Several years ago we were transferred first to California, then to Illinois five weeks later. It was a tumultuous time, partly because the second move involved a tragic event and my husband was involved in a difficult recovery process.
Anyway, we had the privilege during that time of attending three very vibrant and growing churches. One was a community church, another was a Pentecostal church, and the third a fundamental Baptist, three very different in style and doctrine yet with the common denominator of being “alive and well.” Later, we analyzed that experience and believe the reason each church was so healthy was because of another feature they had in common; their focus was on exalting the Lord Jesus Christ.
Using this verse, today’s devotional reading says that this is the role of the Holy Spirit. “He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and have no fear.’ And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” (Matthew 17:5–8)
In this incident, the voice from heaven was God the Father speaking through God the Spirit and exalting God the Son. The devotional writer says there is danger in putting the emphasis on the Spirit, which makes sense. If my dad gave me some wise advice and I made a big deal over the sound of his voice rather than the advice he gave, that would be a foolish response.
I suppose for some this raises another question: how does a person know when the Holy Spirit is speaking? My answer is, I just know. The disciples just knew too. When they heard the voice, they fell on their faces in great fear, yet in that fear Jesus assured them. They did not look at anyone else after that, for when God spoke, their eyes were on Jesus only.
However, “I just know” is likely not a sufficient answer for those who wonder. Maybe the reason is that they have not yet been introduced to Jesus and don’t know Him. Once I knew Him, the voice of God became known. The more I read His Word, that voice becomes increasingly familiar. Jesus did say, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27–28)
These Persons in the Godhead work in wonderful harmony. Through the plan of the Father, the Son gave His life for lost sinners, a life bestowed on those who believe by the power of the Holy Spirit. While these are equal in the Godhead, the Father points to the Son (“This is my Son, listen to Him”) and the Spirit points to the Son: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth . . . whatever he hears he will speak . . . and He will glorify me . . .” (John 16:13–14)
And in the process of hearing and seeing Jesus glorified, not only is God blessed, but the Holy Spirit also blesses me — and fills me with a strong desire to do the same thing — glorify Jesus.