I Am Third is the title of a famous sports autobiography written by Gale Sayers, a first-round draft choice of the Chicago Bears and one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game of football. Sayers set numerous NFL records and was easily inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Gale Sayers always insisted, “God is first, others are second, and I am third.”
The Holy Spirit is often thought of as the third member of the Godhead after God the Father and God the Son. Frankly, the Holy Spirit would be just fine saying, “I am third” because His role is to point others to Jesus and bring glory to the Father. For that reason, He could also be called the shy member of the Holy Trinity.
For some, the Holy Spirit is a tad spooky because He is also called the Holy Ghost.I have actually heard some people who are unfamiliar with the Spirit’s ministry laugh sheepishly and say, “He’s sort of like Casper the Friendly Ghost, right?” For others, the Holy Spirit represents extremes in Christian theology that they would rather avoid. For many others that attend church regularly, the Holy Spirit is simply the forgotten member of the Trinity. He is a distant third in their understanding of one God who reveals Himself in three distinct persons and personalities.
Before the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, Jesus gave hints about His future ministry in the church, describing the Spirit in ways that might make institutional Christianity cringe a bit. The Holy Spirit is closer than the air we breathe (John 20:22), as mysterious as the wind (John 3:6-8), and like a stream of living water (John 7:37-39).
Consider the Spirit of God as a stream of living water and then picture a water log ride at the amusement park, or a white water rafting trip down the Snake River. Picture anything but a boring ride through life so many people have sadly come to accept as normal in the Christian life. As a stream of living water, the Holy Spirit is like a gentle brook one minute and like a rush of white-capped holy water the next. According to pastor and author Mark Batterson, Celtic Christians actually refer to the Holy Spirit as An Geadh-Glasor, the “Wild Goose.”
It does not take long to discover how impossible it is to live the Christian life. I am not talking about the challenges of persecution from a world that is mostly hostile to the Christian faith. Rather, I am referring to the daily and personnel struggle to live by a new standard, value system, and set of ethics which the Christian life demands. For that reason, and until you learn how to yield to and draw upon the Holy Spirit, the Christian life can lead to defeat, frustration, and real spiritual fatigue.
Let’s assume you are a new creation in Christ and that your desires have truly changed. For example, you really want to discard the bitterness in your heart and forgive, live a sexually pure life, and clean up what comes out of your mouth. But you have tried and failed more than once. You have decided that Christianity is just too hard to live. Honestly, you are ready to throw in the towel and quit. Sound familiar?
In Romans chapter 7, the apostle Paul expressed his personal struggle to live the Christian life. “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (v. 19). Paul concludes, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v. 24-25). Then comes Romans chapter 8 where Paul talks about the essential purpose and role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life.
The same Jesus who invited you to follow Him also provided the resources to do so successfully. He promised and then sent the glorious and powerful Holy Spirit to enable you to live a victorious life with supernatural results. That and more is now possible because of the Holy Spirit in you.
This blog is an excerpt from Starting Point: A Disciple's First Steps. Starting Point is an online discipleship coaching experience by Dr. Ron Jones.