Jim Denison on Who is the Holy Spirit?

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The Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood member of the Trinity. Who is he? What does he do? Why does he matter so much in our lives today?

I spent years in Baptist churches with no real introduction to the Holy Spirit. I don’t remember ever hearing a sermon on the subject. We knew to trust in Jesus and worship his Father, but I had no idea how to relate to the Spirit. Or even if I should. I suspect that many of us have a similar story.

We’ll begin with some introductions.

The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal neuter, an “it.” He is more than a “presence.” He is not a “ghost,” holy or otherwise (the King James Version notwithstanding).

Rather, the Spirit is a Person who works personally.

He possesses the three distinctive characteristics of personality:

He performs acts only a person can perform. He:

He is treated in Scripture as only a person can be treated. He is:

But is he God?

Why is the Spirit “holy”?

Why do we believe the Spirit to be God?

For five reasons.

First, he possesses the four distinctly divine attributes:

Second, he performs each of the three distinctively divine works:

Third, Old Testament statements about God are applied to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.

See Exodus 16:7 and Hebrews 3:7-9.

Fourth, the name of the Holy Spirit is often coupled with that of God

See 1 Corinthians 12:4-6Matthew 28:19-20, and 2 Corinthians 13:14.

And last, the Holy Spirit is called God.

Peter asked Ananias, “How is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit?” (Acts 5:3). Then the apostle warns, “You have not lied to men but to God” (v. 5).

While the Spirit is God, he is also distinct from the Father and the Son. At Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit descended while the Father spoke (Luke 3:2122). We are to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit (Matthew 28:19). The Son promised that the Spirit would come when the Son left earth for heaven (John 16:7).

When we survey the names given to the Spirit by Scripture, we get a better sense of his divinity and significance. He is:

He is also:

How can we know him better?

What does the Spirit do?

We’ve learned that the Spirit is a Person and that he is Holy. What does this holy Person do?

The Bible likens him to:

The Spirit was extremely active in the Old Testament.

He created the material universe and humanity (Psalm 33:6Job 33:4). He empowered individuals for specific tasks (Judges 14:6,1915:141 Samuel 10:6,102 Chronicles 15:1-2Zechariah 4:6). He maintains living creatures (Psalm 104:29,30) and sides with the helpless, poor, wretched and oppressed (Psalm 103:6).

He anticipated the Anointed One, the Messiah (Isaiah 42:2), and would one day be poured out on the house of Israel (Ezekiel 39:29). He would be experienced universally (Joel 2:28-29) and would write God’s laws on the hearts of all (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

The Spirit was active in the life and earthly ministry of Jesus. Our Savior was born of the Spirit (Luke 1:35) and lived a sinless life in the power of the Spirit (Hebrews 9:14). He was anointed and fitted for service by the Spirit (Acts 10:38Isaiah 61:1Luke 4:14,18,193:22). The Spirit led Jesus in his earthly movements (Luke 4:1). He taught Jesus and was his source of wisdom (Isaiah 11:2,342:1, fulfilled in Matthew 12:1718).

Jesus worked his miracles through the Spirit (Matthew 12:28). By the power of the Spirit, Jesus was raised from the dead (Romans 8:11). After his resurrection, Christ gave commandments to his apostles through the Spirit (Acts 1:2). Now the Spirit bears witness to Jesus (John 15:2627).

The Spirit then worked in the apostles and prophets, giving them special gifts for specific purposes (1 Corinthians 12:4,8-112829). Truth was hidden before the Spirit revealed it (Ephesians 3:3-5). The apostles and prophets spoke not in their wisdom but the Spirit’s (1 Peter 1:1012), as they were carried along by him (2 Peter 1:21). The Spirit spoke prophetic utterances (Hebrews 3:710:1516Acts 28:252 Samuel 13:2) so that when we read their words we find not the speech of men but of God (Mark 7:132 Samuel 23:2). In a very real sense, every time we open the pages of Scripture, we hear the voice of the Spirit as he speaks to us today.

How does all this relate to our personal lives?

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jim Denison