What are we referring to when we speak of The Holy Spirit. Is it a spirit that represents God? Is it the same thing as God? First, the question should better be stated, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” As I discussed in the two previous articles, God exist eternally in three person. The Holy Spirit is the third and final (and often over looked) part of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit, along with The Father and The Son make up the Trinity.
How do we know The Holy Spirit to be fully God. First, the Bible equates lying to The Holy Spirit and lying to God as the same thing (Acts 5:3-4). The clear implication is that the Holy Spirit is God. Further many of the attributes ascribed to God are also ascribed to the Holy Spirit.(eternal – Hebrews 9:14, omnipresent – Psalm 139:7-8) But why do we believe The Holy Spirit is a distinct person from the Father and the Son. Jesus clearly saw the Spirit as distinct. We see this when He commanded His disciple to baptize people in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). We also see it in another passage where He states that when He leaves, the Holy Spirit will be sent from the Father (John 14:26, 15:26). The Holy Spirit is clearly God and clearly a distinct person, becoming a third person of the one true God.
So then, what is the role of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is sent of God to fill His people (Titus 3:5). When a person comes to accept the Lord as his personal Savior, he is baptized with the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13), washing away all sins. Now, the sin having been washed away, the new believer in Christ is filled with the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19). The Spirit then works to guide this new child of God (Romans 8:14) helping them to grow and develop in their relationship with Christ.
The Holy Spirit is the helper that Jesus promised His disciples(John 14:15-26) and is at work in the church today. The work of the Holy Spirit is to develop God’s church, those who believe. The Holy Spirit is at work in the development of Christian lives (John 14:26). He guides those who believe day by day in their lives (Acts 8:29, Romans 8:14).
The Holy Spirit intercedes for those of us who believe, through our prayers to the Father and communicates those things we can not even speak (Romans 8:26). The Holy Spirit also convicts the believers of sin in their lives. The Holy Spirit draws unbelievers to God and regenerates the heart of those who believe and call upon the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
What about Spiritual Gifts? Where do they fit in? To further build up the body, the Holy Spirit bestows (I Corinthians 12:11) His gifts upon the people of God for the working of the church (Ephesians 2:22, 4:11-12, Hebrews 2:3-4).Some of these gifts include prophecy, teaching, miracles, tongues, and evangalism among others (1 Corinthians 12:27-30, Ephesians 4:11-13) While God may still use any of the gifts today, they are not always present. Many of these gifts are still manifested in the church today. I do, however, believe that the miraculous gifts (tongues, healing, prophecy) are for special situations, such as the founding of the church, and not normative for today. This is not to say they do not exist but that the miraculous gifts, when expressed, must be in a context consistent with the Bible. They must be edifying and non-disruptive to the body (I Corinthians 12:12-31, 14:26-40, Ephesians 4:11-12).
The “charismatic” [or spirit] movement of the 20th century brought this issue to the forefront of the church. When speaking of the most noted of the miraculous gifts, peaking in tongues, Paul declares it is the least of the gifts and that not all believers possess the gift of tongues (I Corinthians 14:5). It therefore cannot be used as a litmus test in the life of a believer as some have done. Now, while they may not be normative in the church today, they should not automatically be dismissed, but should be examined on a case by case basis as to their legitimacy.
Setting aside the discussion of the “miraculous” gifts, we know that many gifts are given by the Spirit that are important to the working of the church. Each believer has their own special gifts that complement the gifts of other believers (I Peter 4:10). One gift is not greater than another, rather they all work together to build up the body of Christ. Through all, however, we must always seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the interpretation of God’s word and the application of the gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit.