July 2023 GPS
In the past few months it has come to my attention, through various questions and comments, that there is both a general ignorance of, and a desire for more information about, the Holy Spirit, especially in comparison to similar information about the other two members of the Trinity. For that reason, I plan to devote my articles for the next six months or so to some studies on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. My hope and prayer is that these studies will not just be intellectually useful but that they would also be of genuine spiritual benefit to all of us.
I will begin our study with an examination of the Biblical evidence for the personality of the Holy Spirit. By that I mean passages that show us that the Holy Spirit is not a “thing” or an “impersonal force” but a real person with all of the qualities that we associate with a person as opposed to a thing such as intellect, emotions and a will. All of these qualities are attributed to the Holy Spirit in the Bible. His intellect can be seen in 1 Corinthians: “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. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 2:10–13, ESV) That He has emotions can be seen in Ephesians: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30, ESV) His will can be seen in 1 Corinthians where Paul speaks about the provision of spiritual gifts: “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:11, ESV)
Furthermore, He does things that only persons (not things) can do. He guides and speaks: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13, ESV) He convicts. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:” (John 16:8, ESV) He intercedes. “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.” (Romans 8:26, ESV)
He is said to be the recipient of actions such as we
only associate with being directed to persons. For example, He can be obeyed: “And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?”” (Acts 10:19–21, ESV) He can be lied to: “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?” (Acts 5:3, ESV) He can be resisted: ““You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.” (Acts 7:51, ESV) He can be grieved: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30, ESV) He can be outraged: “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:29, ESV) Why is the personality of the Holy Spirit important other than to provide further evidence for the Trinity? Does the doctrine of the personality of the Holy Spirit have any real spiritual value? Maybe it would help answer that question if we thought about things versus people in our lives. Our dining room table comfortably seats four or six people without the leaves being inserted. If we plan to have more than six people at that table we insert one or two of the leaves which are otherwise stored out of sight. We only think of them and use them on rare occasions when they are needed. That is not a problem because they are “things.” If we treated “persons” like that we would be the worst kind of manipulators. Because they are persons, we talk to them and listen to them, not just when we need them, but all of the time. If we have any kind of significant relationship with them, we care about how they are doing, what they are thinking, how they relate to us and how we relate to them. We are interested in their plans and hopes. We want to share our lives with them and participate in their lives as well because we probably rely upon them to some degree, depending upon the relationship we have with them. That is the kind of a relationship we should have with the Holy Spirit because He is a person. In the coming months I hope to discuss more fully what the Bible says about our relationship with this wonderful Person.