The Church and the Holy Spirit-1

      The reason we are dealing with this subject: many people do not understand the Holy Spirit and His work and are therefore led to accept religious error, such as speaking in tongues, supernatural healing, miracles today and latter-day revelation. The solution to this and similar problems is to turn to the Word of God. When we allow the Bible to be the determining factor we can learn His identity, His work in the past and what the Bible teaches about His work today.

     It is important to decide at the beginning of this or any study of a Biblical subject that we will rely on the text itself to provide our answers. The Bible is the very Word of God and as such is the product of the Holy Spirit Himself (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Other approaches to the subject yield more heat than light. A survey of the material available on the Holy Spirit reveals that there are perhaps two extremes that we would be wise to avoid. One is an emotional approach to understanding the Holy Spirit. People frequently want to share their feelings about the Holy Spirit. It is good to remember that emotion should never be one’s primary guide in spiritual matters. The other extreme, it seems to me, is an attitude that rejects humility when studying spiritual matters. It is an attitude that says “If you don’t see this my way there must be something wrong with you.” We certainly can and should know the truth that makes us free (John 8:32). We should also remember Isaiah 55:8-9: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

     With these principles in mind we will approach our study of the Holy Spirit. It is of absolute importance that we think first about His identity. Who is the Holy Spirit? He is one of the three members of the Godhead: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 8:6, John 1:1, Acts 5:3-4). Paul in Acts 17:29 spoke of the Godhead or the “Divine Nature.” Note also Colossians 2:9, Matthew 28:19, and 2 Corinthians 13:14. Each member of the Godhead is a person, thus the Holy Spirit is a person. He is not a thing; He is not an “it.” See John 16:13. Furthermore He is not a “ghost.” The words “Holy Ghost” come from a time when “ghost” had in it the idea of “guest.” The translators attempted to convey the idea that the Holy Spirit is a living being but not corporeal. Whatever their goal might have been the use of the word “ghost” is misleading to us, to say the least.

     Look also to Romans 8:26-27 where we see that He helps, Acts 16:6 where we see He forbids, 1 Timothy 4:1 where we see He speaks, Romans 8:16 where we see He bears witness, and Ephesians 4:30 where we note that He can be grieved. These and other places in the text clearly indicate the personhood of the Holy Spirit.

     In order to best understand the Holy Spirit we need to allow the Bible to instruct us concerning what He did in the past. First, the Bible teaches us that He was involved with the Creation. Consider these passages: Genesis 1:1-2 along with Job 26:13 and Psalm 104:30. See also John 1:1-14, Colossians 1:15-17, and Hebrews 1:1-2.

The Bible teaches that He was involved with Salvation. A reasonable way to approach this is to see that God the Father designed the plan (John 3:16), Jesus the Son executed the plan (Hebrews 2:9, 5:8-9) and the Holy Spirit made sure that mankind could know what the Father and Son had done (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Holy Spirit made a record of the revelation of God to man. 2 Peter 2:21 indicates that the “way of righteousness can be known. John 14:16-17, 26, 16:7-13 are the passages in which we learn that Jesus promised that by the Holy Spirit the apostles would be guided into all truth. The apostles and those who received the gift of inspiration through the laying on of their hands transmitted these truths ultimately into written form. The essence of this is this: Jesus died for us, the Holy Spirit made that death known to mankind.