Who is the Holy Spirit?

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The person and work of the Holy Spirit

This is the first of four short studies about the Holy Spirit. We will first look at who He is.

The Holy Spirit is a divine person and a member of what the Bible calls the Godhead, Col. 2. 9. The Godhead is made up of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Although the word ‘trinity’ is not found in the Bible, it helps us remember that there are three persons in the Godhead, for example, in Matthew chapter 28 verse 19.

The Holy Spirit is God. He is eternal and equal with the Father and the Son. The message of the Bible is about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit working in harmony to complete a great plan. They are going to populate heaven with saved sinners and bring them into the wonder of worship, fellowship, and service for God, forever. The Holy Spirit’s part in this work is different from that of the Father and the Son, but it is just as important.

The Holy Spirit and the word of God

The Holy Spirit appears in all parts of the Bible. He has different names. He is called ‘the Spirit of God’, Gen. 1. 2, the ‘Spirit of the Lord’, Judg. 13. 25 and the ‘holy spirit’, Ps. 51. 11. In John chapter 15 verse 26 He is the both the ‘Comforter’ and the ‘Spirit of truth’. In the original Greek of the New Testament the word for ‘ghost’ and ‘spirit’ is the same. There is no obvious reason to the modern mind why the King James Version of the Bible refers to Him both as the ‘Holy Ghost’ and the ‘Spirit’. In modern translations ‘Spirit’ is consistently used, but in Jacobean times the word ‘ghost’ referred to living people whilst the word ‘spirit’ often referred to phantoms or apparitions.

Throughout the Bible we hear God speaking to people. In the New Testament we hear many things said by Jesus Christ, the Son. Rarely, if ever, do we hear the Holy Spirit speak to people directly. But He is not silent. In fact the whole Bible comes from Him! It was the Holy Spirit who guided the men who wrote the Bible. We are told that ‘holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost’, 2 Pet. 1. 21. In fact, all of the Bible came that way – ‘all scripture is given by inspiration of God’, 2 Tim. 3. 16.

The Holy Spirit and the world

The Lord Jesus told the disciples about the ‘Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me’, John 15. 26. He also explained that ‘when he (the Holy Spirit) is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment’, 16. 8. The word ‘reprove’ means to prove, show, or convince.

The Holy Spirit speaks in different ways, including through preaching, or by a gospel tract, or by us talking about the Saviour. He uses these things to convince people about God, to show them that they are sinners who will be judged, and to show what the Son of God did for sinners in His death at Calvary. When people hear these truths, some believe and are saved. Sadly, others reject the message, and many just put off making a decision, Acts 17. 32-34.

The Holy Spirit will continue to work in the world in this way until the Lord Jesus returns for the church, 2 Thess. 2. 7 (see Editor's note).

The Holy Spirit and worship

The Holy Spirit is truly God, but we are never instructed to pray to Him or worship Him. Also, we are never instructed to pray for Him to come upon us, not least because He has already come to dwell within us! But we are expected to obey Him, as we hear His voice within us and through the Bible. In fact, He will help us to pray and to worship God. By always following His guidance, we will be able to live in a way that pleases God.

Next time we will look at His association with the Son of God.

Editor's note:

Please note that there are other views on this point. Not everyone sees this reference to the restraining power as meaning the Holy Spirit – even Vine had problems with this interpretation, and argued that there is no support for this view in other parts of the New Testament. He lists additionally four other views, and comes to the conclusion that all can be little more than speculative!