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Archive for October, 2011

IS THE HOLY SPIRIT AN INFLUENCE OR A PERSON?

The Holy Spirit of the living God is, God in action within us, upon us, and around us. (1Cor.3:16) God’s Spirit (Holy Spirit) is God at work, making things happen in the world. We cannot see the Spirit, but we can see the results of its power and influence. The Spirit of God was present when the world was created. God sent his Spirit to do powerful things among his people, Israel. Later, God sent his Spirit when Jesus lived on earth, and the Spirit has been present with Christians ever since. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as the third person of the Trinity (Matt.28:11) possessing every attribute of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is both an influence (as seen in the Old Testament) and a Person (as seen in the New Testament)

In the Old Testament we see the Holy Spirit coming upon certain individuals and making them do what ordinarily seems impossible; and when the act is completed the Holy Spirit departs. Various examples occur in the Old Testament. For example, in Judges Chapter 3, God’s spirit filled a man named Othniel. He became a judge and was able to win a war and keep the peace in Israel for forty years. God’s spirit also filled other judges such as Gideon and Jephthah. Because of the Spirit of God, (Holy Spirit) they were able to overcome their enemies.

The prophets in the Old Testament had the job of giving messages from the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) to the people. It was important for the people to know the difference between a false prophet and a true prophet of God. The term “Holy Spirit” is used in the Psalms and in Isaiah to set apart the Spirit of God from any other spirit, whether human or from God (Psalm 51:11; Isaiah 63:10-11).

A false prophet would not have the Holy Spirit. A prophet that had a message from the Holy Spirit would have the character of a person who was obedient to God. The people could recognize a false prophet by evaluating the prophet’s character as well as the message he preaches to the people.

We cannot fully comprehend the New Testament’s teaching on the Holy Spirit without reading and understanding the use of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. John speaks of the Spirit as a “wind” (John 3:8), and Paul writes of it as “breath” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). In Revelation 11:11 the Spirit is described as a “breath of life.” These same descriptions of the Holy Spirit are found in the Old Testament. Also, the New Testament writers agreed with the prophets of the Old Testament; that the Holy Spirit inspired Scripture (see Mark 12:36; Acts 28:25; Hebrews 3:7; 2 Peter 1:21). It is to be noted that the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) that the Old Testament writers looked forward to, was realized in the New Testament.

Just as Isaiah had prophesied, the Holy Spirit came again during the time of Jesus. This “new age” was one in which the Spirit was once again present on earth. Jesus was the anointed or the specially chosen one, who came to give salvation. Jesus came and gave his Spirit (Holy Spirit) to those who believed in him. This was the beginning of the Christian faith.

The Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) was with Jesus as he lived among men. Because so many people were still looking to the coming of the Spirit in the “end times,” the writers of the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament Bible) emphasized the role of the Holy Spirit in the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:18; John 3:34), in his baptism (Mark 1:9-10), and in his ministry (Luke 4:1, 14; Luke 10:21). They wanted to show people that the Spirit was with them, that they were already living in the “end times,” and that Jesus’ life was proof of that.

The apostle Paul understood the presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life to be a certain sign that that person had been saved from his sins. The believer could be assured that God had granted him eternal life in heaven (2 Corinthians 1:22). Paul taught that it was necessary for a believer to have the Holy Spirit in order to enter God’s kingdom (Romans 8:15-17). The Holy Spirit changes believers’ lives to become more like Jesus. Becoming more like Jesus is a lifelong process, because every believer is caught in the daily conflict between living in the Spirit or according to sinful desires. The process does not end until the person is brought completely under the Holy Spirit’s power or influence. (Romans 8:11, 23).

Paul emphasizes in his letters that believing in Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit go hand in hand. When a person receives the Holy Spirit, he or she begins the Christian life (Galatians 3:2-3). When one is baptized in the Holy Spirit, that person becomes a member of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). The person belongs to Christ and is a child of God by adoption; upon receiving the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-11, 14-17).
The Holy Spirit is the life-giver. When a person believes in Christ, he or she becomes a new creation (John 20:22). The Holy Spirit is the power of God that brings about this new birth in believers. Christians experience new life because of the Holy Spirit living in them.

Paul wrote about spiritual gifts such as inspired speech (1 Corinthians 12:8-10), miracles and healings (Galatians 3:5), acts of service, counseling, administrating, helping others, and showing mercy (Romans 12:7-8). These are all gifts from the Holy Spirit.

In conclusion, the Holy Spirit has both attributes, influencing the life of many in the Old Testament and showing Himself as a person by permanently dwelling in believers who have given their life to Jesus Christ, this is the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus that upon His ascension the Holy Spirit will come to dwell with every believer who has been baptized by Immersion (Matt.28:11); teaching them ALL things as the spirit of truth. (John 16:7-15)

Author: Ola Suyee

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