Personality of the Holy Spirit



Last time we began STIII; and specifically the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

We began by giving just a very brief introduction to some of the issues involved with this doctrine. We explained how there has been a historic divide (specifically, in the last 100 years), with regard to two major aspects:


- The first is with regard to language of baptism of/with/by/in the HS.

- The second, is with regard to the spiritual gifts.


We gave just a brief history of the new movements that have taken place within the last 100 years.

- The rise of 1st wave pentecostalism (1906).

- The rise of 2nd wave Charismaticism (60’s), in which Pentecostal theology infiltrated the mainline denominations.

- Finally, the rise of 3rd wave evangelicalism, which happened soon after 2nd wave charismaticism, in which John Wimber more or less reads the book of Acts and wonders why the church doesn’t experience what the early church experienced. This leads to a further development of certain understandings with regard to the nature of the Spirit; and much of which is still very present in churches and theology today.


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With that very brief history on why the topic is so confused, and has such great disagreement, today we want to begin to develop the doctrine more formally. And specifically, we will begin with the person/personality of the HS.


Personality of the Holy Spirit


The Holy spirit is a divine person.

This is an incredibly important concept to understand. We must have a right view of God if He is to be rightly approached and worshiped. This is sometimes hard to grasp and often takes a forced shift in our thinking.


Contributing factors for why it is hard to understand the Holy Spirit in terms of “personhood:”


- The KJV rendering-- “Holy Ghost.”

This language does not help in grasping this concept of the Spirit as a person.

Our minds go to Casper the Ghost.


- Subtle influence from concepts like we see in Star Wars-- “The Force.”

We must understand the H.S. is not an ephemeral power, force, or energy field.


Rodney Howard Brown calls himself the “Holy Spirit Bartender.” We see him unleashing/doling out the Spirit and causing Him to “fall on people.”


Benny Hinn uses his “Holy Ghost Machine Gun,” knocking people over with the divine force of the H.S.


This idea gets in wrongs because:

The Holy Spirit is not a force or energy to be unleashed, but a person.

As we will see, He is also sovereign, and therefore, cannot be controlled or unleashed at the desire of human will.


Trinitiarian Concepts:


When we call God “Father” it is easy to understand the Father as possessing personhood. When we call Christ the “Son” it is easy to understand the Son as possessing personhood.


But when we call the third person of the Trinity “Spirit,” it is more conceptually difficult to grasp His personhood.


For example: Jonathan Edwards Essay on the Trinity.

The Spirit is the ‘divine energy or love” that eternally existed between the Father and Son. Believers are then brought into the eternal love between the Father and Son via the Spirit. This makes little sense if we understand the Spirit as a person.


- Some biblical data affirming the personhood of the Holy Spirit -


The Spirit is put in a coordinate relationship with the Father and the Son.


Matt. 29:19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”


The Spirit is put in a coordinate working with human beings.


Acts 15: 28“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these.”


The Spirit possesses personal attributes:


- Intelligence -

1 Cor. 2:10-11 “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.”


- Emotion -

Eph. 4:10“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”


- Volition/personal will -

1 Cor. 12:11“But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”


The Spirit engages in personal activities. (Again, a power of force cannot partake in these things).


- Speaks -

Acts 8:29“Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and join this chariot.’”

1 Tim. 4:1““But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”


- Prays -

Rom. 8:26“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.”


- Bears witness -

Rom. 8:16“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.”

Can be lied to.

Acts 5:3“But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?’”


The biblical data affirms the deity of the Holy Spirit.


The clearest passage is Acts 5:1-4. (Notice the parallel between God and the Holy Spirit.)

“But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife's full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.’”


The narrative goes on. Notice the clear OT reference. Here, the Spirit is equated as being God. And, then, in the NT, this is confirmed in 2 Cor. 3:17.

Acts 5:7-9 “Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter responded to her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?’ And she said, ‘Yes, that was the price.’ Then Peter said to her, ‘Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test?’” 

2 Cor. 3:17“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”


The Spirit possesses divine attributes:


- Omnipresence -

Ps. 139:7-10 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.”


- Omniscience -

1 Cor. 2:10-11 “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.”