To many people the Holy Spirit is the most mysterious member of the Godhead, yet when we look at all that the He does we may have a clearer understanding of Him than we realize. First, as with the other members of the Holy Trinity the Holy Ghost is spirit. He does not have a physical form (Luke 24:39). The Spirit exists outside of and separate from the created universe. Second, everywhere that the Father and Son are at work, the Holy Spirit is there with them. Third, as with God the Father and Christ the Son, the Holy Spirit is unique. We know Him when we encounter Him in scripture. When Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure He told them, “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 14:26).
Jesus had spent roughly three years teaching His disciples, and at His leave-taking He sent the Spirit to continue their education. However, that education would take a different form under the Spirit’s tutelage— being done through visions, revelation, and the opening of their minds as He worked within them to deliver all that He had been given to teach. Not only did He teach them all things as pertained to man’s salvation He also ensured their ability to remember or recall all that they had been taught and had experienced when called upon to witness Christ. The first century disciples, particularly the apostles and writers of the New Testament, were under the Holy Spirit’s perfect inspiration. The word was delivered to the world in all perfection and infallibility by the Holy Spirit.
In describing the work of the Holy Spirit Paul wrote, “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (I Corinthians 2:10-12). The early Christians were empowered by the Spirit to accomplish God’s will, even as His word and church were being written and established (I Corinthians 12:11). Today the Spirit continues to inspire and empower us through the word that has been passed down to us. Moreover, the Holy Spirit is there for us when we struggle in life as Christians. According to Paul: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27; 15:30).
As we look further into the works of the Spirit we find that not only is He a guide and intercessor, under the Father’s authority, He also works to glorify the Son, declaring to the world what belongs to Christ (John 16:13-14; 20:31). Another task of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus revealed, is to convict the world of sin (John 16:7-8), which He accomplishes through the word. As Paul wrote concerning it, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17).
It is through the word that we learn of what God accomplished through Jesus, and His expectations for man: “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). We also learn something of the persistent resistance man has demonstrated toward the work of the Spirit through the ages in Acts 7:51-52, where the words of Stephen are recorded: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered.” His words may have been focused on the deeds of the Jewish nation, but all of mankind is just as guilty of rejecting their God.
When Paul analyzed man’s defiance of God’s will he came to this conclusion, “And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:13-14). For those who cling to their natural attributes while denying their spiritual nature, the word of God seems to be nonsense. Even if the truth is gnawing at their heart, many resist it. To these the apostle posed this question: “how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will” (Hebrews 2:3-4). Not only is God’s truth attested to by mighty works and unimpeachable eyewitness testimony, but as Paul informed the Romans nature itself reveals God’s existence (Romans 1:19-22).
Peter also made an interesting point with regard to the word that he and Paul, along with many others had testified to, when he wrote, “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:20-21). According to Peter the word that they had received and delivered to man came directly from God via the work of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the work of the Holy Spirit goes beyond simply delivering God’s word to man, as Jesus made clear when He said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). Throughout scripture the Holy Spirit has been additionally called the Holy Ghost, the Spirit, The Spirit of God, His Spirit, the Spirit of Jehovah, the Spirit of Truth, and the One Spirit. Each of these names gives us a slightly different glimpse of His nature and position within the Godhead. Regardless, however, of how He has been described the thing that is at the forefront of our understanding of the Spirit and His activities is the fact that He is an integral part of God’s work in the redemption of mankind. A work that continues to this day and onward until the day of judgment.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.