Who or what is the Holy Spirit?
Is the Holy Spirit a person or a force? A myth or reality? A complex phenomenon displaying a dual nature—sometimes as a person and other times as a force (the person-force duality of the Holy Spirit)?
While we may have our ideas about the nature of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, the Bible, remains the final authority in answering questions such as this. So, what does the Bible say about the nature of the Holy Spirit?
- The Holy Spirit is a member and third person of the Trinity, i.e., the Triune God manifested as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). This not only implies that He is a person, but that He is eternal (Hebrews 9:14), omniscient (1 Cor. 2:10-11) and omnipresent (Psalms 139:7-11).
- The Holy Spirit has all the attributes of a person: A mind, emotions, and a will (1 Corinthians 12:11). Further, the Holy Spirit teaches (John 16:13), comforts (John 14:26), can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), and can be lied to (Acts 5:3). Obviously, a force does not have these characteristics.
- The Holy Spirit is the promise of the Father to the believers in Jesus Christ. Heralded to be our comforter and companion so that in spite of the earthly departure of Jesus Christ, the believers are not left as orphans in a world opposed to the views of the Father (John 14:18, 27).
- The Holy Spirit is addressed as “He” throughout the conversations of Jesus in John chapters 14-16 and in several parts of the Bible.
- Though a winged dove and tongues of fire are commonly used in Christian iconography to symbolize the Holy Spirit, He is neither a dove nor tongues of fire. These symbols simply emphasize different aspects of His nature.
A person may have energy, perform work and exert force, but he or she is not merely energy, work or force. Same with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit might indicate His arrival on a scene as a rushing mighty wind (Acts 2:2), a winged dove (Matthew 3:16), tongues of fire (Acts 2:3), rivers of living water (John 7:38-39), etc., but He is not simply any of these things. He is the third person of the Trinity—God the Spirit.
What is the importance of this distinction? We all consciously or unconsciously interact with forces (gravity, etc.) in our daily lives, but we do not develop a personal relationship with such forces. Conceptualizing the Holy Spirit as a force is probably the first step down the dark alley of a cold, impersonal relationship with Him—treated as ‘It.’ A mere force or tool to get the job done. Instead, we should acknowledge Him as a person who God has sent specifically to become our empowering companion. We can know Him and, hopefully, start to build a fruitful relationship with Him. He can become real to us as we go through life, as the comforter in our distress and our teacher in every situation.
God bless you!
The spirit of God in Daniel, his uncompromising devotion to God, his unflinching discipline, his diligence at work, and his relationship with godly friends, were crucial to the light he shone in a country which was a citadel of darkness. Like Daniel, we all are living in a time characterized by thick darkness; in a society where the law of God is branded ‘evil’. Yet, our mandate is to ‘arise, shine’. The above five points are necessary if we are to illuminate this dark world. There are no shortcuts!