There are those in the Christian church that either avoid or exaggerate any teaching concerning the Holy Spirit. Both avoidance and exaggeration of the subject cause much confusion and doctrinal error. Nevertheless, it is of vital importance that we come to terms with what the Scriptures actually teach regarding Him. We have to determine if the Holy Spirit is a person or an ‘it.’
What the Holy Spirit isn’t
From the outset it must be stated that Bible-believing Christians do not consider the Holy Spirit to be a ‘thing’ or an ‘it.’ Many cults only regard Him to be a force like the wind or electricity, but there are those, within the church, who see Him as being merely the ‘life-giving power of God,’
The Holy Spirit is never spoken of in material terms in the word of God, yet He is not presented in a vague or abstract way. This does not imply that He is ethereal (intangible) in substance; instead He is spiritual, which means He has a Heavenly and glorious body … “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44). Though He cannot be seen with the natural eye we should not think that He will not be visible when we get to Heaven. Nor is He a quality such as goodness, love, or purity, though He has these in His nature.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
He is a real being, a Person with the ability to act, will, create, love, and speak. The Holy Spirit has all the characteristics that identify Him as a Person. Notice the personal pronouns used in Acts 13:2 … “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” The text uses “I” and “me” to show that He is a real Person rather than an abstract idea. Since He is a Person the verse also proves He has the power of speech.
The Holy Spirit is also deity. He is a member of the Trinity or Godhead. Though we often use the statement “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” this does not mean that we understand the Holy Spirit to be one-third God or one-third of God. God cannot be divided or else we present Christianity as a pantheistic religion that worships three Gods. Moses plainly taught that “God is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4), yet his words only make sense in light of the fact that God is eternally self-existing in three distinct and divine Persons. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are equally and fully God. The word ‘trinity’ is better understood by the term ‘tri-unity.’ Tri-unity expresses the concept of each member of the Godhead being in absolute and total agreement. This teaching will unfold as we proceed with these studies on the Holy Spirit.
Three are One
The words ‘Godhead,’ ‘Trinity,’ and ‘tri-unity’ all attempt to describe who God is. Each member has His own personality and mission that is in perfect harmony with the other two. The Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father and the Son, and He will never do or say anything that is outside their agreement. The Godhead does not debate or argue, instead each one knows what should be done or willed. This all-knowledge means that they have equal omniscience, so act and speak as one. The Holy Spirit possesses all the attributes of both the Father and the Son.
The story of Ananias and Sapphira highlights something of this co-equality. In Acts 5:3-4 we read, “Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” Peter told Ananias that he had lied to the Holy Spirit, later he told Sapphira that she had lied to God. This plainly reveals that the Holy Spirit is God, for by lying to the Holy Spirit they had lied to God.
The New Testament demonstrates in numerous places that the Holy Spirit is God and part of the Trinity. The following Scriptures will suffice, for now, to reveal this fact:
Matthew 28:19 … “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
John 4:24 … “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
2 Corinthians 3:17 … “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
The Old Testament also offers us insight into the Person of the Holy Spirit. When compared with the New Testament we clearly see that the Holy Spirit is God:
Exodus 17:7 … “And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?” Yet in Hebrews 3:7-9 Paul states that the Israelites tempted the Holy Spirit.
Jeremiah 31:33 … “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Hebrews 10:15-17 tells us, “The Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
In this study we have sought to show that the Holy Spirit is a Person rather than an indescribable entity. The Holy Bible reinforces this teaching in hundreds of places. In our next study we will take a look at His characteristics and attributes.