Understanding the Holy Spirit

by Steve Cornell

IThe personhood and Deity of the Holy Spirit: He is the third person of the Triune God.

A. Personality – The Holy Spirit is not a vague force. He is a person possessing everything essential to personhood. The following scriptural defense establishes this truth:

1. Personal pronouns: (Jn. 15:26; 16:13; Acts 13:2).  The Bible reveals the Spirit not as an impersonal force but as a person referred to as “He, I, and Me.”  (Note the use of masculine pronoun (ekinos) with the title Spirit which is neuter – Jn. 16:13-24; Eph. 1:14).

2. Personal characteristics:

a. Intelligence: (Ro. 8:27; I Co. 2:10-13; Jn. 14:26)

b. Emotion: (Eph. 4:30; Gal. 4:6; Rom. 15:30)

c. Volition: (Acts 16:6; I Cor. 2:11)

3. Personal tasks:

a. Communes – (II Cor. 13:14)

b. Comforts – (Jn. 14:16; Rom. 15:13)

c. Counsels – (Acts 15:28; Jn. 14:26; 16:13; I Tim. 4:1; Rev. 2:7)

d. Convicts – (Jn. 16:7-11)

e. Glorifies – (Jn. 16:14; see also 17:4)

4. Personal treatment:

a. Lied to – (Acts 5:34)

b. Resisted  – (Acts 7:51)

c. Sinned against – (Mt. 3:29)

d. Blasphemed (Mt. 12:31-32)

e. Grieved (Eph. 4:30)

B. Deity – The fact that the Holy Spirit is God can be understood through His identification with the other members of the Godhead and through His works and attributes.

1. Divine identification:

a. Called God (Acts 5:3-4)

b. Temple of God/temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19-20)

c. In commission (Mt. 28:19)

d. In benediction (II Cor. 13:14)

e. In spiritual gifts (I Cor. 12:4-6)

f. In salvation (Eph. 1:3-14; I Pet. 1:2)

g. In creation (Gen. 1:1-2; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:1-3)

2. Divine works:

a. Creation (Gen. 1:2;Job 26:13; 33:4; Isa. 40:13; Ps. 104:30)

b. Revelation (I Pet. 1:11; II Pet. 1:21)

c. Incarnation (Lk. 1:35)

d. Resurrection (Rom. 8:1)

e. Regeneration (Jn. 3:5-8; Ti. 3:5)

3. Divine attributes:

a. Omniscience (Jn. 16:13; I Cor. 2:10,11)

b. Omnipresence (Ps. 139:7-8)

c. Eternality (Heb. 9:14)

II. The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

A. In salvation: The Spirit is involved in four primary ways at the moment of salvation.

1. Regeneration: The impartation of spiritual life to the one who has faith in Jesus (Ti. 3:5; Eph. 2:1; I J. 5:11-12)

2.  Indwelling: Christians may have varying degrees of spiritual power and fruitfulness but Scripture clearly teaches that all Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9; I Cor. 6:19-20; II Cor. 1:21-22).

3. Baptism: At salvation, “we all were immersed in one Spirit, so as to become one body” (I Cor. 12:3; Matt. 3:11). In the book of I Corinthians, Paul recognizes different levels of spiritual growth and different spiritual gifts among the believers in Corinth. Yet he says, placing himself with them, “we all were immersed with one Spirit…” The Corinthian reference (12:13) supplies definition of the historical illustrations in Acts 19:1-7).

4. Sealing: The Spirit who regenerates, indwells and unites, is the seal of security guaranteeing the completion of our salvation (Eph. 1:13; 4:30; II Cor. 1:21-22).

B. In Christian living: The Holy Spirit is involved in the life of every believer in the following ways after salvation:

1. Producing Christlikeness: (II Cor. 3:18; Jn. 16:14; rom. 8:28,29)

2. Filling: Every believer has all of the Holy Spirit he will ever have at salvation, but throughout Christian living many believers do not yield themselves completely to the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, the filling of the Spirit is a command, not a prayer request. The meaning and means of the filling of the Spirit must be carefully understood if we desire to experience the fullness of His ministry in our lives.

a. Meaning: The word “filled” is used of wind filling a sail or someone being filled with joy or grief. Permeation, like salt permeating meat, and total domination are also involved. The dominating influence of the Holy Spirit should permeate our character to the extent that being with us is like being with Christ.

b. Means: To be filled with the Holy Spirit implies that we are empty of selfish ambition. Our total desire must be to please God in every area of life. This type of living will involve three continual practices.

1) Feeding on God’s Word: Colossians 3:16, 17 reveal the same results of dwelling on the Word as the results of the filling of the Spirit listed in Ephesians 5:18-20.

Thought: “As we give ourselves to the study of God’s Word, we shall begin at once to experience the benefit of the indwelling Spirit’s cooperating action.  For if as we study we are willing to learn and to be led, the Spirit will become our teacher and enlighten and increase our understanding, so that more and more we shall discern what we should believe, and how we should act to please God” ( J.I. Packer, The Spirit Within Us, p. 53).

2) Confession of sin: As we are in the Word, God will reveal sin to us. This will lead to confession based on I John 1:9. To confess sin is to agree with God about it.

3) Yielding to God: The filling of the Holy Spirit requires submission to God. Rebellion- in any form- hinders the filling of the Spirit and places a roadblock on the path toward maturity.  Yielding to God involves humility and implies that we choose God’s will in our decisions (Rom. 6:12,13).

Thought: “This is something we are told to be doing all the time, namely, to keep ourselves full. We keep our lungs full of fresh air by constantly breathing; we are to keep ourselves filled with the Spirit by constantly exposing ourselves to His active ministry towards us” (J.I. Packer, The Spirit Within Us, p. 60).

3. Producing Fruit: The results of the Spirit filled life are observed in objective character traits. Just as we recognize an apple tree by the apples we see on it, so we can recognize the Spirit-filled believer by the fruit he or she produces. Two primary passages apply to this: Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 5:18-21.

4. Other works:

a. Pouring out God’s love (Rom. 5:5)

b. leads to obey (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:16-18)

c. Assurance (Rom. 8:16)

d. Intercession (Rom. 8:16)

e. Producing hope (Rom. 15:13)

f. Strength (Eph. 3:16)

g. Unifying the church (Eph. 4:3)

h. Giving spiritual gifts (I Cor. 12:7-11)

i. Power for witness (Acts 1:8)

j. Comfort (Jn. 14:16)

k. Cooperative witness (Jn. 15:26, 27; Rev. 22:17)

l. Illumination (Jn. 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; I Jn. 2:20,17)


C. Toward the unbeliever: The primary work of the Holy Spirit toward unbelievers is the pre-salvation work of conviction concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (Gen. 6:3; Jn. 16:7-11; Acts 7:57; 24:25).

D. In the OT – Were OT believers in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit? (Exod 31:1; Ps 51:11; Luke 1:41)

About Wisdomforlife

Just another field worker in God's field.
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One Response to Understanding the Holy Spirit

  1. Pingback: How do you know if someone is filled with the Spirit? | WisdomForLife

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