To some the Holy Spirit is a mystery. To others, it is a powerful source.
Which one is it for you? Find out by reading this article: All about the Holy Spirit. It is descriptive of what the Holy Spirit is and the role it plays in a Christian’s life.
What is the Holy Spirit
It isn’t so much of what but who is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit). For more detail on the Trinity, see the article on this site: all About the Trinity.
One of the ways God exercises His power is through the Holy Spirit, which was promised by Jesus to the disciples as He was preparing for His departure from earth. His first mention was in John 15:26-27
26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
Here Jesus refers to the Spirit as “Comforter.” The word Comforter conveys the helping, encouraging, and strengthening work of the Spirit as He represents Christ. “The Spirit of truth” refers to the teaching, illuminating, and reminding work of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit ministers to both the head and the heart, and both components are important.
In verse 27, Jesus stated that the disciples will bear witness of Jesus’ authenticity—that He is the Messiah and the Son of God since they were with Him since the very beginning of His ministry. The disciples were the crucial link between Jesus Christ and all resultant believers. The Holy Spirit would be needed to remind them so that when they preached, taught, and wrote, they would spread the truth of the gospel. The Holy Spirit would make certain that their witness would not be impaired by persecution. Jesus had already warned these men about the persecution to come so that they would not be surprised in previous verses 18-25.
This is why Jesus is recorded as telling the disciples in Luke 24:49: “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” They were instructed to wait until they were empowered by the Holy Spirit, promised by the Father, before enforcing His commission to them. They would need His help to overcome the resistance that awaited them.
In the next chapter, Jesus went on to explain more about the Holy Spirit-the Comforter. In chapter, John 16:7-16
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;
11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
Without the death of Jesus and His resurrection we could not be saved. His death made it possible for the removal our sins. Before Jesus could overcome death by his resurrection, He had to submit to death. And if He hadn’t gone back to the Father, the Holy Spirit would not have arrived in the way God had planned. The Spirit could not arrive until Jesus was glorified.
After his glorification — through the process of crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension — Jesus could send the Spirit to the believers. While Christ was on earth, He was limited to one place at a time (being in human flesh). His leaving meant he could live, through the Holy Spirit, in every Christian in the whole world. Therefore, it was for their good that he had to go away. The Spirit carried Jesus’ work to a more intense level during the history of the church. By the Spirit the gospel would go out to the entire world.
In verse 8, Jesus started to go into detail of the Spirit’s work: he will reprove the world of sin. To reprove is to condemn and convict. The Holy Spirit carries out his convicting work in at least three ways:
1. The Holy Spirit proves the world wrong by exposing the world’s error and convincing people they are sinners. This includes general admittance of guilt as evidence of the Spirit’s work.
2. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sins, representing the righteous judgment of God.
3. The Holy Spirit makes sin personally known to individuals in order to bring them to repentance. He personalizes God’s accusation from all are guilty to you are guilty. He breaks through our defenses and rationalizations and confronts us with at least a glimpse of our true selves in relation to God’s standards.
The third way that the Spirit works is the one that matters. Alone by themselves, the first two communicate not much more than a strong sense of the justice of God. But the third explanation not only includes the first two, but it also brings to bear God’s mercy. God graciously makes us aware of our sin that he might make us open to his grace. The Holy Spirit prepares the human heart and then applies the healing work of Jesus Christ to that person’s heart.
In verse 9, Jesus specifically mentioned the greatest sin. The greatest sin is the rejection of Jesus (Jn. 3:18). Those who deny Jesus are in danger of eternal separation from God.
In verse 10, Jesus makes the point that the Spirit’s function is to show all people that Christ alone provides the standard of God’s righteousness. The Holy Spirit is to attempt to make unbelievers recognize God’s perfect standard before they will admit their own deficiency. It is up to the individual to accept.
In verse 11, Jesus stated that the Spirit will show that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, the prince of this world, Satan, has already been judged and condemned. Although Satan still actively attempts to deceive, harden, and threaten those in this world (1 Peter 5:8), it is only a matter of time, for God has determined the time of his execution (Rev 20:2, 7-10).
In verse 13, Jesus made the point that the prominent role of the Spirit of truth is to guide the believers into all truth. By truth Jesus meant the truth about his identity, the truth of his words and actions, and the truth about all that to happened to him.
In time disciples would fully understand that he was the Son that came from the Father, sent to save people from their sins. But only after these events occurred, and only through the Holy Spirit’s guidance would the disciples be able to understand. The Holy Spirit is the true guide for all believers; his primary task is to instruct us about the truth (1 John 2:20).
In verse 14 we see that the Spirit does not glorify his own personality; instead, He glorifies the Son’s. The Spirit takes what the Son is and makes it known to believers. In that way, He individualizes the teaching of Christ and calls people to obey. The Holy Spirit encourages us to apply, instructs us to apply, and then helps us apply Christ’s words!
In verse 15 we see the complete unity of the Trinity.
What we refer to as the doctrine of the Trinity is a summary of what Jesus taught about his relationship to the Father and the Spirit. Without in any way retreating from the awesome revelation of God as One, Jesus demonstrated that God’s oneness is at the same time a threefold godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God exists in perfect, complete harmony while at the same time functioning in the person of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are one; yet they relate to one another. They are beyond our complete comprehension; yet they have graciously exposed themselves to us so that we may trust and be saved!
When a person hears the Word and accepts Christ as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit is received. From that point on, it is the Holy Spirit that prompts the teaching, the learning, and the subsequent growth in a Christian’s life. It is the Holy Spirit that enables one to live the Christian life in a world with so many distractions and temptations.
It therefore behooves Christians to constantly listen to the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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