Summary: There is much confusion today about the Holy Spirit. Part 1 answers who the Holy Spirit Is and when the baptism of the Holy Spirit takes place.
What You Need To Know About the Holy Spirit
TEXT: Acts 1:4-8 – “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
There is a lot of confusion about the Holy Spirit today. Our Pentecostal and Charismatic brethren (and I do consider many of them brethren in the Lord, notwithstanding my criticisms of some of their teachings) believe that there is an experience after salvation which they call the “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” and that the evidence of this baptism (they say) is speaking in tongues. I believe this teaching is erroneous because of a basic misunderstanding of what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit.
Well, who exactly IS the Holy Spirit? What really is this experience they call the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”? Is it a second work of grace that takes place after salvation? Are you missing an experience that could revolutionize your life and provide you with a shortcut to spiritual victory? Is it manifested by speaking in tongues or the performance of miracles? Finally, what does the Holy Spirit actually DO in our lives?
We want to answer each of these questions in the next three messages in our study of the book of Acts. Let me begin by saying that I am not in any way denigrating the commitment and devotion of those who may disagree on this matter. Some of the best Christians I have ever known are Charismatics. There are Charismatic and Pentecostal friends of mine who have contributed to my life in ways that will last for eternity, and I love them dearly. So please understand that I am not calling out my brethren as heretics. This is simply a family argument among family members who are still committed to one another in love.
With that said, let us look at who the Holy Spirit is, and when He came. Next Sunday and the following Sunday we will explore what the Holy Spirit does in the world and in our lives.
I. FIRST, LET US CONSIDER WHO EXACTLY IS HOLY SPIRIT
There are two simple yet profound things you should know to understand who the Holy Spirit is:
1. First you may have noticed that I refer to the Holy Spirit as HE instead of IT. That’s because the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force, but A TRUE PERSON—a real personality.
That’s why we generally prefer to call Him the Holy “Spirit” in today’s vocabulary, instead of the Holy “Ghost” as it is found in the King James Version of the Bible. Today, the word “ghost” conjures up Casper the friendly Ghost or some scary entity from the other world, so we call Him the “Holy SPIRIT” to capture the real meaning of the Bible word.
Now in reference to the Holy Spirit, the Bible speaks about a real person, with all the attributes of personality—
He has a mind.
He has a will.
He has emotions.
He forbids and permits and speaks and loves.
He can be angered and grieved
All of these are characteristics of a person, not an impersonal force.
2. Second, in reference to who the Holy Spirit is, not only is He A PERSON, but He is also GOD.
He’s the third person in the Trinity; one of the persons of the one triune God. He’s every bit as much God as God the Father and God the Son. The Bible teaches that there is only one God, but He exists in three persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
You say, “Brother Sligh, how can that be? How can three persons be one God?” I say, “I don’t know. I cannot understand it; I cannot explain it;— but that’s what the Bible teaches.” You say, “But that defies my understanding.”
Well, there are many things about God that defy our puny, limited, finite, human understanding. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church said, “Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man who can comprehend the triune God.”