ST: GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT

In this unit, we have engaged in a theological study of the person and work of God the Holy Spirit
  • The Person of the Holy Spirit

Many Bible scholars agree that the Holy Spirit is a person. Billy Graham (1978, 21) teaches that Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit in John 14, 15, and 16 as He a person who has intellect, emotions, and will. In the Bible personal properties are predicated of the Spirit: He is endowed understanding or wisdom (I Cor. 2:10) and will (I Cor. 12:11). The Holy Spirit also loves (Romans 15:30). C. I. Scofield (1973, 19-20) says “men are said to act toward the Spirit in ways which would be impossible or absurd if he were not truly a person.” (Isaiah 63:10; Matthew 12:31; Ephesians 4:30: Hebrews 10:29).

Real personal actions are also attributed to the Holy Spirit: He speaks (I Tim. 4:1; Rev. 2:7); He teaches (Luke 12:12; John 14:26); He commands or exercises authority (Acts 13:2); He intercedes (Romans 8:26). He supervises (Acts 1:2; 8:29; 16:16; 13:4; 20:28; 5:28); He reveals (Acts 1:16; 10:19; 13:2; 21:4, 11; 28:25); He testifies (Acts 20:23); He comforts (Acts 9:31).

 

The following passive personal properties are also ascribed to the Holy Spirit; He can be tempted (Acts 5:9) and lied to (Acts 5:3); He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:39); He can be blasphemed (Matthew 12:31, 32); He can be insulted (Heb. 10:29).

Personal characters are also ascribed to the Holy Spirit as: the Comforter (John 16:7); the witness (Heb. 10:15; Rom. 8:16); the Justifier and Sanctifier (I Cor. 6:11). Since the “same words, implying personality, are used of him in scripture which are used of other persons,” we affirm therefore that the Holy Spirit is a Person, as distinguished from an energy, power, force, influence, emanation, or manifestation.

However, the Holy Spirit is not only a person, He is a divine person; the Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit is expressly called God (Acts 5:3, 4; I Cor. 3:16; 6:19, 20). The Holy Spirit is called Jehovah (Luke 1:68, 70 cf. 2 Peter 1:20). The attributes of God the Father and the son are equally ascribed to the Holy Spirit: He is eternal (Hab. 9:14); He is holy (Rom. 1:4), Omniscient (I Cor. 2:11, 12; John 14:26), Omnipotent (Gen. 1:1, 2; Job 33:4), and Omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-10).

The following works of the Holy Spirit further demonstrate His Godhead: Creation (Job 26:13), Providence (Isaiah 40:13-15; Acts 16:6, 7). Inspiration of the Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16 cf.2 Peter 1:21).

  • The General Activities of the Holy Spirit

 

Wayne Grudem (1994, 634-649) discussed the work of the Holy Spirit in the world and in the church under some topics, which include: empowering, purifying, revealing and unifying. These activities will now be highlighted.

 

The Holy Spirit empowers. He gives and sustains life of nature, human and animal (Ps. 104:30; Job 34:14-15). He also gives new life in regeneration (John 3:6-7; 6:63).

He also empowers people for service. For instance, he gave leadership skills and wisdom to Joshua (Num. 27:18; Deut. 34:9). He anointed and empowered Jesus (Matt. 3:16; 12:28). He also empowered the disciples for ministry (Acts 1:8) as well as for spiritual warfare (Acts 13:9-11).

The Holy Spirit purifies. He convicts the world of sin (John 16:8-11; Acts 7:51). He sanctifies and purifies Christians (I Cor. 6:11).

The Holy Spirit reveals. Human authors of scriptures spoke and wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21; John 16:13). He gives evidence of the presence of God. Examples are the Spirit as a dove descending on Jesus (John 1:32) and as the sound and rush of a mighty wind (Acts 2:2-3). He also guides and directs God’s people (Mark 1:12). He provides an atmosphere of peace (Rom. 14:17), and assurance (Rom. 8:16). He teaches and illuminates (John 14:26; 16:13; I Cor. 2:12).

The Holy Spirit Unifies. In the prophecy of Joel (2:28-32) and the fulfillment on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16-18, 44-47) we see the Spirit unifying people. The church is thus a fellowship of the Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14; Philip 2:1-2).

  • The Work of the Holy Spirit in Christian Life

The aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit in Christian life that will be discussed are regeneration, sanctification, gifts, fruits and baptism/fullness.

 Regeneration of the Spirit

Lehman Strauss (1976, 35) defined regeneration “as that sovereign act of God whereby He imparts new life to the believing sinner.” Since the natural man is spiritually dead, lacking any spiritual life, the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit imparts new life to the believing

sinner. However, since the existence of life logically precedes its birth, this initial operation of the Spirit within the sinner occurs when the Spirit quickens the spiritually dead soul (John 6:63; Romans 8:11).

Once there is a “new creation” (II Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10), this “new creature” is stirred into existence by means of faith and the word of God. According to James 1:18, I Peter 1:23 the regenerated soul is then able to act from life and is induced to love and obey God by means of the word of Truth.

Sanctification by the Spirit

After being born of the Spirit (John 3:5) the Spirit also gives the Christian assurance of salvation (Rom. 8:16). The Spirit also helps to conform a Christian to the image of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 3:17-18). This involves a process of moral transformation called sanctification. The Christian thus grows in the experience of being “set apart,” “consecrated” to live for God. This comes through a life style characterized by holiness (separation from sin, worldliness, evil, wickedness) and godliness, christlikeness and spirituality

 Gifts of the Spirit

John Stott (1964, 87) defines spiritual gifts as “certain capacities bestowed by God’s grace and power, which fit people for specific and corresponding service.” The gifts of the Holy Spirit are listed in the following Bible passages; I Cor. 12:4-11, 28-30; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:7-12; I Peter 4:10f. Twenty or more gifts of the Spirit are referred to in the New Testament. Various classifications of spiritual gifts have been made but they fall most simply into two main categories those that qualify their possessors for the ministry of the word and those which equip them for practical service (cf. I Peter 4:10f).

The nature and use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit show that the Christian life should be characterized by manifestation of spiritual gifts for personal maturity, for edification of the church, and for the fulfillment of the evangelistic task of the church.

Fruit of the Spirit

The Christian lives and grows in the Spirit and in Christian character (Gal. 5:25-26). The Christian growth in the Spirit will manifest in the fruit of the Spirit, a christlike, spiritual, godly character, characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). A particular manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit is love. It is more excellent than faith, hope and gifts of the Spirit (I Cor. 13:1-3, 13). Indeed the operations of the gifts of the spirit need to be governed by/with matured character, fruit of the Spirit. This was the thing lacking in the Corinthian congregation. This is the cause of much tension and schisms in the body of Christ today.

Baptism/Fullness of the Spirit

At conversion a person is regenerated, born and sealed with the Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). The Christian drinks of the Spirit and is baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:13). However, apart from this initial experience of the ministries of the Spirit at the beginning of the Christian life, the Christian is expected to be led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:14) grow and mature in the Spirit.

ogThe growing Christian who submits to the leadership of the Spirit will experience a post-conversion power and ministry of the Spirit variously described as “baptism”, “fullness” “unction”, “anointing”, “slaying” and “power” of the Spirit. The outpouring of the Spirit prophesied by Joel (2:28-32), promised by John the Baptist (Matt. 3:11-12) and Jesus (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8) was experienced and fulfilled on the day of Pentecost in the disciples who were full of the Spirit (Acts 2:4)

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