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The Holy Spirit: Who is the Holy Spirit?

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These lessons on the Holy Spirit of God are meant to just “whet your appetite.” I am attempting to condense a good bit of what we see mentioned about the Holy Spirit into 4 lessons. This series could very easily be expanded into 15-20 lessons, if not more. I will probably, even beyond this month, bring more lessons and exhortations on the Holy Spirit. I pray that these lessons will be just the beginning of our studies in digging deep into scripture so we can know as much as we can about how the Holy Spirit not only worked during the time of the writing of the Old and New Testaments, but also how He works today in our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ.
It is unfortunate that the Holy Spirit is so shrouded in mystery within the church. I’m sure many of us would say that compared to what we know about the Father and about Jesus Christ, we know very little about the Holy Spirit. There are many reasons for our lack of understanding about the Spirit. I will mention 3:
· He is not like us! If we could easily comprehend everything there is to know about the Holy Spirit (along with the Father and Son), they would not be God! God reveals Himself in a way that we can begin to understand some things about Him.
· We tend to at times overreact to false teachings of other religious groups. There are some religious groups that have a very distorted, and I would go as far to say, blasphemous teachings about the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, with these groups that put so much focus on the Spirit and His work in their lives, we tend to underemphasize how the Spirit works in our lives, even to the point in limiting in our own minds what the Spirit does.
· We really have studied about the Holy Spirit on many occasions but do not realize it because of preconceptions we have while approaching scripture. For instance, whenever you hear the word “God,” who is it that you think about? Usually the Father. There are so many verses within the Bible that mention God that nowhere in the context would narrow this only to the Father. There are many times within both the Old and New Testament scriptures that the word “God” refers to all three individual members of the Godhead, and times when the word God refers to the entire Godhead.
I hope we can get beyond what others say about the Holy Spirit, and see the truth of what the scriptures say about the Spirit of God.
I will attempt to show three things in this lesson:
1. The Holy Spirit is a “Personal” Being
2. The Holy Spirit is God
3. The Holy Spirit is NOT the Father or the Son
Many think of the Holy Spirit as a vague, impersonal force rather than a personal being. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are one example of such a group. This is what they believe about the Holy Spirit, “The holy spirit is not a person and it is not a part of a Trinity. The holy spirit is God’s active force that he uses to accomplish his will. . . . To a certain extent, it can be likened to electricity.”[1] But this is not what scripture teaches.
Though the word “Spirit (pneuma) is neuter, personal, singular, masculine pronouns are used of the Holy Spirit, such as “He,” “His,” or “Himself.” These personal pronouns are used over 20 times referring to the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit does things that only a personal being can do:
He hears:
· "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. - (NASB)
He speaks:
· "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me” -
· And the Spirit said to Philip, "Go up and join this chariot." (also see ; )
He has a “will:”
· All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. -
· For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements -
He teaches:
· "for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say "
He Loves:
· " Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me " (also see )
He can be lied to:
· But 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?
He can be blasphemed:
· “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.”
He can be insulted:
· “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”
He directs Paul where to (and not to) preach - ;
· “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” ()
· “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.” ()
I could keep on going, but these should suffice to show that the Holy Spirit is a personal being that acts like a personal being.
Holy Spirit called God:
“But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 "While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
Holy Spirit active in creation: , ;
“The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters…Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’” (, )
“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (). (see also )
Who gave the scriptures? God or the Holy Spirit? The scriptures are "God breathed," and are from the Spirit of God (/, Many instances when the "Spirit comes upon someone" and they speak for YHWH; ).
Here is a simple logical argument that the Holy Spirit is God.
The Scriptures are God-breathed () The Holy Spirit is the Breath of God (; ; ) The Holy Spirit, who is God, gave us the Scriptures
This is one of the many instances when the word "God" is used it is referring specifically the Holy Spirit.
Who are we a temple of? We as the people of God are God’s temple. This is made clear in scripture (, ). We are also called the temple of the Holy Spirit (). We are a dwelling place of God in the SPIRIT ()
We are the temple of God () The Holy Spirit dwells in us () The Holy Spirit is God
Are we born of the Spirit or born of God? says that we are born of the Spirit, but says we are born of God, along with seven other instances in 1 John.[3]
We are born of God () We are born of the Spirit () The Holy Spirit is God
Holy Spirit: Yahweh? Whenever I preached about the authority of Christ, I compared many Old and New Testament verse to show that when Yahweh is being mentioned in the Old Testament, this name includes Jesus[4]. The same is the case with the Holy Spirit
· /: Isaiah sees this amazing vision of Yahweh. After he is undone by the vision, and after His sin is forgiven, we see this statement:
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."
This statement by God brings us back to the time of creation where He referred to Himself as “us,” once again showing the plurality of the Godhead. In verses 9-10, we have a text that is used a few times in the New Testament, including in . In this text Paul says this was the Holy Spirit speaking this, using Isaiah to do so.[5]
· / -34:
is a well known prophecy about the New Covenant that Yahweh gives. The Hebrews writer says that the Holy Spirit said this.
· /: (cf )
Who did Israel reject in the wilderness? tells us that they rejected Yahweh. , which quotes this passage where Yahweh is speaking, says it was the Spirit that spoke . After quoting the Spirit in this text, the Hebrews writer then cautions his readers not to depart from the living God.
Holy Spirit has God's attributes:
· Holy: He is referred to as the Holy Spirit about 90 times in the Bible.
· Eternal: [6]
“how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
· Omniscient: ;
Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, Or as His counselor has taught Him? 14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, And taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, And showed Him the way of understanding?
· Omnipresent: [7]
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.”
Some people think that the Holy Spirit is actually the same Person as the Father and the Son. But the Scriptures clearly teach a distinction between the Persons of the Trinity. Whenever we see Him referred to as “the Spirit of God” or “the Spirit of Christ,” that may lead us to think that he is either one of Them, or at least a part of them; that just as we have a spirit that is a part of us, so to the Spirit is part of the Father, or of Christ. Scripture shows us that the Spirit is a distinct person. He has his own will, as we saw in . He is also mentioned in scripture along with the other members of the Godhead as though they are three separate, distinct beings.
· à “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
· :14à The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
· à There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
Also, look at the account of Jesus’s baptism.[8] Here the Son is baptized; a voice from Heaven says, “This is my beloved Son”; and the Holy Spirit, like a dove, rests upon Jesus. All of this occurs simultaneously. All three of the members of the Trinity are seen here at the same time, obviously distinct from one another.
Understanding the identity of the Holy Spirit is important as Christians! You may ask “Why is it so important to believe in the deity and personhood of the Holy Spirit?” It is crucial because you cannot give Him the honor and respect that He deserves if you don’t consider Him a divine Person. In my opinion, I find it difficult that someone can be saved if they constantly reject and deny the personhood and deity of the One who sanctifies us and identifies us as the children of God (, ; ).
[1] Should You Believe in the Trinity? (New York: The Watchtower Bible and Tract Soc., 1989).
[2] Deity means “God, divine character or nature” ( )
[3] , , , , , (2x)
[4] See for these verses
[5] Some people may respond by saying that these quotes where the Holy Spirit is speaking are nothing more that the Spirit inspiring men to speak. They say He is not the one literally speaking in these quoted texts. I use to show that “elohim”/“YHWH” refers to Himself as “us.” YHWH is a plurality (see also, where “elohim” refers to Himself as ‘us’). It should not be surprising to see that all three members are referred to as YHWH if all three are God. The Spirit inspired men to speak His word, the word of YHWH (, ; ; ; ).
[6] Some believe this text is showing that Jesus gave a “spiritual” sacrifice and that the Holy Spirit is not being referenced when the Hebrews writer mentions “the eternal Spirit.” This is a possibility.
[7] This could be a reference to the Father (who is spirit) or the Holy Spirit/Spirit of God, or both. YHWH is the One that is being referred to in the text. As seen above, the name YHWH includes all three members of the Godhead/Trinity.
[8] ; ;
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