He has given us. As we function in these special areas of ministry, we will see God’s power manifested in our abilities to accomplish much for His kingdom.

We are involved in different types of ministry in Central America, the Middle East, and the US, doing things like relief, primary education, discipleship, and other things. God has given us specific gifting through His Holy Spirit, allowing us to accomplish what He wants. It’s pretty amazing actually! For example, many who know us look at the education project on the Rio Coco in Nicaragua and can easily conclude that it wasn’t Laura the haircutter and Michael the ice cream scooper doing it but God!

When Paul writes about spiritual gifts, he seems to begin his lists with those gifts that help others most. Indeed, this seems to be the focus of the giftings¾to have special God-given abilities to help others in the body of Christ. Paul states it simply:

And in any event, you should desire the most helpful gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:31


The greatest spiritual gift is love.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. . . . But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8,13 nas



Doesn’t this make sense? Obviously, love is the gift that will help every person in every situation.

Unfortunately, we often judge our level of spirituality through giftings that come to us really through nothing we have done. Paul is very clear in his letter to the church at Corinth that the Holy Spirit gives gifts of His choice to whom He chooses to. It is His choice. A real measure of true spirituality is “What fruit does the Holy Spirit have in our lives?” Is someone going to look at me and judge my spirituality by a particular gift I may have or not have? It happens all the time in Christianity. I think a better measure of my spiritual maturity is the fruit the Holy Spirit has cultivated in my own life, along with the intimacy of my relationship with my Heavenly Father, and these seem to go hand-in-hand.

I once heard Juan Carlos Ortiz, a very insightful pastor from Argentina, say, “Some people ask me if I am filled with the spirit according to Acts 2 (“and they spoke in tongues. . . .”). I reply that I am filled with the Spirit according to Galatians 5:22.”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.                                                    Galatians 5:22-23 nas


The deeper work of the Holy Spirit is evidenced by spiritual fruit rather than a specific spiritual gift. If I am teaching, prophesying, serving, leading, giving, or speaking in tongues, and you don’t see greater amounts of love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control, then it is obvious that something is curtailing my spiritual growth. Gifts are given. There is nothing you did to get them. Fruit is cultivated. This takes dedication, discipline, and effort.

May the Holy Spirit have His way with us and be allowed to cultivate His fruit in our lives so that it really may come forth, and people will look at us and say, “Yes, God is touching that person’s life.”


RS: It seems to me that we have two totally different things here. Like you said, the gifts of the Spirit are things God gave us. We really didn’t have a hand in it. It was a gift. But when you talk about the fruits¾and we are talking about love, joy, peace, and patience¾these sound like things I am very much involved in, whether or not I reflect them. I can reflect that gift that I have been given.  Fruit is something that I must work on.


MB: I believe the cultivation of the fruit is dependent on us. I am not going to allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate patience in me if I am continually “letting my emotions go.” I think the first thing we believers must realize is that the Holy Spirit wants to cultivate it, and it is our responsibility to say, “Yes!” to Him, because He is not going to force anything on us. Once we say yes, the process begins. Paul told the church in Philippi:

Dearest friends, you were always so careful to follow my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away you must be even more careful to put into action God’s saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.  For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.                                                                 Philippians 2:21-13


The Greek verb, katergazomai (κατεργάζομαι), translated “put into action” or “work out” in other versions, actually reads “accomplish with throughness or bring to completion.”

  It is a two-part process. We have our part of being willing and following through, and God’s part is giving us the initial desire to change and grow. He is the one who gives us the power, enabling us to shift our thinking and change our actions. This is a powerful dynamic that is essential to every Christian’s process of maturity.


RS: Isn’t it amazing that God can even change my desires? I don’t know about you, but a lot of times in my own life, I have to say, “Lord I want to do what is wrong right now. I want to hit this guy in the nose because he is wrong.” But God has to flood the gates with His thoughts like: “The anger of man doesn’t work the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). That passage in Galatians 5:19-23 starts out with “The works of the flesh are very obvious; and they are these: adultery, sexual sin, uncleanness, contention, and others” and ends with “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”.

These are things that you can visualize. You know what contention is and who is a contentious individual. I want in my own life for my children to see as clear a picture of the fruit of the Spirit as they would see of the works of the flesh in other’s lives. I would like them to be able to look at me and say, for example, “My dad was a patient man,” although at this point in their lives they couldn’t say that. But that is my goal, and the story is not over. How do I address this need in my life, this need to bear that fruit?


MB: Paul says in Colossians 1:27, it is “Christ in you, the Hope of Glory”. I have a particle of Christ inside me in the form of the Holy Spirit, and He is trapped inside this cage of intellect, emotions, and experience called Michael Bagby. It is a cage with very strong bars, built over years. Jesus says if I personally die to or set aside all my desires, thoughts, ambitions, and hurts, then He can come forth to touch those around me.

Therefore I have to say no to my own nature, my own feelings, and my own opinions. When I say no to it, then that is the open door God has to get out and display Himself to others around me through me.

This is the continual challenge I have as a member of the kingdom of God. I must die so He can escape and do His thing to the people and situations around me. The reality is that the cage is strong, and it is a continual process of giving Jesus the “keys” and letting Him out. It is a matter of being continually filled with His presence.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.                                                                           Ephesians 5:18


We are to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. The verb form used here in the Greek is the progressive tense, denoting continuous action. Being filled is not a one-time experience! How are you filled? Through prayer, praise, worship, service, the Word, trials, along with other ways. Living without the Holy Spirit is like trying to live without breathing air. It is through Him that all of God’s plans for our lives are accomplished.


There are two points that we want to close this session with:


  • The key to understanding the Bible is a close, intimate walk with the Holy Spirit. Intellectual pursuits of biblical truth without the guidance of the Holy Spirit are in vain and often result in lifeless religion or “doctrines of demons” (as the Bible describes zealous error). We urge you to pursue a relationship with the Holy Spirit as you study His Word!


  • The Divine Personalities make the difference in your life! The love of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son, and the power of the Holy Spirit make our relationship with God possible and our eternal destiny certain.


Personal Reflections


  1. How do you understand the relationship between the personalities of the Trinity? Can we define it?
  2. Where do you go for satisfaction?
  3. When was the last time God “threw you in the pool”?
  4. Do you relate to Jesus as your Savior or your King?
  5. How does the Holy Spirit cultivate fruit in your life?
  6. What are the strongest bars in your “cage” that keeps the Holy Spirit trapped inside you?


Deeper Water


  • The book of Job provides us with a rich description of God. Read chapters 38 thru 42, and listen to God response to the questions and comments of Job and his friends.


  • In John 13 throught17, Jesus has a profound discussion with His disciples on His relationship with them, their relationships with God, and the relationship between the divine personalities. Read carefully these chapters, noting the different functions of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Remember, this is not meant to be a diagram! Use your Hebrew mind!


  • In Luke 1 and 2, there are four prophets who give words about Jesus. Read these words, noticing the attributes of this Savior and the meaning of His advent.


  • In the book of Acts, we see over and over again the appearance of the Holy Spirit. Read the first ten chapters of Acts, and note the role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the disciples.  Begin to underline each occurrence of an action or intervention of the Holy Spirit.  As you read and underline, reflect on how the Holy Spirit is moving in your own life and ministry.









Lukas and Mikaela on the South Steps of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for a special time of “Coming of Age” dedication and prayer in February 2006.


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