Is the Holy Spirit really a person?
Should we pray “Come, Holy Spirit”?
How should we refer to Holy Spirit? He or it?
Should we worship Holy Spirit? No verses of people worshipping the Holy Spirit.
Should we pray to Holy Spirit? No examples of people praying TO the Holy Spirit.
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS CERTAINLY GOD
The Spirit has the attributes of God :
eternal, without beginning nor end (Hebrews 9:14),
omnipotent, nothing is impossible for the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35);
omnipresent, being everywhere at the same time (Psalm 139:7); and
omniscient, understanding all things ( 1 Corinthians 2:10,11).
“The deity of the Holy Spirit ought to be clearly recognized in Scripture. Look at these facts: He is called the Spirit of God; the Spirit of Christ; the mind of Christ; the Spirit of the Lord; the Spirit of adoption; the Spirit of truth; the Spirit of liberty; the Spirit of wisdom; the Spirit of understanding; the Spirit of counsel; the Spirit of might; the Spirit of knowledge; the Spirit of godliness; the Spirit of the fear of God. This only begins to show how unlimited He is.”
Gregory of Nazianzus C4th
SOME REFERENCES TO THE HOLY SPIRIT APPEAR IMPERSONAL
Giving life to Creation, bringing order out of chaos (Genesis 1: 2) giving life to man (Gen 2: 7)
Genesis 1:1 ¶ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters
The RUACH of God – the wind, or breath of God was there at creation.
Later in the Old Testament we read the Holy SPirit came upon particular people at particular times for particular tasks, eg:
a) Bezalel – for artistic work (Exodus 31: 1-5)
b) Gideon – for leadership (Judges 6:14-16, 34)
c) Samson – for strength (Judges 15: 14-15)
d) Isaiah – for prophecy (Isaiah 61: 1-3)
God promises that one day He will put His Holy Spirit into ALL His chosen people, bringing a deeper quality of life to them. God promised that ordinary men and women would experience even more of the life-giving power of the Spirit.
Ezekiel 36:25 ¶ I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. PROMISE FULFILLED IN SALVATION
THROUGHOUT the Old Testament it is unclear whether the Spirit of God is a person or not. The Jews believed above all that there is only one God. They also believed God was holy, and transcendent, and so when God’s power broke into human experience they would often refer to that as “the Spirit of God”, the breath of God or the wind of God working in His creation. The Jews were so committed to monotheism that could not have thought in any sense about the Spirit of God as a person separate from God Almighty.
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
John the Baptist links the Holy Spirit with Jesus. (Luke 3:16)
16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
– in Greek baptidzo = to overwhelm, immerse, plunge, drench
Comparison with being immersed in water – not necessarily a PERSONAL Holy Spirit
Same kind of picture when Jesus predicts the Spirit’s presence (John 7: 37-39) (N.B. “not yet given”)
John 7:37 Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.
The Lord, the Giver of life, THE SPIRIT GIVES US NEW LIFE IN NEW BIRTH
John 3:5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no-one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
PICTURE of WIND or BREATH – could be personal, could be impersonal
The New Testament teaches us that it is the Holy Spirit who brings to each believer all the blessings of new life which Christ offers us as we share in His death and and in His resurrection.
Different references to the POWER of the Holy Spirit, could be impersonal, could be personal.
Jesus, the Spirit filled man – Jesus received power through the anointing of the Holy Spirit at His baptism – Luke 3: 22, 4:1, 14, 18
Jesus tells his disciples to wait in the city until they are clothed with power from on high (Luke 24: 49) (Acts 1: 4, 5, 8)
“When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Power = dunamis – dynamo and dynamite!
At Pentecost the disciples were filled with the Spirit and received new languages (Acts 2: 4-12) new boldness (Acts 2:14) new power (Acts 2: 37-41) especially power to be witnesses for Jesus.
The Holy Spirit makes us Sons and Daughters of the Living God, sonship instead of slavery/
Romans 8: 14 Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
The Holy Spirit helps us in our relationship with God. He helps us to know Jesus better, helping us to pray (Romans 8: 26) and helping us to understand the Bible (Ephesians 1:17-18, 2 Peter 1:20-21)
And the Holy Spirit is the GUARANTEE of our eternal life and a foretaste, the firstfruits of heaven.
2 Cor 5:5 God … has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Eph 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession- to the praise of his glory.
Rom 8:23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
But none of what I have said so far shows us conclusively that the Holy Spirit is a person.
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS DEFINITELY PERSONAL
The trinitarian baptismal formula found in Scripture ( Matt 28:19): “in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. It dates to the church’s earliest days and implies an equivalence between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
2 Cor 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
The Spirit “metamorphoses” us into the image of Christ. He is the HOLY Spirit and His work is to make us holy too. That process is called “purification” or “sanctification” depending on which book you read. Oswald Chambers “Sanctification is not something our Lord does in me; sanctification is himself in me.”
“Now the Lord is the Spirit,” “which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
These verses show us that, alongside the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit should be addressed as Lord. And for that reason it is appropriate to worship God the Holy Spirit. The Spirit IS both Lord and God! The third person in the Holy Trinity. The Lord who along with Father and Son is to be worshipped and glorified, not neglected or ignored.
In John’s Gospel the Spirit is the agent of New Birth (3:5ff) Who brings eternal life, a personal relationship with God (17:3, c.f. 7:37ff) and with the Shepherd who knows and speaks to his sheep (10:16; 27). Distinctive to John 14 – 16 is Jesus’ teaching on the Spirit as Paraclete, “another Counsellor / Helper” (14:16), with an implied similarity to Jesus Himself as Logos, revealer of God. The background to the “Paraclete” concept may be forensic, as prosecuting attorney, or the idea of spokesman for the absent Jesus, or the figure of Personified Wisdom. R.E.Brown also identifies the Old Testament “prophetic spirit” (c.f. Acts 2) 10 as a possible origin. All these possibilities surely imply unmediated revelation to men.
The Spirit is the Paraclete, “another Counsellor / another Helper” (14:16), who continues Jesus’s work of revealing God and bearing witness to Jesus.
ANOTHER of the same kind – another one like Jesus, continuing the work of Jesus from INSIDE our lives. The Father is God above us. Jesus Christ is Emmanuel, God with us. The Holy Spirit is God INSIDE us.
John 14:15-18, 23.
It is in the person of the Holy Spirit that the Risen Christ returns to believers. The Spirit as Helper represents the Risen Jesus Christ in the world and He is the personal presence of Jesus in our lives!
Roman Catholic theologian R.E.Brown concludes, “John presents the Paraclete as the Holy Spirit in a special role, namely, as the personal presence of Jesus in the Christian while Jesus is with the Father”. The Paraclete’s activites include teaching (14:26), testifying (15:26) and guiding into truth (16:13). He will “speak what He hears … tell you what is yet to come … take from what is mine and make it known to you” (16:13ff).
All these are activities of the Spirit who inspires prophecy bringing believers into direct communication with their heavenly Father – THE COMMUNICATING SPIRIT
Words of knowledge and Words of Wisdom Acts 5:3; Acts 10:17-23
Discerning the spirits Acts 16:16-18, 1 John 4:1-6
Speaking in tongues 1 Cor 14:1-5,13-19, 22-23, 27-28
Dreams (Deut 13:1, Joel 2:28) –
Visions (Dan 7:15, Acts 7:55-56; 16:9-10; 18:9-10))
Pictures (Jer 18:1-6) – should be much more obvious than many!
Voices (1 Sam 3:4, Acts 9:4)
“He who has ears let Him hear what THE SPIRIT is saying to the churches.” Revelation
The Holy Spirit is a full person of the Trinity. Some Christians think that the Holy Spirit is “a symbol of God’s presence or power, but is not a living entity”. Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit is a person. The Holy Spirit is not merely a symbol or an impersonal “force”. The Holy Spirit can and does
communicate (‘speak’) (Acts 13:2),
intercede (step in on behalf of someone) (Romans 8:26),
testify (John 15:26)
guide (John 16:13),
command (Acts 16:6,7),
appoint (Acts 20:28),
lead (Romans 8:14),
reveal to someone how wrong, foolish, or sinful he/she was (John 16:8).
seal God’s promise in believers’ hearts (Ephesians 1:13-14)
shape the life of each person and community to Christ’s (Romans 8:1-17)
In the Bible, the Holy Spirit has intellect, passions, and will, and can be grieved. The Holy Spirit has a personality.
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. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. (1 Corinthians 2:10-13)
The ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, to what is know as the Nicene Creed which says.
“We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son He is worshipped and glorified.”
—— A. W. Tozer, *The Counselor*
“Spell this out in capital letters: THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON. He is not enthusiasm. He is not courage. He is not energy. He is not the personification of all good qualities, like Jack Frost is the personification of cold weather. Actually, the Holy Spirit is not the personification of anything…… He has individuality. He is one being and not another. He has will and intelligence. He has hearing. He has knowledge and sympathy and ability to love and see and think. He can hear, speak, desire, grieve and rejoice. He is a Person.”