WHAT WE BELIEVE – GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is an enigma for many Christians today. Some of this is an overreaction to the Pentecostal Charismatic Movement while others think of the Holy Spirit akin to the Force found in Star Wars. Biblically, the Holy Spirit is the third member of the Triune Godhead. It is his role to manifest the active presence of God in the world as well as in the church.
The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states, “The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.”
More succinctly, our statement of faith here at FBCTLH asserts, “God the Holy Spirit is active in convincing unbelievers of their need for salvation, calling people to Jesus Christ. He is active in the lives of believers as the Comforter and Guide, cultivating Christian character, bestowing spiritual gifts, and exalting Jesus Christ. He lives in every believer.”
In other words, the Holy Spirit has a vital and active role in the lives of both unbelievers and believers. We see this truth developed in Scripture beginning in the Old Testament and continuing into the New Testament.
First, the Holy Spirit empowers us. He gives us life. Job 34:14-15 states that if God were to “Gather to himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.” In other words, you are reading this because God is sustaining your life by giving you the breath you breathe!
Perhaps more importantly, the Holy Spirit gives us new life through his work of regeneration. We find this before Pentecost in Jesus’s late-night conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. Later in John 6:63 Jesus plainly tells us, “It is the Spirit who gives life.”
After regenerating the spiritually dead, the Holy Spirit continues his work in our lives. It is his role to give us the power to serve the Lord. We see this in the book of Judges (Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25) and in the lives of the kings of Israel (1 Samuel 11:6 and 16:13). In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit empowers Jesus for the forty day temptation in the wilderness that began his ministry (Luke 4:1) as well as grants believers various spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1-11) He even helps us to pray in our weakness (Romans 8:26)!
The Holy Spirit also purifies unbelievers when they come under conviction of sin (John 16:8-11). Believers are also purified (1 Corinthians 6:11) at regeneration and the evidence of that salvation is the fruit that only comes from the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Thus, if you are growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, then you have evidence that you have been born again by the Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit revealed to us the words God wanted to use to reveal himself to us in the pages of the Holy Bible. The apostle Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:21 that “no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” This is one primary reason why we believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures.
Moreover, the Holy Spirit reveals the presence of God. In the Old Testament we read “The Spirit of the LORD came upon …” numerous times which enabled those saints of old to perform mighty works in the name of the Lord. In the New Testament, however, the Holy Spirit was manifested in the likeness of a dove (John 1:32), and as the sound of rushing wind and like tongues of fire (Acts 2:2-3). Of particular importance in our lives today, the Holy Spirit “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16).
Brothers and sisters, God never leaves us alone! His presence is found in the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives. What an incredible gift to receive! Yes, we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but God gives us the seal of his promise in the form of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30). We strive to stay in step with the Holy Spirit through the regular reading of God’s Word as well as the regular gathering together to worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I love what Jesus says concerning the Holy Spirit in John 16:13-14, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”