Thursday, February 21, 2013

Who Is The Holy Spirit?

Is the Holy Spirit simply an influence emanating from God?  Is he a power or illumination that God imparts to us?  Or, is he a divine person?  A proper understanding of the identity of the Holy Spirit is critical to properly understanding his work.  A careful study of the Scriptures will bring us to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit is a divine person in the Godhead and should be referred to in that manner.
The Holy Spirit possesses all the attributes of personality.  He is not a mere influence, power, or illumination.  The apostle Paul referred to the knowledge the Holy Spirit has concerning the things of God (1 Cor. 2:10-11).  Reference is made to the mind of the Spirit in Romans 8:27.  The affection of love is attributed to the Holy Spirit in Romans 15:30.  We learn he can be grieved in Ephesians 4:30.  The Holy Spirit has the capability of speaking (1 Tim. 4:1) and teaching (John 14:26).  Paul declared that the Holy Spirit can lead (Rom. 8:14).  On one occasion as least, the Holy Spirit forbade Paul to travel to Asia and Bithynia (Acts 16:6-7).  The Holy Spirit exercised authority in selecting Barnabas and Paul to engage in mission work (Acts 13:2).  It is not the purpose of this article to study the manner in which the Holy Spirit accomplished all these tasks, but merely to point out that these endeavors demand the conclusion that he is a personality and not a glorified “IT.”  It is entirely appropriate, then, to refer to him with personal pronouns, such as “he” and “him.”
The Holy Spirit also possesses the nature of deity.  He is as divine as the Father and the Son are divine.  When Ananias and Sapphira lied regarding their donation to the church, Peter said they lied to the Holy Spirit whom he described as God (Acts 5:4-5).  His deity is affirmed by his possession of all the attributes of deity.  For example, the word eternal is used to describe him (Heb. 9:14).  The Holy Spirit, like the Father and the Son, has neither beginning of days nor end of existence; he is eternal.  As deity, he possesses all knowledge (Jn. 16:12-13), all power  (Lk. 1:35) and is omnipresent (Psa. 139:7-10).  Not only does the Holy Spirit possess all the attributes of deity, but he also performed distinctly divine works.  These attest to his divinity.  For example, the Genesis record relates the Spirit’s involvement in creation (Gen. 1:1-2).  The plural personal pronoun was used when God made man (Gen. 1:26).  This is not to suggest that there was more than one God involved in creation, but that there was more than one personality of the Godhead involved.    Other passages bring to light the Holy Spirit’s role in creation (Psa. 104:30; Job 26:13; 33:4).  Also, the authorship of divine prophecies is attributed to the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21; 2 Sam. 23:2-3).  The Bible, then, is not the result of special insight and wisdom from religiously minded men, but is from God as men were “moved by the Holy Spirit.”  The Holy Spirit’s name is coupled with other members of the Godhead (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14), suggesting equality with them.  His distinction from the Father and the Son becomes clear at the scene of the Lord’s baptism (Lk. 3:21-22).  The incarnate Son was baptized by John in the Jordan River at which time the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove and the Father spoke from heaven.  While all Three possessed the divine nature (deity), they are distinct divine personalities.
The personality traits as well as the works, attributes and achievements of the Holy Spirit show him to be a personality and not an impersonal force.  They also provide clear testimony to his divinity.