Holy spirit

BFM Article II-C: God the Holy Spirit

Here is another column in a series on Baptist Faith & Message 2000.

The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 article II-C reads:

“The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the scriptures. Through enlightenment, He enables men to understand the truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Savior and brings about regeneration. At the time of regeneration, He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through his church. It seals the believer until the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. It enlightens and strengthens the believer and the church in worship, evangelism and service.

In some ways, the Holy Spirit is the overlooked, if not forgotten, member of the Trinity.

The biblical doctrines of foreknowledge, election, predestination and adoption awaken us to the eternal love of God the Father.

Through the Incarnation, the second person of the Triune Godhead becomes flesh and pitches his tent with us (John 1:14). He fully experiences what it means to be human, including in the face of temptation – but without sinning so that he can clothe us with the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).

Christians are said to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and are the adopted sons and daughters of God the Father.

But where is the Holy Spirit in all of this? As we know from the scriptures, none of the persons of the Godhead acts alone. As such, the Holy Spirit is a coequal and coeternal partner in all the work of the Trinity.

It is therefore important for us to understand how well the Bible describes both the personality and the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

The personality of the Spirit

One of the clearest demonstrations of the personality of the Holy Spirit is his use of personal pronouns in reference to himself. Two examples show this clearly:

Acts 10:19-20 – “As Peter pondered the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Three men are here looking for you. Get up, get down and go with them without a doubt, because I sent them.

Acts 13:1-2 – “Now in the church of Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set me apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’

Notice that the Holy Spirit speaks personally to Peter as well as to the believers in the church at Antioch. They are actions of a sentient being, not of an impersonal force.

Jesus also uses personal pronouns to refer to the Holy Spirit, telling his disciples,

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own, but whatever he hears he will speak. He will also tell you what is to come. He will glorify me , for he will take of mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13-14).

According to Jesus, the Holy Spirit arrives, guides, discerns truth, hears and speaks, reveals future events, testifies of Jesus and glorifies him – all manifestations of personality.

Finally, Scripture describes the personal activities of the Spirit, which include speaking (Acts 8:29), revelation (Acts 21:11), intercession (Rom. 8:26-27), and distribution of spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:6, 11). The Spirit can also be blasphemed (Matt. 12:31), grieved (Eph. 4:30), lied to (Acts 5:3-4) and insulted (Heb. 10:28-29).

The divinity of the Spirit

What do we see the Spirit doing that only God can do?

To begin with, the Holy Spirit creates (Gen. 1:1-2; Ps. 104:30). The Spirit also demonstrates omniscience and omnipresence, displaying qualities that establish him as co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son (1 Cor. 2:10-11; Ps. 139:7- 8).

Moreover, the Spirit shares a divine name, symbolic of the divine presence, with the other members of the Triune Godhead (Matt. 28:19).

Perhaps the clearest passage that illustrates both the personality and the divinity of the Holy Spirit is found in Acts 5. After Ananias and Sapphira fraudulently claim to have given away the entire proceeds from the sale of a ground at the church, Peter confronts Ananias by asking, “[W]Why did Satan fill your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and withhold some of the produce of the land? Wasn’t it yours while you owned it? And after its sale, was it not at your disposal? Why did you plan this thing in your heart? You did not lie to people but to God” (vv. 3-4).

Who did Ananias lie to: the Holy Spirit or God? The answer, of course, is that Ananias lied to both. To lie to the Holy Spirit is to lie to God since the Spirit occupies an equal place in the Trinity with the Father and the Son.

Finally, Paul refers to the Spirit as “Lord”, using the Greek word Kyrios. This term is applied to other members of the Godhead in the New Testament, and is the word used to translate the divine name Yahweh in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament (2 Cor. 3:17- 18).

The Bible is replete with references to the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit. A faithful interpretation of the Word of God leads us to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit is an equal partner with the Father and the Son in the Godhead. His role in the creation, redemption, and revelation of Scripture is distinct from but inseparable from the work of the other members of the Trinity. None of the divine persons of the Godhead acts alone.

Next: BF&M Article III: Man