A Biblical Look at the Holy Spirit
Sunday, 15 August 2010 05:00 David Weaks
Mention the words Holy Spirit and you will likely get a variety of reactions. Some people claim to have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them personally, guiding their day to day living. Others, however, consider the Holy Spirit to be a divine person - a member of the Godhead, whose specific work involves the revelation of God's word. Who is right?While some subjects pertaining to the Holy Spirit may indeed be difficult, the confusion which exists over Him is unnecessary. The New Testament gives us plenty of evidence we may use to draw some sound conclusions about the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit Is A Person Not A Thing
Some people speak of the Holy Spirit as if He were no more than a mysterious force which permeates nature and influences people and things. However, one thing is clear from a study of the New Testament: The Holy Spirit is not an "IT!"
Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as a person, not a thing, "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 things that I said to you" (John 14:26; epm. mine, jdw). The words whom and he are used to refer to people not things. Of the Holy Spirit, Jesus also said, "He will testify of Me" (John 15:26); "He will guide you into all truth;" "For He will not speak on His own authority;" and "what He hears He will speak" (John 16:13).
Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is described in the New Testament as doing only those things persons are capable of doing. The Holy Spirit has cognitive abilities (i.e. the ability to reason, the ability to know). He knows the things of God (1 Cor. 2:11). He has the ability to reason and to decide (Acts 15:28). The Holy Spirit has an independent will (1 Cor. 12:11). Also, the Holy Spirit acts like a person. He speaks (1 Tim. 4:1). He commands action (Acts 13:2); The Holy Spirit forbids action (Acts 16:6). He grieves (Eph. 4:30). He can be vexed (Isa. 63:10). He leads (Gal. 5:18). He intercedes (Rom. 8:26). These are descriptions that are only suited to persons, not things.
The Holy Spirit is a Member of the Godhead (Godhood)
The term Godhead appears in three verses in the King James Version of the Bible: Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:20; Col. 2:9. The word Godhead refers to the state or condition of being God. It is the condition of having the attributes that make God, God. To illustrate - one achieves MANHOOD when he possesses the qualities and attributes that make a man a man. The three persons who possess the qualities and characteristics of Godhead are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is God (1 Pet. 1:3; Eph. 4:6; Jude 1). Jesus, the Son is God (John 20:28; Heb. 1:8). The Holy Spirit is also God. When Ananias and Sapphira conspired to deceive the apostles about the cost of their sold property, Peter said, "...Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?...You have not lied to men but to God" Acts 5:3-4).
The Work of the Holy Spirit is Revelation of God's Word
Revelation is the process of revealing what was previously covered or unknown. Paul said the mystery was revealed to him through revelation. A mystery is something that is unknown. This mystery was that, "which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets..." (Eph. 3:3,5). So, the word of God which has been previously unrevealed was revealed to men by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus promised the Helper or the Comforter—the Holy Spirit—to guide the apostles into all truth (John 16:13). He would teach them all things and bring to their remembrance all that Jesus had taught them (John 14:26).
The Holy Spirit Confirmed the Gospel
In addition to revealing the word of God, the Holy Spirit confirmed through miracles the word of God which the apostles preached. The Hebrew writer said, "...how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? (Heb. 2:3-4). Many in the first century church possessed spiritual gifts for the necessary building up of the body. These gifts were diverse (1 Cor. 12:4-10). These gifts were distributed to each one in accordance to the will of the Holy Spirit (vs. 11).
These are just a few of the particulars from the New Testament pertaining to the Holy Spirit. One thing should be fairly clear at this point—the subject of the person and work of the Holy Spirit is clearly revealed unto men. Any doctrine that conflicts with these plain teachings is man made and false.