Every Christian knows about the Holy Spirit. He’s the guy who helps you preach, right? Or maybe, he’s the guy that wakes you up at night so you can feel lousy about the Cheesecake you had during your promised fasting period? Or is he the guy who teaches you how to pray? Every Christian really knows who the Holy Spirit is, right?
When I was growing up I took a test to figure out what was my spiritual gift. I checked off the right boxes and found out that I was a leader and possibly a preacher. The interesting bit is that those Briggs-Meyers personality tests online say that I’m probably good at presentations and leading teams. Who peaked over whose shoulders, I wonder. Or not so much; there’s some all around confusion about the Holy Spirit and what exactly He does.
I want to deal with that: who is the Holy Spirit?
Fully God. Just as much God as the Father and Jesus Christ and just as much Not-the-Father as Jesus is Not-The-Father. Eternal God (Heb 9:14). Omniscient God (1 Cor 2:10). Omnipotent God (Rom 15:19). The All Wise God (1 Cor 12:8). He raised Christ from the dead (1 Pet 3:18, Rom 1:4) just as much as the Father raised Christ from the dead (Rom 6:4; Gal 1:1. That bit in John 1:1 where it says “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” could just as easily read “In the beginning was the Spirit and the Spirit was with God and the Spirit was God” .
Feel the weight of that.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth; there was the Holy Spirit, creating. And God breathed into Adam the breath of life; there was the Holy Spirit, blowing. God saw that only Noah was righteous; there was the Holy Spirit, approving Noah. He is God.
But he’s not the Son and He’s not the Father. In fact, Christ points out the difference when He says that it is beneficial for Him to die because when He is raised up on high, He will ask the Father to send the Spirit; and the Spirit will come. I don’t get it but Christ does. The Holy Spirit will come from the Father, as requested by the Son and they are all the One God. I won’t even bother trying to illustrate that in this post because all I’m worrying about is what the Holy Spirit does.(John 14)
Evangelicals know about the gifts of the Spirit but do they know the breadth of his gift-giving and feel the weight of it? He’s not just giving you a special package that opens (poof) and you’re a preacher. The Holy Spirit gives you the gift to confess Jesus as Lord (1 Cor 12:3) without you being any form of preacher, pastor or teacher whatsoever. That’s not puppeteering; that’s, upon faith, opening your eyes to the glory and the wonder of the person of Jesus Christ and loosening your tongue to speak out the words that are screaming to come out: Jesus is Yahweh!
So when we see this gifting by this Spirit (1 Cor 12:8) it’s no less than God who is personally in charge of doing this thing(1 Cor 12:4). How is he doing this is a question for another post but it should suffice to ask “at what point does God get involved in your life?” In other words, is it your life for 25 years and then (poof) God is involved in your life and He starts helping you? If God is involved in the life of a park pigeon from the outset (Mat 6:26)—is He less involved in the life of people (even those who don’t believe or even trust Him)?
God, so tremendously concerned for people, decides to get personally involved with people. He speaks into history; He sends the Son to preach the Kingdom; He sends the Spirit to personally work in a special way. Doing what?
Convicting the world of Sin that they’ve crucified the Messiah; convicting the world of righteousness that God has vindicated Christ and has raised Him from the grave; convicting the world of judgment that the ruler of this world has been judged already—and that means the rest of the world is to follow (John 16:8-11). Moreover, he teaches believers of the truth of Christ’s divinity (above); he reminds the believer of the basis of their faith; he bears witness to the believer comforting them in the thick of things (John 14:16-17).
He’s doing tasks that could only have happened if Christ had come, died and rose again—and then doing all this while being the source of stupendous miraculous power (Matt 1:28) that doesn’t (poof) show up out of the blue but was evidenced in Christ’s working right here on Earth.
Since this is the One God personally doing this via the Third Person in the world and to believers, with the One Gospel—which is the one basis of Faith for all believers—we discover that all believers are automatically united in this One Spirit as One unified body (which is the Church). Some people like to scoff at Calvin’s concept of the Invisible Church but here’s the point: sure people go to church, but the people who are believers are part of the One Body which is The Church of God. These people can, quite literally, say that they have (altogether) the (One) Mind of Christ (1 Cor 2).
So people, the Holy Spirit isn’t just some guy that sidles up next to you to give you a hand and then moves away when he’s done (or when you brush him off); this is the eternal God objectively working right here and now on behalf of the Church, for the sake of Christ, to the glory of the Father so that God may be praised. He’s not just a gift-giver; this is the new-life giver (1 Jn 5:4) and Scripture inspirer and minister appointer (Acts 13:2) and sovereign disposer of all things (1 Cor 12:6,11).
Who is the Holy Spirit? Elohim dwelling amongst us (Ac 7:51; 28:25).