The topic of the Holy Spirit is a huge subject that we will not be able to adequately deal with in a 30 minute message or even a four week series. Here is a brief overview from the entire bible about the Holy Spirit to get us thinking:
The third person of the trinity exercises the power of the Father and the Son in creation and redemption.
The expression Holy Spirit, or Spirit of God, or Spirit, is found in the great majority of the books of the Bible. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word uniformly used for God’s Spirit is “ruach” meaning “breath” or “wind.” The word always used in the New Testament for the Spirit is the Greek “pneuma,” meaning “to breathe,” “to blow.” We also find the expressions, “the Spirit of God,” “the Spirit of the Lord,” “the Spirit of the Father,” “the Spirit of Jesus,” “the Spirit of Christ.”
Because the Holy Spirit is the power by which believers come to Christ and see with new eyes of faith, He is closer to us than we are to ourselves. Like the eyes of the body through which we see physical things, He is seldom in focus to be seen directly because He is the one through whom all else is seen in a new light. This explains why the relationship of the Father and the Son is more prominent in the gospels, because it is through the eyes of the Holy Spirit that the Father-Son relationship is viewed.
The Holy Spirit in the Gospels and Acts
The Holy Spirit appears in the Gospel of John as the power by which Christians are brought to faith and helped to understand their walk with God. He brings a person to new birth: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6); “It is the Spirit who gives life” (John 6:63). The Holy Spirit is the “Paraclete” or Helper, whom Jesus promised to the disciples after His ascension. The triune family of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are unified in ministering to believers (John 14:16,26). It is through the Helper that Father and Son abide with the disciples (John 15:26).
This unified ministry of the trinity is also seen as the Spirit brings the world under conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He guides believers into all truth with what He hears from the Father and the Son (John 15:26). It is a remarkable fact that each of the persons of the trinitarian family serves the others as all defer to one another: The Son says what He hears from the Father (John 12:49-50); the Father witnesses to and glorifies the Son (John 8:16-18,50,54); the Father and Son honor the Holy Spirit by commissioning Him to speak in their name (John 14:16,26); the Holy Spirit honors the Father and Son by helping the community of believers.
Like Father and Son, the Holy Spirit is at the disposal of the other persons of the triune family, and all three are one in graciously being at the disposal of the redeemed family of believers. The Holy Spirit’s attitude and ministry are marked by generosity; His chief function is to illumine Jesus’ teaching, to glorify His person, and to work in the life of the individual believer and the church.
This quality of generosity is prominent in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, where the Holy Spirit prepares the way for the births of John the Baptist and Jesus the Son (Matt 1:20; Luke 1:15,35,41). At the baptism of Jesus, the Spirit of God is present in the form of a dove. This completes the presence of the triune family at the inauguration of the Son’s ministry (Matt 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:33). Jesus is also filled with the Holy Spirit as He is led into the wilderness to be tempted (Luke 4:1). He claims to be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Isa 61:1; Luke 4:18-19).
During His ministry, Jesus refers to the Spirit of God (Matt 12:28-29; Luke 11:20) as the power by which He is casting out demons, thereby invading the stronghold of Beelzebul and freeing those held captive. Accordingly, the Spirit works with the Father and Son in realizing the redeeming power of the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is not only the reign of the Son but also the reign of the Spirit, as all share in the reign of the Father.
The person and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Gospels is confirmed by His work in the early church. The baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5) is the pouring out of the Spirit’s power in missions and evangelism (Acts 1:8). This prophecy of Jesus (and of Joel 2:28-32) begins on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-18). Many of those who hear of the finished work of God in Jesus’ death and resurrection (Acts 2:32-38) repent of their sins. In this act of repentance, they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), becoming witnesses of God’s grace through the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit in Paul’s Writings
Paul’s teaching about the Holy Spirit harmonizes with the accounts of the Spirit’s activity in the gospels and Acts. According to Paul, it is by the Holy Spirit that one confesses that Jesus is Lord (1 Cor 12:3). Through the same Spirit varieties of gifts are given to the body of Christ to ensure its richness and unity (1 Cor 12:4-27). The Holy Spirit is the way to Jesus Christ the Son (Rom 8:11) and to the Father (Rom 8:14-15). He is the person who bears witness to us that we are children of God (8:16-17). He “makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom 8:26-27).
The Holy Spirit also reveals to Christians the deep things of God (1 Cor 2:10-12) and the mystery of Christ (Eph 3:3-5). The Holy Spirit acts with God and Christ as the pledge or guarantee by which believers are sealed for the day of salvation (2 Cor 1:21-22), and by which they walk and live (Rom 8:3-6) and abound in hope with power (Rom 15:13). Against the lust and enmity of the flesh Paul contrasts the fruit of the Spirit: “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23).
Since the Holy Spirit is the expressed power of the triune family, it is imperative that one not grieve the Spirit, since no further appeal to the Father and the Son on the day of redemption is available (Eph 4:30). Jesus made this clear in His dispute with the religious authorities, who attributed His ministry to Satan rather than the Spirit and committed the unforgiveable sin (Matt 12:22-32; John 8:37-59).
In Paul’s letters Christian freedom stems from the work of the Holy Spirit: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17). This is a process of “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,” and “being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor 3:18). The personal work of the Holy Spirit is accordingly one with that of the Father and the Son, so Paul can relate the grace, love, and communion of the triune family in a trinitarian benediction: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen” (2 Cor 13:14).
Among the other New Testament writings the Spirit’s ministry is evident in the profound teaching of Heb 9:14, which shows the relationship of God, Christ, and the eternal Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s work in the Old Testament in preparation for the coming of Christ is explained in this and other passages in Hebrews (3:7; 9:8; 10:15-17).
Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
This leads us to consider the working of the Spirit in the Old Testament in light of His ministry in the New Testament. The Spirit is the energy of God in creation (Gen 1:2; Job 26:13; Isa 32:15). God endows man with personal life by breathing into his nostrils the breath of life (Gen 2:7). The Spirit limits himself with fallen man (Gen 6:3), and comes upon certain judges and warriors with charismatic power (Joshua, Num 27:18; Othniel, Judg 3:10; Gideon, Judg 6:34; Samson, Judg 13:25; 14:6). However, the Spirit departs from Saul (1 Sam 16:14) and Sampson (Judg 16:20) because of their disobedience.
In the long span of Old Testament prophecy the Spirit plays a prominent role. David declared, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue” (2 Sam 23:2). Ezekiel claimed that “the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me” (Ezek 2:2). The Spirit also inspired holiness in the Old Testament believer (Ps 143:10). It also promised to give a new heart to God’s people: “I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes” (Ezek 36:27).
This anticipates the crucial work of the Spirit in the ministry of the Messiah. The prophecy of Isa 11:1-5 is a trinitarian preview of the working of the Father, the Spirit, and the Son, who is the branch of Jesse. Looking forward to the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah to prophecy: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him” (Isa 11:2). The Holy Spirit inspired Jesus with wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the Lord, righteousness, and faithfulness. We come full cycle to the New Testament where Jesus claims the fulfillment of this prophecy in Himself (Isa 61:1-2; Luke 4:18-19).
Isa 42:1-9 summarized the redeeming work of the Father, Son, and Spirit in the salvation of the lost, as God spoke through the prophet: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.” (Isa 42:1). No clearer reflection of the intimate interworking of the triune family and the Spirit’s powerful role can be found in the Old Testament than in this prophecy. It ties God’s grace in Old and New together in remarkable harmony.
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International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft
Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers
All verses quoted are from The New International Version of the Bible