Who is this mysterious Person, Power, Force, we call the Holy Spirit? For many Christians He remains a mystery. We don't understand the role He has played since the beginning of time and continues to play in the life of the Christian today. In this study we hope to help you see who this member of the Trinity is and what He does.
Because the study of the Holy Spirit is much too large to be covered in a single lesson, we'll divide our study into three parts: The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit in the Life of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers.
The first mention of the Holy Spirit is at creation. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit is usually called the Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
The Scripture: Genesis 1:1-2
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty. Darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) was hovering over
1. What was the condition of the earth?
2. What was the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) doing?
Hovering can be defined as "abiding" or "lingering—to hang fluttering in the air or upon the wing."
The Amplified Bible also uses the term brooding. Brooding gives us the idea of a mother bird sitting on her nest, waiting for her eggs to hatch. The word also means "to remain steadfastly settled over something, to cover, cherish, nourish and foster."
In these first two verses of the Bible, we see the Holy Spirit actively involved in the creation of our earth. The Bible teaches us some important principles about the Holy Spirit. Let's look at the most important ones now.
The Holy Spirit is a Person
The Scripture: John 16:13
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell what is yet to come."
3. What pronouns does Jesus use when He refers to the Holy Spirit?
The Scripture: Ephesians 4:30
"And do not vex the Spirit of God."
4. What does the Apostle Paul warn Christians not to do?
The word vex is also translated "grieve," "offend," or "sadden" in other versions of the Bible.
Personal pronouns and personal emotions are used in relation to a person, not an object or a thing. This leads us to our second principle.
The Holy Spirit is a member of the Trinity or Godhead
The Scripture: 2 Corinthians 13:14
"May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."
5. How many distinct personalities in the Godhead does Paul name?
The Church has long called the idea of three persons in one God, the Trinity. Although you won't find this word in Scripture, the idea of the Trinity is very much in evidence there. Nowhere does Scripture treat one as more important than the other two.
The Holy Spirit is eternal
The Scripture: Hebrews 9:14
"How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our conscience from acts that lead to death."
6. How is the Holy Spirit described in this verse?
The Holy Spirit is omnipresent (everywhere)
The Scripture: Psalm 139:7
"Where can I go from Your Spirit?"
7. What is the psalmist's question?
In the verses that follow, the psalmist poetically tells us that there is no place we can go where the Holy Spirit will not be.
The Holy Spirit is omniscient (all knowing)
The Scripture: 1 Corinthians 2:10-11
"The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God...In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."
8. What does the Spirit search?
The Holy Spirit is omnipotent (all-powerful)
The Scripture: Romans 15:18, 19
"I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done by the power of signs and miracles through the power of the Spirit."
9. What attribute of the Holy Spirit does Paul refer to here?
One of the words translated "power" in the Bible is the word dunamis, the root of our word dynamite.
The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
Before they sinned, God spoke face-to-face with Adam and Eve, the first people. But after they sinned, He no longer met with them, nor did He abide in them as He does in His people today. As time passed, the descendants of Adam and Eve grew more and more wicked. Although for the most part, God was silent, He never stopped loving His creation--He had a plan, a destiny for them. When He communicated with them, He worked through a "hand-picked" few under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. One of these people was a man named Abram.
The Scripture: Genesis 12:1-3
"The Lord had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’"
God wanted to separate a selected group of people (later called the Israelites); from the rest of the peoples on earth so they could fulfill a wonderful plan He had for them.
10. What did the Lord (the Holy Spirit) tell Abram to do?
11. What did the Lord promise Abram?
Abram, later renamed Abraham, obeyed God, but unfortunately, the descendants of Abraham were almost as wicked as the rest of the world. God had to let them experience the consequences of their disobedience over and over again. From time to time, however, the Holy Spirit worked mightily and powerfully in the lives of a few Old Testament men and women.
One of these was a man named Moses. The Israelites had been slaves of the Egyptians for many years when a baby boy, Moses, was born into a Hebrew family. Through the Holy Spirit's guidance, Moses was raised by the daughter of Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt.
When Moses reached adulthood, He became interested in the Hebrew people and while trying to protect one of them accidentally killed an Egyptian. He fled into the wilderness and lived the life of a shepherd for forty years. Then when he was eighty years old, the Lord appeared to him in a burning bush.
The Scripture: Exodus 3: 9-10
"And now the cry of the Israelites has reached Me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring My people the Israelites out of Egypt."
12. What did the Lord tell Moses?
Through a series of miracles Moses did exactly this. On the way to the land He had promised them God revealed His glorious plan for them.
The Scripture: Exodus 19:5, 6
"Now if you obey Me fully; and keep My covenant, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession. Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."
13. What was the Lord's desire for the Israelites?
14. What was the condition?
15. What would God consider them?
It was not to be.
The Scripture: Exodus 20:18, 19
"When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, 'Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die."
16. What did the people say to Moses?
Fear kept the Israelites from obeying God's purpose for them. Nothing changed greatly. In the years that followed, the Israelites continued to go their own way. In time most of them became slaves and lived under the rule of other nations.
But God never gave up on them. Even in Israel's darkest days, the Holy Spirit began to speak to His people through the prophets, telling them about a time in the future when things would be different.
The Scripture: Ezekiel 11:19-20
"I will give them (His people) an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."
17. What did God say He would do?
18. What would this cause them to do?
The Scripture: Isaiah 59:21
"As for Me, this is My covenant with them (His people)," says the Lord. 'My Spirit, who is on you, and My words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants, from this time on and forever,' says the Lord."
19. What covenant did the Lord make with His people?
The prophet Joel also foresaw a great day when the Holy Spirit would be given more fully.
The Scripture: Joel 2:28
"I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”
20. What did the Lord promise?
21. What would this cause them to do?
Many years would pass before these prophesies came to pass.
- Formless, empty, dark
- Hovering over the waters
- He, Him
- Vex the Spirit of God
- Three: Jesus Christ, the Father, the Holy Spirit
- As eternal
- "Where can I go from Your Spirit?"
- All things
- His power
- To leave his country and his people and go to a land the Lord would show him
- That he would bless him and all the peoples of the world through him
- He had heard the Israelites' cry and He was sending Moses to bring them out of Egypt
- That they would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
- They must obey God fully and keep their covenant
- His treasured possession
- "Speak to us yourself...but do not have God speak to us or we will die."
- Give His people an undivided heart and a new spirit; remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh
- Follow the Lord's decrees and be careful to keep His laws
- His people and His words would never leave their descendants
- He would pour out His Spirit on all people
- Prophesy, dream dreams, see vision.
All scripture quotations in this publication are from the Holy Bible, New International Version
(unless otherwise indicated)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, New International Bible Society
Copyright © 1999 by JoAnne Sekowsky