Ah yes, Casper, that friendly, adorable Pillsbury Doughboy-like character from our youth who lays claim to being the “friendliest ghost” we know. Of course those of you reading this outside of the United States may not know Casper the Friendly Ghost, but most readers in the United States do. We might even smile and feel silly but we can probably still sing the jingle/theme song from memory. “Casper the friendly ghost the friendliest ghost I know……..”(click hereto refresh your memory, be silly and sing along. I won’t tell) .Casper was a cartoon character created in 1930 and made popular in the 50s and 60s in comic books and television cartoon shows; but is Casper the friendliest ghost we know?
While Casper was a ghost in the normal sense of ghost, the Gospel writers used ghost to mean spirit, as in the nature of God himself. As Christians, we profess a belief in a triune God! We all share a common belief in the third person in the one God and that is the Holy Ghost, also known as the Holy Spirit. While we can all smile and admit Casper is a cute little cartoon character, I believe the Bible makes clear that the Holy Ghost is in fact the friendliest “ghost” we know! Let’s take a look.
This past Sunday was Pentecost Sunday. On this day we celebrated the pouring out of the Holy Ghost/Spirit on the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire. We all know the rest of the story of how the apostles spoke and everyone gathered there heard them in their own native tongue, but do we really know the Holy Spirit?
It is easy for us to believe that there is only one God who is without beginning or without end, who created all that is. It is easy for us to understand and believe that there was a real person in time, Jesus of Nazareth. By faith we believe that Jesus was the true son of the living God and consubstantial with God. And finally by faith we believe in the third person of the one God, the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is one of the great mysteries of our faith. Yet for many of us, it seems easier to get our thoughts around who God is and who Jesus is but it is not as easy to define who the Holy Spirit is.
Volumes have been written throughout the last two millennia in an attempt to give theological depth to our understanding of both the Trinity and the Holy Spirit. Today I want to simply suggest that we might want to take to prayer asking God through his Holy Spirit, to reveal to us more fully, an understanding of the role and reality of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.
Jesus tells us in John 14:26that the Father would send us the Holy Spirit:
“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name-he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”
In Acts 2:38Peter tells us that when we were Baptized we received the gift of the Holy Spirit:
“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus informs us in John 14:15-17that the Holy Spirit will be our advocate and be in us:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.”
And in 1 Corinthians 6:19Paul confirms for us that the Holy Spirit dwells in us:
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”
Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22-23what the gifts of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us are:
“In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Jesus tells us in John 16:12-15that the Holy Spirit is truth and that He will reveal to us the Father and the Son:
“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”
Again Paul confirms what Jesus taught us in 1 Corinthians 2:13, The Holy Spirit is truth:
“And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.”
When we ourselves don’t even know what to pray for, the Holy Spirit who dwells in us does: Romans 8:26
“In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.”
Through the Holy Spirit you and I have been sealed with the knowledge of our salvation by Jesus Christ: Ephesians 1:13
“In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit”
And finally it is through the Holy Spirit that we have the power to spread the Gospel Acts 1:8:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Sorry Casper, my childhood friend, but you really aren’t the friendliest Ghost I know! The Holy Ghost is!
Realizing that Our Father has sent us the Holy Ghost as a gift, to dwell in us, to give us each the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to reveal the truth of God and the truth of our salvation through Jesus, to pray on our behalf even when we don’t know what to pray for and to seal us with the power to spread the Gospel, let us set our minds and hearts to rejoice in His presence in us and spend time coming to know and understand Him better through prayer. Our minds may never fully comprehend the mystery of the Trinity yet nevertheless we profess our belief in the Holy Spirit by praying:
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. Holy Spirit please reveal yourself more fully to me, amen.