One of the most debated and misunderstood Bible doctrines is Pneumatology, which is the study of the Holy Spirit. Some people think of the Holy Spirit as a kind of separate force like you might encounter in Star Wars and Star Trek. Many think of that the Holy Spirit is a person. Others think that the Holy Spirit is a separate force that is projected by God. With all of these ideas, how does the Bible define the Holy Spirit?
What is the Holy Spirit?
The first mention of the Holy Spirit is seen in Genesis 1:2 as follows: “And 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.” The first key to understanding the Holy Spirit is by the fact that this verse says that the “Spirit of God” moved upon the face of the waters.
The Bible says that God is a Spirit (John 4:24). If the Holy Spirit is a separate force projected by God, does that mean the Holy Spirit is a spirit projected by God who is a Spirit? If the Holy Spirit is a separate astrological force, then does that mean that the Spirit of God belongs to God? If the Holy Spirit is a person, then who moved upon the face of the waters?
First, we see that according to 1 John 5:7 (KJV), the Father, the Word (Jesus), and the Holy Ghost (Spirit) are one. This means the three are one and the same, commonly referred to as the Holy Trinity. This makes the Holy Spirit co-equal in authority as the Father and the Son. This does not mean that there are three Gods. It means that God manifests, or shows, Himself in three persons. With this in mind, the belief that the Holy Spirit is simply a power is incorrect.
As a person, the Holy Spirit is God and has the same attributes and power of God. The Holy Spirit is referred to as He, which demonstrates that the Bible is clear about the Holy Spirit being a person (John 14:16-17; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7-14). As a person, we can also see that the Holy Spirit has a personality as described as follows:
- Comforter: Refers to the Holy Spirit’s constant presence of and in the believer. This word comes from the Greek Word paraclete, which means “called to your side” (John 14:26; John 15:26)
- Guide: Refers to the Holy Spirit’s role in leading and guiding us in understanding the Bible and using it in our lives (Psalms 119:105; John 16:13; Romans 8:14)
- Intercessor: Refers to the Holy Spirit’s role in facilitating communication and speaking on our behalf with the Father and Son (Romans 8:26-27)
As a person, the Holy Spirit has a will and a mind (1 Corinthian’s 12:11; Romans 8:27); He can speak and teach (John 14:26; Acts 1:16; Acts 28:25; Revelation 2:7-11). He can inspire believers to do God’s work (Exodus 31:2-5; Judges 6:34; Luke 4:14; Acts 8:28, Acts 13:4). He is patient and loving (Genesis 6:3; Romans 15:13). He has names and titles: He is God (Acts 5:3-4). He is Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18). He is the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19 (KJV) – notice name, not names).
What part does the Holy Spirit have in our lives?
The Holy Spirit convicts us about of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11). However, when someone resists the conviction of the Holy Spirit when it comes to salvation, then they are blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Blaspheming the Holy Spirt is the only sin that is unforgivable (Matthew 12:30-32). This is because in order for us to be saved from condemnation, we have to believe that we are a sinner in need of Jesus Christ as our Savior to pay our wages of sin. Until we do this, we are left in an unforgiven state. Therefore, we can never be forgiven of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as an unbeliever because blasphemy means we reject salvation.
When someone receives Christ as their Savior, God gives, or baptizes them in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:12-14; 2 Timothy 2:19; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Peter 3:21). At the moment of salvation a transaction takes place. It is described in Scripture as follows:
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:12-14)
The moment we trust Christ as our Savior, our penalty for our sin, or braking of God’s law, is paid in full by applying the blood sacrifice that Christ provided when He died on the cross for our sins (Romans 3:19; Romans 6:23). Our sin required a payment, death, and Christ paid the payment for us (Acts 20:28; Romans 3:24-25; Romans 5:9; Colossians 1:13-14; Hebrews 9:22; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 1:5).
Once forgiveness has taken place, then God seals us with the Holy Spirit, which is the non-refundable guarantee of our inheritance in heaven. We are sealed with this seal unto the day of redemption, which is the day we see Christ in heaven (Ephesians 4:30). This seal or inheritance is kept, not by our own power or how we live, it is kept sealed by the power of God (1 Peter 1:3-5).
Finally, as believers, the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to make Jesus the Lord of our life (1 Corinthians 12:3) and understand the Bible (1 Corinthians 2:9-16). As we submit to the Spirit’s leading He produces good fruit or works in our lives (Romans 6:22; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:6-11; Colossians 1:4-6). This is not to be confused with the gifts of the Spirit, which the Spirit gives to each believer to minister to and edify others (Isaiah 11:2-3; Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Philippians 4:13).
The Holy Spirit is God and part of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit is a person Who has the same attributes and power of God. He has a personality and titles that speak of His role in the lives of humanity. He convicts us of sin and our need for a Savior, yet He can also be blasphemed by rejecting His conviction. At the moment of salvation, He seals us until the day of redemption and produces fruit or good works in the lives of those whom submit to His leading. He also gives each believer Spiritual gifts that enable them to minister to and edify others.
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. Resource – Williams, Michael L. (2014). Pneumatology: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Bible Doctrines: An introductory study of the doctrines of the Bible (Chapters 6 & 7). http://www.wisdom4today.org.
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Dr. Michael L. Williams is a pastor, author, Christian educator and Biblical counselor who has served in ministry since March of 2000. Dr. Mike holds under-graduate through post graduate degrees in Christian Education and formerly worked as a nurse. Dr. Mike is the Senior Pastor of Selah Mountain Ministries, which he founded in March of 2010 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA (selahmountain.org). In addition to counseling, he teaches how to overcome life issues Biblically on topics such as anger management, marriage, addictions, and other subjects typically referred to as mental illnesses. Dr. Mike is also a writer at What Christians Want To Know. Dr. Mike lives with his wife Pamela Rose and adult daughter Hollie Rose. He and Pamela have other adult children and several grandchildren as well. Learn more about Dr. Mike at his personal ministry web site Wisdom4Today