Discipleship 101-7 The Holy Spirit–Who? Part 1

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“And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.”  John 14:16, 17

These are the words of Jesus.  He says he will ask the Father and that the Father will give you another Helper.  That helper is the Holy Spirit.  When Jesus was raised from the dead, he ascended into heaven and then the Holy Spirit came to be with us “forever.”

Perhaps less is understood about the Holy Spirit than any other person of the Holy Trinity, but make no mistake; the Holy Spirit is God, the third person of the Holy Trinity.  We may understand less about the Spirit because we have less to relate him to.  God the Father is associated with a father, and everyone understands a father.  God the Son, Jesus, is a son, which we all understand and Jesus was human so we can relate to him pretty easily.  But God the Holy Spirit is spirit, and while he takes on many forms in Scripture, it is difficult to relate to these forms and understand spirit-it is like trying to understand the wind, we can see its effects, but we can’t touch it.  So, let’s try and understand more about the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit made his first appearance on this earth in the very beginning.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”  Genesis 1:1 and 2.  There He is, the Spirit of God hovering over the water.  He was there in creation.

The Holy Spirit is God, co-equal, not subservient but with different function.  Remember there is only one God, manifested in 3 persons.  And as God the Holy Spirit…

  • Can be grieved. Eph 4:30
  • Can be sinned against through blasphemy. Mark 3:29
  • Is eternal. Heb 9:14
  • Omnipresent Psalm 139:7
  • Spirit of Life Rom 8:2
  • Spirit of Truth John 16:13
  • Was there at the creation of the universe Gen 1:2
  • Breathes the breath of life into us Job 33:3,4

While we speak of him as him, it should be pointed out that in Greek the language form is in the neuter, not masculine or feminine.  (But Jesus never called the Holy Spirit “it”). The Spirit doesn’t have a single image associated with him and even the symbols used in the Bible to portray him don’t have solid form.  They are oil, fire, water and we also talk about the wind of the Holy Spirit.  The closest we get to a solid form is during the baptism of Jesus, the gospels say that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus “like” a dove.

So, what does he do?  Let’s listen again to the words of Jesus recorded in the book of John as he talks about the Holy Spirit: 

“And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.” (John 14:16, 17).  Here, the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of Truth.  He is the Helper.  The word “Helper” comes from the Greek word, parakleton.  (Remember that the New Testament was originally written in Greek).  Parakleton means helper, comforter, and counselor.

In verses 25-27 we learn more about what the Holy Spirit does:

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.  But theHelper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.   Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

And for more, let’s read John 16:7-9

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.  And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:  concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; “

And 16:13, 14

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”  (All preceding verses are from ESV)

Based on these verses, make a list of what the Holy Spirit does.

 Jesus said the Holy Spirit will come, and in the first chapters of Acts he says that the Holy Spirit will come and give the disciples power to be witnesses.  He came on Pentecost.

When talking about Pentecost, let’s not confuse that with the religion Pentecostal.  Pentecost is a day celebrated for centuries by the Jews.  It is the harvest day celebration.

Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit.  They surely didn’t know what that meant exactly…would someone show up at the door?  But Jesus said to wait and the Holy Spirit would give you power to be witnesses in the world.  Acts. 1:6-8.

The Holy Spirit showed up on Pentecost day as a wind rushing through the upper room and he made the disciples to speak in other tongues (or languages) so that other people understood them in their own language.  (This is like a reversal of the Tower of Babel.)  All Christianity believes in this event.  What a powerful day it was.

Peter explained it as fulfilling the prophesy in Joel “In the last days, it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and you old men shall dream dreams…”  Joel 2:28-32  In other words, on the day of Pentecost, God first poured out the Holy Spirit on his people.

In our next lesson, we look more at the Holy Spirit, something called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that he gives to believers.

 

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