The eternal1 Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son,2 is of the same substance and equal in power and glory with the Father and the Son. By Him the prophets were moved to speak the Word of God, and all writers of the Holy Scriptures were inspired to record infallibly the mind and will of God.3 He is the only efficient agent in the application of redemption. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment,4 moves them to repentance, and regenerates5 them by His grace, enabling them to embrace Jesus Christ by faith.
The Holy Spirit indwells all true believers, baptizing them into one body, of which Christ is the head.6 He, the divine Comforter, Intercessor, and Advocate, empowers the believer for service.7
2 John 14:16,26
4 John 16:7-11
5 John 3:5
7 Acts 1:8
If there is one member of the Trinity in whom we are greatly confused, it would be the Holy Spirit. We want to believe He exisits, but we’re not really sure who or, if we’re honest, what it is. And, how close should we get to the Holy Spirit? Too many folks within our big tent of evangelicalism love the Spirit and His gifts seemingly more than the other two members of the Triunity of God. And isn’t His job simply to make much of Jesus? So, what’s the big deal about the Holy Spirit?
The Articles of Faith reminds us that the Holy Spirit is just as much God as the Father and the Son, and is the Spirit, again because of His unique relationship to the Father and Son. He has existed from all eternity, but in a unique way, proceeds from both the Father and the Son (Upon this point the first division in Christianity occurred between Western Christianity and Eastern over what we call the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed. Filioque means, “and the son.” For more on this check out this resource) .Yet, no matter from whom He proceeds, He is completely God, and coequal in power and glory with both the Father and Son.
The Spirit’s ministry is unique in that He serves as the vehicle for which God has communicated His revelation to man. The AoF tells us that it was by the ministry of the Holy Spirit that God communicated through His prophets to both speak the Word of God, and the writers who penned it for us. While the writers of Scripture had their own grammar, style, and personality, the Holy Spirit superintended both the prophets as they spoke and the writers of the Old and New Testaments as they wrote to make sure it was the very perfect Word of God.
Not only is the Spirit involved in the communication of God’s revelation but He has the unique ministry of applying all of the spiritual benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection to us. He is the agent by which our redemption has been applied to us. He convicts us of our sin, challenges us to repent of said sin, and then by God’s grace, gives us the faith to believe in and trust in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. The Spirit’s job is to make much of Christ and the work of Christ, but without the Spirit, we would never experience those blessings that Christ provided for us at the cross and the empty tomb.
Once we have been ushered into the body of Christ through our salvation, the Spirit takes up residence within us continuing to point us to Jesus. He continues to prompt us regarding our sin and our need for confession and our continuing need for Jesus. He unites us with all other believers through Spirit baptism. And not only does he continue to make us more like Christ through our growth in holiness but also is our comforter and who brings our prayers and petitions to the Father on our behalf, advocates for us and gives us all of the tools we need for life in the body of Christ.
Jesus Himself said, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7). The Holy Spirit is not some unnecessary part of our life in Christ. Instead, He is integral and necessary for us to know God’s revelation to us, to know Jesus Christ as redeemer, and to live a life pleasing to God!
For more on the Holy Spirit, consider the following resources:
Ferguson, Sinclair. The Holy Spirit. InterVarsity, 1996.
Pettegrew, Larry D. The New Covenant Ministry of the Holy Spirit. Kress, 2013.
Cole, Graham A. He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Crossway, 2007.
Palmer, Edwin. The Holy Spirit: His Person and Ministry. P & R, 1985.