The Personality and Ministry of the Holy Spirit
My wife and I often feel as if we don’t pay as much attention to our oldest son, Joshua, as we should. For various reasons, our daughter, Hannah, and our youngest son, Caleb, end up receiving quite a bit of our time and attention and it seems as if Joshua is just there back in the shadows.
I think the same can be said of how most followers of Christ interact with the Trinity as well. We talk and think about Jesus and God the Father quite a bit (as well we should), but we don’t really talk and think about the Holy Spirit nearly as much.
And in those rare times when we do talk about the Holy Spirit,we don’t quite talk about Him correctly. It is common to hear adults, students, and kids refer to the Holy Spirit as “it” and speak of the Spirit as if “it” is some impersonal force akin to the “force” in the Star Wars saga. But the Spirit is not an “it.” He is indeed a “He.” And He is fully God and just as important as the Father and the Son.
As you prepare to teach this week’s session, “The Holy Spirit Came” (Acts 2:1-42), you might find this brief primer on the personality and ministry of the Holy Spirit helpful.
The Personality of the Holy Spirit
When we say the “personality” of the Holy Spirit, we mean that the Holy Spirit is a person, not an impersonal object.
1) The Holy Spirit Possesses the Attributes of Personhood
The basic definition for personhood is the presence of intellect, emotion, and will. In other words, a person thinks, feels, and make decisions. The Holy Spirit passes this three-fold test.
- Intellect (Romans 8:27, 1 Corinthians 2:10-11)
- Emotion (Ephesians 4:30)
- Will (Acts 16:6-7, 1 Corinthians 12:11)
2) The Holy Spirit’s Works Confirm His Personality
We will discuss the works of the Holy Spirit more in depth in a minute, but for now notice that what He does reveals the attributes of personality. Impersonal objects do not do the following:
- He teaches requiring intellect (John 14:26)
- He testifies requiring intellect (John 15:26)
- He guides requiring intellect and will (John 16:13, Romans 8:14)
- He convicts requiring intellect (John 16:8)
- He regenerates requiring will (John 3:5)
- He intercedes requiring will (Romans 8:26-27)
- He commands requiring will (Acts 8:29; 13:4; 16:6)
3) The Holy Spirit’s Interaction with People Confirms His Personality
The ways the Holy Spirit interacts with people also reveals the attributes of personhood.
- We may grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30)
- We may resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51)
- We may lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4)
- We may obey the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:19-21)
- We may blaspheme the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31, Mark 3:29)
The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
Like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit was involved in creating the universe. (Genesis 1:2, Psalm 33:6, Job 33:4)
2) Revelation and Inspiration of Scripture
The Holy Spirit overshadowed the writers of Scripture to ensure that they produced an inerrant Bible – the very Word of God. (2 Samuel 23:2-3, John 14:26, John 16:13-14, Acts 4:24-25, 1 Corinthians 2:13, 2 Peter 1:21 cf: Acts 27:15,17)
3) Regenerating Believers
Regeneration means to give life. The Holy Spirit gives new life to believers. (John 3:5-7, Titus 3:5)
4) Baptizing of Believers
This occurs instantly and automatically at the point of conversion and has nothing to do with water baptism. This baptism is the joining together of all believers into union with one another and more importantly with Christ. (Romans 6:3-5, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:27-28)
5) Sealing of Believers
Like baptism, this also occurs instantly and automatically at the point of conversion. The Spirit’s sealing guarantees one’s salvation and future hope of heaven. In one sense, the Spirit’s sealing marks us as a possession now belonging to God. Think of a king’s royal wax seal imprinted by his signet ring. In another sense, the Spirit’s sealing serves as a down payment or pledge that God is going to return for what is His. (2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 4:30)
6) Indwelling of Believers
Once again, the Spirit’s indwelling occurs instantly and automatically at the point of conversion. Now on this side of the cross, this indwelling presence of the Spirit is permanent. (John 7:37-39, John 14:16, Romans 8:9, Jude 19)
7) Filling of Believers
Unlike the baptism, sealing, and indwelling of the Spirit, the filling of the Spirit is conditional and not permanent (but it is repeatable). The filling is only for believers after the point of conversion and concerns the believer being controlled by the Spirit. The Bible no where commands Spirit baptism, sealing, or indwelling, but it does command filling. (Ephesians 5:18)
8) Interceding for Believers
Like Christ, the Holy Spirit is our advocate before God. (Romans 8:26)
9) Guiding Believers
One of the titles of the Holy Spirit is Paraclete which means “one called alongside to help.” The Spirit is given to help and guide believers – or to counsel them. (John 14:16)
10) Producing Fruit
This fruit – internal character that results in external God-glorifying behavior, is produced in the yielded believer by the Holy Spirit, not the believer himself or herself. That is why it is the fruit of the Spirit and not the fruit of the Christian. (Galatians 5:22-23)
In what ways have you taught your kids about the Holy Spirit or what questions have you encountered about who He is and what He does? Leave a comment below.
Here is more help for leaders preparing for the May 31, 2015 session (Unit 33, Session 6) of The Gospel Project for Kids.
Brian Dembowczyk is the team leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. He served in local church ministry for over 16 years before coming to LifeWay in 2014. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Brian and his wife, Tara, and their three children – Joshua, Hannah, and Caleb – live in Murfreesboro, TN, where Brian enjoys drinking coffee and teaching 1-3 graders at City Church.