There are few subjects more important to the Christian than the one concerning the Holy Spirit. For the eternal Spirit of God is the source of the Christian’s spiritual life; both its origin and continuation. The Holy Spirit is to our spiritual lives what the Creator is to the world. Without God, the Creator, the world would never have come into existence, and without His continuing sustaining, preserving work, the world would crash out of existence. Similarly, without the Spirit of God, the Christian would never have been born again, and without the Spirit’s ever-present sanctifying influence, the spiritual life of the Christian would drop back into the spiritual deadness from which it came.
The Holy Spirit is not some impersonal force or influence, or energy that emanates from God’s presence. Instead, the Holy Spirit, as the third member of the Godhead, possesses a complete entity and personality of His own. Therefore, the Holy Spirit should never be referred to as “It”, but “He” (see John 14:16, 17; 15:26; 16:7-14).
Proofs that the Holy Spirit has personality – the possession of intellect, emotion, and will – are ample. He is said, for instance, to know the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:10-13; 12:8), to love the saints (Romans 5:5), and to make decisions (1 Cor. 12:11). Further, He is revealed as One who speaks (Acts 13:2; Rev 2:7), prays (Rom. 8:26-27), teaches (John 14:26), guides (John 16:13), commands (Acts 16:6-7), and fellowships (2 Cor. 13:14). Finally, He may be grieved (Eph. 4:30), lied to (Acts 5:3), tested (Acts 5:9), vexed (Isa. 63:10), resisted (Acts 7:51), blasphemed (Mark 3:29-30), and quenched (1 Thes. 5:19).
The Holy Spirit is the agent of Sanctification. At conversion believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and come under His sanctifying influence (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19). The Holy Spirit produces in us Christlike character that glorifies Christ. He is our divine teacher, guiding us into all truth. He continually imparts God’s love to us and gives us joy, comfort, and help.
The Holy Spirit is the agent of service, empowering believers for service and witness. This work of the Holy Spirit is related to the baptism in the Spirit or the fullness of the Spirit. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an operation of the Sprit distinct and separate from His work of regeneration. Just as the Sprit’s sanctifying work complements the regenerating work, so the baptism in the Sprit completes the regenerating and sanctifying work of the Spirit.
To be baptized with the Spirit means to be filled with the Spirit (Acts 1:5, 2:4). In the book of Acts, speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance is the initial outward sign accompanying the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4; 10:45-46; 19:6). Baptism in the Spirit is linked so closely with the external manifestation of speaking in tongues that this should be considered the norm when receiving that baptism.
The fullness in the Holy Spirit is sustained in the believer’s life by prayer, witness, worship in the Sprit, and a sanctified (set apart for service to God) life.
The Holy Spirit is the agent who incorporates believers into one body of Christ, lives in the church, builds the church, and directs the mission of the church.