The Holy Spirit
“Charismatics have spent the last hundred years establishing falsehoods about the Spirit and pushing back all efforts at correction by labeling those who question their teaching as unloving, unkind, divisive, and intolerant. The castigation of those who criticize their dishonoring views on the Holy Spirit has, in effect, silenced the church by intimidation. As a result, the Holy Spirit continues to be mocked, monetized, and blasphemed Having an errant view of the Holy Spirit takes the entire paradigm of our sanctification and corrupts it. Certainly this is not a matter that can be deemed off limits to biblical discernment for the sake of false unity.” John MacArthur
The Holy Spirit
If there is a doctrine which is neglected in our day and age, it's the doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Pneumatology). Some have even referred to the Holy Spirit as the “forgotten God”. Worse than forgetting the Holy Spirit is to make ourselves a false Holy Spirit and thus serve an idol. In this article we will focus on who the Holy Spirit is and the work of the Holy Spirit (particularly in salvation)
Who is the Holy Spirit
So who exactly is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is God (cf. Acts 5:3-4). He is a person (Eph. 4:30) not a force as the Jehovah's Witnesses say. He is eternal (Heb. 9:14). But perhaps the best way to describe Him would be by describing His work.
The work of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is responsible for applying the finished work that the Son accomplished on the cross for elect that God the Father elected before creation. He applies that work in these ways:
Just as the Holy spirit is creator, He is also recreator (cf. John 3:1-8) (see Regeneration). Man is born with a sinful nature as a result of the first sin that Adan made. So since we are born thus, we need to be born again. but the Bible tells us that we man cannot bring spiritual change to himself, so we need the Holy Spirit to bring about that Spiritual change.
The Holy Spirit is also responsible for our sanctification (cf. Rom. 15:16) (see Sanctification). We read in the Bible that God works in us both to will and to do good works for His pleasure (phil 2:13). Left to ourselves we would fall, but the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and also empower us to do good works.
The Holy Spirit also intercedes for God's children (cf. Rom. 8:26). He empowers believers with spiritual gifts (cf. 1 Cor. 12:11). He indwells believers (John 14:17). He teaches us (John 14:26). He comforts/helps us (cf. 14:26). He is our seal (2 Cor. 1:22). He bears us witness for our adoption (Rom. 8:16). He produces fruit in us (Gal 5:22-23).
The Holy Spirit as God the Holy Spirit is also creator (cf. Gen 1:2, 26; Job 33:4). The Holy Spirit (together with the Father and the Son) is also responsible for raising Jesus from the dead (cf. 1 Pet. 3:18). He inspired the prophets and apostles to write Scripture (cf. 2 Pet. 1:20-21). He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (cf. John 16:8-11).
As the Holy Spirit is God, He must be worshiped and prayed to. But one thing we must never forget is that the Holy Spirit testifies of Christ. He doesn't substitute Christ or the Father, but He leads us to Him. When we are weak, He gives us strength. And when we don't know what to pray, He helps us. Consider this quote:
“once I was looking at the cross,at its feet, and the Spirit of God descended upon me like a dove, I started looking at the dove, and it flew away.” A.W. Tozer
One thing that most people make, usually in the charismatic movement, is to emphasize the gifts of the Spirit and ignore the cross and the gospel. But that shouldn't be, the gifts are given to us to minister to one another the gospel.
How do we receive the Holy Spirit?
So we know that the Holy Spirit indwells and empowers believer, but the question is how can one receive the Holy Spirit? Do I have to pray a prayer? Do I have to be laid hands? Do I have to do some laws? Do I have to be baptized by water? What must I do?
The answer to that question, according to John 3:6-8, is that you cannot do anything. We do not bring about the Spirit of God to ourselves, the Holy Spirit enters whom He wills and when He wills and brings about faith to a person.
What are the signs of the Holy Spirit
If you ask someone whether they have the Spirit or not, the answer that you are most likely to get is that “yes, I speak in tongues…” But speaking in tongues (or any other spiritual gift) is never identified as a sign of whether a person has the Spirit of God in them or not. The true evidence of the Holy Spirit is the producing of spiritual fruit by the believer (cf. Matt. 7:15-20, Gal 5:22-23). If a person is truly indwelt by the Spirit of God, the will produce good works since they have been transformed by Him.
So the Holy Spirit is God and is responsible for applying the salvation that the Son accomplished on the cross and empowering us to God's service.
Soli Deo Gloria