Who or What is the Holy Spirit

Over 450 years ago a man by the name of John Calvin (1509-1564), a French theologian, began teaching a system of theology which eventually became known as “Calvinism.”  Today, believe it or not, there are millions and millions of people around the world who hold to John Calvin’s doctrines.

This morning I’m not going to deal with “Calvinism” specifically, I want to address a Bible issue that has been made much more difficult than it should be because of “Calvinism.”  I want to being a short series on the subject of the Holy Spirit.

Those who believe in “Calvinism” teach that if a person is in a saved state God’s Spirit moves in them to determine

right from wrong.  There is an inner movement that reveals the truth.  The Holy Spirit convicts Christians of sin so that they always know if a thing is approved of God or not.

I want you to know, right up front, that the Bible teaches NO SUCH THING.  

I want you to think about what this position does to God’s Word.  If you are a Christian, you no longer need to spend any time searching the Scriptures for spiritual direction.  Verses like Acts 17:11 would make no sense.

Acts 17:11

11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

If the Holy Spirit reveals directly to each person how he is to live, then why even study the Bible? Why did Paul write:

2 Tim. 2:15

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

Why would we need the New Testament?  Why would God have wasted the time of Matthew, Luke, Paul, and other New Testament writers?

If the Holy Spirit directly leads us into the truth by convicting us of sin and confirming the truth from within, why did Paul need to rebuke Peter in Galatians chapter two?  Where was the Holy Spirit in Peter’s case? Where was the inner moving of the Spirit upon Peter?

Why would the Holy Spirit have said through Paul:

2 Tim. 3:16, 17

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Why would we need the Scriptures to teach us, to reprove us, to correct us, to train us in righteousness?  Did the Holy Spirit make a mistake?  Is the word unable to “make us adequate for every good work”?

And what do we do when one person believes an activity is right and another believes it is wrong based on what they feel to be an inner confirmation or “conviction” of the Holy Spirit? God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33), but of unity (1 Cor. 1:10). Whose Holy Spirit “nudge” are we going to believe? There can be no unity in the Spirit with this kind of contrary authority (Eph. 4:1­6).

Solomon said, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12; 16:25).

There is a way that may feel right but leads to destruction. The only way we can be sure about the right or wrong of a thing is by consulting the Bible. 

Paul proclaimed Rom. 1:16, 17

16 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

17  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

Faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ Rom. 10:17 tells us.

It alone is our standard in religion and moral­ 1 Pet. 4:11:

11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

It is more than adequate in informing us about sin and salvation (2 Tim. 3:16­17). 

It is so complete and sufficient that it will judge me at the last day. Jesus clearly said: 

48 “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. (Jn. 12:48)

The only way to know the will of God is by consulting his Word; it alone reveals his wisdom and makes us wise unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).

So…. as we talk about the Holy Spirit, I want you to know we’re going to discuss objectively what the Scriptures teach, not the subjective doctrines of men.  And the best place to begin is to start with:

Who is the Holy Spirit?

Throughout the Bible, especially the New Testament, the personal pronouns, “he” and “his” and “him” are used to refer to the Holy Spirit, suggesting the personality of the Spirit.  The pronoun “it” is used occasionally (1 Pet. 1:11), but by far the personal pronouns are used more often.

In the New Testament traits of the personality of the Holy Spirit are revealed:

Romans 8:26, 27

26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;

27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

A mind is evidence of personality, the Holy Spirit is a “person.”

The Holy Spirit may be grieved:

Isaiah 63:10

10 But they rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them.

Eph. 4:30

30* Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Only a person may be grieved.

The Holy Spirit may be blasphemed:

Matt. 12:31

31* “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.

Only a person may be blasphemed.

The Holy Spirit bears witness to certain things:

John 15:26

26 “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,

Rom. 8:16

16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God

All of these things are personal traits and abilities.  An impersonal force or a cosmic force neither has a mind no can be grieved; but since these things are true of the Holy Spirit, we know that the Spirit is a person.

The Actions of the Holy Spirit show His personality.

Both Jesus and Paul say the Holy Spirt speaks:

John 16:13

13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

1 Tim. 4:1

4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…

The Holy Spirit reveals the mind of God:

1 Cor. 2:10, 11

10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.

11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.

Eph. 3:5

5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit…

The Holy Spirit gives direction to a missionary trip:

Acts 16:7

7 and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them…

The Holy Spirit intercedes for Christians:

Rom. 8:26

26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…

Here is what we have seen from the Scriptures so far:

The Holy Spirit:

  • Has a mind
  • May be grieved
  • May be blasphemed
  • Bears witness
  • Speaks
  • Reveals the mind of God
  • Gives direction to missions
  • Intercedes for Christians

The Scriptures teach us that the Holy Spirit is God.

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