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The Work of the Holy Spirit

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Ralph Sorter


            The Holy Spirit - who is He, and what does He do?  Our study will cover both of these aspects.  The principle words for the Holy Spirit in the Bible are: ruach in the Old Testament and pneuma in the New Testament.  These terms can also mean “breath” or “wind” depending on their context. 

            All spiritual beings are living, have a personality, and are nonmaterial and invisible.  But what makes the Holy Spirit distinct is the first word of His name, Holy Spirit.  As the word means, He is “separate, distinct, set apart.”  What sets Him apart from all other spirits is His distinctive work – He is Holy because He is a personality of the Trinity of God, and He makes us holy.  His names throughout the Bible are: the Holy Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of Yahweh, the Spirit, Spirit of Holiness, Spirit of God, Spirit of the Lord, Spirit of Christ, Spirit of Truth, and the Spirit of Life.

            The contrast of false beliefs of the Holy Spirit shows the importance of our study of Him.  For instance, Unitarianism, modern liberal theology, and many cults deny the existence of the Spirit as a person separate from the Father.  Jehovah’s Witnesses equate the “holy spirit” (never capitalized) with God’s impersonal, invisible active force or power.  The Way International believes this also.

            We can be certain the Holy Spirit is a person from Jn. 14:16, which gives Him the distinction allos parakletos (another Helper).  Parakletos is a counselor for the defense – an equivalent of an attorney, which is in itself a personal concept.  And the word allos means another of the same kind.  So the Holy Spirit is “another Helper of the same kind” as Jesus Himself.  Thus the Spirit is personal, like Jesus.  Also, Matt. 28:19 equates the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son via Hebrew parallelism.  (Explain parallelism if necessary.) 

1.      What characteristics of things people do, are revealed of the Holy Spirit doing according to the following passages?  (Don’t read, just fill in.)
Rom. 8:26  (Intellectual activity.)
Acts 13:2  (Volitional activity such as choosing or making decisions.)
John 16:13-14  (He speaks.)
John 14:26  (He teaches.)
Rom. 15:30  (He loves.)
Eph. 4:30  (He experiences grief.)

2.      What characteristics do these passages reveal that prove the Holy Spirit is divine?
Heb. 9:14  (He is eternal.)
1 Cor. 2:10-11  (He is omniscient.)
Ps. 139:7-10  (He is omnipresent.)
Ps. 104:30  (He is omnipotent.)
Acts 5:1-4  (He is equated with God.)

3.      Since the Holy Spirit is divine, is it proper to worship Him?  (Yes, though there is no scripture that addresses this directly.  Song – “Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.)

4.      When describing the work of the Holy Spirit, what three areas encompass His work?  (He gives us knowledge, gifts, and He gives us power.)

5.      What role did the Holy Spirit play in the writing of the Scriptures?
Insight: His role in the writing of the Scriptures is what made them “inspired.”  Without His role the Bible would be no different than any other book.  But He guaranteed that everything they wrote was accurate and complete.  He was the ultimate source of the Bible.  Acts 1:16; 2 Pet. 1:21; 1 Cor. 2:13
It has not been revealed to us the mechanics of how the Holy Spirit revealed the Word of God to the writers, but what is important is that we have the result of His inspiration – we have the complete Word of God, without error, inspired with a message of hope and eternal salvation.  Perhaps His most important work He did for us was to give us the Bible.

6.      What assurance do we have about our own inspiration of the Holy Spirit according Jn. 16:12-13
Insight: He will not do it in rogue fashion; He will only speak what He hears from the Father.  He will guide us in truth – that’s how we distinguish His voice from the Devil; the Devil does not speak the full truth.

7.      What role does the Holy Spirit play in helping us understand the Scriptures? 
Insight: He is the one who inspired its writing, thus He knows the original intent of the words; He illuminates us to perceive the true meaning.  Jn. 14:26

8.      What is the purpose of the Spirit’s indwelling?  (Supplementing our knowledge with a part of God’s knowledge; to help us discern other spirits; to help us know the will of God; to help us walk in obedience; to empower us with spiritual gifts; to empower us to do God’s will in difficult circumstances; to help us with our testimony; to help us die to the old man and live according to the new man; to convey the love of the Father and draw us to Him.)  1 Cor. 3:16
Insight: Confusion sometimes exists over baptism in the Spirit.  Some say that the evidence of baptism in the Spirit is speaking in tongues.  Two significant events in the Book of Acts are Pentecost and the conversion of Cornelius.  Obvious to both of these stories is baptism of the Spirit and speaking in tongues (Acts 1:1-4; 10:44-48), but the miraculous tongues were not the purpose of baptism in the Spirit.  On both occasions the tongues accompanied the gift of the Spirit as a preliminary demonstration that the indwelling Spirit was indeed being given on these occasions.  Looking at other occasions we do not see an exact duplication of the experience; thus not a pattern.  The Pentecost experience was to reveal salvation was pouring out from Heaven for the very first time as promised by God.  It should be noted that at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was given to all who repented and were baptized, but the text only indicates that Peter, and possibly the other Apostles, spoke in tongues.  With Cornelius the same intent of salvation’s outpouring was taking place among the Gentiles for the first time and the Jews needed a clear sign from God that He was opening the door to the Gentiles; thus tongues, as it happened also at Pentecost.  Further study of the Scriptures reveals that the filling of the Spirit is witnessed in bold witnessing, convicting preaching and teaching, prophecy, etc.  Furthermore, Christians may experience multiple fillings of the Holy Spirit through their life, not just their baptism of the Spirit at their conversion.  Acts 11:16-18, 23-24; 7:55-56; 13:52; Lk. 4:1-2

9.      Is spiritual maturity possible without the help of the Holy Spirit?  Jn. 16:12-15; Rom. 8:12-14; Gal. 5:16-17



            What a wonder…that God would deposit Himself in us!  How could we ever begin to comprehend God if it were not for the Holy Spirit living inside us, speaking to our spirit and guiding us to the truth?  Other than the gift of His Son for our redemption, God couldn’t have given us a greater gift…the gift of His Spirit.  For by that gift we are never alone.  We hear His voice as often as we pause to listen.  He empowers, guides, counsels, equips, enlightens, teaches, admonishes, and convicts us.  He helps us in our walk, helps us die to the flesh, and regenerates the corrupted heart.  He is our proof that God loves us and that God exists.  As He works in us He convicts unbelievers and draws them to God.  He brings life, light, warmth and love.  He is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-present.  He is God.  Get to know Him…and you will get to know God.  Grieve Him and sin against Him…it will be the worst mistake you could ever make.  But the repentant of heart He marks and His seals with the Spirit…and no one will snatch you from the Father’s hand!

            Heavenly Father – God over us.

Emanuel – God with us.

Holy Spirit – God in us.

What a wonder!

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