If God breathed his Spirit into everyone why do we need faith?
This is a question that I was asked a few months back and I have been pondering for some time. I only have a partial answer and it would take a thesis rather than a blog post to do it justice.
It is really two separate questions.
1. Does everybody have the Spirit of God in them?
I’d like to start with scripture, what does the Old Testament say to this question?
Answer 1, Yes
Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.Genesis 2:7
The Spirit of God has made me,Job 33:4
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
The breath of our nostrils, the Lord’s anointed,Lamentations 4:20
was captured in their pits,
of whom we said, “Under his shadow
we shall live among the nations.”
Answer 2, No
23 And he went there to Naioth in Ramah. And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24 And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night. Thus it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”1 Samuel 19:23-24
Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath[a] to enter you, and you shall live.Ezekiel 37:5
“And it shall come to pass afterwards,Joel 2:28-29
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
You can see why people take different views on this. On the one hand God has breathed his Spirit into all in order to give them life. On the other hand God’s Spirit is poured out on special people, including kings, prophets, preists and musicians. Which is it? They contradict so which one is wrong?
Or can they both be right? They do not on closer inspection seem to be mutually exclusive. God could be both the life-force that animates us and also be sent in a specific way for people to fulfil positions of prophet and priest.
When we look at the New Testament it moves towards the second meaning, Jesus told the disciples to wait until the Holy Spirit has come and then the Holy Spirit is poured out.
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”Acts 1:4-5
And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.Acts 2:2-3
I am still asking a question, I do not have an answer yet.
2. Why do we need faith?
From that point on, when the Holy Spirit came on the Church in power, the book of The Acts of the Apostles is the book of the Spirit filled church moving out into the world. It is the story of great success, with the number of Christians rapidly expanding and of problems, as many of them coming from within the church as outside it.
Even those with the Holy Spirit need faith. The Holy Spirit does not turn us into robots, we still have our own likes and desires. In Acts they dealt with problems such as persecution, attitudes to money and can non-Jewish people be Christians. Racism was a problem back then, and it is still something we struggle with. We need faith in order to follow the Holy Spirit’s promptings
Test every Spirit. We are baptised into a church, filled with the Spirit and given gifts to build up the church. The best way of testing the Holy Spirit is to take it to the Church.
But do not be surprised if when there are four people in the room, you get five different opinions at the end, each person’s opinion and the compromise of the room. This is common.