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Who is the Holy Spirit #3

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SCRIPTURE:     Acts 19:1-2 and John 14:16-18 NASB  (9-4-05)

TITLE:                Who is the Holy Spirit?



Christians differ on the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.  Have you ever met the Holy Spirit?  Do you know who He is?  Can you share with others the truths you know about Him?  Can and will you tell others where He lives or what He does or what He is like?  If you can’t, then do not feel that you are alone, for there are many other sincere Christians who cannot answer the question, “Who Is The Holy Spirit? This is disturbing according to a new nationwide survey conducted by The Barna Group indicates that most adults remain confused, if not daunted, by the concept of a person having the Holy Spirit.  In its report of February 20, 2006, it concluded by those surveyed that only 9% of Christians are being guided by the Holy Spirit.

Illustration:         There was a quote I saw the other day which said “The average church member’s understanding of the Holy Spirit is so vague it is nearly non-existent.

As a Christian, we need to know that the Holy Spirit has been a part of the Trinity of God since the beginning of time.   Trinity is a word not found in Scripture, but used to express the doctrine of the unity of God as subsisting in three distinct Persons. This word is derived from the Gr. trias, first used by Theophilus (A.D. 168-183), or from the Lat. trinitas, first used by Tertullian (A.D. 220), to express this doctrine. The propositions involved in the doctrine are these: 1. That God is one and that there is but one God (Deut. 6:4; 1 Kings 8:60; Isa. 44:6; Mark 12:29, 32; John 10:30). 2. That the Father is a distinct divine Person (hypostasis, subsistentia, persona, suppositum intellectuale), distinct from the Son and the Holy Spirit. 3. That Jesus Christ was truly God, and yet was a Person distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit. 4. That the Holy Spirit is also a distinct divine Person.

The word “spirit” (in Hebrew is ruah and is cited in the OT – 378 times (also in Aramaic some 11 times); in the Greek it is pneuma and is cited in the NT – 379 times.) is the word used from ancient times to describe and explain the experience of divine power working in, upon, and around men, and understood by them as the power of God.

There are three basic meanings evident in the use of spirit from the earliest Hebrew writings.

During the Period of the Judges.

(1) Wind of God. It was a wind from God which moved on the face of the earth (Gen. 1:2).  It was the wind of God which caused the waters of the flood to subside (Gn 8:1), and blew locusts over Egypt (Ex 10:13) and quails over the camp of Israel. The blast of his nostrils separated the waters of the Red Sea at the exodus (14:21).

(2) Breath of life. The breath of God constituted man as a living being (Gn 2:7). It is one of the earliest perceptions of Hebrew faith that man lives only because of the stirring of the divine breath or spirit within him (6:3; Jb 33:4; 34:14, 15; Ps 104:29, 30). Later a clearer distinction was drawn between divine Spirit and human spirit, and between spirit and soul, but at the earliest stage these were all          more or less synonymous manifestations of the same divine power, the source of all life, animal as well as human (Gn 7:15, 22; see Eccl 3:19, 21).

(3) Spirit of ecstasy. There were occasions when this divine power seemed to overtake and possess an individual fully, so that his or her words or actions far transcended those of normal behavior.  Some examples of this were:  Sampson, who with the Spirit of God was able to kill thousands of the Philistines by pulling down the pillars of Dagon (Judges 16:28-31).  Then there was David who with the strength of God was able to kill the giant, Goliah, who came against God’s people (2 Samuel 17:1-58).

During the Period of Monarchy. The transition from the charismatic leadership of the judges to the institution of a hereditary monarchy, the issue was raised whether an anointing with the power of God was the qualification for kingship or part of the coronation ceremony itself

From the major prophets onward, however, talk about the Spirit becomes much more cautious. For Isaiah, spirit was that which characterized God and distinguished him and his actions from human affairs (Is 31:3). Later the adjective “holy” appeared as that which distinguished the Spirit of God from any other spirit, human or divine (Ps 51:11; Is 63:10, 11).

In the NT the spirit is called:

The Spirit of the New Age. The most striking feature of Jesus’ ministry and of the message of the earliest Christians was their conviction and proclamation that the blessings of the new age were already present, that the eschatological Spirit had already been poured out.

The Spirit of New Life. Since the Spirit is the mark of the new age, it is not surprising that the NT writers as a whole understood the gift of the Spirit to be that which brings an individual into the new age. John the Baptist described the way the coming One would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Mt 3:11). According to Acts 1:5 and 11:16, this imagery was taken up by Jesus and the promise seen as fulfilled at Pentecost—the outpouring of the Spirit here being understood as the risen Christ’s action in drawing his disciples into the new age, in initiating them into “the last days” (Acts 2:17, 33).

The Spirit of the New Covenant. The life that begins with the Spirit depends on the Spirit for its continuance (Gal 3:3). As Christ fulfilled his mission in the power of the Spirit (Heb 9:14), so the person “in Christ” can only live life as a Christian out of the same Spirit. Jesus had promised the inspiration of the Spirit in times of trial (Mk 13:11), and the first Christians found this to be fulfilled in their own experience (Acts 4:8, 31; 6:10; 13:9).

Manifestations of the Spirit. When the first Christians, like the ancient Hebrews, spoke of the Spirit they were thinking of experiences of divine power.

The Fellowship of the Spirit. It was out of this shared experience of the Spirit that the earliest Christian community grew and developed—for this is what “the fellowship (koinōnia) of the Spirit” properly means, common participation in the same Spirit (Phil 2:1; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor 1:4–9). As it was the gift of the Spirit that brought those in Samaria, Caesarea, and elsewhere effectively into the community of the Spirit (Acts 8, 10), so it was the experience of the one Spirit that provided the unifying bond in the churches of Paul’s mission (1 Cor 12:13; Eph 4:3, 4; Phil 2:1).

 The Spirit of Christ. The most important development and element in earliest Christian understanding of the Spirit is that the Spirit is now seen to be the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7; Rom 8:9; Gal 4:6; Phil 1:19; 1 Pt 1:11; see also Jn 7:38; 15:26; 16:7; 19:30; Rv 3:1; 5:6). It is this more precise definition of the Spirit that provides the Christian answer to the other OT problem: how to recognize the experience of the Spirit to be such. The answer is partly that the Spirit is to be identified as the Spirit which bears witness to Jesus (Jn 15:26; 16:13, 14; Acts 5:32; 1 Cor 12:3; 1 Jn 4:2; 5:7, 8; Rv 19:10), but also and more profoundly, as the Spirit which inspired and empowered Jesus himself. Thus the Spirit is to be recognized as the Spirit of sonship—that is, as the one who inspires the same prayer and brings about the relation with God as Father that Jesus enjoyed (Rom 8:15–17—“fellow heirs”; Gal 4:6, 7). The Spirit is to be recognized as the power of God that transforms the individual into the image of God, that makes the believer like Christ (2 Cor 3:18; Rom 8:29; 1 Cor 13; 15:44–49; Phil 3:21; Col 3:10; 1 Jn 3:2).

This brings us back to some conscientious Christians whom Paul has met in Ephesus that did not even know that the Holy Spirit existed.

Paul has just arrived in Ephesus on his third Missionary journey, he had visited it during his second Missionary journey; to begin a major evangelistic effort, but Apollos, who had been there, had left for Corinth.  Apollos was a learned and eloquent Jew from Alexandria in Egypt and an influential leader in the early church. Well-versed in the Old Testament, Apollos was a disciple of John the Baptist and "taught accurately the things of the Lord" (Acts 18:25). However, while Apollos knew some of Jesus' teaching, "he knew only the baptism of John" (Acts 18:25). When Aquila and Priscilla, two other leaders in the early church, arrived in Ephesus, they instructed Apollos more accurately in the way of God (Acts 18:26), and according to Scripture he showed others that Jesus was the Christ John had talked about. Apollos was used greatly by God to strengthen and encourage the church.

Apollos had studied at the famous library at Alexandria.  Alexandria is the place where the Seventy (Septuagint) had translated the Hebrew Bible into the Greek.  Apollos was in an environment which was conductive to his studying the Scriptures.  A possible influence on his life was Philo, a wealthy Alexandrian Jew, statesman and philosopher who was also an eloquent preacher.

When Paul had arrived in Ephesus he was informed there are other "disciples" like him in the area. He was elated with joy, however, he soon discovered:

These twelve men (verse 7) had an understanding of Christianity much the same as that of Apollos before Apollos had met Aquila and Priscilla.  Paul entered into conversation with them to find out just where they stood in relation to the gospel.  Like Apollos, they knew only the baptism of John into repentance.  More, they had never heard of the Holy Spirit, which seem strange because John the Baptist had preached about the Holy Spirit as well as the coming of the Messiah (Matt. 3:11).

The Holy Spirit had come after Pentecost and these 12 men had been baptized unto repentance by John under the Old Covenant, which ended with Jesus. (Heb. 10:1-18). 

 John had told them in Matt 3:11, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  Once they understood this through Paul’s instruction, they put their trust in Jesus of whose coming their teacher John the Baptist - had spoken about. Therefore, they believed (v.4) were baptized (v.5) and received the Holy Spirit (v. 6).

The believers at Ephesus were aware of their need to live a better life, but they were not aware of the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them to do so.  Their experience demonstrates the truth that without the Holy Spirit we cannot please God. Thus, without the Holy Spirit we are incomplete Christians. In fact, Scripture tells us in John 4:24, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." 

The norm of Christian experience is a cluster of four things: Repentance, faith in Jesus, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

Thus it is vitally important that we, like the believers at Ephesus, find the answer to the question “Who Is The Holy Spirit?”

 I.       The Holy Spirit Is Personal

A.      John 16:13-14 says, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. “NKJV

B.      The Holy Spirit is neither an impersonal force nor a mere influence; rather, He possesses a full and distinct personality. 

C.      A person who has been defined as one who when speaking - say I; when spoken to is called you; and when spoken of is called Him or her.

John 16:13, says “However, when He and uses the personal pronoun (6 times) to describe what He will do.”

The Holy Spirit has qualities of a person, such as knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8, love (Rom. 15:30, and will (1 Cor. 12:11).

F.      The Holy Spirit acts like a person.  He searches the deep things of God (Rom. 8:26); He testifies (John 15:26); He teaches (John 14:26); He guides (Acts 16:6); and He commands and appoints (Acts 20:38).

The Bible always pictures the Holy Spirit as person and never as an impersonal force. Therefore, as a person the Holy Spirit relates to us, He understands, He feels for us, and He is our divine Friend and Helper.

Not only is the Holy Spirit Personal, but:

II.      The Holy Spirit Is Particular (Deity)

A.      The Holy Spirit is none less than God Himself because:

          1.       The Holy Spirit possesses divine attributes. 

                   a.       The Holy Spirit is omnipresent, which mean that He is present all of the time no matter when or where.

                   b.       As part of the Trinity, God is not a physical being limited to place and time as we are. He is present everywhere, and he can be worshiped anywhere, anytime.

                   c.       David illustrates this in Psalm 139:7-10, by pointing out that there is nowhere we can go to flee the Lord’s presence. Even if we were to ascend into the heaven, make our bed in hell, or go to the most extreme parts of the sea, we can never go beyond the reach of God’s presence.

B.      The Holy Spirit also possesses eternity, which only Deity possesses. He is called “the eternal Spirit” in Hebrews 9:14.

          1.       The Holy Spirit is omniscient, characteristic of God which means He knows all things actual and possible whether past, present, or future. ‘The Apostle Paul eludes this in 1 Corinthians 2:11b “one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” NKJV

          2.       The Holy Spirit is also omnipotent or all-powerful; a quality of deity, which means God, is all-powerful and can do anything that is consistent with His nature. Luke 1:35 tells us when the Angel spoke to Mary.

          3.       “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” NKJV

C.      Divine Works are ascribed to the Holy Spirit:  Some of these works are creation as mentioned in Gen. 1:2; the giving of life as mentioned in John 6:63, and the prophecy as mentioned in 2 Peter 1:21), and the Making of disciples in Matthew 28:19-20.

Not only is the Holy Spirit Particular (Deity), but:

III.    The Holy Spirit is Powerful (God’s Agent on Earth)

A.      In John 14:16-17, Jesus promised that He would pray to the heavenly Father, and that the Father would send the Holy Spirit, who would abide with us forever.

B.      The power that Jesus spoke which is of God may be thought in three ways in relation to the Trinity.  It is founded in the Father, it is revealed through the Son, and it is activated by the Holy Spirit.

C.      From the beginning of time Genesis 1:2 until the end of time the Holy Spirit is working.

          1.       It started in Genesis as He brought order into the universe when He moved upon the face of the waters. 

          2.       In Job 26:13, we are told the Holy Spirit garnished the heavens.

          3.       In Psalm 104:30, we are told the Holy Spirit renews the face of the earth, and in

          4.       In Job 33:4, the Holy Spirit gives life to human beings.

F.      The Holy Spirit is also God’s agent on earth in the Ministry of Christ.

          1.       He was active in the development of Christ as He “grew, and waxed strong in the spirit.” Luke 2:40.  We too must allow the Holy Spirit to aid in our development into the person that God created us for.

          2.   The Holy Spirit continued with Jesus Christ   during His preaching and healing Ministries.  We must allow the Holy Spirit to be with our Ministries as Jesus did.  When the Holy Spirit is in operation, people are changed and lives are strengthened.

G.      The Holy Spirit is God’s agent on earth in the creation of Holy Scripture:  The Holy Scripture revealed certain truths t individuals, which they in turn recorded as sacred Scripture for our edification.  We have Jesus saying, “He is the way, the truth and the light.”

          1.       We have John as he writes from the Island of Patmos in Revelation 1:10 giving us a glimpse of heaven while he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.

          2.       Scripture is given by inspiration (Holy Spirit) as stated in 2 Timothy 3:16, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” NKJV.

          3.       John 14:26, we are assured by Christ the inspiration of Scripture as the Holy Spirit brings the remembrance of the writers certain truth and experiences.

          4.       The Holy Spirit is active in relation to the Bible through illumination, which relates to our ability to comprehend the truths as they are revealed to inspire us.

H.      The Holy Spirit is God’s agent on earth in the work of the Church. 

          1.       As we look to Acts 1:8 we find that the Holy Spirit initially empowered the church to act for Him.  Jesus tells us in this action Scripture “But 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 end of the earth."  NKJV

          2.       He is involved in the expansion of the Church in Acts 2:1-4, and He is seen in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, as equipping the church.  Yes, we are equipped to do the work of the Master as we travel from day to day.

Conclusion:  Who Is The Holy Spirit?

1.       He is a person and one who care for us.

2.       He is Deity and one who can help us.

3.       He is God’s agent on earth and one who can save us.

4.       He is the paraclete, our helper and provider.

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