THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
SEPTEMBER 18, 2013
The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit is one of the most important doctrines in the word of God and is one of the foremost truths of redemption.
Therefore the believer should seek to know all he can of the person, ministry and work of the Holy Spirit as revealed in Scripture. From Genesis to Revelation, relative to both creation and redemption, the Holy Spirit is seen in operation. In the midst of the chaotic condition seen in Genesis 1:1-2 we see the Spirit of God moving. “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the water”
The final mention of the Holy Spirit is seen in Revelation 22:17 where…the Spirit and the bride say, come”. Between these two verses, the beginning and the consummation of the Spirit’s work, we have a vast amount of Biblical revelation of the Holy Spirit’s ministry.
The Holy is mentioned more than 90 times in the Old Testament with at least 18 different titles also given. In the New Test ament the Holy Spirit is mentioned more than 260 times along with 39 different names and titles Out of the 27 books of the New Testament, only ll John and lll John have not reference to the Holy Spirit.
The Old Testament foretold the coming of “the last days” when the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon all flesh, in contrast to Old Testament times when the Spirit was only available to a select few in Israel.
In God’s plan, the present age has been given over to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
These facts emphasize the importance of the believer coming to know, understand, appreciate and experience the person, work and ministry of the Spirit in his life.
It is the Spirit who brings to the heart the revelation of the Father and Son (John 14:15-26). It is fear, formalism and ignorance which robs the Church from studying the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and thus making room for his blessed ministrations.
THE PERSONALITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
A. The Holy Spirit is not an Influence
The Holy Spirit is not to be looked upon merely as an influence. Many believers are robbed of a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit because they consider the Spirit to be an impersonal influence, power or energy. It is true that the Holy Spirit does influence the life of the believer, and He is revealed as the power of God, but this influence is a personal one. There are several reasons why this misunderstanding has arisen, the chief being the following:
1. The Holy Spirit is spoken of as being “The Spirit of God” and the word “Spirit” (Greek “Pneuma”) means “breath” or “wind”, which implies the concept of an unseen force (Isaiah 40:7; John 3:5-8).
2. The Holy Spirit is symbolized as being wind, water, fire, oil, a seal, or other impersonal objects. This seems to negate the fact that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person. However, there are many symbols relative to the Son of God also; such as a lamb, a rock, and a lion, yet these things do not negate the Son being a divine Person. Neither do the symbols of the Spirit negate His personality.
3. The Holy Spirit’s work seems to be so mystical, secret and invisible. This does not, however, deny personality of the Spirit, for “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24) yet a real divine Person.
4. The Holy Spirit as a divine title seems harder for believers to relate to than the titles “Father” and “Son” (Matthew 28:19). No doubt this is because these titles have a much more human feeling about them than “the Holy Spirit”. But this does not deny the personality of the Spirit. Evil spirits are real personalities and their work is evidenced everywhere. Angels are also spirit beings, yet real per¬sonalities. Man is a spirit being with soul and body, a real person having corporality (Hebrews 1:7,14; 12:23; Proverbs 20:27; I Timothy 4:1). Thus the Holy Spirit is a real person, though invisible and incorporeal.
There are also several reasons why the believer should not consider the Holy Spirit as a mere influence or impersonal force.
1. It is contrary to the teaching of the Scripture. The Bible shows the Holy Spirit to be a divine Person.
2. It will hinder worship. True worship is a personal activity, a means of personal relationship.
3. It will hinder proper reverence. To speak of the Holy Spirit as an “it” is improper. The Authorized Version (Romans 8:16,26) does speak of the Spirit in this way. However, other translations correct this. In the teaching of Jesus in John’s gospel, He uses personal pronouns over ten tunes concerning the Spirit. Not understanding the personality of the Holy Spirit can cause people to look on the Spirit as something like “this power” and want to purchase it, even as did Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24).
4. It will hinder relationship. God desires to have a personal relationship with each one of us. Thus God Himself comes and lives within us through the person of the Holy Spirit. It would be impossible to have any relationship with an impersonal force. We must know the Spirit as our friend, helper, comforter, and indweller. In this way we can honor Him. The believer has more than an “influence” living within him; he has the person of the Holy Spirit.
B. The Holy Spirit Revealed as a Person
The Holy Spirit is revealed in the Scripture to be the third person in the eternal Godhead. This title is often associated with the person of the Father and the person of the Son (Matthew 28:19; II Corinthians 13:14; I John 5:7,8). It would be meaningless to read these Scriptures and see the Father and Son as persons associated with an “influence”, i.e. the impersonal Holy Spirit. Personality does not demand corporeality in God as in mankind.
1. The Holy Spirit is referred to with Personal Pronouns
Although the word “Spirit” is in the neuter gender, the Lord Jesus used personal pronouns when He spoke of the Holy Spirit. The pronouns “He”, “Him” and “Himself are used a number of times in John’s gospel when speaking of the Spirit. These pronouns are in the masculine gender (John 14:15,16,26; 16:7-14; 15:26-27).
2. The Holy Spirit is spoken of as having personal qualities.
The three main qualities which constitute personality are attributed to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has:
a. Mind (Romans 8:27; I Corinthians 2:10-13).
b. Will (I Corinthians 12:11).
c. Emotions (Romans 8:26-27; 15:30; Colossians 1:8)
These things are inapplicable to an impersonal influence or power.
3. The Holy Spirit is spoken of under personal titles
Personal titles are given to the Holy Spirit, which again show that He is a divine person. He is called “the Comforter” which also means “the Advocate” (John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7). This same title is used of Jesus as a person, meaning “one who stands alongside” (John 14:26). In John 14:16 Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as “another Comforter”. The Holy Spirit could not take the place of Jesus personally if He was but an impersonal influence. He came to be personally related to the disciple* that Jesus was personally related to while on earth. The Spirit came to be personally in them what Jesus was personally to them.
4. The Holy Spirit performs personal acts
a. The Spirit works (I Corinthians 12:11)
b. The Spirit searches (I Corinthians 2:10)
c. The Spirit speaks (Acts 13:2; Revelation 2:7; II Samuel 23:2; Matthew 10:20; I Timothy 4:1
d. The Spirit testifies (John 15:26; Nehemiah 9:30)
e. The Spirit bears witness (I John 5:6)
f. The Spirit teaches (John 14:26)
g. The Spirit instructs (Nehemiah 9:20) h. The Spirit reproves (John 16:8-11)
i. The Spirit prays and makes intercession (Romans 8:26)
j. The Spirit leads (Matthew 4:1) k. The Spirit guides the believer into all truth (John 16:13)
I. The Spirit glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ (John 16:14) m. The Spirit brings about regeneration (John 3:5,6) n. The Spirit strives with men (Genesis 6:3)
o. The Spirit convicts men (John 16:8) p. The Spirit sends messengers from God (Isaiah 48:16) q. The Spirit calls men into ministry (Acts 13:2; 20:28) r. The Spirit directs men in the service of Christ (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 16:6,7) s. The Spirit also imparts spiritual gifts to the members of the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:7-11)
5. The Holy Spirit is spoken of as having personal feelings that could not be attributed to an impersonal power.
a. He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30)
b. He can be insulted (Hebrews 10:29)
c. He can be lied to (Acts 5:3)
d. He can be blasphemed (Matthew 12:31-32)
e. He can be resisted (Acts 7:51)
f. He can be tempted (Acts 6:9)
g. He can be vexed (Isaiah 63:10)
h. He can be quenched (I Thessalonians 5:19)
The Holy Spirit is a divine Person. He is God indwelling the redeemed and working within the believer to fulfil the will of God. It is the blessed and glorious privilege of all believers to have the conscious joy and knowledge of the Spirit within.
Kevun J. Conner, B.TH., M.Div., Th.D. (HON) THE FOUNDATIONS OF CHRISTIAN D