The Ghost of Christians Past, Present, and Future
“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Romans 8:14
I teach seventh grade literature. That’s not a fact worth mentioning except, because of this, I recently read “A Christmas Carol” with my students. I’ve seen the movie at least twenty times and I’m pretty sure (completely sure, should my students ask) that I’ve read the play before, but this time it haunted me long after we’d finished the plot diagram. There was something about those visiting spirits and the changes they produced that kept drawing my mind to the Holy Spirit and His affect upon us today. And then, there were these words spoken by Ebenezer Scrooge that literally levitated off the page,
“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.” Act II, Scene 4
And to that, I can only say, “Amen, and amen. How can that not be spiritual in nature? How can that not be a lesson meant to be acted out on the stage of life? I believe it is. In fact, I believe it’s time for the curtain to open and for Act I of “The Holy Ghost of Christians Past, Present, and Future” to begin!
Act I, Scene 1
(As the curtain rises, the Narrator and the Visitor are standing center stage.)
Narrator: So you are questioning the role of the Holy Ghost in your life? You think, though you wouldn’t dare say, that the Holy Spirit is the “third wheel” of the Trinity? You wonder if, perhaps, His role is less relevant to your life…to your faith…than that of the Father and the Son? You aren’t so sure that the Holy Spirit of the past, present, and future can strive within you? Well, let’s see if the Ghosts of Christians Past, Present, and Future can shed some light on such thinking and either confirm or contest the direction of such thoughts.
Come with me now, as we step back in time and see the workings of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Ghost of Christmas Past escorted Scrooge to the days of his youth, let us lay hold of the train of Angelic robes and be transported to the days of Messianic youth.
(Stage lights go down and there is a flash of light and a cloud of fog that rolls across the stage. Lights go up to reveal a first century bed chamber where Mary is conversing with an angel. Mary wears an expression of disbelief mixed with excitement as she gazes upon the angel, Gabriel.)
Gabriel: And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.
Mary: How can this be, since I am a virgin?
Gabriel: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God.
Mary: Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.
(Gabriel leaves stage right. Light zooms in on Mary and then fades as scene closes. Luke 1:31-35.)
Narrator: Did you see it? Did you heart it? A messenger sent by God to proclaim the coming of the Messiah. And who would be the conduit through which the Son of God would become the Son of Man? The Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost…of Christmas Past…of Christians past.
(There is a flash of light and an emergence of fog. Scene 1 closes as the light fades.)
Act I, Scene 2
(Lights come back to center stage to reveal the speaker. There is a looming shadow of a figure upstage, behind and slightly to the left of the speaker.)
Narrator: Through the Holy Ghost of Christmas Past, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; through the Holy Spirit, Jesus was conceived and Immanuel, God with us, stepped from majesty into a manger.
Visitor: So through the Holy Ghost of Christmas Past, the Holy Ghost of Christians Past and Present also dwells among us…and in us.
Narrator: Not only can people experience the presence of the Holy Ghost, but they may also receive His presents through the Ghost of Christians Present. But it’s better if you hear this for yourself. Once again, lay hold of the robe that will lead you to see that which overlooks you, yet is all too often overlooked by you.
(Light fades and then slowly returns and pans out to reveal a Jeopardy parody in which a panel of three contestants are answering questions game show style.)
Host: Contestant #1, which category will you be choosing?
Contestant 1: I’ll take Holy Ghost for 100.
Host: Identify the ‘you’s in this statement: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”?
Contestant 1: Who are the first century disciples…as well as the 21st century disciples… of Jesus Christ?
Host: That’s correct! What category do you want next?
Contestant 1: I’ll take Holy Ghost for 200.
Host: Scripture that states the Holy Spirit seals us. Name the reference and recite the verse.
Contestant 2: What is Ephesians 1:13? “In Him also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.”
Host: That is correct, Contestant #2. You may choose the next question.
Contestant 2: I’ll stay with this category for the $500, please.
Host: This word means ‘seal’ in Greek.
Contestant 3: What is shragizo?
Host: Well done, Contestant #3! You are now in the lead! Choose your question.
Contestant 3: I’ll stay with Holy Ghost and go for $300, please.
Host: What do these three words have in common: guarantee, ownership, protection?
Contestant 1: What are the three ways in which the Holy Spirit seals a believer?
Host: Well played. Do you want to close out this category?
Contestant 1: Yes, I’ll take Holy Ghost for $400.
Host: This verse assures the believer that he belongs to God.
Contestant 2: What is Romans 8:16? “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
Host: That’s right. What category will be chosen next? Fruit of the Spirit, The Seven Spirits, Spiritual Warfare, or Spiritual Apps?
(Light fades on scene, closing in on the Narrator and the Visitor who have returned to center stage. The Narrator recites a monologue. As he speaks to the Visitor, he moves around on the stage, walking around the Visitor. The Visitor keeps his eyes upon the Narrator, visibly contemplating what is being said.)
Narrator: All around, the workings of the Holy Ghost may be found, but too often these are looked over, or through, or past. Too often, believers are satisfied with mediocre living rather than sold out to miraculous living. If you are a child of God, then the Holy Ghost lives within you, and He has a three-fold job to do. First, He is to mark you for the kingdom so that you are always confident in your salvation (Romans 8:16). Secondly, He claims ownership, reminding you that you were bought at a price and now belong to God (I Cor. 6:19-20). And, finally, the Holy Ghost offers protection, helping you fight against the flesh and live according to the Spirit (Romans 8:13). And then, having properly sealed you, He gives you access to His power, that “you may know Him and [Jesus’] resurrection power” (Phil. 3:10). And, if that’s not enough, the Ghost of Christians Present also gives you access to a storehouse of attributes such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22). So, what have we to learn from the Ghost of Christians Present? We are to learn that His presence results in many presents!
(Lights fade out.)
Act 1, Scene 3
(Scene opens to the Narrator and the Visitor standing upon what appears to be a cloud. Both are looking out over a large body of water, toward an island in the distance.)
Narrator: Having spanned time with the Holy Ghost of Christians Past and surveyed time with the Ghost of Christians Present, it is time now to meet with the Ghost of Christians Future. Hold on to His robe, look ahead through His eyes, and listen to His words as He speaks to you through John.
(There is a sudden light that flashes. When it fades, the Visitor is standing on stage right with his hand upon the Ghost of Christians Future. The spotlight slowly pans out to reveal a man standing center stage before a throne.)
Visitor: (leaning in toward Ghost) I know of this man. He’s the apostle John, right? The one to whom God revealed what is to come?
(Ghost of Christians Future gives an affirming nod.)
John: (turning toward the Ghost and the Visitor) Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne.
Visitor: And who are the seven Spirits, John?
John: Isaiah named them when he wrote, “And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the Spirits of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and strength, of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.” (Is. 11:2).
Visitor: And who is the One who was, and is, and is to come, before whom these Spirits stand?
John: He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. (Rev. 21:6).
Visitor: What things will take place, John? What must I know about the things to come that will make a difference in my life now?
John: I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. I am making all things new. He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Visitor: Oh, John, it sounds like the best of times…and the worst of times! How long before this time of reckoning occurs?
John: I was told that these words were faithful and true by an angel God sent to me. He said I should share these words for the time is near and the LORD Himself said, “Behold I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.
Visitor: I see, John, I see. Ghost of Christians Future, will you take me back now, that I may apply this knowledge to my present days?
(Ghost extends his robe to the visitor who places a hand upon the robe. There is a sudden flash of light and the stage lights fade.)
(Lights gradually come on to reveal the Narrator and the Visitor standing center stage.)
Narrator: Well, what say you, visitor of Christians Past, Present, and Future? Did the journeys prove worthwhile? Do you now see the tri-fold workings of the Holy Ghost in the lives of Christians Past, Present, and Future?
Visitor: Yes, yes, and yes. I must admit that I haven’t given the Holy Spirit…the Holy Ghost…as much prominence as He deserves, especially around Christmas time. I think of the Father sending His Son, but I pass over the role of the Holy Spirit in that transformation. I forget the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past who then became the Ghost of Christians Past and Present as He sealed me with a guarantee of His ownership and protection as I await the return of my Savior. And I fail to see His place before the throne of God as He too awaits the completion of all things. As an equal part of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit transcends time and works in my past, present, and future simultaneously that I may say, like Ebenezer Scrooge, “I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”
(Lights fade. Play closes.)
Did I mention that I teach literature? Did I mention that my most recent assignment was for students to rewrite a portion of a story as a drama? I think that somewhere in my subconscious I felt the need to do the same assignment. I hope I haven’t drawn the curtain in an untimely manner or set the stage too sparsely or too sporadically. The goal was to see the importance, the embeddedness, of the Holy Spirit in our lives from the beginning of earthly time to the end of earthly time; from the onset of personal belief to the culmination of that same belief. I hope the stage lights accentuated such truths. I hope the Holy Ghost of Christians Past, Present, and Future will draw you ever closer to the manger, to the cross, and to the throne. I hope “the Spirits of all three will strive within you”!