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1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2 (NKJV).
The Holy Spirit is the power of God. He is the active force or the power of God at work in the world and has been active since the dawn of time (Genesis 1:1-3). The Bible establishes that the Holy Spirit is God in the scripture in Acts stating that lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God (Acts 5:3-4), and through the linking of the Holy Spirit with God the Father and God the Son in benedictions (2 Corinthians 13:14; Revelation 1:4-6) and in the formula of baptism (Matthew 28:19).
God eternally exists in three Persons—God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit—yet He is one God (Mark 1:9-13). God the Father is fully God, God the Son (Jesus Christ) is fully God, and the Holy Spirit is fully God. During the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:3-17; Mark 1:9-11; and Luke 3:21-22), all three Persons were visibly present together as one as revelation, and witnessed by the people. "The fullness of God" — the Trinity — was fully expressed in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9-10).
The Holy Spirit is the only Person of the Trinity currently active on earth. Forty days after Jesus Christ's resurrection, He returned to God the Father (Acts 1:1-10). Jesus Christ is now seated at God's right hand in heaven (Mark 16:19; Colossians 3:1). God the Father and Jesus Christ (God the Son) continue their work on earth through the Holy Spirit.
God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit are equally and fully eternal—omnipresent, omnipotent, infinitely wise, infinitely holy, and infinitely loving. Thus, the Holy Spirit is the same in substance, power, and glory to God the Father and God the Son (Jesus Christ). These three Agents continuously work together to create, save, and protect humanity on earth (Romans 8; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:2). This knowledge should cause us to humbly worship, love, honor, adore, and respect equally God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The only difference between God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the ways in which these three Agents act as They relate to each other and to the rest of creation. The work of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the active presence of God in the world, especially to the church. He is the member of the Trinity most often present to do God's work in the world, especially in the New Covenant age. The Holy Spirit has the role of bringing regeneration or new spiritual life (John 3:5-8), sanctifying (Romans 8:13; 15:16; 1 Peter 1:2), and empowering people for service (Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11). In general, the work of the Holy Spirit seems to be to bring to completion the work that has been planned by God the Father and begun by God the Son.
The Old Testament did not clarify that the Holy Spirit is a distinct and separate divine person from God the Father. The New Testament resolves this gap. Jesus Christ explained to His disciples that "it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper [Counselor, Friend, Comforter] will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you" (John 16:7). The "Helper" that Jesus Christ speaks of is the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit as bringer of mercy
29 the Holy Spirit who brings God's mercy to His people. (Hebrews 10:29 (TLB).
So, it has been established that the Holy Spirit is the Person of the Trinity through whom God acts, reveals His will, empowers people, and unveils God's personal presence in the Old and New Testament. The Holy Spirit is absolutely holy in His own nature and the source of holiness in all creatures. His central ministry is witnessing and glorifying Jesus Christ by making known to people who Jesus Christ is (John 16:7-15) and who they are in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:6).
The Holy Spirit knows all things
10 The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:10-12 (NIV).
The Holy Spirit knows all things, even the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). The Holy Spirit's knowledge is equal to the knowledge of God. He knows the things of God as the spirit of a man knows the things of a man. The consciousness of God is the consciousness of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is our Guide to the end
14 For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end. Psalms 48:14 (NIV).
Moreover, the Holy Spirit guides people in their daily lives and daily decisions as their constant Companion (Psalm 48:14; Acts 10:19-20; Acts 13:2; Acts 16:6). The Holy Spirit is like a road map, as He leads and directs people to all truth (John 16:13). Those who believe in Jesus Christ submit and allow God's Holy Spirit to lead their every daily step (Romans 8:14) because He brings wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (Isaiah 11:2).
The Holy Spirit has been called many names since ancient times. Many of these names appear in the Holy Scriptures, and serve as diverse ways for believers in Jesus Christ to conceive of the Holy Spirit, and to reduce the abstraction in their perceptions of Him.
The Holy Spirit has been called or interpreted as:
Spirit of God
Spirit of the Lord
Breath of Life
Spirit of Holiness
Roar of Rushing Waters
Christ's Holy Spirit
Spirit of Grace
Peace of God
Paraclete, Paracletos, or Parakletos (Greek word)
Kinship of Spirit
Pneuma (Greek word)
Spirit of Wisdom
Spirit of Christ
Glory of God
Spirit of Grace and Prayer
Rushing or Mighty Waters
Power of God
Witness for Jesus Christ
Spirit of Life
Jesus Christ's Spirit
Spirit of Sonship
Spirit of Jesus
Power of Christ
The Holy Ghost
Spirit of Truth
My Spirit (when God speaks)
His Spirit (when God is spoken of)
Many respected theologians refer to the Holy Spirit as wind, or as God's breath or power. Spirit is the translation of the Hebrew word ruach or ruakh and the Greek word pneuma, which means "wind," "breath," or "spirit" depending upon the context. In English, the word "inspiration" can mean to inhale and exhale breath, even though this isn't the common meaning (it is used this way in, for example, medicine); "inspiration" can signify that someone is driven to higher levels of awareness or spirituality by the actual act of being filled with someone else's breath.
The wind is a good image for the Holy Spirit because the wind is sent from heaven, cannot be contained or controlled, and can be very powerful (John 3:8). God deployed this Holy Wind of the Spirit to:
Exercise control over the disorganized waters at the beginning of creation (Genesis 1:2);
Blow across the earth to recede the flood waters for Noah (Genesis 8:1; see also Psalm 33:6; Job 26:13);
Bring locusts to Egypt (Exodus 10:13);
Part the Red Sea to allow the ancient Israelites to pass through and eventually defeat Pharaoh and his army (Exodus 14:21);
Carry quail over the camp of Israel (Exodus 16:13);
Transports God on its wings to the outer limits of the earth (Psalm 104:3);
Dry up the waters (Hosea 13:15); and
Gather clouds to bring rain (1 Kings 18:45).
A wide range of experiences are attributed to the Holy Spirit. All God's miracles and activities in the lives of people on earth are done by and through the Holy Spirit. However, aspects of the Holy Spirit's works are sometimes credited to God the Father and God the Son (Jesus Christ). God the Father and God the Son manage the Holy Spirit. Prior to Jesus Christ's ascension and return to heaven, many of the Holy Spirit's works and miracles were also performed by Jesus Christ while He was on earth (see John 14-16). Jesus Christ made clear to Nicodemus that no one can control the work of the Holy Spirit because He works in ways no human can predict or understand.
As mentioned earlier, the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit, especially in the new covenant age, is to manifest the active presence of God in the world. When the Holy Spirit is present, this encourages believers and unbelievers to have faith in God, and that God is working to bring blessings to His people.
The works of the Holy Spirit are numerous and include the following:
Giving and returning life (Genesis 1:1-3; Genesis 2:7; Psalm 104:24-30; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Joel 2:28-32; Romans 8:9-11);
Empowering people for service to God (Acts 13:2; Acts 20:28);
Guiding, leading, and directing God's people (Acts 8:29; Acts 9:15; Acts 10:19-20; Acts 11:12; Acts 16:6; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:12);
Inspiring the writing of the Holy Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21);
Summoning the memory of (and preserving) Jesus Christ's life, love, and message to tell the world (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 12:3);
Authenticating and bearing witness to the power of the Good News of Jesus Christ through signs, wonders, and miracles (Acts 14:3; Hebrews 2:4);
Teaching the truths of the Holy Scriptures to God's people (Acts 1:16; Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 10:15-17; 1 Peter 1:11-12);
Bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ (John 15:26; John 16:14);
Convincing people of their sins and their need for Jesus Christ (John 16:8);
Warning people against hardening their hearts towards God's love and guidance (Hebrews 3:7-15, 15);
Giving spiritual gifts to God's people (1 Corinthians 12:4-11);
Empowering, energizing, and equipping God's people to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world (Acts 1:5-8);
Bringing the presence of God to believers of Jesus Christ (John 14:16- 17);
Teaching and reminding people of Jesus Christ's message (John 14:26; John 15:26);
Giving insight, wisdom, understanding, and knowledge of God (Isaiah 11:2; John 16:13);
Carrying God's blessings and abundance to His people (Isaiah 44:3-5; Isaiah 32:15);
Proclaiming God's word (Isaiah 34:16);
Anointing Jesus Christ to pronounce the Good News (Isaiah 61:1-3);
Giving the inner heart peace, comfort, and rest (Isaiah 63:14; John 14:27; Acts 9:31);
Calling people to repentance from a life of sin (John 3; John 16:8-11; Acts 7:51);
Revealing the standard of God's holiness and righteousness (John 16:8-11);
Bringing God's grace and mercy into the world (Hebrews 10:29);
Imparting Jesus Christ's truth (John 14:17; John 15:26; John 16:13; 1 John 5:7);
Pouring God's love in our hearts (Romans 15:30; Colossians 1:8);
Manifesting the presence and an atmosphere of love (Romans 5:5);
Giving wisdom (Deuteronomy 34:9; Isaiah 11:2);
Providing freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17);
Imputing Jesus Christ's righteousness to believers (Romans 14:17);
Bringing about unity within the Christian community (Ephesians 4:3);
Giving power and strength for daily living (Acts 1:18; 1 Corinthians 2:4; 2 Timothy 1:7)
Providing all people—Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews)—full access to God the Father in prayer (Ephesians 2:18);
Witnessing for Jesus Christ (John 15:26);
Searching all things, even the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:11);
Interceding and pleading on behalf of believers (Romans 8:26-27);
Can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30);
Bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:15-16; Galatians 4:5-6);
Providing a guarantee of our future fellowship with God in heaven (2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5); and
Working miraculous signs and wonders that strongly attest to the presence of God in the preaching of the Gospel (Hebrews 2:4).
In the chapters to come, the works of the Holy Spirit will be studied and explained so that people can use the Holy Spirit in their everyday lives.
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15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. Exodus 24:15-18 (NIV).
The Old Testament had much to say about the Holy Spirit. Often, the Holy Spirit was manifested in the glory of God and through theophanies (or the appearance of God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, to humans). Through the Holy Spirit, in the Old Testament we see the power of God manifest in:
Creation (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; Psalm 33:6; Isaiah 32:15);
Revelation to the prophets (Isaiah 61:1-6; Micah 3:8);
Empowerment for service (Exodus 31:1-6; Judges 6:34, 15:14-15; Isaiah 11:2);
Inward heart renewal (Psalm 51:10-12; Ezekiel 36:25-27); and
Protection from enemies (Isaiah 63:11-12; Ezekiel 11:13).
Throughout the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came to people when they were called by God for a special task or assignment. The Holy Spirit commonly empowered and equipped people with extraordinary strength or abilities in order to be called by God for service. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit came upon people mightily, altering their normal behavior or increasing their strength or other capacities. At times in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit even came upon non-believers to enable them to do unusual and extraordinary work (Numbers 24; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23).
Excerpted from Understanding the Holy Spirit by Lola Stradford Richey Copyright © 2011 by Network of Glory, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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