Summary: Part 1 of 4 in an introductory series on the Holy Spirit, looking at who He is and how He works in our lives.
INTRODUCTION: We've heard about the Holy Spirit. He flickers in and out of the Old Testament like a ghost. In the New Testament, He's the one who gives ordinary men the power of God. He appears throughout the ages as a wind, smoke, fire, and even a dove, but who or what exactly is the Holy Spirit, and how does He work in our lives today? These are the questions that beginning today, through this series we will seek to find answers to.
BACKGROUND: I still remember the first time I preached a sermon on the Holy Spirit, I was a sophomore in Bible College and at that time I had been preaching for less than a year. So I did what all good preachers do, I announced my text and the title of my message – “Our Friend the Holy Spirit,” at which point a lady in the back row went into a fit… I thought she was having a heart attack. I don’t know if she thought I was going to go all “Pentecostal” on them and start “speaking in tongues” or something, but what I do know is that the college was contacted and they were asked not to send me back to them… Why did this happen, I don’t know for sure, perhaps fear, or misunderstanding. In the church world the approach to the Holy Spirit typically takes one of two paths… (1) The Holy Spirit is all that’s discussed, or (2) the Holy Spirit is never discussed. We seek to avoid the extreme on either end… so we begin at the beginning with… what or who is the Holy Spirit? – “Holy Ghost” – KJV
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN SCRIPTURE
• In the Old Testament the word for “spirit” is “rucah” and in the New Testament it’s “pneuma” which mean “breath” or “wind” depending on the context.
• The terms are used of created spirits, angels (fallen and unfallen) and the spiritual aspects of human beings, as well as the Divine uncreated spirit… that is God
• Every spiritual being is identified as being – living, personal, non-material, and invisible.
• So for purposes of our study we ask the question why the Holy Spirit is considered “Holy?”
• Two reasons may be given. (1) The term “Holy” means “distinct” or “set apart” in that this “Spirit” is different from all others (2) the term “Holy” is applied because, in comparison to the Father, and Son, His main work is to make us “Holy” in the ethical sense. Holiness is His distinctive work… more on that idea next week.
• From the very beginning of creation we have an indication that the Holy Spirit’s work is to complete and sustain what God the Father has planned, and what God the Son has begun (Genesis 1:2)
• In the Old Testament it was predicted that the presence of the Holy Spirit would bring about abundant blessings from God (Isaiah 44:3) (604)
• In the New Testament we see that promise fulfilled (Acts 2) where the Spirit is poured out in special measure on the Apostles (Baptism of H.S.) and the hears of Peter’s Sermon (Gift of the H.S)
• That “gift” was for them, us, and any who follow us as “followers of Jesus”
• Though the Holy Spirit is active in the Old Testament His principle and unique work is revealed in the New Testament in the lives of the followers of Jesus… i.e. Christians
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON
• When we the Biblical texts concerning the Holy Spirit we see that the Holy Spirit is first and foremost a “person.” The Holy Spirit is NOT an “it,” the Holy Spirit is NOT a “force” as if we were living in an episode of Star Wars… the Holy Spirit is a person!
• The Holy Spirit has the qualities that are indicative of “personhood”
• The Holy Spirit has Intellect (1st Corinthians 2:10) – “searches the deep things of God”
• The Holy Spirit has Knowledge (1st Corinthians 2:11) – “the Spirit of God knows”
• The Holy Spirit has Emotions (Ephesians 4:30) – “grieve the Holy Spirit”
• The Holy Spirit has a Will (Acts 16:6) – “forbids preaching in Asia”
• The Holy Spirit has Love (Romans 15:13) – “for the love of the Spirit”
• The Holy Spirit can be treated like a person, He can be revered, and respected, lied to, tempted, blasphemed, and insulted… we can’t do that to any “mysterious force” natural or otherwise
• Some think that since the word “spirit” is “neuter” in gender, being neither “masculine” nor “feminine” that He should be addressed as “thing” rather than a “person” – may it never be!
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD
• The Holy Spirit though often marginalized in respect to God the Father and God the Son, is God none the less – in fact in the New Testament we see “God” and the “Holy Spirit” as being synonymous (Acts 5:3-4) so in reality when we forget the Holy Spirit we’re really forgetting God!