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[Basics of Christian Faith 6] The Holy Spirit

Who is the Holy Spirit? What has He done in Scripture? What does He do for us? There are different views about Him. Some define Him as simply a force or an influence. In the 16th century, Socinian defined Him as “virtue or energy flowing from God to man.” This is the view that most liberal theologians and cults hold today. But this is not what the Scripture teaches about Him. Remember in our study of the Trinity we learned that He is a person, equal in the Godhead with the Father and the Son.

Is The Holy Spirit A Person?

When we think of a person we usually think of a body. Must a person have a body? What happens when a human being dies? Only the body dies, but the person continues to exist consciously forever, either in heaven or hell. What are the essential characteristics of a person? Three things: intelligence, emotions, and will. If the Holy Spirit were only a force or an influence or a thing, He would not possess these three things. But He does.

He has the characteristics of a person

Intelligence: He knows the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). The mind of the Spirit (Romans 8:27).

Emotions: Grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

Will: Spirit gives spiritual gifts “as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11).

He acts like a person

He teaches (John 14:26).

He intercedes (Romans 8:26).

He performs miracles (Acts 8:39).

He leads (Romans 8:14).

He is designated as a person

Pneuma is neuter, but the pronouns used for it are masculine (John 16:13-14).

Is The Holy Spirit Completely God?

He has characteristics possessed only by God.

Things true of the Father and Son are true of the Spirit.

He is associated on an equal plane with the other persons of the Trinity.

Yahweh said something in the Old Testament; Spirit says it in the New Testament (Isaiah 6:1-13 and Acts 28:25; Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 10:15-17).

Baptismal formula (Matthew 28:19).

The Spirit’s Work In The Old Testament

His part in creation

Genesis 1:2, Job 33:4

His part in revelation of the Old Testament

Men spoke from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

His relation to man

Selective indwelling

In: Genesis 41:38, Numbers 27:18, Daniel 4:8

Upon: 1 Samuel 10:9-10, Saul; Judges 14:6, Samson

Going away: Judges 15:14 with Judges 16:20

Enablement for special service

Exodus 31:3

The Spirit In The Life Of Christ

In the virgin birth

Luke 1:35, Matthew 1:20

In His life-

Baptism: Luke 4:18

Filled and led: Luke 4:1;

Empowered to do miracles: Matthew 12:28

In His death and resurrection

Offered himself as a sacrifice: Hebrews 9:14

Gave instructions to apostles: Acts 1:2

Jesus Promises To Send The Spirit

On the night before His death, Jesus and his disciples sat at the Passover table and He told them things He had not taught them before. He specifically told them about the coming of the Holy Spirit and the work He would do.

Read John 14:16-18.

Counselor: parakletos, “a person summoned to one’s aid.” It may refer to an advisor, a legal advocate, a mediator or intercessor. Refers to Jesus in 1 John 2:1. The Spirit’s function is to represent God to the believer as Jesus did when He was here on earth in a human body. There are two words for another. One means another who is of a different kind. The word used here is one of the same kind. Jesus was going back to heaven, but He and the Father would send another person who would be God dwelling among believers here on earth. The difference would be that the Holy Spirit, who lived with them because He was in Jesus, would live in them after Jesus returned to heaven. Jesus would be with them always in the person of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. However, this time, God would not be visible to all people as Jesus was. When the Holy Spirit came, His ministry would be primarily to believers. He would not operate on the world’s wavelength.

Read John 14:25-26.

This is the reason we can believe the record of the New Testament. Jesus promised his disciples that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things and remind them of all that Jesus had taught them. The Holy Spirit is the divine author of the New Testament, just as He is of the Old Testament.

Read John 16:5-15.

There are three major aspects of the ministry of the Holy Spirit described here.

To the world: conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment.

Convict of guilt means to present or expose facts, to convince of the truth.

Conviction of sin

The Spirit does not merely accuse men of sin; he brings to them an inescapable sense of guilt so that they realize their shame and helplessness before God. The Spirit is the prosecuting attorney who presents God’s case against humanity. The ultimate sin for which man is guilty is unbelief. This is a total rejection of the gospel and the Savior it presents.

Conviction of righteousness

The Spirit makes it clear that God has a standard of righteousness that defines sin, and that there is an infinite gap between the righteousness of God and the sinfulness of man. It’s a gap man cannot bridge by himself. The connection of righteousness to Jesus’ return to heaven refers to the fact that His resurrection and ascension proved that sin was atoned for, and vindicated Him as God’s righteous servant.

Conviction of judgment

When the standards of righteousness are violated, there is judgment, condemnation. Jesus’ death on the cross the next day would bring condemnation and defeat to the “prince of this world,” Satan. The word condemned is in a tense which expresses a settled state. Satan is already under a fixed and permanent judgment. It follows that there is no escape from the same fate for those who do not believe in Jesus Christ.

The convicting work of the Spirit is the placing of the truth of the gospel in a clear light before the unsaved person so that he acknowledges it as truth whether or not he receives Christ as personal Saviour. Conviction is making the message clear, not the saving of the soul.

To the disciples: direction and truth

Jesus also told his friends that there was much more to tell them but they were not mature enough to receive this further truth. The Holy Spirit would lead them into the full comprehension of all He would give them. He would continue to develop the principles they had already learned. He would teach them about coming events. He would unfold the truth as they grew in spiritual capacity. He would be a guide into the unknown future.

To Jesus:

To testify of Him

John 15:26

To glorify Him

The chief function of the Holy Spirit is to reveal and glorify Jesus Christ. His purpose is not to make Himself prominent, but to magnify the person of Jesus, just as the lamp stand in the tabernacle was revealed and glorified by the light of the invisible oil. Sometimes we can overemphasize the Holy Spirit and minimize Jesus Christ. That is not the prescription of Scripture. Beware of any religious movement that does this.

The Spirit’s Work In Salvation

Regeneration (Titus 3:5)

This is God’s supernatural act of imparting eternal life to the one who believes in Christ: the new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Indwelling (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Spirit indwells every believer, regardless of his spiritual condition. Notice Corinthians- 1 Corinthians 3:3; (worldly, carnal) 5:1; (immoral) 6 (suing in pagan courts).

Absence of Spirit is evidence of being unsaved. Romans 8:9

How can a believer know that the Holy Spirit lives in him?

Believe God’s word. John 14:16-17

Christian experience for evidence. Are you growing?

Are you more sensitive to sin? Do you have good impulses that you didn’t have before? Is the Word of God clearer to you?

Baptizing (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Places believers into the body of Christ.

It is for all believers

Done only once. No sign for evidence.

Sealing (Ephesians 4:30)

Father has sealed every believer with the Holy Spirit, 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30

Concept includes ideas of ownership, authority and security. We are God’s possession, secure until the day of redemption. Only God can break that seal and He has promised to deliver us safely to heaven.

Guarantee: (2 Corinthians 5:5, Ephesians 1:13b-14)

The fact that we have the Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee that we will receive everything else He has promised with our salvation. He is the down payment. The rest is certain. What assurance this should give us!

The Spirit’s Work In Believers

He gives spiritual gifts: a God-given ability for service.

1 Corinthians 12:7-11

He decides who gets what gift. He is sovereign. Each one gets something that equips them to build up others in the body.

1 Corinthians 12:27-30

No one has all the gifts. There’s no one gift that is given to everyone.

He fills (Ephesians 5:18).

“Keep on being filled.” Keep on being controlled by the Spirit. The filling of the Spirit is vital if we are going to experience genuine Christian living (Acts 2:4, 4:31).

How?

1. Dedicate self to God for His use and control (Romans 12:1-2).

2. Don’t grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

3. Depend on the Spirit. Walking is a life of dependence (Galatians 5:16).

Results of being filled.

Ephesians 5:18-21: Worship, praise, singing, being thankful, submissiveness, service.

Galatians 5:22-23: Christlike character

He teaches (John 14:25).

How does He teach? He illumines the Scriptures. He makes them come alive and applies them to our specific condition. He will use books, sermons, lessons, and the counsel of other people. He will speak to your heart with an inner voice. But He will never contradict the Word. When someone says “God told me to do this,” and it is contrary to Scripture, they are either deceived or liars. Check everything out with the Bible.

He guides (Romans 8:14).

He guides through Scripture, through circumstances, through others--but mostly through His peace in our hearts (Colossians 3:15).

He gives assurance (Romans 8:16).

It’s the Holy Spirit who assures us that we really are God’s children. We can come into His presence and call Him “Abba,” “Daddy.”

He prays (Romans 8:26).

It’s an incredible comfort to me to know that when I don’t know how to pray or what to pray for, the Spirit intercedes and interprets my prayers. He knows my weakness. He does not condemn, scold or abandon me. He intercedes for me according to God’s will. And God’s will is all that I really want for my life. He is the one who will reveal to me what that will is if my heart is set to please Him and not myself.

Conclusion

Do you see how much we need the Holy Spirit? If He were not here with us, God would be distant; we would have no assurance of our salvation or security. We would never see anyone come to Christ. We wouldn’t understand God’s word. We would not be aware of God’s presence, nor be assured of his love. We couldn’t be sure that we really belonged to Him. We would not become more sensitive to sin. We would not be growing in Christian character. We would not be able to serve the Lord with effectiveness and joy. But we do have Him, and to have the most joyful and fruitful life, we can safely put ourselves into His hands and yield our wills to His control.

Study Questions

Read 1 Corinthians 2:10-11; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Romans 8:26; Acts 8:39

1. What characteristics does the Holy Spirit have that prove He is a Person, not a force or a thing? What actions does He perform that only a person can do. Why is it important to understand this?

Read 1 Corinthians 2:11-12; Psalm 139:7; John 3:5-6; Luke 1:35; Psalm 104:30

2. What attributes of God are credited to the Spirit? What actions that only God can do are credited to Him? What is He called in Acts 5:3-4? Why is this important?

Read Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14

3. What further proof do these verses give that the Spirit is equally God?

Read John 14:25-27; 15:26; 16:5-15

4. Who does Jesus say will send the Spirit? What does Jesus call Him? What did He say the Spirit would do for the disciples? What is always the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s work (16:13-15)?

Read John 16:8; Titus 3:5; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 12:13; Ephesians 4:30

5. What is the Holy Spirit’s work in our salvation? What does each of these actions mean? What assurance does this give you about your relationship to God?

Read 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; Ephesians 5:18; John 16:12-15; Romans 8:14, 16, 26

6. What does the Spirit do in the life of the believer? How does He equip us for service? What is His part in our understanding of God’s Word? How does He give us security? How does He interpret and fortify our prayers?

7. How will your understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit impact your view of the Christian life? Do you see that God does not expect you to live a godly life in your own power? What must you do to allow the Spirit to work in you?

Related Topics: Pneumatology (The Holy Spirit), Curriculum