Last night at “Impact for eternity,” the young adult Bible study group at our church, we had an interesting discussion about the Holy Spirit. Our conversation started out as a discussion about Matthew chapter 3 and ended up a discussion about who or what the Holy Spirit is. We had some good ideas floating around the room but something new came to my mind. First read these verses and think about them for a second.
And the LORD God formed a man’s body from the dust of the ground and breathed into it the breath of life. And the man became a living person.
So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit.
What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!
_2 Corinthians 5.17
I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of “new creation.” You might remember me blogging about the 20th chapter of John’s gospel. Twice in this chapter the author tells us that it was “the first day of the week” (verses 1 and 19). This is no mistake, the writer repeats himself intentionally implying a reference to the creation story in Genesis chapter 1 which of course began on the first day of the week. It then refers to a garden saying that Mary mistook Jesus for the gardener (verse 15). This can easily be taken as a miniscule detail when it is actually rich in theological truth if we are more familiar with the language. An interesting language point is that in the Greek Old Testament the word “garden,” in reference to the Garden of Eden, is the very same as the New testament word Paradise (this makes it very interesting that Jesus said “today you will be with me in Paradise”). So the tomb of Jesus’ death is open to a garden or Paradise at Jesus resurrection. Mary mistakes Jesus for a Gardener but in one important sense she isn’t mistaken at all. It is the first day of the week which is the first day of creation except now Jesus is the gardener and this is a new creation. The disciples’ excitement was not that they are living in the “end times” but that they were now living in the first days of new creation.
With all of this in mind now we can return to thinking about the Holy Spirit. There is an interesting parallel between the Hebrew and Greek languages. In both languages the word for “breath” and the word for “spirit” are not distinct. In Hebrew the word Ruach can either be interpreted “breath” or “spirit.” In the Greek the word Pneuma can either be interpreted “breath” or “spirit.” So when God breaths life into the dust of the ground (Genesis 2.7) it could also be understood that it is the very Spirit of God giving the man life (maybe this is why the Spirit is mentioned in Genesis 1.2). Now in the first century Greek word the Old Testament would have commonly been read in a Greek translation where the Spirit of God which was breathed into the man to give him life would have been called “Pneuma” the very same word from which we translate Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples that He would send this Spirit to them after He left them (Luke 24.49) and in Acts chapter 2 we’re told what it was like when this Spirit came to them. They began speaking other languages and acting in such a manner that some of those who saw them actually thought they were drunk. Imagine trying to explain such a sight. How would you explain it? What would you say about such a phenomenon? We might be inclined to talk about believing in Jesus or how to get the gift of tongues. Well, Peter immediately begins with the defeat of death, the resurrection of Jesus and the presence of God. He quotes David saying “For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.” Peter is talking about the new creation. As a result of Jesus’ resurrection we have been given a new breath of life. As we were dead in this curse which infects the world we have been brought back to life, awakened by God’s Spirit; His breath of life. We are only alive in this new creation by the Spirit of God.
The door of the tomb is open to Paradise; to new creation. Jesus is the gardener, making all things new and Just as God breathed life into the dust we have been given new life by the very same breath; the Spirit of God.
May you breathe deep the breath of life and find yourself alive in the Holy Spirit, living the life of new creation in the Kingdom of God. May you find that God is as close to you as your very next breath and it is by breathing new breath that we are born again, a new birth, into the new creation.