In some Christian traditions the Holy Spirit is strongly emphasized, while in others the Spirit may be deemphasized. A balanced, biblical view of the Holy Spirit is helpful, not harmful. Here are nine things you should know about the Holy Spirit:
- He is a Person. OK, maybe not a person in terms of human, but the Bible, including Jesus, refers to the Spirit as a “he” not as an “it.” The Holy Spirit is not merely a force, but a person who has a mind, feelings, and will (see Romans 8:27; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Corinthians 12:11).
- He is the Third Person of the Trinity. The Trinity was a term coined early on in the history of the church to explain what the Bible taught. God is one but is revealed in three persons: God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit. They are all equally God and yet the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father. We worship God the three in one. The mystery is profound, yet profoundly true.
- His Primary Role may be summarized as “God’s Empowering Presence.” After studying some of the things Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit in John 14-16, I summarized that the “Spirit mediates the presence and power of Christ to the believer.” That explanation is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a good start.
- He Brings About the Believer’s Conversion. Titus 3:5, among others, is a verse that tells of the Spirit bringing regeneration (new birth/spiritual birth) to the believer.
- He Gives Believers Assurance of their Salvation. Romans 8:16 tells us that the Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Ephesians 1:13-14 also talks about the believer being sealed with the Holy Spirit, as a down payment of our ultimate inheritance.
- He is Needed for Spiritual Growth. Galatians 5:16 says that if we walk by the Spirit we will not carry out the desires of the flesh (our sinful nature). The fruit, or evidence, that we are living by the Spirit is that He will develop certain qualities in our life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23).
- He Brings about Christian Fellowship and Unity. Ephesians 4:1-6 is one passage that talks about “keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.” The Spirit is at work making us all one in Christ.
- He Empowers Believers for Service and Missions. Not only does He give every believer a spiritual gift for serving God’s purposes in the church and world (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-11), He also empowers us to take the good news of Jesus to the world (see Acts 1:8).
- His Work is Necessary to Convince Unbelievers of the Truth. Apologetics is about giving a defense for what we believe and the hope we have. In the end, however, we can never argue someone into the Kingdom of God. Unless the Holy Spirit illumines the mind of the skeptic, the words will be foolishness to him and he will not receive it (see 1 Corinthians 2:12-16). Conversely, the Spirit is able to soften the hardest heart and bring men and women to faith in Jesus.