The Bible does not reveal much about the nature of the Holy Spirit; rather, it gives emphasis to His work. What is your concept of the Holy Spirit’s personality? What is your idea about this third person of the Godhead?
The Bible’s silence regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit has led people to believe various things about Him, such as He is:
• An influence of God over human minds and hearts;
• A neutral entity—a robot—who executes God’s will;
• God’s helper;
• An inferior god without original life, for His life derives from the Father;
• A magical being, perhaps even part of an occult.
To better understand the Holy Spirit, we need to understand the mystery of the Godhead. To illustrate this concept, we will use the shape of a triangle. A triangle is a geometrical shape with three sides, but it is only one shape: a triangle. In the same way, the Godhead is three beings but only one God.
We accept the Godhead by faith and through personal experience with Him. The nature of the Holy Spirit and His work are not so much to be understood as to be experienced.
In the Old Testament, the member of the Godhead who stood out the most was God the Father. In the New Testament, the member of the Godhead who stood out the most was Jesus. From the foundation of the apostolic Church until today, the member of the Godhead who stands out the most is the Holy Spirit.
Tiago Denney was correct when he said, “For the men who wrote the New Testament, and for those to whom they wrote, the Holy Spirit was not a doctrine, but an experience. Its slogan is not “believe in the Holy Spirit,” but “receive the Holy Spirit.”
The greatest invisible reality of the world today is the Holy Spirit. “The Holy Spirit is Christ’s representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof. Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it was for their interest that He should go to the Father, and send the Spirit to be His successor on earth.”1 Only one person—the Holy Spirit—could substitute for another wonderful person—Jesus. He is the “paraclete,” which means “invited to be next to.” He is the special Helper invited to help us, summoned to stay by our side.
I. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD.
The Bible gives attributes to the Holy Spirit that are appropriate to God:
• He is omniscient (1 Cor. 2:10)
• He is omnipresent (Ps. 139:7-10)
• He is omnipotent (1 Cor. 2:11)
• He is eternal (Heb. 9:14)
• He performs miracles (Rom. 15:19)
The Holy Spirit is God, equal in authority and power to the Father and to Christ. He has a special function in the salvation of the human family. John 14:16 says, “And I [Jesus] will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper” (emphasis supplied).
The order we usually follow in naming the three persons of the Godhead (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) has nothing to do with their relative importance, for the Godhead is unique and is one God. One of the reasons for this order may be the fact that in relation to man’s redemption, the Persons of the Godhead stood out one by one, in successive periods and with specific functions. However, we don’t mean to imply that the Holy Spirit was not engaged and interested in the unfolding of the great plan of salvation during those times when the Father and Son were at the forefront.
II. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON.
The Bible reveals enough so that we can be sure the Holy Spirit is not merely a force or influence of God; the Holy Spirit is a Person. The Holy Spirit does not have a body, but He has characteristics of a being with a definite personality. Ellen G. White says, “We need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God, is a person.”2
Through the Bible, all attributes of a person are attributed to the Holy Spirit. What are these attributes?
• Intellect. He has infinite understanding and unlimited knowledge. He even knows the deep things of God. “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things . . .” (1 Cor. 2:10).
• Will. The Holy Spirit executes His will and indicates decisions to the believers. He distributes the gifts to each one as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11).
• Feelings or sensibilities. He has emotions; He feels, thinks, speaks, and acts. He is capable of infinite love and suffering. He may grieve and feel sad because of our conduct (Eph. 4:30).
• Thoughts. He is capable of teaching us all things (John 14:26). He knows all things and illuminates and guides our minds to spiritual things.
• Love. He loves us. He imparts His love and loves us with the tenderest affection. He is patient with believers and non-believers.
• Power. He distributes His special gifts to believers according to the church’s needs. He enables believers with special gifts. He transforms people and consecrates them to the ministry. Luke affirms that the Holy Spirit is the source of Jesus’ spiritual power. When the apostles spoke by the power of the Holy Spirit, 3,000 people were added to the Church.
• Intelligence. He convinces of sin, justice, and judgment. He teaches, gives orders, and guides.
The greatest need of the church today is the power of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Be filled with the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is the greatest and best gift one can receive.
“There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart and lives a life wholly consecrated to God.”3 Let us pray each day for the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
1 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, 669.
2 White, Manuscript 66, 1899.
3 White, The Ministry of Healing, 159.
Laercio Mazaro is head of the communication department at the Central Brazil Union Conference.