Who is the Holy Spirit?

Who is the Holy Spirit? This question is actually asked more by Christians than non-Christians. The study of the Holy Spirit is called Pneumatology. The first thing to understand about the Holy Spirit is that He is a Person. The primary text is in Acts where a couple lies about how much they sold a piece of property for and that they lied to the Holy Spirit.


Acts 5:3 NKJV) But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?

A good question to ask here is why doesn’t Dr. Luke say Ananias lied to God, God the father, or Jesus? Why does he say Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit? I’m not giving my answer. E-mail me with yours.

Jesus says in John 14:16 (ASV) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever,

The Greek word for “another” in the verse above refers to another person and of equality. So we see that the Holy Spirit is a person. He is the third person of the Triune Godhead. Below is a verse that I have used to stump people. In fact it usually stumps adults more than teen agers. Keep it in your arsenal when you witness to people.

John 16:7 (ASV) Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you.

The question is why did Jesus need leave before the Holy Spirit could come?

The answer is that the sin issue had to be dealt with. Our sin had to be paid for on the Cross by Christ. This is what Jesus meant by “going away”. Then people who accept that sacrifice can be indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. This brings up an interesting question. By the way, one of the best ways to study the Bible, especially an inductive study, is to ask a lot of questions when reading the text. Write them down and then spend time trying to find the answers.

The question; How do you get the Holy Spirit? By joining a church? Being water baptized? Keeping the Ten Commandments? What work of righteousness must I perform to have the Holy Spirit indwell me?

After coming out of a false religion I put this question at the top of my priority list. See I had been taught that it was being water baptized that caused the Holy Spirit to come upon someone. I still have people tell me that today. My secular response is; if that is true, lets put a gun to the head of all men in prison and water baptize them at gunpoint, will that change their lives and give them the Holy Spirit? They say no- don’t be silly, but they see my point. So it’s time to see what history and what God says in His word.

After I was saved I spent a lot of time in the book of Acts. I studied and read over and over any passage that talked about water baptism and or salvation. I wanted to know if my experience of “feeling” my sins lifted and God entering in was real and was supported by what happened in the early church. I was especially interested in the story of Cornelius in Acts 10 and 11. I found the one thing that stood out and caused Cornelius to be saved and immediately he received the Holy Spirit. He didn’t receive the Spirit after water baptism or during water baptism but when he heard the gospel, understood Jesus died for his sins and believed it.

Acts 10:43 (ASV) To him bear all the prophets witness, that through his name every one that believeth on him shall receive remission of sins. 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word.

The answer to “how do we get the Holy Spirit” is consistent all through the New Testament. I have lots of verses on this but only space for a few more. Paul asked in the question below “How did the Christians in the Church at Galatia receive the Holy Spirit?” Paul only gives two options; note that speaking in tongues, water baptism, joining a church is not included. The only two options are faith or works.

Galatians 3:2 (ASV) This only would I learn from you. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Apostle Paul goes on in the passage to tell us we are justified by faith. Keeping the law and the Ten Commandments will not save us or give us the Holy Spirit. Paul also tells us in his letter to the church at Ephesus.

Ephesians 1:13 (HCSB) In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation—in Him when you believed—were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

It’s very very important to understand that in the verse above that we receive the Holy Spirit “WHEN WE BELIEVE”, nothing else is required, and it means the instant we believe.

Just like Cornelius and the Christians in Galatia, hearing the gospel and believing that Christ died for their sins saved them and sealed them with the Holy Spirit. It is the same today 2,000 years later. During the camp season this summer I’m going to preach a series on Sunday nights on the upper room discourse from John 13 and 14. We will look at this subject of the Holy Spirit deeper then. Do me a favor and read the Book of Galatians every day for 30 days. It only takes about 20 minutes. You will see that Paul is upset and intense in this book. He keeps changing ideas and thoughts. If he was speaking he would be yelling. The church had false teachers trying to convince people that they had to add works and regulations and circumcision to be saved. Faith alone in Christ wasn’t good enough. And Paul is vehemently opposed to this new doctrine that has come in. He keeps reminding them that the Holy Spirit is in them and in the church because of faith alone. The very thing Jesus continually taught His disciples that they would accomplish great things by faith in Him.

Galatians 3:5 (ASV) He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

A very good book I would recommend on the Holy Spirit is by Dr. Lloyd Jones. It’s called God the Holy Spirit.


References (NLT)

  1. Who the Holy Spirit Helps.
    The Holy Spirit strengthens and empowers followers of Christ (see Acts 2:1-40).
  2. How the Holy Spirit Works with the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit works alongside God the Father and Jesus, God’s Son, to make our lives pleasing to God (see 1 Peter 1:2).
  3. God is Loving and Just. God’s justice is tempered by his love (see 2 Peter 3:3-9).
  4. God is Personal. This characteristic of God sets him
    apart from the so-called “gods” of other religions (see Acts 17:22-31).
  5. God is in Control. It is important to remember that God is still in control, even if things around us seem to be in chaos (see Romans 11:33-36).
  6. The God of the Bible is the One True God. While some insist on the existence of many Gods, only the God of the Bible is the true, living God, worthy of our devotion (see 1 Corinthians 8:4-6).

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