The Holy Spirit
What do the following verses say about the Holy Spirit?
1. Acts 5:3-4
The Holy Spirit is God. He is identified in verse three as "the Holy Spirit" and equated with God in verse four. The Holy Spirit is a person, not an impersonal force or cosmic influence. He possesses the attributes of God: Omnipotence (Job 33:4), omniscience (1 Corinthians 2:10–11), and omnipresence (Psalm 139:7).
2. 2 Thessalonians 2:13
The Holy Spirit saves us and matures us. The Holy Spirit performs two essential functions. First, He saves us. (John 3:5) Second, He matures (sanctifies) us; He make us holy. (1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Peter 1:2; Galatians 5:16) How mature we become is up to us. As Rick Warren often says, "We are as spiritually mature as we choose to be."
The Holy Spirit saves us by doing the following:
- Convicting us. (John 16:7–11) He convinces people of three things: the sin of unbelief, that only Christ puts us in a right relationship with God, and that eternal punishment awaits those who refuse to believe these things.
- Converting us. (Titus 3:5) He cleanses us from the guilt of our sins, and regenerates us by giving us new life. He renews us by giving us a new nature; making us new people. He refreshes us by giving us the desire to live for the glory of God.
- Baptizing us. (1 Corinthians 12:13) The Holy Spirit places us in the body of Christ. He unites us with Christ. The (aorist) tense of the term baptize indicates that this is a one-time event with lasting results. It occurs at the moment of salvation. It is not a secondary event after salvation.
- Indwelling us. (1 Corinthians 6:19) The Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in our lives at the moment of salvation. Since he is present (indwelling us) from the point of belief, it is not necessary to invite him into our lives at a later time. (John 14:6, Romans 8:11)
- Securing us. (Ephesians 1:13–14, 4:30) The Holy Spirit is the promise that God will complete His redemptive work in our lives (glorification). He is the assurance that we will inherit eternal life. This is also called the "sealing" of the Holy Spirit. The sealing of the Spirit communicates the ideas of ownership, authority, and security. Enns states, "Branding cattle would be a parallel; the rancher puts his brand on the steer as a sign that the steer belongs to him. God has put His seal, the Holy Spirit, in the believer to verify that the believer belongs to Him."1 The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is God’s pledge that He will complete the work of salvation in a person’s life. “The word pledge (2 Corinthians 1:22 NASB) means a first installment, deposit, down payment...the Holy Spirit as a pledge is a reminder of the believer’s security in Christ.”2
The Holy Spirit matures us by doing the following:
- Gifting us. (1 Corinthians 12:7) The Holy Spirit gives each believer a special ability to help build up the Body of Christ. The believer's role is to discover and develop this talent (2 Timothy 1:6). Sometimes, it is related to vocation. Sometimes, it is a separate ability that emerges after salvation. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are listed in Ephesians 4:11; I Peter 4:10-11; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10.
Some of the gifts were temporary; others are permanent. Those that were temporary began the church. The permanent ones sustain the church. The temporary gifts became unnecessary with the canonization of the New Testament around the 4th century. The sign gifts (tongues, healing, and prophecy) are not normative for the church in America today.
- Filling us. (Ephesians 5:18) Every believer is indwelt with the Holy Spirit, but not every believer is filled with the Holy Spirit. Indwelling is automatic and occurs at the moment of belief. The filling is conditional and occurs via obedience throughout the believer's life. To be filled with the Holy Spirit means to allow Him to influence thinking and behavior. This comes about by choosing to obey his voice over the impulse of the flesh (sinful nature). (Romans 8:5-6) The Spirit speaks most clearly through Scripture. (1 Corinthians 2:12) This is why reading, studying and memorizing the Bible is an essential spiritual discipline. (Psalm 119:11)
The result of the filling of the Holy Spirit is a greater understanding of God’s love. (Romans 5:5). It also results in a display of God’s character. (Ephesians 5:19-21, Galatians 5:22-23)
There is no instance in Scripture of someone praying, since Pentecost, to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It occurs through obedience.
- Guiding us. (Romans 8:14) The Holy Spirit leads us to accomplish the will of God. He directs believers through relationships (1 Corinthians 2:4), circumstances (Acts 16:6), counsel (Acts 15:28), and Scripture. (John 16:13)
- Assuring us. (Romans 8:15–16) The Holy Spirit reminds us about our identity, security, and destiny as children of God. He does this through Scripture.
- Comforting us. (Romans 8:26) He helps us when we need it most; when we are overwhelmed or are spiritually weak. He comforts us through the truths of Scripture and the presence of other like minded believers. (Psalm 119:52; Colossians 4:11)
- Illuminating Scripture and teaching us. (1 Corinthians 2:10–13; John 14:26; 1 John 2:27) Initially the Holy Spirit revealed the content of Scripture to the Apostles. Now He enables believers to understand Scripture. He explains the truth of the Bible to followers of Christ. The ministry of knowing the meaning of Scripture is referred as the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
- Praying for us. (Romans 8:26–27) The Holy Spirit prays for us in harmony with God's will, especially when we need it most.
Which verse was the most important to you?
- Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, Moody Press, 1989), 269
- Enns, 254.