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Some Facts About the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is perhaps the least understood member of the Godhead. While we might wish we had more information and a greater understanding of Him, God has revealed sufficient facts to dispel prominent erroneous notions and theories. Consider a few of these facts.
1. The Holy Spirit is a person or personality. At first glance, the Bible words that describe Him may seem to indicate otherwise. Both the Hebrew ruah and the Greek pneuma first mean wind or breath; then, a person's thoughts or character; then, the invisible, immaterial part of him. The KJV rendering "Holy Ghost" perhaps adds a sense of mystery.
However, Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as "He" (Jn. 14:26; 15:26; 16:8, 13-15). Likewise, the Scriptures depict Him as a person. He possesses the characteristics of a person: He has knowledge (1 Cor. 2:11), will (1 Cor. 12:11), and judgment (Acts 15:28).
He does things which manifest personality: He searches (1 Cor. 2:11), teaches (1 Cor. 2:13; Jn. 14:26), speaks (1 Tim. 4:1), testifies (Jn. 15:26), leads (Mt. 4:1; Rom. 8:14), forbids (Acts 16:6-7), convicts (Jn. 16:7-11), hears (Jn. 16:13), intercedes (Rom. 8:26-27), etc.
He suffers slights and injuries which reflect personality: He can be grieved (Is. 63:10; Eph. 4:30), insulted (Heb. 10:29), blasphemed (Mk. 3:29-30), resisted (Acts 7:51), and lied to (Acts 5:3).
This fact dispels thinking of the Spirit as a vague, mysterious, impersonal force. References to Him moving or dwelling in one should not conjure up such pictures, any more than references to God or Christ moving or dwelling. Do not be confused by the fact that Spirit is His name.
2. The Holy Spirit works through the word in converting sinners. He guided the men who wrote the Bible (2 Pet. 1:20- 21; 1 Cor. 2:7-13). It is therefore called "the sword of the Spirit" (Eph. 6:17). God's power to save is the gospel message (Rom. 1:16-17), revealed by the Spirit. Because the Spirit authored the word, whatever is credited to it could be credited to Him. Interestingly, everything attributed to the Spirit in conversion is also attributed to the word: born or begotten of it (1 Pet. 1:23), saved by it (Jas. 1:21), washed (Eph. 5:26), sanctified (Jn. 17:17), etc.
In every case in the book of Acts, conversion was a response to gospel preaching (Mk. 16:15-16). In no case did the Spirit directly infuse the gospel into the sinner. In no case was it necessary for Him to further explain it or to miraculously prepare one to receive it. In no case was anyone taught to pray for the Spirit.
This fact dispels expectations of a mysterious "experience" associated with salvation — some personal, physical, direct operation of the Spirit. It also means that feeling one has had such an experience is no evidence of salvation.
3. The Holy Spirit confirmed the truth by miracles. This was the expressed purpose of the miraculous gifts which the Spirit distributed to first-century Christians (Mk. 16:15-20; Heb. 2:3-4). God did not ask people to just take a speaker's word that he was God's spokesman. He provided objective evidence, miracles that were visible and verifiable.
This fact dispels the modern claim that people in many different religious groups are all working miracles. God is not a God of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). The Spirit would not — could not — confirm as truth all the conflicting doctrines taught in modern churches. Contradictions indicate error, not truth. The Spirit did warn us about false signs (2 Th. 2:9-12).The truth is, this fact dispels the claim that any men are working miracles today. The Spirit was to reveal all truth to the apostles (Jn. 16:13). They said He did (2 Pet. 1:3; Jude 3), and when we read what they wrote we can know the truth revealed to them (Eph. 3:3-5). Their writings contain both the revelation and confirmation of truth, sufficient to save (Jn. 20:30-31). Since all truth is already revealed and confirmed, miracles no longer have a place (1 Cor. 8:8-1 3).
4. The Holy Spirit opposes disorder in assemblies. In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul, directed by the Spirit, laid down rules to be followed in assemblies in which the Spirit's gifts were being exercised. All things were to be done properly and in an orderly manner (v. 40). All things were to be done to edification (v. 26).
In the case of speaking in tongues, "If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and let one interpret; but if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God" (vv. 27-28). Similar rules applied to prophets. Women were prohibited from exercising their gifts at all in the assembly (vv. 34-35). Obviously, these instructions imply that the Spirit's gifts could be controlled by those who had them.
This fact dispels the notion that the Holy Spirit is causing what goes on in many modern assemblies. Dancing, shouting, jabbering, fainting, etc., are not the Spirit's work. They may be the result of some spirit, but not the Holy Spirit! They do not indicate a "Spirit-filled" church. No, a Spirit-filled church is one whose people believe the truth He has revealed in the Bible and live by that standard in every sitation (Gal. 5:16-26).
- by Frank Himmel

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