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The Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost,) is the third divine person of The Trinity. Introduction – You and I are each one person – body, soul and spirit. We live in a physical, three-dimensional world in which we can see, smell, touch and hear.
My body is the visible me that people know. My soul and spirit is also an integral part of me, just not physically visible. But it is still me, although those parts of me exist outside the three-dimensional world.
Now, these perspectives do not explain God’s being – He is infinitely more than that. However, He also said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen.1:26). From this, we may understand that we have some semblance of Him in ourselves – however, limited it may be.
As such man was also given a very limited authority/dominion, i.e. to rule over the earth and all other forms of life, to subdue and care for it (Gen.1:26-28).
God is one – one in essence and character. God is Spirit (Joh.4:24) and therefore He is physically invisible (1Tim.1:17). God reveals Himself in the three distinct persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But all three of these persons are of the same essence and character. Together they are one God, Creator of all, almighty, most wise, perfect in grace, love, and righteousness.
Let us then examine the Holy Scriptures and see what we may learn about the Spirit of God. Who is the Holy Spirit really; what does He do; how does He do it? In various Bible translations, He is also called the Holy Ghost.
The Person of the Holy Spirit
In the Scriptures, God is indicated by various Names, also “the LORD”. He is called by the Hebrew name “Jehovah” or “Yahweh”, (the same letters in the Hebrew Scriptures, but pronounced with different consonants) which means self-Existent or eternal.
This is the Jewish national name of God, which we translate as “the LORD”.
With the above in mind, let us see what the Word of God says. Please note that in each instance, Scripture itself explains that the LORD who has spoken, was the Holy Spirit.
In Exo.17:5-7 we read that the LORD (God) said to Moses that the Israelites tempted, tried and provoked Him. In Heb.3:7-9 we learn that this is what the Holy Spirit had said. Psalms.78 (where the mighty deeds of God are extolled) confirms that the Israelites “sinned still more against Him, by provoking the Most High in the wilderness.” (Psalms.78:17). It is thus clear that the Holy Spirit is truly God, “the Most High”.
In Isaiah.6:8-9, the prophet heard the voice of the LORD, who commanded him to say to the people: “You hear indeed, but do not understand, and seeing you see, but do not know.” St. Paul ascribes these words to the Holy Spirit in Acts.28:25-26: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet, ‘Go to this people and say: Hearing you shall hear and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see and not perceive…’”.
Although we learn that “God is (a) Spirit”, He has made and still may make Himself visible in whatever form He may deem fit for the occasion. In Judges.6:11-26 we learn that the LORD appeared to and spoke to Gideon in a human form, as an Angel (meaning “messenger” or “ambassador”). This Angel was Jehovah/Yahweh Himself – see especially vv.11 & 14.
In Gen.18:1-2, God appeared to Abraham in the form of three men, and Abraham addressed Him/Them as “my LORD”. It may not be farfetched to understand these three men to have represented the three Persons of the Godhead.
Just after the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the bodily shape of a dove and was seen by both Jesus and John (Mat.3:16; Joh.1:32).
There are many more instances in the Bible in which the “angel(s)” who appeared to men, may be understood to have been God Jehovah/Yahweh Himself.
It is thus clear that the Holy Spirit is, together with the Father and the Son, one in essence and character. Jesus confirmed this oneness/unity when He commanded His disciples (please note the singular “Name”): “Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
It is also clear that, although Scripture talks about “the Holy Spirit”, He is never an “It” or an object, but a Person. In Acts.5 we read that Ananias and his wife Sapphira lied about the offers they had brought, and Peter said: “Why has Satan filled your heart for you to lie to the Holy Spirit,..?” (v.3) “You have not lied to men, but to God.” (v.4).
The Work of the Holy Spirit
In the Bible, there are well-nigh innumerable instances of the work that the Holy Spirit has done and is still doing. For want of space, we can consider only a very few examples of His work.
The first we read specifically about the work of the Holy Spirit is in Gen.1:2, where we learn that the Spirit of God “moved” over the newly created formless and lifeless mass.
Keil & Delitzsch, well-known commentators on the Old Testament, point out that the same word (“moved”) is used in Deuteronomy.32:11 where it is applied to the brooding and hovering of a bird over its nest, where its eggs and hatchlings are the start of a new generation.
They conclude that we may understand it to mean that the Spirit of God then “moved” over the unformed mass “to fill them with vital energy by His breath of life”.
This work of the Holy Spirit of God seems to be the foundation on which all His subsequent work in relation to His creation, is based. Let us keep this in mind as we learn from Scripture about the work of the Holy Spirit.
We remember that all of mankind inherits the status of being spiritually dead in sin (Rom.5:12). But the Holy Spirit quickens the dead (2Cor.3:6; Col.2:13; Rom.4:17; Ps.30:3 etc., etc), by the rebirth “from above”.
At this rebirth/regeneration from above, the Holy Spirit washes the newly-born clean from sin and renews him (Col.2:13; Tit.3:5). Our souls are also purified through the Spirit (1Pet.1:22). He introduces/baptizes the believer into the mystical body of (believers in) Jesus Christ and bestows various spiritual gifts on them accumulatively (1Cor.12:7-13).
The Holy Spirit sanctifies and justifies: “And such were some of you. But you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the LORD Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1Cor.6:11). “God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2Thes.2:13).
Jesus promised that, after His ascension, the Holy Spirit would be His disciples’ Comforter (Intercessor / Consoler / Advocate) and “He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you” (Joh.14:26; 1Cor.2:13).
As Intercessor/Advocate the Holy Spirit helps our infirmities. When the right words fail us in our prayers, “the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom.8:26). As such He gives us access to the Father through Jesus Christ our Saviour (Eph.2:18).
Jesus also called Him “the Spirit of Truth”, who will guide us in all truth, announce things to come and glorify Christ (Joh.16:13-14).
The Holy Spirit reveals God’s will. St Paul writes that “the mystery of Christ” which “in other ages was not made known to the sons of men… is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Eph.3:4-5; 1Pet.1:2).
The Holy Ghost examines all things, even the deep things of God, even those things that eyes have not seen nor ears have heard, which God has prepared for those who love Him and reveals it to us (1Cor.2:9-10; Jas.2:5; Isa.64:4).
All through Biblical history, all prophecies were given to the prophets by the Holy Spirit (2Pet.1:21). Even until today, those who are inclined to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit can perceive what He reveals to the church (Rev.2:11).
The Spirit of God dwells in those who belong to Jesus Christ (Joh.14:7; Rom.8:9-11; 1Cor.3:16; Jas.4:5; 1Joh.3:24); seals them in Jesus Christ until the day of redemption (Eph.1:13; 4:30); supports, strengthens and renews them (Eph.3:16; Phlp.1:19Tit.3:5) and fills their hearts with the love of God (Rom.5:5).
By doing so, the Holy Ghost unites them into the mystical corporate body of Jesus Christ – whether male or female, slaves or freemen, Jews or Greeks (1Cor.12:13) so that they are all one in Christ (Gal.3:28).
The Holy Ghost makes the will of God happen in the lives of believers, although it is not always the way they intended things to be (Act.16:6).
The wise-hearted are filled with the Spirit of Wisdom, understanding, knowledge and workmanship (Exo.28:3; 31:3; Dt.34:9; Jdg.3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 14:6; etc., etc.).
The Fruit of the Holy Spirit
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control; (Gal 5:22-23); and righteousness and truth (Eph.5:9); enabling the believer to test/prove what is acceptable to God (Eph.5:10) and to admonish one another (Rom.15:14).
Emotions of the God the Holy Spirit
The Spirit of God loves giving joy, peace, and kindness (Gal.5:22); However, He can be grieved (Isa.63:10; Eph.4:30). He can be provoked to anger and His wrath kindled (2Ki.22:17; Job.42:7).
We have seen that all the prophecies in Scripture were given by God, Jehovah, the LORD. In the New Testament, it is revealed that these prophecies were given by God the Holy Spirit (2Pet.1:21). We may, therefore, assume that whatever God has conveyed to the people through the prophets, He did so in His Person as the Holy Spirit.
We may therefore also assume that whenever God was grieved, provoked to anger, wrath, and punishment, it was in His Person as the Holy Spirit.
Although Saul was anointed a king over God’s people and the Spirit of God came upon (1Sam.11:6), he became disobedient to God to the extent that the Holy Ghost not only departed from him but also sent an evil spirit to terrify him (1Sam.16:14).
As a reminder, we need to remember always the indivisible, inextricable unity and oneness of God in the Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It was the Father who declared from heaven that Jesus is His beloved Son (Mat.3:17; 2Pet.1:17).
It was Jesus, the Christ and beloved Son (not the Father, nor the Holy Ghost) who was crucified, died, was resurrected and ascended to heaven. He also paid our sin debt in full.
It is the Holy Spirit who was sent by the Father and the Son to do all that we have discussed above. Yet these three divine Persons are revealed to us as only one God.
If we do not understand how these things can possibly be, we also need to remember that, if we could analyze, dissect and explain our God, He would not be God. His ways and thoughts are infinitely higher than we can ever comprehend (Isa.55:8-11). Therefore we may well agree with the beautiful old saying: “God said it. I believe it. That settles it”.
May the Spirit of the living God bless you,
Mind On Jesus