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The Trinity: God the Holy Spirit

Sunrise on the mountains


In the third part of our three-part blog series, we’re going to explore the Trinity. Although we are breaking the topic down across three posts, the Trinity is not, in fact, three separate entities. Christian scholars have tried for thousands of years to define God in the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) without success since its mystery and majesty are beyond human description; and any explanation that separates one from the whole bears some inaccuracy since our God is inherently Triune, or three persons in one whole.

And yet, in hopes of better understanding the different persons of the Trinity we are going to talk about them separately.

Let’s dive in and explore God the Holy Spirit.

God is the Father and the Son… and the Holy Spirit?

Our last two posts covered how God is the Father and how God is the Son. A father and son are easy enough to conceptualize because we have the language and understanding of what a father is and what a son is (though being able to completely understand God as the Father and the Son is not something we can hope to ever understand completely). Yet God is three-in-one and that includes the Holy Spirit. We don’t have anything tangible that might allow us to grasp at least a little bit of what exactly the Holy Spirit is aside from knowing the Holy Spirit is God. Yet we’re going to tackle this part of the Godhead in today’s post in hopes that you have a better understanding of God the Holy Spirit.

The Elusive, Mysterious Concept of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is one of the least understood persons of the Trinity perhaps because He is without a body and a personal name. In Scripture, we see God the Father called Yahweh or Jehovah, God the Son is called Jesus, yet God the Holy Spirit has no such name. Yet that does not mean the Holy Spirit came later or is any less than God the Father and God the Son.

We actually meet the Holy Spirit in the second verse of the Bible, 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 was hovering over the waters.” Much like we see God the Son in the beginning with God (remember we saw God the Son as The Word in John 1:1-3), the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of God) was also present at the beginning.

The Holy Spirit's name describes His chief attribute: He is a perfectly holy and spotless God, free of any sin or darkness. He shares the strengths of God the Father and Jesus, such as omniscience, omnipotence, and eternality. Likewise, he is all-loving, forgiving, merciful and just. The Holy Spirit serves as teacher, counselor, comforter, strengthener, inspiration, revealer of the Scriptures, convincer of sin, caller of ministers, and intercessor in prayer.

The Holy Spirit appears in nearly every book of the Bible. Throughout the Old Testament, we see the Holy Spirit making changes in God’s followers. Although much of the Old Testament talks about people running from God’s love, God still loves them and sends the Holy Spirit to change followers. In 2 Samuel 23, the last words of David begin with the admission that “the Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.” Moses, a familiar Old Testament figure, speaks of the Holy Spirit and God’s word speaking through him in Deuteronomy 30:14: “No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”

The New Testament includes numerous examples, as well, of the Holy Spirit working in men and women to give them strength and call them to follow Jesus. The Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth, Jesus’ aunt, upon hearing her niece’s greeting: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke prophesy (as seen in Luke 1:67-80). Similarly, Simeon and John the Baptist were filled with the Holy Spirit to prophesize. And even Jesus acknowledges the Holy Spirit strengthened His ministry:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18)

Jesus also promises in John 14:15-20 that the Holy Spirit will live among them forever. Jesus said, “‘If you love me, keep will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” We see here that Jesus again talks about the Holy Spirit as God the Father and himself. And since we know both God the Father already and God the Son, we really already know God the Holy Spirit. As Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit resides in us and among us already, so even though we can’t see Him or feel Him or hear Him, the Holy Spirit is already familiar to us.

So what does the Holy Spirit do?

The Holy Spirit advances God the Father’s plan for salvation. He participated in creation with God the Father and God the Son, filled people with the Word of God, assisted Jesus and his Disciples in their work, and continues to inspire and guide us and the Church today.

You may have heard someone talk about the Holy Spirit living within them. As a Jesus-follower, we know the Holy Spirit is in each of us, but the Spirit doesn’t take us over. Like a Counselor, the Spirit is there when we consult Him, but we still have our personality and power of choice. But now, since God’s Spirit dwells in us, as we learn to follow the leading of the Spirit, we can grow and change, becoming more and more like Jesus and putting His teaching into practice. This becoming like Christ is described as the “fruit of the spirit,” which is very different from our unredeemed, self-centered nature. Take this example from Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” All of these attributes are what God the Father and God the Son want for us, and what God the Holy Spirit helps us bring forth.

In John 14:25-26, we read, “‘All of this I have spoken while still with you’ [said Jesus]. ‘But the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” This reinforces the example we see in Galatians of the goal of the Holy Spirit. He will teach us, guide us, and remind us of Jesus’ teachings. Again, in John 16:13-15, Jesus tells us, “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 you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” Again, we see how the three persons of the Trinity are one God, and how Jesus equates them as one being to whom everything belongs. We can see just how God works together within Himself to give us what we need.

God the Father gave us God the Son, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, God the Son offered himself to God the Father as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. They are in perfect unity together in enacting the plan for our salvation.

The Wrap Up

The Holy Spirit is a hard-to-understand part of the Trinity, but He is our wonderful, loving God. The Holy Spirit guides us by giving us understanding of God’s word in the Bible, by helping us to see ourselves clearly, by helping us to see how much we are loved by God, and by helping us to do things we couldn’t do on our own. And as part of our triune God, He exists in perfect harmony with the other persons of the Godhead. In Matthew 3:16-17, we see a beautiful illustration of how the Trinity works together:
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

God the Holy Spirit is always present and helps us connect with God the Father and God the Son as we navigate our every day lives. We hope you’ll continue exploring the Trinity! For more resources and study materials on God the Father, the Trinity, and other study materials, visit RightNow Media here. Also, take a listen to "Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God" by Keith and Kristyn Getty, which is a song that captures the love of the Holy Spirit. We hope you’ll also reach out to us with questions or if you want to talk more about this subject with one of our pastors or staff members. Just send us an email!

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