God the Holy Spirit

Stephen Grusendorf Photo Stephen Grusendorf

Welcome to Session 4A of Christian Narrative 2. The main teaching point of this lesson is that the third person of the Trinity is God the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit is co-equal in power and glory with God the Father and God the Son. Let’s start our conversation about God the Holy Spirit with John 16:8. Now, we could look at other particular texts, but this is going to give us a good example that the Holy Spirit is in fact a person. So as you listen to this text, don’t necessarily listen for what the Holy Spirit is doing, but listen for who the Holy Spirit is presented to us as. How is he discussed?

John 16:8, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” The first thing that we have to notice is in fact that the Holy Spirit is referred to as an individual, as a person. With God the Father and God the Son, we do not struggle to see them as identities, as individuals, as persons, as He and Him. However, that is not always the case when it comes to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has at times been confused as a thing or an entity or a feeling. But in fact, when we begin to investigate Scriptures, what we discover is that the Holy Spirit is a person. He is in fact a he, as John 16:8 points out to us. And like any other individual, he displays emotion, intellect, and will. And there are others, in fact many, as we will see, but these three particularly display each one of these characteristics.

So we look at Ephesians 4:30 and discover that the Holy Spirit is in fact grieved. He has emotion. We see him saddened by activity. Or actually, believers are encouraged not to sadden the Holy Spirit by their activity. He has an intellect. In 1 Corinthians 2:10, it says, “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” He has an ability to think and rationalize and reason and search and investigate. Finally, we see that he has a will in Acts 16:6, speaking of the missionary journeys. “They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.” So here the Holy Spirit is expressing his will and not allowing the first missionaries to move into Asia because he was against it at that moment in time.

So before we say anything else, we must understand that God the Spirit is a person co-equal in glory, co-equal in power with God the Father and God the Son. He displays emotion, intellect, and will. Now, God the Holy Spirit also has a personality and this personality is expressed in his activity with the people of God. And again, here’s another list that we can look through to see all of the different personality traits of the Holy Spirit expressed. We see he is a personal and individual being. Romans 8:16, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are (in fact) children of God.” We see that he was an individual that was lied to in Acts 5 with Ananias and Sapphira. Peter says, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?” We know the story, but here, again, the Holy Spirit is not a thing or an entity or an idea. In that sense, he is a person. A person who can, in fact, be interacted with such to the point that he’s lied to. Again, we saw this just a moment ago, the Holy Spirit can be grieved. Ephesians 4:30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Psalm 139 tells us that the Holy Spirit, like the Father, like the Son, is omnipresent. And so we read in Psalm 139, starting in verse 7, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” So the Spirit, like the Father, like the Son, co-equal in power and glory, is omnipresent. Job 33:4 tells us that the Holy Spirit was present and active at creation. There we read, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

Isaiah 63. And that’s a fascinating chapter. You should read the whole of that chapter. But if we focus in, we see that, it is the Holy Spirit that has protected God’s people. It says there, starting in verse 11, “Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people. Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit, who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble. Like livestock that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord gave them rest. So you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name.” God used the Holy Spirit to protect his people as they traveled through the desert.

We see in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit is our teacher. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 15:26, he gives testimony. “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” And Genesis 6:3, the Holy Spirit actually restrains evil. “The Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.’” We see all of these different personality traits coming out about God the Holy Spirit. And what I want you to understand from this last slide and this slide that we’re looking at right now is that the Holy Spirit is a person who displays personality traits much like the Father and much like the Son. He’s co-equal in power. He’s co-equal in glory. He is a person, the third person of the Trinity.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the Holy Spirit’s particular work. What is it that the Holy Spirit does in empowering us and working in our lives as believers? The first thing that we have to see is that he inspires and illuminates. In this slide, let’s focus in on the idea that it is the Holy Spirit who inspires us. Two wonderful passages. 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” The Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of the individuals who wrote the Scriptures. He’s alive in the Scriptures themselves and he’s alive in the one who is interpreting the Scriptures. In each one of these places, it’s the Holy Spirit who is indwelling and inspiring and then validating the communal interpretation of the word of God. And this inspiration, this spark of truth, the genius of knowledge comes from the Holy Spirit. He inspires.

But then we also see in 1 Corinthians 2:13, “We impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” So we see that it is not only the Holy Spirit who inspires, but it is also the Holy Spirit who illuminates. In other words, as we come to the text of Scripture and we read the Scripture, we begin to have an understanding of what that is to mean in our life. Now, that understanding may or may not be true, but as we wrestle with the text, particularly through the process of meditation, it is the Holy Spirit who meets us and teaches us and ultimately brings us to his intended meaning of the passage for our lives. So we read in Psalm 1:1-2, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” The blessedness of this man comes from his meditation. And in his meditation, as 1 Corinthians 2:13 tells us, he is taught by the Spirit. So God the Holy Spirit inspires and illuminates.

Now, he also convicts. John 16:8, “When he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” It is not the role of the believer to bring conviction into the life of the unbeliever. That is the role of the Holy Spirit. And so the Holy Spirit is the one who convicts about these three things: sin, righteousness, judgment. He indwells the believer. Acts 1:4-5, “While staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” Okay. Jesus speaking to his disciples, talking about this moment when they would be indwelled by the Holy Spirit, which then comes, as you see here, Acts 1:8, just a few verses later, where not only indwelling occurs but empowerment as well. And these two often go together: the indwelling and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:8, it says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” So the particular work of the Holy Spirit here is that He convicts, He indwells, and He empowers.

This empowerment then is aided by two particular things: the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) and the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12). Each one of these serves a slightly different purpose, and you can see those listed there. We’ll dig into both the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit in our next session together. So in conclusion to this session, we want to understand that the third person of the Trinity is God the Holy Spirit. He is co-equal in power and glory with God the Father and God the Son. He is in fact a person who displays a personality and has a unique and specific role that he plays within the context of the Trinity.