When Paul went to Ephesus and asked the disciples there, if they received the Holy Spirit, when they believed, they answered: “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit” (Acts 19:1-2). If such a question were to be asked us today, the answer would most likely be: “Ah, we even dispense and disburse the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Holy Spirit is at the tip of our hands.”
The Holy Spirit has become too familiar, to the point of misconception and even abuse. Many things without Biblical warrant are said and taught about Him and many people embrace and swallow them hook, line and sinker. It is only few people that take time to study and learn directly from the Bible what it says or teaches about the Holy Spirit.
Some view the Holy Spirit as a mystical force, and others, as the impersonal power, which God makes available to Christ’s followers.
But the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is not a force of God, but God Himself. Paul wrote: “Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2Cor. 3: 6, 17-18). He went further to speak of the “glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” In Acts 5:3-4, 9, Peter used the Holy Spirit and God interchangeably. Besides, the attributes (omniscient- 1Cor. 2:10-11; omnipresent- Psalm 139:7-10; omnipotent- Luke 1:35, 37; eternity – Heb. 9:14) and works (creation – Gen 1:2 cf. Job 33:4; working of miracles – Matt. 12:28, Rom.15: 19; redemption of man – Heb. 9: 14; regeneration of man – John 3: 5; Titus 3: 4-6) ascribed to the Holy Spirit in the Bible are Divine.
The Holy Spirit is also “a person.” His “personality” is portrayed by His:
• Activities – Speech (1Tim.4: 1; Acts 8:29; 10:19-20; 13:1-4; teaching (John 14:26); guidance (John 16:12-13); bearing witness (John 15:26-27); intercession (Rom 8:26); forbidding (Acts 6-7); permitting (Acts 16:10).
• Mental and Emotional Features – Mind (Rom 8:27); will (1Cor 12:1); knowledge (1Cor 2:11); affection (Rom 15:30).
• Relational Qualities – Love (Rom 15:30). He can also be hurt by being grieved (Eph. 4:30); blasphemed (Matt. 12:31-32); insulted (Heb. 10:29); lied to (Acts 5:3); resisted (Acts 7:51).
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and also the delegate of the first two persons. He is sent both by the Father (John 14: 16-17, 26; 16: 17, 26; Gal. 4: 6) and by the Son (John 15:26; 16:7). He is both the Spirit of God the Father (Rom. 3: 9, 14; I Cor. 2: 10-11, 14), and the Spirit of Christ (Acts 16: 7; Rom. 8: 9; Gal.4: 6). He continues the work and special presence of the Father and the Son with the people of God.
Thus, the Holy Spirit is God Himself fully manifest and present, not only in our midst, but also indwelling inside us. He is not an impersonal force that should be manipulated (as magical force/power) or be employed for selfish purposes. He is rather the 3rd Person of the Holy Trinity, God to be worshipped and depended on for help.
The Ven. Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State