Summary: A introductory sermon on the Holy Spirit (Material taken from Dr. Jack Cottrell’s book, Power From On High and The Holy Spirit: A Biblical Study)
A children’s Bible School class was learning the Apostles Creed. The teacher gave each child a portion of the creed to memorize and recite the next Sunday. The next Sunday’s class began and the first one recited, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” The second one recited the next section that was quite lengthy, “And in Jesus Christ His only Son Our Lord... He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.” When this second one had completed his part, there was an embarrassing silence. Finally, one child said, “Teacher, the boy who believes in the Holy Spirit isn’t here.”
Who is the Holy Spirit? The bottom line answer is that the Holy Spirit is a Divine person, generally referred to as the 3rd person of the Trinity, distinct from the first and second persons, the Father and the Son.
As difficult as the Trinity is to fully grasp, we accept it on faith. Not much problem on this.
Thesis: Let’s talk about the Holy Spirit as a person, and then talk about the Holy Spirit as a Divine person
Holy Spirit Is a Person
The Holy Spirit is a person in the fullest sense of the word. Personal characteristics are displayed by each of the 3 persons of the Trinity, including the Holy Spirit.
The concept of “Spirit”
When beings are called “spirits,” this always shows personhood. All spiritual beings are personal beings.
This is true of human beings, who are comprised of spirit and body. It is true of angelic beings, both good angels and fallen angels. And it is true of God as such: God is spirit in John 4:24. Human beings, angelic beings, and the divine being are all spirit (pneuma), and are all personal beings. There is no such thing as an impersonal being. Not talking about Force.
John 14:16-18, 26. The Greek expression for “another Counselor” is allos parakletos. This description underscores the personhood of the Spirit in 2 ways:
This expression refers to someone who is a person. Translated in various ways as Helper, Comforter, Advocate, NIV- Counselor. The word Counselor is appropriate because in the first century a parakletos was literally a “counselor for the defense,” an advocate in the sense of a defense lawyer. This is a personal concept, just as the term “lawyer” is today. Jesus was promising his disciples that the Spirit would come and stand by their sides and be with them and protect them in their future endeavors for his Kingdom. An impersonal Force will not.
Allos also points to the Spirit’s personhood. Allos means “another of the same kind.” Jesus promised to send another helper of the same kind as himself. Jesus’ promise would have been of little comfort to the apostles if his promised replacement were something less than himself, something less than a person.
Lists of persons
Matthew 28:19- the Great Commission This would not make sense is the Spirit is not person.
Acts 15:28: It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements. The writers of the letter are saying that the decision in view was made by them and by the Holy Spirit. Again, this would not make sense if the Holy Spirit were not a person who can make judgments and decisions, just as the church leaders could.
The NT word for “Spirit” is pneuma. One difficulty is that this noun is neuter. This has lead some to refer to the Holy Spirit as an “it” when talking about the Holy Spirit as a pronoun. This is not correct. On a number of occasions in the NT masculine pronouns are used to refer to the Holy Spirit where we would expect them to be neuter. Grammatically, they should be neuter but the Biblical writers deliberately refer to them as masculine. Read John 16:13-14
The most convincing testimony to the personal nature of the Holy Spirit is the fact that he is pictured over and over in the Bible as doing the kinds of things that persons do.
The Spirit engages in intellectual activity such as thinking and knowing, which is possible only for thinking, rational persons. John 16:8-11. The word for “convict” means to demonstrate or to convince through evidence, which is the activity of a personal being.
The Spirit engages in volitional activity. In other words he uses his will to decide, to choose, and to make authoritative decisions. Acts 15:28: It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.
The Spirit is often described as speaking, as in the act of revelation. He speaks to Philip, to the church at Antioch, to Paul, and to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3.
The Spirit is depicted as a teacher of men. John 14:26: will teach you all things