The doctrine of the Holy Spirit

We can refer to the Old Testament as the age of the Father, and the period covered by the Gospels, the Age of the Son. We live in the Age of the Holy Spirit. It is therefore necessary for us to study the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

The Age of the Spirit spans from Pentecost till Christ’s second coming. We should therefore be interested in the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit as people living in this age of special privilege.

The average Christian, however, is ignorant of the Holy Spirit. The Christian church today needs to heed Paul’s exhortation: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, I would not have you ignorant.”

The personality of the Holy Spirit

During all the ages of the Christian era, it has been necessary to emphasize the doctrine of the Spirit. 

The personality of the spirit is questioned for a couple of reasons. Below are two of these reasons.

  • Because, when contrasted with the Other Persons of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit Seems Impersonal. Visible creation makes the personality of God the Father somewhat easy to conceive; the incarnation proves the personality of Jesus Christ; the acts and workings of the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, are so secret and mystical that one is prone to think of Him as an influence, a power, an agent rather than a person.
  • Because of the Names the Holy Spirit bears. He is called breath, wind, and power. Symbols such as oil, fire, water, etc. are used in speaking of the Spirit. It is not strange that because of all this, some students of the Scriptures may erroneously, of course, believe that the Holy Spirit emanates from God, and is an impersonal influence of the same.
Method of proof

It is difficult to define the personality of the Divine Being. It is not possible to measure God by human standards.

He does not exist in the image of man, but man in His image. God is not a deified man; man is rather a very limited God (“a lot …. less than God.” Heb.2:7).

Proving the personality of the holy spirit is proving that the holy spirit possesses the attributes, properties, and qualities of personality. Let us see if the Holy Spirit possesses such properties.

a) The Holy Spirit possesses names that imply personality. The Comforter: John 14:16; 16:7. A “Comforter” is one who is called to your side. 

John 14:16 identifies the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete, who takes the place of Christ Himself to personally guide the disciples, just as Jesus had been doing.

No one but a person can take the place of a person. Again, Christ, when speaking of the Spirit, refers to him as the Comforter. 

He uses the masculine definite article and in so doing, He teaches the personality of the Holy Spirit.

b) Personal pronouns are used when speaking about the Holy Spirit. John 16:7, 8, 13-15: The Greek masculine pronoun ekeinos (that one, He) is used to refer to the Holy Spirit 12 times. 

This is not a pictorial personification, but a plain, definite statement asserting the personality of the Holy Spirit.

c) The Holy Spirit is Identified with the Father and the Son — and with Christians — in such a Way as to show personality. Consider the Baptismal Formula in Matt.28:19.

Imagine we read; “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the wind or breath.” It wouldn’t sound right if the first 2 names are personal and the 3rd is not.

d) To the Holy Spirit is ascribed personal characteristics. Spiritual gifts are distributed to believers according to the will of the Spirit (1 Cor.12). 

Here, He exhibits wisdom, prudence and discretion. These are all distinguishing marks of personality. The Spirit not only gives spiritual gifts, but gives them discreetly.

e) Personal acts are ascribed to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit speaks: Rev.2:7 (cf. Matt.17:5 — “Hear ye him.”) It is the Spirit who speaks through the apostles (10:20). Speech is an attribute of personality. The Spirit maketh intercession: Rom.8:26. cf. Heb.7:25; I John 2:1, 2, where Christ is said to “make intercession.”

The Deity of the Holy Spirit

When we say the Deity of the Holy Spirit, we mean that the Holy Spirit is God. This is clearly outlined in the Scriptures in a five-fold way.

Divine names are given to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:4), the Holy Spirit possesses divine attributes (omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience), divine works are ascribed to the Holy Spirit (Gen.1:2; Psa.104:30), the name of the Holy Spirit is associated with that of the Father and the Son and passages in the Old Testament which refer to God are in the New Testament made to refer to the Holy Spirit (Exod.16:7).

The names of the Holy Spirit

Just as the Father and the Son have certain names ascribed to them, so also does the Holy Spirit have names which show His character and work.

  • THE HOLY SPIRIT. Luke 11:13 — “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?”
  • THE SPIRIT OF GRACE. Heb.10:29 — “And hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace.” As the executive of the Godhead, the Spirit confers grace.
  • THE SPIRIT OF BURNING. Matt.3:11, 12 — “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” Isa.4:4 -“When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion…. by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning.”
  • THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH. John 14:17. As God is Love, so the Spirit is Truth. He possesses, reveals, confers, leads into, testifies to, and defends the truth. Thus, He is opposed to the “spirit of error” (1 John 4:6).

Other names of the Holy Spirit include The Spirit of Life, The Spirit of wisdom and knowledge, the Spirit of promise, the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God and of Christ, and the comforter. 

The work of the Holy Spirit

The doctrine of the Holy Spirit teaches that, the work of the Spirit may be summed up under His work in the universe wherein there is a sense in which the creation of the universe may be ascribed to God’s Spirit, and to humanity as a whole.

Also, there is the work of the Spirit in the believer. He Regenerates the Believer (John 3:3-5), Indwells the Believer (1 Cor.6:19), Seals the Believer with the assurance of Salvation (Eph.1:13,14), infills the Believer (Acts 2:4), empowers the Believer for life and service (Rom. 8:2), is the Guide of the believer’s Life and anoints the believer.

The Holy Spirit also works with reference to the Scriptures and finally, with reference to Jesus Christ.


b) The Spirit is also the Interpreter of Scriptures. 1 Cor. 2:9-14. He is “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.”

The Relation of the Holy Spirit to Christ

The doctrine of the Holy Spirit highlights how dependent Jesus Christ was on the Holy Spirit.

He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Spirit, Luke 1:35, He was led by the Spirit, Matt.4:1, He was Anointed by the Spirit for service, Acts 10:38, He was crucified in the power of the Spirit, Heb.9:14, He was raised by the Power of the Spirit, Rom.1:4; 8:11, He gave commandment to His disciples and church through the Spirit, Acts 1:2 and He is the Bestower of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:33.

Offences against the Holy Spirit

Sinning against the Spirit is fraught with terrific consequences. 

Offences against the Spirit are grouped into those perpetrated by unbelievers which are: resisting the Holy Ghost, insulting, or doing despite unto the Holy Spirit and blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and those committed by believers which are: grieving the Spirit, lying to the Holy Spirit and quenching the Spirit.

God at Pentecost sent us the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of His promise to never leave us nor forsake us. The Holy Spirit freely gives us various gifts. 

These gifts are The word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, the gift of prophecy, the gift of faith, the gifts of healing, the working of miracles, the discerning of spirits, different kinds of tongues, and the Interpretation of tongues.

With the help of these gifts, we manifest the fruits of the Holy Spirit

These fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, longanimity (or long-suffering), gentleness, faith, modesty, or self-control, and chastity. 

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