The terms “Holy Spirit” and “Holy Ghost” are interchangeable and refer to exactly the same Person of the Trinity. We find the two terms used in John 7:37-39 … “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” The words “Spirit” and “Ghost” are derived from the Greek word ‘pneuma.’
The Characteristics and Attributes of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit shares the same character and attributes with those of God the Father and God the Son. Here we present a brief outline of some of these:
It is not possible to divide the Godhead into three separate Gods. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equally God. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
b) United but distinct
The Trinity is united in purpose and will. Though this is true, there are certain terms and statements used which cannot be applied to all Persons. For instance, the Son is not the Father, and the Father is not the Son. The Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, but the Father and the Son do not proceed from the Holy Spirit.
The Lord Jesus Christ made it clear that it is possible to speak against the Father or Himself and be forgiven, but no one who speaks against the Holy Spirit can ever be forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32).
Neither the Father or the Holy Spirit came to this fallen world to redeem the lost, only Jesus Christ could accomplish that work. The Holy Spirit was sent as the Comforter after Jesus ascended into Heaven. The Father and the Son are in Heaven, but the Holy Spirit is now present upon the earth.
The Holy Spirit is as eternal as both the Father and the Son. He has no beginning and will know no end. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).
This means that He is present everywhere at the same time. Psalm 139:7-10 has the psalmist declaring, “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
The Holy Spirit is all-knowing and all-wise. His knowledge and understanding cannot be diminished or increased, nor does He need the wisdom of men to direct Him. “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13-14). He has perfect knowledge of all things … “The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10-11).
The Holy Spirit is also all-powerful. There is nothing that He cannot do. It is impossible for Him to decrease or increase in power … “Is the Spirit of the LORD straightened?” (Micah 2:7). The word ‘straightened’ means ‘restricted or limited.’ It is this power that He shares with those who truly commit their lives to Christ … “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8). The power believers receive is of the same quality but not the same quantity! This is what we mean by being baptised in the Holy Spirit, we will discuss this in a future study, but suffice to say, His power is essential for Christian living.
In this section of ‘The Ministry of the Holy Spirit’ we have endeavoured to show something of His character and attributes to assist us in seeing Him as a real Person. We must take this thought further by investigating the various names given to the Holy Spirit in Scripture.