You Need to Know the Holy Spirit - Part 1
It has been said that the Holy Spirit is the forgotten member of the Trinity. Whether or not this is true, getting to know the Holy Spirit better only helps. I want to take a few articles to highlight the Person and work of the Spirit and to underscore how absolutely essential it is that we understand who the Holy Spirit is and seek to live as Spirit-filled followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
On the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus began preparing his disciples for his departure which was at hand. He said the following words which must have sounded so strange to them, “I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7). He was getting them ready for the coming of the Holy Spirit (the Helper). And from that time, Christians have had the wonderful privilege of experiencing the truth that it is better having Holy Spirit live in us than have Jesus walk next to us. But few, I fear, really believe and live in this wonderful reality. So let's find out who the Spirit is and how we can live in his strength to the glory of God alone.
Who is the Holy Spirit? What does he do? In this first of a series of articles, we’ll take a look at five things you need to know about the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is a divine Person. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal energy force; he is a Person. Jesus referred to him as “Another Helper to be with you forever” (John 14:16). So he is distinct from Jesus. And regarding the Spirit, Jesus said the Father will “send [Him] in my name” (John 14:26). So he is also distinct from the Father. As a Person, the bible says the Holy Spirit speaks (Acts 8:29, Acts 10:19, Acts 13:2), can be grieved (Ephesians 5:29-30), and can be resisted or quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Christians have the privilege of having fellowship with him (2 Corinthians 13:14) like they would with another person. The Holy Spirit, however, is not a mere Person. He is God. He is part of the Godhead. Now, the bible never uses the word Trinity, but the truth of it is presupposed everywhere. Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, while giving his final instructions to his disciples in what is often called the Great Commission, he said to baptize new disciples in the name (not names) of “the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Baptize new believers in the Triune name of God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the Author of Scripture. There should never be a conflict between the Spirit and the Scriptures. It is a false dichotomy to say or imply “I am a word person” or “I am a Spirit person”. The Holy Spirit is the Author of the Scriptures. Of course, God used men to record the words of the bible, but Peter says these men “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). And he didn’t just author parts of the bible, but all of it. The history books and the law; the poetry and the prophets; the gospels and the epistles were all “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16, Acts 1:16, 1 Peter 1:11).
The Holy Spirit is the Author of Scripture. There should never be a conflict between the Spirit and the Scriptures. It is a false dichotomy to say or imply “I am a word person” or “I am a Spirit person”. This is foolish because the Holy Spirit is the Author of the Scriptures. Of course, God used men to record the words of the bible, but Peter says these men “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). And he didn’t just author parts of the bible, but all of it. The history books and the law; the poetry and the prophets; the gospels and the epistles were all “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16, Acts 1:16, 1 Peter 1:11). Do you want to honor the Spirit? Honor the Scriptures which he wrote! Do you want to honor the Scriptures? Honor the Author of the Scriptures!
The Holy Spirit is God’s personal presence with and in his people. It has always been God's purpose to have a people for himself among whom he dwells. The tabernacle God instructed Moses to have built was so that God would be in the midst of the Israelites. Moses agonized at the thought of God's presence not being with the Israelites, reminding God that is what distinguished them from all the other people on the earth (Exodus 33:16). This was all pointing forward to the coming of Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit. The night before his crucifixion, Jesus spoke words of incredible comfort to his disciples. He promised that though he was leaving them in one sense and returning to the Father, he would not leave them in another and greater sense. He would be their present and personal Savior by the Holy Spirit:
You know [the Holy Spirit], for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:17-18)
Then after the promise of the Spirit was poured out, Paul speaks of the “Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you” (Romans 8:11) and that Christians are “God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you” (1 Corinthians 3:16). This is an experiential reality and not just a intellectual one such that Paul exhorts Timothy to guard the gospel “by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us” (2 Timothy 1:14). Paul is telling Timothy to rely on the powerful resources of the indwelling Spirit to guard the gospel from false teachers.
The Holy Spirit glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. This divine Person who is the Author of scripture, the primary agent in our regeneration, who has made his home within the follower of Jesus has one overarching agenda. He loves to glorify and magnify the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said unambiguously that when the Holy Spirit comes, "he will bear witness about me" (John 15:26). The Holy Spirit points to Jesus. Pressing the point, Jesus said the Holy Spirit does not speak on his own authority, but speaks what he hears. And he glorifies Christ by opening our spiritual eyes more and more to see the glorious beauty of Jesus (John 16:14-15). It is not surprising, then, that all the Scriptures point to Jesus (Luke 24:27) since it is the express purpose of the Holy Spirit, who inspired the Scriptures, to glorify him. So we should all pray like Paul for a "spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God, having the eyes of our hearts enlightened" (Ephesians 1:17-18).
No wonder we are commanded to "be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18) which is a present tense continual command. Be filled and keep being filled. This fullness of the Spirit is for every blood-bought child of God.
The fullness of the Spirit is emphatically not a privilege reserved for some, but a duty resting on all. ~ John Stott