Dwight L. Moody once said,
“I need to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit because…I leak!”
The core of Moody’s quote implies that the Holy Spirit is not a constant presence, at least not a constant presence in the life of the believer. But does this hold up biblically? What does the Bible say about the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is God
Genesis 1:2 is a famous starting point to signify the power and unity of God and the Holy Spirit. During the creation account, we learn that the world was empty and formless. Even before light appeared on the first day, the Spirit of God (Ruach, Heb.) was hovering over the waters. Here, the Holy Spirit is separate and distinct from God, but simultaneously divine in nature. More credence to this distinction comes just a few verses later (v26) when God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness” (emphasis added).
This divine nature of the Spirit is even further spelled out through the words of Jesus to his disciples. “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19). Jesus uses the singular word for ‘name’, onomas, and three separate definitive articles, ‘the’, to showcase the unity of each individual to the one God—simplified, the Trinity.
After spending a dozen pages introducing the Holy Spirit, Billy Graham writes,
“The most important point I can make in summary is this: there is nothing that God is that the Holy Spirit is not.”
The Holy Spirit is a Person
One of the most common mistakes of Christians when referring to the Holy Spirit is to refer to him as it. But when we look at what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit, it’s clear that ‘it’ is anything but an accurate description of the third member of the Trinity. Consider verses like Romans 8:16, “The Spirit Himself…” (emphasis, added), or John 14:26, “He will teach you all things.” (emphasis, added). The biblical authors use personal pronouns to identify the Holy Spirit and so should we.
Identifying personhood is consistent with other aspects of the Holy Spirit
- He has a mind – Rom 8:27
- He speaks – Acts 11:12, 1 Tim 4:1, Heb 3:7-8
- He loves – Rom 15:30
- He can be resisted – Acts 7:51
- He makes overseers – Acts 20:28
The Holy Spirit is a like a Fire
The greatest imagery of the Holy Spirit comes on the day of Pentecost. Luke writes in Acts 2:3-4, “they saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” This event was foreshadowed early in the book of Matthew. John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Fire does many things in the Bible: In Matthew 3:12, it is fire that clears the threshing floor. Fire tests the quality of work in 1 Corinthians 3. And, fire is the mouthpiece of God through which he brings comfort and teaching; two roles of the Holy Spirit are comforter (John 16:7) and teaching (John 14:26).
The vastness of the Holy Spirit is well beyond a simple post. Understanding what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit deserves study and deep inner reflection. Indeed, countless books and blogs have been penned trying to grasp the Holy Spirit and rightfully so. The Holy Spirit is God yet also a person. He is given the task of creating life and convicting of sin. Dwight L. Moody was right to understand a constant and persistent need to be filled with the Holy Spirit who is ever working in our lives.
What does the Bible say about the Holy Spirit? Tell me what you find. How is the Holy Spirit leading you through your journey? Leave some comments below. In the meantime, here’s some more reading material for further study.
The Holy Spirit by John Owen
Who is the Holy Spirit? by R.C. Sproul
Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan
God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul by Gordon D. Fee
The Holy Spirit by Sinclair B. Ferguson
Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today by John Stott