Who is the Holy Spirit?

Who exactly is the Holy Spirit? There is much confusion among evangelicals today as to the role and attributes of the third Person of the Trinity. J.I. Packer writes, “So I plead: Never think or speak of the Holy Spirit in less than personal terms! My heart sinks and I wince when I hear Christians calling the third divine Person an ‘it’ instead of a ‘He’…For you cannot understand the Spirit’s ministry till you have grasped the fact of his personhood, and it is where no strong sense or clear grasp of the Spirit’s work is found that his personhood comes to be denied…Look at liberal and radical Protestantism, Judaism, Islam, Unitarianism, and Christian Science if you need proof of that.” (page 63, “Keep in Step with the Spirit, by J.I. Packer).

From the Scriptures we learn that the Holy Spirit is not an “it” nor is He an ethereal force. He is a divine Person who shares full equality and eternality with God. Allow me to offer a brief listing of the personal attributes of the Holy Spirit.

First of all, He has understanding and wisdom. (1 Corinthians 2:10-12).

Secondly, He acts according to His own will (1 Corinthians 12:11). Thirdly, he has power according to Ephesians 3:16 which states, “…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” Fourthly, He teaches believers (Luke 12:11-12). Fifthly, He calls people to service according to Acts 13:2-4 in where Luke writes, “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.  So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus”. And sixthly, He can be grieved or saddened. Ephesians 4:30 states, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Pastor John MacArthur says this: “The Holy Spirit is not a mystical power; He is a person just as Jesus is a person. He is not a floating fog or some kind of ghostlike emanation. It is unfortunate that the translators of the King James Version used the term Ghost instead of Spirit. For generations people have had the idea that the Holy Spirit is an apparition, something like Casper the Friendly Ghost, the 1950s and 60s comic book and cartoon character! But He’s not a ghost; He’s a person” (John MacArthur, “The Ministry of the Holy Spirit”, a position paper, source: http://www.gty.org/Resources/positions/2170

In John Chapters 14-16, Jesus gives us the most comprehensive teaching about the Holy Spirit. Let’s allow Jesus to inform us in His own words. John 14:16-17 says, “ And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,  even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

In John 14:26 Jesus tells us this: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”  John 15:26 gives us this great truth: “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

And finally, in John 16:13-14 Jesus again shows us this: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you”.

The ultimate role of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ and to open our eyes to the beauty of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit indwells us as believers and mediates the presence of Christ in our lives and connects us to the Father.  Let us give thanks to the Father for His wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit whom has been poured out in our hearts through His Son Jesus Christ.



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