The teaching of the Holy Spirit is a crucial element in Christian doctrine, but one that is too often taken for granted. Christians basically teach that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus the Son of God in human flesh, and the Holy Spirit. All three have been in existence from the very beginning. Genesis 1:26 records that God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness…(emphasis mine). Many bible scholars believe that the “our” refers to the Trinity.
If we fast forward to the New Testament we read in Acts 1:5 and 8 that the promise of the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples. “For John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” This promise was made by Jesus after his resurrection but before his ascension.
His ascension is described in the next three verses: “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight, and as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood behind them; and they also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven‘” (emphasis mine). This last bold-faced phrase consists of some of the most important words in all of the Bible! Why? It is because it makes it clear that Jesus is coming again in the flesh. This refutes the argument by some that He has already come back in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit was given in the absence of Jesus, God in human flesh, until the time that Jesus once again returns in his physical form.
The promise of the Holy Spirit cited in Acts 1 was fulfilled in Acts 2:1-8, in what is commonly known as Pentecost. The disciples were meeting together when a noise like a violent wind came up. What appeared to be tongues as of fire rested on each of them, and they spoke supernaturally in unlearned foreign languages. The people present from many different nationalities all heard them speak in their native languages “of the mighty deeds of God.” So, we see from this account that the primary purpose of the giving of the Holy Spirit was for evangelism.
Until the time of the physical return of Christ the Holy Spirit indwells the heart of each individual who has entered into a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He enables each believer to live a victorious and godly life, and gives power to evangelize. There are also specific functions of the Holy Spirit manifested in the lives of believers.
1. Gives Boldness. Acts 4:31 says the disciples were all “filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”
2. A Helper in our prayer life. This is expressed in Romans 8:26. “And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
3. Our teacher. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).
4. The giver of spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit endows each believer with gifts to be used for the edification of the Church and for evangelism. These are not learned abilities. They are listed in Ephesians 4:11-13, Romans 12:6-8, I Peter 4:11, and I Corinthians 12:8-10.
5. The building of godly qualities. Galatians 5:22-23 calls them “fruits of the Spirit.” They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
6. The restraining influence against Satan and evil. Many scholars believe that the “restraining influence” mentioned in I Thessalonians 5:19 refers to the Holy Spirit.
Until Jesus returns in his physical body we have the Holy Spirit to do all of these things. Which of these do you feel you have the most need of? What do you believe to be your spiritual gifts?