Summary: Who is He? What does He do with us? The Holy Spirit’s work and person are everywhere in Scripture and in our lives. This lesson surveys select Old and New Testament passages that inform and challenge us regarding the Holy Spirit.
On the one hand, our Bibles begin with these words: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters… Gen. 1:1-2
Who moved upon the face of the waters? The Spirit of God. He is the first member of the Godhead to be specifically mentioned in scripture, and yet He is the least understood today.
On the other hand, our Bibles end with these words: The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!” And let all who hear say, “Come!” And let him who is thirsty come; let him who wills take the water of life freely. Rev. 22:17.
Who is inviting us to come and drink of the water of life? The Spirit, and with Him, the Bride! And it spreads to all who hear.
Therefore, God’s word opens and closes with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
In the fourth century Gregory of Nazianzus writes, “The deity of the Holy Spirit ought to be clearly recognized in Scripture. Look at these facts: Christ is born; the Spirit is His forerunner. Christ is baptized; the Spirit bears witness. Christ is tempted; the Spirit leads Him up. Christ ascends; the Spirit takes His place. What great things are there in the character of God which are not found in the Spirit? What titles which belong to God are not also applied to Him? He is called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the mind of Christ, the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of adoption, of truth, of liberty; the Spirit of wisdom, of understanding, of counsel, of might, of knowledge, of godliness, of the fear of God. This only begins to show how unlimited He is.
The Holy Spirit is not easy for us to grasp and define, but... neither is God the Father or Jesus Christ the Son, if we think about it. God reveals Himself to us through Scripture more clearly and specifically than through creation or any other way, except when the Word is made flesh in Jesus Christ himself. But even in scripture there are mysteries. What I hope we can do today is not try to remove all the mysterious majesty of God’s Spirit, but hear the Scriptures and accept the specific things it says about Him. This will deepen our respect and reverence of God!
Lets look at a few select passages from our Bibles that mention the Holy Spirit.
1. In the Old Testament we see the Holy Spirit bringing God’s presence. Where the Holy Spirit is... God is!
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
This Psalm is David’s prayer after his sin with Bathsheba. He is convicted of his sin and is pouring out his heart to God. He freely agrees that God’s judgment is just, but pleads for mercy instead. Part of that pleading is here in verses 10-12. One thing David knows about God’s Holy Spirit is that if God takes away His Spirit, David loses everything. He remembers what happened to Saul. When God removed his Spirit from Saul, an evil spirit was sent to replace Him. Ultimately, Saul lost everything. God’s Spirit dwells with the pure in heart and the steadfast in spirit, so David asks God to give these to him. Then David begs God: 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. God’s presence and God’s Spirit are of one cloth here. Where the Holy Spirit is... God is! Another Psalm bears this out well:
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
This is not about David wanting to get away from God, but about David realizing that God is everywhere, seeing everything, knowing all. How? By His Spirit. We sometimes think of God as being everywhere at all times and this is borne out in scripture. But there is a Holy Spirit presence of God that is actually quite extraordinary and particular. The Bible specifically speaks of God’s Spirit and presence being withdrawn. When that occurs, it is bad. In this case, God’s Holy Spirit presence brings life and peace, and when He withdraws His Spirit chaos and death ensue.