Who or what is the Holy Spirit? What is his nature, characteristics and functions in the life of believers? What are the scriptural proofs that he is a person and not a mere force? What is his spirit hood and deity like? He has various names given to him as well as many misconceptions. This study seeks to bring out these important concepts and challenge some beliefs that may seem contrary to what the Bible teaches. What does the Bible also say about Speaking in Tongues?
Welcome to the study of the Holy Spirit. If my memory can serve me well, we have had a study about God (Theology) before in this church.
We have also studied about Christ (Christology) before as well. However, I am not quite sure if we have ever studied about the Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) in the past. Nevertheless, even if we have studied about Him before, we are going to do so again. This time, however, we are going to study about him more indeptly.
The pertinent question we first of all have to ask ourselves is this: Why is it important for us to study about the Holy Spirit?
There are four reasons to this question:
1. Because of the crucial role the Holy Spirit plays in God's scheme of things.
2. Because of the many errors and misunderstandings which relate to the personality of the Holy Spirit.
3. Because without the proper understanding of the Holy Spirit we can never properly understand His revelation to us in the scriptures.
4. Because many of our brethren don't really know who the Holy Spirit is. These brethren therefore need to be taught what the Bible teaches about Him.
THE DEFINITION OF PNEUMATOLOGY
A. Bible Dictionary
* The Bible Dictionary simply defines pneumatology as the study of the Holy Spirit.
* Etymology - ( the study of the origin and history of words or of a particular word ).
The term pneumatology comes from two Greek words, namely, pneuma, which means "wind,"
"Breath," or"spirit," and logos, which means "word," "matter," "thing," or "study of."
As it is used in Christian Systematic Theology, "pneumatology" refers to the biblical doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Generally this includes such topics as:
1. The Personality of the Holy Spirit.
2. The Deity of the Holy Spirit.
3. The works of the Holy Spirit throughout scripture.
WHO IS THE HOLY SPIRIT?
Ø The Personhood of the Holy Spirit.
Ø The Spirithood of the Holy Spirit.
Ø The Deity of the Holy Spirit.
A. The Personhood of the Holy Spirit.
The personality (and therefore the personhood of the Holy Spirit ) has been denied by certain religious groups throughout the history of the church. Some say that the noun for "spirit" in the New Testament is pneuma, which is neuter. Therefore, according to them, the spirit can be correctly referred to as "it," rather than "he." In keeping with this idea, some refer to the Holy Spirit as God's active force."
The truth of the matter is that there is no necessary connection in Greek, between grammatical gender and personal gender.
Therefore, it is false to say that since the Greek noun pneuma is neuter, the spirit must be an "it." The Holy Spirit is not an "active force.
The Holy Spirit is a person. This means that He has a personality- that He possesses individuality, character, influence, life, thought, will- power and ability.
Scriptural Proofs That The Holy Spirit Is A Person.
1. Jesus said He would send "another” in His place- John 14:16. The word “another”in Greek is“ allos and it is here referred to as another just like Jesus. The conclusion is that the Holy Spirit is a person since Jesus is clearly a person.
2. In John 14:26, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as a “Comforter". In Greek the word comforter is "parakletos." Therefore, if the Holy Spirit is a comforter or parakletos, then He must be a person because the function of a parakletos is personal.
For example, Jesus functioned as a parakletos to His disciples.
3. The following characteristics of the Holy Spirit also confirm the personhood of the Holy Spirit:
a) He makes choices - 1 Corinthians 12: 11 says, "But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit , dividing to every man severally as He will."
b) He teaches-- John 14:26 says, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
c) He guides-- John 16: 13 says, "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come."
d) He reveals Jesus-- John 16: 14 says, "He shall glorify me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you."
e) He convicts ( the world of sin )-- John 16:8 says, " And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:"
f) He seals believers (Christians) -- 2 Corinthians 1: 21- 22 says, " Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ , and has anointed us, is God;" "Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the of the Spirit in our hearts."
g) He can be grieved-- Ephesians 4: 30 says, "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."
h) He can be blasphemed ( can speak bad words against Him )-- Matthew 12: 31 says, "Wherefore, I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men."
i) He has a rational mind (He can think) -- Romans 8: 26- 27 says, " Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." "And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is in the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."
j) He can be lied to -- Acts 5: 3- 4 says, “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?" "Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God."
k) He can be quenched (stop the work of the Holy Spirit) -- 1 Thes. 5: 19 says, “Quench not the Spirit."
l) He can be resisted (work against the Holy Spirit) -- Acts 7: 51 says, "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye."
m) He has the ability to love-- Romans 5: 5; Romans 15 : 30 say, "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto you." "Now, I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;"
B. The Spirithood Of The Holy Spirit.
Like God and Christ, the Holy Spirit is a spirit-- John4: 24 says, " God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him , must worship Him in spirit and in truth."
This means that He does not have a physical body or other material manifestation-- Luke 24: 39 says, " Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."
The importance, nature and the works of the Holy Spirit at different times in the scriptures are often expressed in symbols ( the same way Jesus is described as a "lion," "lamb," "shepherd," "door," etc.
Let us at this time take a look at some of these symbols, study them, and learn what they represent:
1. The symbol of wind, breath-- John 3: 8; John 20: 22; Acts 2:2, meaning: The Spirit comes from above as does the wind. You cannot see the wind, yet you can feel it and see its power. It is the same way with the Holy Spirit.
2. The symbol of a dove-- Luke 3: 22 says, " And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, like a dove, upon Him( Jesus ); and a voice came from heaven, which said, THOU ART MY BELOVED SON; IN THEE I AM WELL PLEASED."
Like the dove, the Holy Spirit is gentle, kind, and pure. He is the Spirit of grace, love, and peace.
3. The symbol of living waters-- John 7: 38- 39.
The Holy Spirit refreshes, quenches spiritual thirst, and causes life to appear where there was only dry deadness.
4. the symbol of a seal-- 2 Cor. 1: 22 says, “Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." -- The seal is used to authenticate, confirm, certify, and to place under protection; as well as to show ownership.
5. The symbol of fire-- Acts 2: 1--4; Hebrews 12: 29
Fire is powerful, vivid, searing, cleansing, consuming, etc. The Holy Spirit is also like that.
C. The Deity Of The Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit is divine.
- He is a member of the Godhead or Trinity -- Acts 17: 29; Romans 1: 20; Colossians 2: 9.
- The Godhead consists of three personalities, namely, God the Father; God the Son; and God the Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit is distinguished from, yet closely related to the Father and the Son -- on equal basis.
The following are some of the divine characteristics of the Holy Spirit:
1. He receives the worship due the Father and the Son -- 2 Cor. 13: 14.
2. He does divine works, including inspiring scripture -- 2 Peter 1: 20-21; Matt. 19: 4-5.
3. He regenerates hearts--Titus 3: 5.
4. He creates, sustains, gives life to all things- Gen. 1: 2; Job 26: 13; Job 34:14; Psalm 104: 29- 30.
5. He is eternal-- Hebs. 9: 14(only a God can be eternal).
6. He is omniscient- 1Cor. 2: 10-11.
7. He is actually referred to as God-- Acts 5: 3-4; 1 Cor. 3:16; 1 Cor 6: 19-20. THE NAMES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
It is important to learn some of the names of the Holy Spirit and then He can be understood better.
A. the Holy Spirit - Matthew 4: 1 says, "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
B. The Spirit of Truth - John 14: 17 says, " He is the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him. It does not see Him or know Him. You know Him because He lives with and will be with you."
C. The Comforter/ Counselor - John 14: 26 says, " But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
D. The Spirit of God - Romans 8: 9 says, " But ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you . Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His."
E. The Spirit of Christ - Romans 8:9 (same as above).
F. The Spirit of the Living God - 2 Corinthians 3: 3 says, " Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared, to be the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart."
G. His Holy Spirit of Promise - Eph. 1:13 says, " In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spiit of Promise."
H. Eph. 4: 30 says, "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."
I. The Eternal Spirit (the Spirit that lives forever) - Hebs. 9:14 says, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God?"
J. The Spirit - Rev. 2: 7, 11, 29 say , "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches; to Him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." “He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." "He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
Part 2 of this paper deals with misconceptions about the holy spirit and the measures of the holy spirit. To be published subsequently.
A quarterly study Delivered by: Joseph Foray Snr. (Elder/Preacher) Oforikrom Church of Christ, Kumasi, Ghana 2014