Summary: Christians throughout the centuries have affirmed their belief in the Holy Spirit. This sermon explores the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
As we continue our series in The Apostles’ Creed I would like to examine today what it means to believe in the Holy Spirit. Please listen as I recite the Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Today we begin the third and final section in the Apostles’ Creed. In this section we look at the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
You may remember that I told you that the Apostles’ Creed is essentially Trinitarian. There are three major sections, each dealing with one of the three persons of the Trinity.
The first section deals with the person and work of the Father, the second section with the person and work of the Son, and the third section with the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
Today I want to look briefly at the statement that says: “I believe in the Holy Spirit.”
I would like to examine this statement by exploring:
1. The Person of the Holy Spirit, and
2. The Work of the Holy Spirit.
I. The Person of the Holy Spirit
First, let’s look at the person of the Holy Spirit.
There are three topics I would like to address with respect to the person of the Holy Spirit:
1. The Personality of the Holy Spirit,
2. The Relation of the Holy Spirit to the Other Persons in the Trinity, and
3. The Deity of the Holy Spirit.
A. The Personality of the Holy Spirit
First, let’s discuss the personality of the Holy Spirit.
Although many have questioned the deity of the Holy Spirit, it is interesting to note that far more questions have been raised about the personality of the Holy Spirit.
Throughout history many sects have denied that the Holy Spirit is a person. Most of these sects believe that the Holy Spirit is not a person. They say that the Holy Spirit is merely a power or the influence of God.
I remember as a young Christian being confronted by this issue. One of my “uncles”—a close friend of my parents—learned that I had become a Christian. The next time he visited our home he spent a considerable amount of time trying to convince me that the Holy Spirit was merely a power or the influence of God. It was difficult for me to respond well because I was so young in the faith.
How would you respond to someone who urged you to believe that the Holy Spirit is not a person but is merely a power?
Well, I was forced to examine what the Scriptures teach about the person of the Holy Spirit. What do the Scriptures teach?
Scripture is quite clear that the Holy Spirit is a person. For one thing, he is clearly designated as a person. John 14:26 says: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (cf. also John 14:16-17; 15:26; 16:7-15; Romans 8:26).
Moreover, personal characteristics are ascribed to the Holy Spirit. He has intelligence: “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me” (John 15:26; cf. also John 14:26; Romans 8:16).
And he has a will: “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” (Acts 16:6-7; cf. also 1 Corinthians 12:11).
Moreover, the Holy Spirit performs acts proper to personality, such as speaking, searching, testifying, commanding, revealing, striving, and making intercession (cf. Genesis 1:2; 6:3; Luke 12:12; John 14:26; 15:26; 16:8; Acts 8:29; 13:2; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 2:10, 11).
So, let us not make the mistake of referring to the Holy Spirit as “it,” or as merely a power, or the influence of God. The Holy Spirit is a person, and we should refer to the Holy Spirit as “he.”