The Person of the Holy Spirit

An Unassuming Character

At the college where I did theological studies we took a fifteen-minute coffe breek daily between the first and second sections of class. We would often mingle and speak to people we knew or meet new people. I remember getting into a conversation with unassuming man; pleasant, easy to speak with, cordial and gracious. I had seen him around but didn’t know his role, and so I asked him, ‘So what do you do here?’. He smiled and replied, ‘Oh, I’m the principal’. This unassuming man was the principal – he was responsible for running everything!

The Holy Spirit is something like this college principle. He’s running everything; every dimension of our Christian lives has the Spirit’s hand on it, and yet he doesn’t put himself forward but points to Jesus. In this blog I briefly reflect on the person of the Holy Spirit – who he is and what he does. In a sense, this is like the Holy Spirit’s c.v.

1. The Holy Spirit is God


Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3.17-18

Notice the first and last statements of this scripture – ‘the Lord is the Spirit’ and ‘the Lord who is the Spirit’. This is the big idea: the Holy Spirit is God.

To understand the Holy Spirit as God requires us to comment briefly on God’s Trinitarian nature – God is both one and three. The Trinity can be explained in three simple statements:

1) There is one God
2) God is three persons
3) Each Person is fully God


The ‘oneness’ of God is attested to in many scriptures such as Deuteronomy 6.4:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

When we say that God is three persons we mean that God eternally exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; one in essence, having the same divine attributes and perfections, with each person fulfilling distinct roles. Although there are distinct roles within the Trinity, God is one in essence, and all three persons of the Trinity share the same attributes.

The ‘threeness’ of God is also attested in many scriptures:

Jesus saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”. Matthew 3.16-17

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28.19

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13.14

When we say that ‘each person is fully God’, we mean that the Father is fully God, the Son is fully God, the Spirit is fully God. That is, the Father is not partially God, and the Son is not partially God.

The key thought is that the Holy Spirit is fully God. Remember, the Lord is the Spirit.

It does not make sense to be more comfortable with God than the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is God. Some Christians seem to live like – yes, I know the Father, and I follow Jesus, but I’m unsure about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God. If you’re unsure about the Spirit, you’re unsure about God. When we say the Holy Spirit indwells us, we are saying – God is indwelling me; we ask, ‘Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit?’, this is saying, Have you been filled with God?

2. The Holy Spirit Saves

This is an amazing thought: there is no dimension of the Christian life experienced without the Spirit; the Holy Spirit applies to our lives all the benefits Christ has purchased. One way of thinking about salvation is to say that what the Father has planned and the Son has accomplished we experience by the work of the Spirit. Following I note some of the saving dimensions of the Spirit’s work.

1) He convicts us of sin

God loves enough to show us how sinful we are; this convicting of sin is specifically the work of the Spirit:

And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me. John 16.8. 

2) He calls us to God

God calls us to salvation through an outward call and an inner call. The outward call is also call the gospel call: this is when the Holy Spirit works through the proclamation of the gospel to call people to himself. However, along with gospel call is the inward call is the work of the Spirit by which God calls people out of darkness and to himself. Here are some verses on calling:

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 1.9 

To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Thess. 2.14 

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. Acts 16.14 

3) He gives life

God himself is life and it is by the Spirit that any human who is dead in sins comes to experience that life; unless God makes us alive, we remain dead in sins.

It is the Spirit who gives life. John 6.63

 The Spirit gives life ... 2 Corinthians 3.6

He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Titus 3.5


4) He unites us with Christ

Union with Christ is one of the amazing benefits the Holy Spirit applies to our lives:

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12.13

5) He confirms our adoption

Remember, we are much more than forgiven; through the gospel and by the work of the Spirit God adopts us into his family. But it is the work of the Spirit to speak to our own spirits to affirm that we have been adopted into God’s family.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8.15

6) He seals us in God

The most expensive purchase ever is what God paid to redeem us from sin – the life of his own Son. If humans work to protect costly assets, how much more will God? He does this by sealing us in himself with the Holy Spirit to preserve us for the destiny for which he purchased us.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1.13

3. The Holy Spirit Helps Us

In addition to the Spirit’s work in saving us, The Holy Spirit provides immense help to us. This is critically important to understand: God doesn’t bring us to himself through Christ simply to leave us on our own in the hopes that we will make it. Rather, he gives us the Spirit to ensure that we will make it to the end. Here are some of the many benefits we experience in the Christian life through the Spirit.

1) The Holy Spirit indwells us

Jesus promised that He would always be with us, and He is, by the Spirit.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14.16-17

2) The Holy Spirit affirms our status

It’s easy to forget who you are; we live in the context of a perpetual barrage of incorrect narrative trying to dictate to us who we are. Against all the lies the Holy Spirit reminds us that we are children of God.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 5.18

3) The Holy Spirit teaches us

We know that the Holy Spirit inspired scripture and the God speaks to us through his Word. But the only way we can understand the Bible is by the work of the Spirit.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14.26

4) The Holy Spirit leads and guides us

The Lord does not bring us into his kingdom and say, ‘Here’s a bible, here’s a church, hope you make it!’. The Bible and the church are essential for success in following Jesus, but the Lord himself takes a much more personal approach to assuring that we make it safely into the destiny God has for us. The Holy Spirit leads us to live lives that are pleasing to God.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are son of God. Romans 8.14

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5.16

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5.25

5) The Holy Spirit empowers for witness

The purpose of being filled with the Holy Spirit is power to be a witness. Through this empowerment the Holy Spirit gives us enablement and energy to relate to others what God has done in our lives through Christ. Whereas the purpose of the Spirit’s indwelling includes all the benefits Jesus promised (peace, presence, truth, guidance), filling is about power to be a witness.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1.8

6) The Holy Spirit gives gifts

We are not only gifted by God with the Holy Spirit; we are gifted by the Holy Spirit for ministry. There are an astounding variety of spiritual gifts: prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, giving/generosity, leadership, acts of mercy, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, discerning spirits, various kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues (see Romans 12.4-6; 1 Corinthians 12.4-7).

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;  to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12.4, 7

7) The Holy Spirit ministers peace

Peace is a high-value commodity; in the midst of our turbulent and busy time, most people live frantic, high-anxiety lives. But God promises to give us peace, and he does that by the Spirit.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8.6

8) The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus

Remember the unassuming man? He ran everything, but he didn’t do it in a way to attract attention to himself; rather, he was all about promoting the college. In the same way, the Spirit is all about glorifying Jesus, not himself.

He will glorify me. John 16.14

9) In the Spirit we have access to the Father

Jesus explained in John 14.6 that he came to bring us home to the Father and that He is the way, the truth, and the life that will get us there. But all of this is experienced in the Spirit.

For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. Ephesians 2.18

Conclusion

I could go on!!!! The benefits of the Holy Spirit are many! The point is this:

• The Holy Spirit is GOD.
• The Holy Spirit brings us to God and applies to us the benefits the Son has purchased.
• The Holy Spirit is the Helper from God who lives in us, empowers us, leads us, comforts us and gifts us for service.

Remember, salvation is both cognitive and spiritual; it involves both believing truth and experiencing God. When we come to Christ through believing the gospel and repenting, we learn to think differently about God, about ourselves, and about the world. But more than simply embracing the truth of the gospel and turning to follow Jesus, God draws us into experiential fellowship with himself through his indwelling Holy Spirit. Further he also empowers us for ministry by filling us with his Holy Spirit. Through his indwelling presence and overflowing power, God is with us – not just personally, but in ministry, so that we might faithfully build up other Christians and witness to the grace in Christ we have experienced