Friday, July 12, 2013

Who is the Holy Spirit?

  1.     There is one God
  2.     The One who is God exists eternally as three distinct Person
  3.     Each of the three Persons is fully God

Do you know the Holy Spirit? Have you met Him? Where is He?

Passages that teach about the Person of the Holy Spirit: John 14:15-31; 16:5-15; Acts 2; Romans 8:
Do you know why Christ came? To give us the Spirit so that we are saved.
Many think and teach that Holy Spirit is a force. Others think that Spirit of God is only a part of God. Others say that God has revealed himself at one time differently – in the OT as the Father (YHWH) in the gospels as Jesus Christ and after the ascension of Christ as Holy Spirit (modalism, like what TD Jakes teaches). Others deny the deity of both the Son and the Holy Spirit in seeking to show that God is one (Arianism taught by Jehova's Witnesses and the Mormons).


The Holy Spirit is a Person through whom the grace of Christ is applied to us. The Bible presents the Spirit of God as a person.  What do I mean when say that the Holy Spirit is a Person?
Definition of a person: “an individual being with self-consciousness and will, capable of feeling, choosing, and having a reciprocal relationship with other personal and social beings.” Millard Erickson, Christian Theology.
Thankfully the Bible can very clearly prove that the Spirit is a person as opposed to a force because the Bible shows Him as possessing personal attributes and qualities and He does ministries unique only to persons, albeit without a body. The Holy Spirit has these elements of personality.
There are biblical proofs that the Spirit is a person rather than merely a force. If the Holy Spirit were a force or power, then some of the passages of the Bible would be the most absurd. For example Acts 10:38, “… how God anointed Jesus with Holy Spirit and with power…” If we take Holy Spirit to be a force or power, then it will read, how God anointed Jesus with force or power and with power!

The personal attributes of the Holy Spirit:

·      The Holy Spirit does not have a body:
Just like God the Father, the first person in the Godhead, is Spirit and therefore invisible so is the Holy Spirit – He does not have a body like the Son has. The Spirit is God and as the Bible says that God is Spirit (John 3:24) so it is very much in order for the Spirit to be without it. It was not normal for the second person of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ, to take a human body but it is normal for God the Father and God the Spirit to be without bodies because God is Spirit.
·        The Holy Spirit has intelligence and knowledge
Forces do neither have any intelligence nor knowledge. Yet the Lord Jesus while comforting his disciples before He was crucified, His promise of the Holy Spirit is the promise of a person best described as ‘Paraclete’ in Greek, translated Helper, Advocate or Comforter, as a Person, not as force. John 14 and 16 shows the Holy Spirit as a Person with both knowledge and intelligence so as to be able to teach and remind the disciples of the words of Jesus. He was to remind them all that Jesus taught them and lead them into all truth. It would be absurd for anyone to claim that any force, no matter how powerful it is can teach or remind, or do anything that needs intelligence. Yet the Lord promised them, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
·      He is a powerful person
There is no question about the power of the Holy Spirit. In speaking about His regenerating power, the Lord told Nicodemus, He told him that the Spirit has power to make a sinner to be born again. He went on to compare the action of wind with the Spirit that just like wind blows wherever it wills so does the Holy Spirit – He saves whoever He wants, however and whenever He wants (John 3:6-8).
The power of the Holy Spirit is particularly seen during the day of Pentecost when He came like “Mighty rushing wind” and was seen as tongues of fire and gave them utterance in foreign languages (Acts 2:2-4).
·      He has a will
There is no force that has will! The Holy Spirit, according to the Lord, would be willing to teach the disciples for He said, “…He will teach you…” (John 14:26) “… He will convict… He will guide you… He will not speak of His own authority… He will glorify me… ”(John 16:8, 13, 14). Clearly He has will to do something and not the other because He has a will of His. For this reason the Lord recommended to the disciples that it was to their advantage that He was leaving so that He may send the Holy Spirit (John 16:7)
·      He has emotions
The Bible clearly states that we can grieve the Holy Spirit but are warned against it:
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” – Ephesians 4:30.
Another similar warning is in 1Thessalonians 5:19:
Do not quench the Spirit
The question then is if the Spirit were a force, would it not be absurd to be warned against provoking such emotions from a force? It is impossible to expect an impersonal force to be grieved!
·      The Spirit performs ministries that only persons perform
God only instructs believers to pray. But in Romans 8:26, we discover that the Holy Spirit is involved in helping the believers in their weaknesses and particularly He helps them by interceding for them since we do not quite know how to pray. He prays for us according to the will of God knowing the mind of God (27). Clearly there is no force that can pray!
·      The Holy Spirit takes on masculine pronouns
The Greek word for spirit is pneuma and takes a neuter gender so that the word spirit could be referred to as “it”. However, the word still refers to the person just like a child could be called ‘it’ which also takes a neuter gender. But in so many times the references to the Holy Spirit have masculine pronouns instead of the expected neuter ones, which actually is an indication of His personhood. For example, when the Lord introduced Him, He said:
 “But you know him. The world will not know him because the world does not see him.” John 14:17:
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. and when He comes,  He will convict the world…” (John 16:7-8a)

This proves that the Holy Spirit as a Person, He is an individual being with self-consciousness and will, capable of feeling, choosing, and having a reciprocal relationship with other personal and social beings and so fits the definition given above from Mr. Erickson’s book.


The Holy Spirit is a divine person. Apparently, the Holy Scripture not only presents the Holy Spirit as a person, but it presents Him as a divine person. Of course since the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, He is different from, yet equal to, the Father and the Son. There is enough Biblical evidence to this effect and it would be excellent to examine four biblical evidences that the Spirit is deity.

Biblical evidences that the Spirit is divine

1)    The Holy Spirit is used interchangeably in Scripture with God
Evidently, the Bible often substitutes the Holy Spirit for God. For example, in Acts 5 Ananias and Sapphira had promised that they will sell their land and give all the proceeds to the church. But of course, Ananias arrived with only a portion keeping the rest to themselves as he did this with the knowledge of His wife. The apostles pronounced judgment on him because Peter argued like this:
“Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit… you have not lied to men but to God (v.3, 4)
The result is that Ananias incurred God’s retribution because lying to the Holy Spirit is the same as lying to God. The implication is that the Holy Spirit is God Himself. There is interchangeability in the reference to either. God is Spirit and Spirit is God.
2)    He has divine qualities
The Spirit possesses qualities that only God has. For example, one such attribute is knowledge. Not just knowledge but all knowledge – for He is omniscient Just Like the Father and the Son have all knowledge of all things every time. He teaches and brings to remembrance all that the Lord taught. He has divine knowledge because the Lord does imply that while He taught the disciples some things, the Holy Spirit was to remind them of all that He had instructed His disciples for three and half years and also teach them all things! (John 14:26)
In 1 Corinthians 2:10b, 11 where Paul says,
“… For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”
If a person does not reveal his inmost thoughts even to the spouse or to the closest friends, they will never know those thoughts. In the same way, God’s inmost thoughts are known only to the Spirit of God. Because it is only the Spirit who has full access to these divine things. The implication, which is irresistible, is that the Spirit has knowledge that only God possesses. No man or angel, or any power, or any other creature can possibly have such divine access to that knowledge that is absolutely unsearchable, even the things of God. Only God Himself is privy to it and can contain such information.
3)    He does divine works
The Holy Spirit being God in every way was involved in all the activities that are peculiar to God so that if anyone other than God lays a claim to these activities, then he would be blasphemous.
v The work of creation
In Genesis 1:2, we read that,
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
What this means is that the Holy Spirit was there in the beginning and during the creation so that when God said in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...”
This was particularly a reference to the Triune God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
v The work of giving Scriptures
In 2Peter 1:21, we read,
For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit was the one directing the human authors to write only that which is the ‘breath of God’ and only it so that as it is – ‘they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’. Scriptures are the revelation of God, reveal God’s redemptive purposes and it only makes sense that God was involved at this level of revelation so that only what God intended to reveal to humanity was written. Just like the Person of the Son is the Word, so the Spirit is the agent through which the Word was written.
v The work of salvation (Titus 3:4; Romans 8:11)
The most important proof that the Spirit is God is that He does the work of salvation. He is the One who applies the accomplished work of Salvation among those who had been appointed by the Father to eternal life and those for whom the Son died to redeem. He applies this work of salvation by causing them to believe Christ and repent their sins to be saved. This happens because the Spirit regenerates the unbelievers and causes them to come to life so as to respond to the gospel call.
The two passages Titus 3:4; Romans 8:11are the best in this regard:
 “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7
From this passage there is no doubt that the washing of rebirth and renewal is ascribed to God the Holy Spirit. It is true that He causes us to be reborn, to be born again, and to be renewed. That is the work of regeneration. Of course no creature is able to regenerate anyone, whether angels or men. Men only share the Gospel, but cannot create new life inside of another person. That is the work of God Himself. And since the Holy Spirit does that work of rebirth and renewal, He must be God.
Romans 8:11 is also very clear on the work of God the Spirit in salvation:
If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Salvation belongs to the LORD (Jonah 2:9) and only Jehovah is involved in saving, and He exists eternally as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The logical conclusion is that each One of the Persons of the Triune God are fully involved in the salvation of sinners.
4)    He is associated with the other two persons of the Godhead in ways unique to God

The Bible always see the Holy Spirit as God and in a very unique way, He is associated with the other two Persons of the Godhead.
v Baptism is done in the Name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit
Matthew 28:19 settles this matter in at least three ways:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
a)     The baptism to be administered to those who have enjoyed the benefit of salvation that there is by work of the Father, the Son and the Spirit by being baptized in the Name of God (of course the Triune God) and not in the names of men, whoever they may be – even those who preach. Baptism is only in the name of God.
b)     As God is One, they are to be baptized, not in ‘names’ of the three Persons of the Trinity but in name (of God).
c)     This association and unity of the Godhead leaves us to conclude that the Spirit is equally and essentially God by whom men are saved. This means that the Spirit has equally saved us just as the Father and the Son.

v The benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14:

the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and
the love of God and
the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all.
Is there anyone who can claim that this association is a coincidence? From this we deduce:

¾   That the grace (by which Christ gave us redemption and His righteousness was appropriated to us) is associated with the Lord.
¾   That the love (the electing love of the Father) is ascribed to God (the Father) and
¾   Fellowship to the Holy Spirit (who indwells us);
This shows a pattern by which the association of the Godhead in bringing salvation to sinners shows how much God is unified in His redemptive purposes and proves that the Spirit is equally God, existing eternally as our God.
Dr. Peterson rightly observes that this benediction is a proof that the Spirit is God because it could not have been an acceptable if we substituted the name of the Spirit with “force” or a name of person anything else for that matter.
However, this reasoning ought to be taken a step further, to say that the Spirit is neither the same as the Father nor the Son because the Scripture clearly makes a distinction between the Three Persons of the Trinity. For example,
Matthew 28:19 shows that while baptism is in the ‘NAME’ it is in three distinct Persons indicated by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, When Jesus says that He would send the Helper who will teach you all things and remind them of all He had taught the disciples, (John 14:26), is a clear manner of saying that,
“I am sending another Person to finish up from where I have left and a job has already been cut out for Him from my ministry.”

Other passages to prove the Holy Spirit has “coordinate relationship with the Father and the Son[1]” are 1Corinthians 12:4-6; Ephesians 4:4-6 and 1Peter 1:2.

Implications of the Holy Spirit being a person and fully divine:

What difference does it make that He is a person and God rather than merely a force?

¾   We can have a relationship with Him; just we can have a relationship with the Father and the Son.
Jesus says that we can know Him in John 14:17. Meaning that we can have the most personal relationship with the Spirit. The knowledge in reference here is not head-knowledge, but a personal encounter leading to an intimate relationship experience.
But the Spirit does not have a very personal title like the Father or the Son (Our Brother). Yet we need to realize that we have spirit or soul and we sometimes talk like this, “Our were spirits connected and we saw things from the same perspective” or “I loved him like my own soul” meaning that it was the most intimate relationship.
¾   We can be confident the Holy Spirit is caring for us
Just like God the Father shows His great care for us from the time when He planned salvation for us and so elected us for eternal life and sent His Son Jesus Christ. In the same way the Son cares for us in that He came from glory to the earth to secure for Himself a people by shedding his own blood. The Spirit on the other hand, just like the Son, came on earth not to become flesh but to indwell the flesh - those who had been elected and secured by the Father and the Son respectively, sealing them for eternal life, so that He may present them as holy people ready for the inheritance incorruptible and unfading reserved in heaven for those who believe.
He continually helps us in the daily walk of faith by the process of sanctification – making us holy and strengthening us in our weaknesses so that even when we are unable to pray effectively, He intercedes for us with groans and sounds, in accordance to the will of God. It is the Holy Spirit who having applied the grace of God to us, will lead us to heaven. When weak or bedeviled by temptations, call the Him for help.
¾   We can praise and worship the Holy Spirit, since He is God (but not to the exclusion of the Father and the Son).
The Spirit being fully God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory, we should be sure that we can direct worship, praise and adoration to Him. We pray by the Holy Spirit who indwells us, who glorifies Christ and the Father, and will not speak of His authority but whatever He hears he speaks (John 16:12-14). The truth is that we cannot pray acceptably without the Spirit. While the Son intercedes for us in heaven the Spirit intercedes for us on earth (Romans. 8:26-27)
Jesus did neither teach His disciples to pray to the Holy Spirit nor did He pray to the Holy Spirit ever. He taught them to direct the prayers to the heavenly Father and assumed all along that this is what they will do. Christ Himself addressed His prayers to the Father, e.g.
 “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Luke 10:21-22)

¾   We can sure that No man can command Him to get into any man or to do things!
Probably many of you have been called forward by preachers to receive the Holy Spirit. Since Holy Spirit is filly and truly God, can He be commanded by a human being to do something or to go somewhere? Doesn't the Lord say,
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. John 3:8
¾   Therefore, we must be very careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit
When He convicts us of sin, righteousness and judgment, we must oblige most promptly. He is the One who working with our conscience causes us to see the holiness of God and the filthiness of our sins as to repent of it to Go. When we persist in unbelief despite the light of the gospel and the conviction of the Holy Spirit we doom ourselves by sinning against the Holy Spirit. This is rejecting gospel invitation and dying in unbelief.

[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, IVP © 2000, p.232

No comments:

Post a Comment