An Introduction to the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit has been called the shy member of the Trinity.  His responsibility within the Godhead is muted as you see the effects of His influence rather than the action (Jn 3.8).

Khamkeo Vilaysing Wtwssqwyla0 Unsplash

In fact, any activity that purports to emphasize the Spirit of God should be suspect as He does not promote Himself.  In this regard, consider how He is pictured throughout the Bible in stories by unnamed servants (E.g. Genesis 24 where Abraham’s unnamed servant is seeking a bride for Isaac, pictures the Spirit’s role in seeking a bride for Christ).  As such, it is easy to forget that He is a distinct Person within the Trinity sharing the same goals and desires as His fellow members of the Godhead.  He was present at creation, hovering over the waters (Gen 1.2).  He contended with sinful mankind prior to the flood (Gen 6.3) and He has ever been the source of sanctification in believers throughout the Old Testament.  Pharaoh recognized Him in Joseph (Gen 41.38) and He was present in Moses and Joshua (Num 11; 27).  It was the Spirit of God who enabled Bezalel to fabricate the tabernacle furniture according to the heavenly pattern (Ex 31.3).  By the time we arrive at the New Testament, we see the Holy Spirit focused on the promotion of the glory of the Lord Jesus.

Luke records that the angel Gabriel informed Mary that the miraculous conception of the Son of God would be by the Holy Spirit (Lk 1.35).  His next appearance is in the form of a dove as He bodily descends to indwell the man Jesus on the banks of the Jordan river (Lk 3.22). It is in the energy of the Spirit that the wilderness temptation and public ministry of Christ proves to be successful (Lk 4.1,14).  Jesus condemns the religious leaders obstinate refusal to acknowledge His miraculous signs as being from God as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  Their attribution of the miraculous to Beelzebul is denounced as the unpardonable sin (Mk 3.29).  Here, Jesus himself highlights for us that the signs and miracles He is performing were actually a service by the Spirit to the nation.  The Holy Spirit’s intent in these miracles is the recognition that Jesus is the Son of God.  His dedication to the successful accomplishment of the mission of Jesus is further noted by the Hebrew writer when he records that it was by the eternal Spirit that Jesus ultimately offered himself as an acceptable sacrifice to God (Heb 9.14).  Paul records that it is by the Spirit of holiness that Jesus was raised out of death as a final stamp of approval to His spotless human life offered as a sacrifice for sin (Rom 1.4).

It is perhaps in the current age of the church that His personality is most evident.  Jesus, in His upper room ministry of the last passover (Jn 14-16), instructs the disciples concerning the soon arrival of the Holy Spirit.  He teaches that the Spirit is just like Him.  He is another Helper (or Comforter) who will guide and teach them the truth.  He will be present to help them in the missionary enterprise by convicting the world of sin, righteousness and coming judgment.  His advent on the Day of Pentecost coincides with the formation of the church (Acts 2) and the incorporation of believers into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12.13).  The activity of the Spirit in the life of Christ is mirrored in the body of Christ throughout the book of the Acts.  The Spirit is actively involved in enabling the believers’ witness and in confirming the message of Christ with miraculous signs.  Further, the Spirit’s activity in gifting believers is crucial in the early stages of the church age prior to the writings of the New Testament.  Analagous to Bezalel’s spiritual ability to fabricate the crucial pieces of furniture required for tabernacle function, gifted believers were enabled to discern and communicate the mind of God in the formation of local churches.  These special sign gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12.7-11) dwindle away as their usefulness diminishes due to the arrival, through HIs inspiration, of the New Testament writings.

The activity of the Spirit of God is crucial to each believer.  He is God’s guarantee of our salvation, provided at salvation for our benefit in life’s pathway (Eph 1.13-14).  Any spiritual progress in life, any sanctification of behaviour is owed to the prompting and enablement of the Holy Spirit within.  We may grieve Him in our foolishness and failures (Eph 4.30), and may quench His fire (1 Thess 5.19), but He is always willing and waiting to further fill whatever aspect of our being that we are willing to give to His authority (Eph 5.18).  Therefore, a call to submit to the Spirit must be made to each of our hearts.   Each believer who does has a behaviour characterized by the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5.22) and is brought into ever increasing conformity to the One whom the Spirit is eager to exalt, the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 8.26).