UNDERSTANDING THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT1
(by Innocent Maja)
This is the first part of a series of the teaching on the person of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of the teaching is to understand whom the bible say the Holy Spirit is. The questions that this paper will address are;
Is the Holy Spirit God?
Is the Holy Spirit a person or an influence?
What are the works of the Holy Spirit?
My prayer is that God helps you develop a close relationship with the Holy Spirit.
(A) IS THE HOLY SPIRIT GOD?
This question explores the deity of the Holy Spirit. For years I have been asking others and myself this question. I received different responses, some of which were useful and others confusing. I then remembered that the foundation of Christianity is the Bible and I had an obligation to search the scriptures if at all I was going to answer this question. I also had to study subsidiary material to help me understand biblical information. So I prayerfully began my pilgrimage and these were my findings;
Scriptures testify that the Holy Spirit is God.2 Let me pause a little and explain briefly what I mean here. God is one (indivisible and undivided)3 but he manifests Himself in three as the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. This is not unusual. Take yourself as an example. You are one person but consist of the body, soul and spirit. You cannot separate these three.
The Holy Spirit is the third center of consciousness or manifestation of the one God.
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”4
It is important to note that the oneness of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son is also expressed in the following :
(a) In the baptismal command
Matthew 28:19 says “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” – I want you to take particular note of the fact that the Bible does not say ‘names’ but ‘name.’ This shows that Father, Son and the Holy Spirit is one person.
(b) In the administrations of the Church
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 says; “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.”
(c) In the Apostolic benediction
2 Corinthians 13:14 says “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
NB: Possession of Essential Attributes
The other feature that shows that the Holy Spirit if God is that He possesses essential attributes. Essential attributes are those attributes that are exclusively God’s. They are what make God, God. These can never be communicated to man. They separate God from everyone and everything else. The following are examples that show that the Holy Spirit possesses essential attributes;
a. The Holy Spirit is called God.
“But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.”5
b. The Holy Spirit is eternal
Hebrews 9:14 says “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
c. The Holy Spirit is omnipotent – which means all powerful
Luke 1:35 states that “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
d. The Holy Spirit is omniscient6
This means that the Holy Spirit knows all things
e. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent – which means everywhere present
Psalm 139:7-10 says “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
f. The Holy Spirit is self-existent – this means that He is a source of life.7
He does not need anything and or anyone else to exist.
NB: We can also see that the Holy Spirit is God by the Divine works being attributed to Him, the Father and Son. These things attest to His deity. The following are examples;
a. The Holy Spirit was active in creation.
Genesis 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Again Psalm 104:30 says “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.” In the same breath, Job 26:13 shows that “By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent.”
b. The Holy Spirit was active in the inspiration of sacred scriptures
2 Peter 1:21 says “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Again
2 Timothy 3:16 states that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2 Samuel 23:2-3 wraps it up by saying “The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.”
The Holy Spirit is active in regeneration of fallen men – in making man a new creation.
This is illustrated by John 3 v 3-5 that says “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’” Again Titus 3 v 5 “…but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is active in the resurrection of the body, which involves a creative act.
Romans 8 v 11 says “But is the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
It is therefore evident from these scripture that the Holy Spirit is God. It can be argued that all that the scriptures reveal concerning the character and the attributes of God can be applied to the Holy Spirit.
(B) IS THE HOLY SPIRIT A PERSON OR AN INFLUENCE?
My study of scriptures has revealed that the Holy Spirit is not merely an influence. Let me again explain something here. Although the Holy Spirit does personally influence the life of the believer and He is revealed as the power of God, He is not merely an influence. Treating the Holy Spirit as an influence is contrary to the teaching of Scripture.
I have come to realise that treating the Holy Spirit as a mere influence will hinder our worship. True worship is a personal activity and a means of personal relationship. Treating Him as an influence will hinder proper reverence. To speak of the Holy Spirit as an influence is improper.
It is interesting to note that the Bible reveals the Holy Spirit as a divine personality. For instance, Jesus used personal pronouns over ten times concerning the Holy Spirit in His teaching in John’s gospel. God desires to have a personal relationship with each one of us. That is why God Himself lives within us through the person of the Holy Spirit. It would be impossible to cultivate a relationship with an impersonal force. He, Holy Spirit is our friend, our helper, our comforter and indweller. When we know Him this way, we can honor Him. The following shows that the Holy Spirit is a person.
1. The Holy Spirit is referred with personal pronouns.
Although the word Spirit is in neuter gender, the Lord Jesus Christ used personal pronouns when He spoke of the Holy Spirit. The pronouns He and Himself are used several times in scripture. These pronouns are masculine gender. For example John 16:7 says “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” Again John 15:26-27 observes “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.”
2. The Holy Spirit is spoken of as having personal qualities.
The three main qualities which constitute personality (mind, will and emotions) are attributed to The Holy Spirit as well. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit has
Romans 8:27 says “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”8
1 Corinthians 12:11 says “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will”.
Romans 8:26-27 tells us that the Holy Spirit makes intercession with groans and moans that words cannot express. Again, Romans 15:30 says “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me”9.
3. The Holy Spirit is spoken of under personal titles.
Personal titles are given to the Holy Spirit, showing that He is a divine person. He is the comforter who also means the advocate. John 14:16 says “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” John 14:26 further provides that “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” In John 16:7 Jesus says “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”
The Greek word for comforter is Paraclete, which means “the one who stands along side.” In John 14:16 Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as another comforter. It can be argued that the Holy Spirit could not take the place of Jesus personally if He was not personally related to Him while on earth.
4. The Holy Spirit is spoken of as having personal feelings that could not be attributed to an impersonal power.
a. He can be grieved
Ephesians 4:30 says “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
b. He can be insulted
Hebrews 10:29 says “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”
c. He can be lied to
Acts 5:3 says “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?”
d. He can be blasphemed
Matthew 12:31-32 stipulates that “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against (blasphemes) the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
e. He can be resisted
Acts 7:51 says “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.”
f. He can be vexed
Isaiah 63:10 says “But they rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.”
g. He can be quenched
1 Thessalonians 5:19 says “Quench not the Spirit.”
(C) THE WORKS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
1 Corinthians 12:11 reveals that the Holy Spirit is a spirit of works. It says “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” It is interesting to note that the works of the Holy Spirit are personal works. This further buttresses the fact that the Holy Spirit is a person. Here are some of the personal works of the Holy Spirit.
a. The Spirit searches
1 Corinthians 2:10 says “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”
b. The Spirit speaks
Acts 13:2 says “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” 1 Timothy 4 v 1 further stresses this point by saying “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” Revelation 2:7 is very elaborate. It says “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”
c. The Spirit testifies
John 15:26 says “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” The old Testament reveals this aspect of the Holy Spirit as well. Nehemiah 9:30 states that “Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testified against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands.”
d. The Spirit bears witness
1 John 5:6 says “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.”
e. The Spirit teaches and reminds believers what Jesus said
John 14:26 states that “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
f. The Spirit instructs
Nehemiah 9:20 says “Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst.”
g. The Spirit reproves
John 16:8-11 states that “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”
h. The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses and prays and makes intercession
Romans 8:26 says “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
i. The Spirit leads
Matthew 4:1 states that “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”
j. The Spirit guides the believer into all truth.
John 16:13 provides that “Howbeit when he, the spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…”
k. The Spirit glorifies the Lord Jesus
John 16:14 says “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.”
l. The Spirit brings about regeneration
John 3:5-6 states that “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
m. The Spirit strives with men
Genesis 6:3 says “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” From this portion of scripture it appears that the spirit of God strives with men whenever man sins.
n. The Spirit convicts men.
John 16:8 says “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”
o. The Spirit sends messengers from God
Isaiah 48:16 states “Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.”
p. The Spirit calls men into ministry
Acts 13:2 says “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” Again, Acts 20:28 states “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” What emerges here is that the Holy Spirit had called them to be overseers of God’s flock.
q. The Spirit directs men in the service of Christ
Acts 8:29 says “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.”10 Acts 16:6-7 is even more elaborate. It says “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.”
r. The Spirit also imparts Spiritual Gifts to the members of the body of Christ
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 says “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit. To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit. To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”
s. He gives believers access to God
Ephesians 2 v 18 says that “For through him we both have access by one spirit unto the Father.”
t. He inspires prayer and helps believers to worship God11
Ephesians 6v18 says that “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit.” Jude 20-21 further states that “But ye, building up yourselves on your holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God…”
u. Anoints for Service
Luke 4 v 18 states that “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has annointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
v. He assures and seals believers
Romans 8v16 says that “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Again Galatians 4v6 says that “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, abba, Father.” Ephesians 1v13 says “…ye believers, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise.”12
w. He baptizes believers into the body of Christ
1 Corinthians 12v13 says “For by one Spirit we are all baptised into one body…”
x. He empowers and strengthens Believers
Luke 24v49 says “And behold I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with the power from on high.” Acts 1v8 also states that “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you…” In Ephesians 3v16 Paul prays to God “That he would grant you (believers), according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.”13
y. He moulds character and produces fruit
Galatians 5v22-23 states that “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
z. He cleanses and sanctifies
1 Peter 1v2 says “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit…” Again Romans 15v16 says, “…being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.”
We have established above that the Holy Spirit is God. He is a person and performs personal works. It is therefore proper for a believer to develop a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. He will accentuate your prayer and worship. He will reveal the mind of God to you. He will mould your character. The list is endless. Why don’t you begin to develop your relationship with the Holy Spirit today?
End of Part 1 – Watch out for part 2.
You can post your comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org
1 I am indebted to Dr Grace Mae Taruvinga who taught me pneumatology at Cornerstone Bible Academy. I have relied on both her lectures and notes in formulating this teaching. However, all the errors and mistakes contained in this paper are mine. Note – all quotations in this paper are from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.
2 I am working on another study on the Godhead that will explain this concept in detail. Watch out for it.
3 See Deuteronomy 4:35,39; 6v4; Exodus 20:3; 1 Samuel 2:2; 1 Sam 7:22; Psalms 86:10; Psalms 83:8; Isaiah 44:6-8; Isaiah 43:10; Mark 12:29; 1 Corinthians 3:4; Mark 12:32; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Timothy 2:17; Galatians 3:20 etc
4 1 John 5:7-8.
5 Acts 5:3-4
6 John 14:26, John 16:12-13, 1 Corinthians 2:10 & Romans 8:26-27
7 See Romans 8v2
8 See also I Corinthians 2 v 10-13
9 See also Colossians 1 v 8.
10 See also Acts 10 v 1-29
11 See Philippians 3v3
12 See also Ephesians 4v30
13 See also Acts 2v4