The Holy Spirit

by Hugh Fulford

Quite possibly more confusion exists with reference to the Holy Spirit than any other Bible subject. The divine personality of the Holy Spirit is not recognized by many people; how He works in the conviction and conversion of sinners and in the life of a Christian is often misunderstood. A single essay on the subject cannot answer all questions, but some basic truths may help clear the path to a greater understanding of the Holy Spirit and His work.

The Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost, King James Version) is known by various names in scripture. He is referred to simply as the Spirit (Romans 8:26), the Spirit of God (Matthew 3:16), the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9b), the Spirit of truth (John 16:13), the eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:13-14), and the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29).

Like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is a divine person. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute the Godhead (Matthew 28:18-20; II Corinthians 13:14). The Spirit's nature comports with the Father's and the Son's. If we have no problem conceiving of the Father and the Son as divine persons, we ought not to have any problem conceiving of the Holy Spirit as a divine person.

Eight times in the space of two verses (John 16:13-14), Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as "He" a personal pronoun in the masculine gender and the singular number. This being the case, the Holy Spirit is not some mysterious "It" that people in their wild imaginations and frenzied, irrational behavior "get." (Example: "I 'got the Holy Spirit/Ghost! Have you ever 'got it?") The Holy Spirit is not the mind or power of God the Father. And, while the word of God is "the sword of the Spirit" (B), the Holy Spirit is not to be equated with the word of God--no more so than a soldier is to be equated with his sword, though the soldier uses his sword to accomplish his mission.

The Holy Spirit has a mind (Romans 8:27) and possesses knowledge (I Corinthians 2:11). He taught the apostles of Christ and reminded them of all that Jesus had taught them (John 14:26). He guided the apostles into all truth (John 16:13). Note: The context of the preceding verses needs to be understood, those to whom the words were spoken need to be recognized, and no one today is to assume that the Holy Spirit is leading or guiding them or anyone else into additional truth. "All truth" has been revealed by the Holy Spirit to the apostles and prophets of Christ (Ephesians 3:1-7, note especially verse 5, and compare it with I Corinthians 2:12-13). "The faith" (the complete gospel system) has been "once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3), and no additional revelations or "special leading" of the Holy Spirit are taking place today, nor have they since the completion of the writing of the New Testament documents.

The Holy Spirit dwells in Christians (I Corinthians 6:19) and in the church collectively (I Corinthians 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:19-21). The Holy Spirit is given to Christians because they are sons/children of God, not to make them sons/children of God (Galatians 4:6, emphasis mine, hf). The indwelling Spirit serves as a seal (a mark) that one is a child of God (Ephesians 1:13), and is the earnest (as in earnest money, i.e, the deposit, the guarantee) of the Christian's eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:14; II Corinthians 5:5). The Spirit "bears witness with (not to) our spirit that we are children of God" (Romans 8:16, emphasis mine, hf), and "makes intercessions for us...according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26-27).

The child of God is to demonstrate "the fruit of the Spirit" and "walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-26). This involves walking worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1), walking in love (Ephesians 5:1-2), walking as children of light (Ephesians 5:8), walking circumspectly (literally, looking around, keeping oneself morally upright, being aware of spiritual threats, dangers, needs, challenges, and opportunities) (Ephesians 5:15), walking in the light (of God's word) (I John 1:5-7), and walking in truth (II John 4).

One must be careful not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:22-32; Mark 3:28-30), lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3), resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51), grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), or do despite to or insult the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 10:28-29). Rather, we are to be "filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18-19) as we "let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly" (Colossians 3:16). (Note: These last two passages are exact parallels, and while they do not make the Holy Spirit and the word of Christ synonymous [see earlier comment on Ephesians 6:17], they are instructive as to the medium through which the Holy Spirit does His work in the conviction and conversion of sinners and in the instruction of Christians, namely, the word of God).

Much more could be said about the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this brief overview will serve as a springboard to a deeper and more extensive study on the part of some.

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