STUDENT POST: The Holy Spirit

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series featuring outstanding excerpts from student papers at the BibleMesh Institute, which offers affordable online training for local churches, schools, and ministries. The author’s name has been withheld for privacy and security purposes.

Understanding the Holy Spirit as a divine person of the Trinity is crucial to our understanding of God. If we do not recognize the Holy Spirit’s divinity, “we are robbing a Divine Being of the worship and the faith and the love and the surrender to Himself which are His due.”[1] There are several ways in which we can know He is divine.

First, we see His divinity through the names that are given to the Holy Spirit throughout Scripture. The word “Holy,” for example, does not always indicate divinity. However, Holy in the context of the Spirit points to God. According to 2 Kings 19:22, God is known as “The Holy One.” Second, the Holy Spirit possesses divine attributes. These attributes include His omniscience (Eph. 1:17), omnipotence (Rom. 15:19), omnipresence (Ps. 139:7-10), and eternality (Heb. 9:14). Third, the Holy Spirit performs the work of God. The Spirit inspired the writings of Scripture (2 Peter 1:20-21). He works as our counselor to reveal truth, convict the world, and testify to Jesus. Jesus said in John 16:7-8, “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin…in regard to righteousness…and in regard to judgement.” Fourth, the Scriptures use Trinitarian formulas that link the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as coequal divine persons. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands, “Therefore go out and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus places all three persons of the Trinity on an equal basis, all deserving praise and obedience.

Not only should the Spirit be recognized as divine. He must also be recognized as a person of the Trinity. Michael Bird states in the BibleMesh course The Apostles’ Creed, some “seem to think of the Holy Spirit as something like Jesus’s vapor trail, or a mysterious and impersonal force that conveys God’s presence, or even a kind of heavenly buzz that falls on people when some funky psychedelic worship music is played.”[2] On the contrary, the Spirit is not a “force” floating around us. A person within the Godhead, the Holy Spirit acts of His own will and displays emotions. The Spirit displays His will through the bestowing of spiritual gifts to all believers (1 Cor. 12:11). Ephesians 4:30 describes how the Spirit can be grieved over our sin: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” These characteristics could not be attributed to a vapor or “heavenly buzz.”

Charles Spurgeon urged Christians to honor the Trinity, despite our incomplete understanding of it. “Neither the Father, the Son, nor the Spirit can be an influence, or a mere form of existence, for each one acts in a divine manner, but with a special sphere and a distinct mode of operation. The error of regarding a certain divine person as a mere influence, or emanation, mainly assails the Holy Ghost; but its falseness is seen in the words—‘crying, Abba, Father’: an influence could not cry; the act requires a person to perform it.”[3]

When we fail to recognize the Spirit’s divinity and personhood, we are denying God the full glory and worship that He commands.

[1] R A Torrey, The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit (New York, NY: Revell, 1910), 2.

[2] Michael F. Bird, What Christians Ought to Believe: an Introduction to Christian Doctrine through the Apostles’ Creed (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016), 182.

[3]Charles H Spurgeon, “Adoption-The Spirit and the Cry,” C. H. Spurgeon: Spurgeon’s Sermons Volume 24: 1878 – Christian Classics Ethereal Library.