One of the primary reasons for asking, is the Holy Spirit God, is the seemingly ethereal nature of the Holy Spirit. God the Father and God the Son are more concrete ideas that we can wrap our heads around. However, the Holy Spirit is harder to grasp especially if, like me, you were raised in a church where He was known as the Holy Ghost. That name both intrigued and confused me as a child.
The good news is that the Bible is clear on the nature of the Holy Spirit. A defining passage is found in John’s gospel:
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:15-18
Is the Holy Spirit God?
Here are three truths that we need to have clear about the person of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is a person
Many people have assumed that the Holy Spirit is some kind of spiritual force but not a person. They seem to borrow ideas from Star Wars or other science fiction movies! However, Jesus calls Him “another Advocate” in the passage above. When Jesus calls Him an Advocate or Counsellor, He treats Him as a person not a force. And when He calls Him “another Advocate,” He means, “He will be an Advocate like me.” The Holy Spirit is an Advocate like Jesus is—He is a person.
In John 14:17, Jesus says, “But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.” Then in John 14:25, He says, “All this I have spoken while still with you.” Jesus identifies the Spirit with Himself. “I am with you and will be in you” is the same as saying, ‘I am with you and the Spirit will be in you. You know me now as flesh and blood Son of God. You will know me soon through the Spirit who will be given to you.’ Therefore, the Spirit is no less a person than Jesus is.
The Holy Spirit is a teacher
The Holy Spirit is described not merely as the voice of God’s teaching but as a teacher in His own right. John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” And in John 15:26, He is a witness in His own right. “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—He will testify about me.”
In case we think that the Spirit is just the extended teaching activity of the Father and the Son, John 16:13 says that the Spirit first hears and then teaches. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.”
It will make a huge difference in your life when you know that you are being led and purified not by impersonal forces from a distant God, but by a person who is, at His core, God’s love.
The Holy Spirit and Jesus baptism
The Holy Spirit is present throughout Scripture and fulfils unique functions within the plan of God for creation. One of the most helpful examples of this is in at Jesus baptism in Matthew 3:16 – 17 .
After His baptism, Jesus came out of the water,
“..he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Here we see all three members of the Trinity working together to take part in the baptism of Jesus. It’s a powerful picture of unity and collaboration and underlines the significance of the Holy Spirit in empowering Jesus to fulfil His earthly mission.
The Holy Spirit is God
The Holy Spirit is indeed God. He is a co-equal member of the Holy Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit share the same divine nature. Its so good to know that the Holy Spirit, who indwells, leads and purifies, is none other than God Himself. The Spirit is “of God” not because God created Him, but because He shares God’s nature and emanates from God eternally.
If the Son of God is equally eternal with the Father, as John 1:1-3 clearly states, then the Holy Spirit is equally eternal with them both, because the Spirit of Christ is one and the same with the Spirit of God, according to Romans 8:9-11. If this were not the case, we would have to imagine a time when both the Son and the Father lacked the Holy Spirit.
Since the beginning of time, there has been an infinite Holy Spirit of love and delight between the Father and Son. As a result, in John 17:26, when Jesus prays for the church, He asks His Father for the Holy Spirit. He says, “I made known to them Your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which You have loved me may be in them and I in them.”
When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, He comes not just as the Spirit of the Son, nor as the Spirit of the Father. He comes as the Spirit of infinite love between the Father and the Son. Now we may join in love of the Father and the Son.
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