The Person of the Holy Spirit

During the past few months I’ve considered here the person and work of God the Father and of God the Son, Jesus Christ. Now I’m going to consider the person and work of God the Holy Spirit. I’ll be writing from the perspective of a classic Pentecostal, my father’s having been a pastor with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, my having attended a Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada Bible college and spent my working years teaching in Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland schools, and my currently attending a Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland church.

In this post I’ll repeat what I said about the person of the Holy Spirit when considering the Trinity. Over the next couple months I’ll consider the work of the Holy Spirit, reporting on my family’s after-breakfast reading from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994). We plan to read these chapters on the Holy Spirit from it:
– Chapter 30: The Work of the Holy Spirit
– Chapter 39: Baptism and Filling with the Holy Spirit
– Chapter 52: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (1): General Questions
– Chapter 53: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (2): Specific Gifts

The Holy Spirit is a person in the Trinity with God the Father and God the Son, as shown by His being named with them in several passages of the New Testament:
– When Jesus came up out of the water after being baptized by John the Baptist, “he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased'” (Mark 1:10-11, ESV; all Bible quotations are from the ESV). Thus each member of the Trinity performed a specific activity: Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven and rested upon him, and the Father spoke to him from heaven. The incident is also recorded in Matthew 3:16-17 and Luke 3:21-22.
– Before returning to heaven at the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus told the eleven disciples, “Go…make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). His naming the three persons of the Trinity in the same way (“of the [name]”) indicates that each is a person and of equal value as the other two.
– Paul introduces the list of spiritual gifts that he gives in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 with, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but one Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” Since the New Testament epistles commonly refer to God the Father as “God” and to God the Son as “Lord,” all three persons of the Trinity are referred to in the passage.
– Paul closes 2 Corinthians with the following benediction, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14), again naming all three persons of the Trinity.
– Paul also refers to all three persons of the Trinity in Ephesians 4:4-6, saying, “There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call–one Lord [Jesus Christ], one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
– Peter mentions all three persons of the Trinity in opening 1 Peter, saying, “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood” (1 Peter 1:2).

Other Bible passages that identify the Holy Spirit as God are:
– “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7). David identifies trying to escape from God’s Spirit with trying to escape from God.
– “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…? You have not lied to men but to God?'” (Acts 5:3-4) Peter identifies lying to the Holy Spirit with lying to God.
– “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 4:16) Peter identifies God’s dwelling in us with the Holy’s Spirit’s dwelling in us.

Although God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit constitute one being, the Triune God, the first passage quoted above (Mark 1:10-11) shows that they are distinct persons. This is also shown by their being having different primary functions in creation and redemption.

In creation the Father spoke the words that brought things into existence, the Son carried out the Father’s creative decrees, and the Holy Spirit apparently represented God’s immediate presence in His creation. Bible passages showing this are:
– “And God [the Father] said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). See also Genesis 1:6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26.
– “All things were made through him [‘the Word’ or Jesus Christ], and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). See also 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; and Hebrews 1:2.
– “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:3).

In redemption the Father planned redemption and sent His Son into the world, the Son accomplished our redemption by coming and dying for our sins, and the Holy Spirit applies redemption to us:
– “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). See also Galatians 3:4 and Ephesians 1:9-10.
– “When Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then said I, <Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book>'” (Hebrews 10:5-7, with Christ quoting from Psalm 40:6-8). See also John 6:38, etc.
– “Jesus answered [Nicodemus], ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6). See also Romans 8:13 and 1 Peter 1:2 on the Holy Spirit’s role in sanctification and Acts 1:8 and 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 on the Holy Spirit’s role in empowering us.

For more on the Trinity and on the Holy Spirit as a member of the Trinity, see my October 25 to November 7, 2013, posts on the Trinity.


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