You may have heard it said of the Bible “The Word is alive,” or some variation thereof. Scripture says of itself:
For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power—making it active, operative, energizing and effective; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [that is, of the deepest parts of our nature] exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 Amplified)
However, this is only possible through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the third person of God. Scripture is nonsense and babbling to those who attempt to read it without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Now if you are a non-Christian reading this, let me bring you up to speed on the concept of the Trinity. God exists as one God in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are One God, not Three, which is a very difficult mystery to wrap your brain around. Here are a few illustrations that have helped me.
An apple has three parts: the peel, the flesh and the core. The three parts have different purposes, but they are all still one apple, not three apples. (This illustration is from a book called 3 in 1 (A Picture of God) by Joanne and Benjamin Marxhausen. I found it for my daughter at a rummage sale—at a Catholic household, oddly enough.)
Another illustration about the Trinity is H2O. If you drop an ice cube onto a very hot skillet, it will quickly melt and then evaporate. But for a few seconds, you will have water in all three states: ice, water and steam. All three are water, and all three exist in the same place at the same time, but each one has unique characteristics and purposes.
Finally, the unique purposes of the Trinity have been explained to me by the following illustration. A father and son are reading quietly in their living room (it could happen!). They are so into their books, and they have been reading for so long, that it’s starting to get dark. Dad is comfortable, and he is also Dad, so he says to his son, “Go turn on the lamp.” The son gets up and turns on the lamp, and they continue reading by the light it gives.
The father gives the command, the son carries it out and the power gives light. In the same way, God the Father gave a command (Let there be light), the Son carried it out (And there was light) and the Holy Spirit brought light to the world.
This is how God has worked, and still works, in our world today. The Father’s greatest work since the creation was to redeem the world and humanity with it. He gave the order for atoning work to be done to bring us back to Him. This order was carried out by the Son, who came to the world in the person of Jesus Christ. And on the night He was betrayed, Jesus explained how the work would be completed in us:
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby) that He may remain with you forever, the Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him, nor know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you. (John 14: 16-17 Amplified)
After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, He made good on His promise:
And when the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all assembled together in one place, when suddenly there came a sound from heaven like the rushing of a violent tempest blast, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and that settled on each one of them. And they were all filled—diffused throughout their souls—with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages, as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression (in each tongue in appropriate words). Acts 2:1-4 Amplified)
Now what does all this have to do with Catholicism?
Well, the Catholic church obviously does acknowledge the existence of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, they acknowledge Him every time they make the Sign of the Cross, in which they silently (or aloud) say in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (Any Catholics reading this, you just said “Amen” didn’t you? Admit it!)
But as for me, growing up, I didn’t really know anything about the Holy Spirit. He was whose name I said when I touched my shoulders whilst crossing myself. That was it.
(So how does one solve this problem? Come back for Part 4–First Hand)