These are notes from a Sunday School Class in which we examined some of the understandings of the Holy Spirit, His Person, Function, and also some fallacies concerning our understanding of Him.


The Deity of the Holy Spirit

Session 1 - GO TO TOP

Introduction: There are certain acid tests God has given us to prove that He is a supernatural being. The Holy Spirit, as third Person of the Trinity, exhibits most if not all of these characteristics.

  • Creation � Gen 1:2.
  • Omniscience � 1 Cor 2:6-16
  • Omnipresence � Often in the OT, God�s presence is referred to. This is His weighty presence, which is His Spirit resting on mankind. This is often referred to as the Spirit of God dwelling with mankind, and is often a representation of His Holy Spirit.
  • Omnipotence � Especially in the NT, the HS is referred to as the power of God for ministry.
  • Incarnation � Luke 1:35
  • Baptism of Jesus � Matt 3:13-17, Luke 3:21-22
  • Jesus� Ministry � The Desert, healings, etc. Preached with Power, Luke 4:18-19
  • Jesus� Crucifixion � The Spirit of God left Christ on the cross when He took on the sin of the world (Matt 27:45-52; cf. 2 Cor 5:21).
  • Jesus� Resurrection � The Holy Spirit, as God�s active Agent, was the power of the resurrection, the ability power for Christ to be raised. This is seen with the encounter of raising of Eutichus (Acts 20:9-12), The prophet raising the widow�s son (1 Kings 17:17-24), Jesus raising the widow�s son (Luke 7:12-15), and also will have a profound function in the rising of the dead in Christ at the Rapture of the Church.

Names

  • Holy Spirit of God � very common and most referred to in the OT and NT.
  • The Seven Spirits of God � Used in the book of Revelation. The number seven is the Hebrew number of perfection. The perfect Spirit of God.
  • Comforter/Paraclete � The Holy Spirit is most intimately known by Christians as One who is always with us to represent us before God and to bring us to holiness and righteousness in our everyday life. He helps us pray, deal with painful situations, bring us close to God, live a pure lifestyle, and so much more.
  • The Charismatic/Prophetic Presence � Often in the OT, the Holy Spirit has a profound effect on the prophets of old. He is often part of making communication with God or giving them the authority and ability to speak out for God. He also helps the Christian individually and the Church corporately with the gifts.
  • Holy Ghost � Ghost is not the proper term for the Spirit. In KJV times, Ghost and Spirit were the same but today, a ghost often carries an eerie understanding with it, as zombies and other such horror ideas. But the word spirit implies simply an existing, yet immaterial person. This is not one who lurks in the background until his soul is laid to rest in eternity. It is the immaterial yet personhood of God Himself.
  • Witness/Boldness � In the NT especially, the Holy Spirit is called on to bear witness to facts such as the sonship of the believer and God�s will in the Christian�s life. The Holy Spirit is also known as the power or bravery to witness about Christ. His witness is seen in the NT as the Supreme Court of the Bible. The Holy Spirit is appealed to lastly for a final witness about something.

motifs

  • Oil/Wine (2 Kings 4:1-7, etc) � The old and new wineskins in the NT, the Widow�s Oil, etc. There are so many motifs for the Oil of the Spirit. This might possibly be the most common motif except for wind/breath.
  • Wind/Breath (John 3:5-8; Gen 2:7). The idea of wind is one of the most common motifs for the Holy Spirit. Jesus uses it in John 3 to point out the immaterial and humanly uncontrollable nature of the Holy Spirit.
  • Power and Might � This is common throughout OT and NT as has already been mentioned.
  • Fire (Jer 20:9; 1 Thes 5:19; Acts 2:3; 1 Cor 3:13). There is a sense of the Holy Spirit being involved with judgment or being like a fire in the OT and NT. From the witness of the Spirit and the Word in Jeremiah to the filling of the Spirit with tongues of fire, God clearly allows for this minor motif.
  • Temple/Tabernacle/Christian Body � Body is the temple of the HS (1 Cor 6:19). God�s presence presided in the Tabernacle and the Temple in the OT.
  • Dove � Noted at the baptism of Jesus.
  • Water � This motif is not used as often but is still available in a couple of circumstances. Many scholars attribute it to the collection of motifs when water is mentioned alongside the baptism, the Word, and the Spirit.

His Function in Salvation

Session 2 - GO TO TOP

Individual or Personal Salvation.

  • Regeneration � this is the wooing of the Spirit or the drawing of a human to a relationship with God. He is intricately woven into the desire to become a son of God. The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth and leads us to God. He works inwardly, through our conscience and understanding of morals, and outwardly, sending people and events to us that demand we acknowledge and come to know God. Tit. 3.5, Heb 3.7-8; 1 Pet. 1.2
  • Spirit of God is in us at salvation. (A correlation between sons and the HS) Rom 5.5; 8.14-16; 1 Cor 3.16; Gal 3.3; 2 Tim 1.14; Heb 6.4; 1 John 4.13. A common thread in the NT is that the HS is given to God�s sons. So the HS is proof of adoption into the family of God. These are often mentioned together. The word salvation is not used. It is more about adoption. But the process of salvation culminates into being �saved.�
  • A Deposit. 2 Cor 5.5, 2 Tim 1.14. A deposit can be taken back. But a deposit is also the hope of something in the end. The Holy Spirit has been given to each Christian in regeneration so that God may begin working in their lives. The HS is a guarantee that one is saved, however, one can give up the Spirit in them if they so choose. You can loose the Spirit. More on this in the section on grieving the HS, etc.
  • A Seal. Eph 1.13 � This seal is not like a seal that seals an envelope, not letting the contents out of the envelope again, but it is a mark on something, like a king�s seal. It authorizes the content, proves that the letter is the king�s, shows everyone who it belongs to.
  • Sanctification. Gal 5.16, Eph 3.16
  • The Holy Spirit helps us grow. He is our connection to the Father. He is our conscience, the One who convicts us when we do wrong. He is the voice of God. The adjective Holy is very important. Our objective as Christ�s disciples is to mimic His holiness and righteousness. The HS is our guide to doing this. He teaches, forgives, and leads in this experience.

His Function in Unifying the Church

SESSION 3 - GO TO TOP

The Corporate work of the Spirit for the church and all believers.

  • 2 Cor 13:14, Eph 2:18, 22; 4.3-4; Phil 1.27, 2.1-2
  • In Corinth, the Church was fragmented and broken. They had used knowledge over relationships and sacrificed the fellowship of believers. Paul�s cure: return to the Spirit, Unite through love, which only the Spirit can help us with daily.
  • In Ephesus, the church was already fairly unified, but Paul made this the theme of Ephesians. This is the best reference for Unity in the Body.
  • Philippians mentions the unity of believers also. Paul here comments that unity of believers is a strength that helps them in coping with oppression and enemies of God. This is historically the thing that switched half of Africa from Christianity to Islam in a matter of years.

Active Agent of the Godhead

SESSION 4 - GO TO TOP

The Action of God. In the NT, when something happens, the Holy Spirit is usually the One given credit for the action of God. Two words in Greek can be translated power:

  • Dunamis � the ability power. This is the �can do� power. God has the power (ability) to heal, save, and redeem. No one else can do this. No one else has such a power.
  • Exousia � the authority power. This is the �I�m the boss� power. God has power (authority) over Satan. Satan can not overrule God�s decisions. God has more authority.

We will focus on the ability power of God as the Holy Spirit. It is through the Holy Spirit that God advances His purpose on earth. Some examples of God�s ability power:

  • Luke 1:35 � the HS overshadowed Mary to produce Jesus.
  • Luke 4:18-19 � by the HS, Jesus performed His ministry.
  • Luke 12:12, 1 John 2:26-27 � The HS teaches us.
  • Acts � The HS molds the Church.
  • Acts 15:32 � The HS witnesses about Christ.
  • 1 Cor 2:13 � The HS helps us understand God and spiritual matters.
  • Eph 3:5 � The HS reveals things to us.
  • Eph 3:16 � The HS empowers us in inner character.
  • Col 1:8 � The HS helps us love unconditionally.
  • Heb 3:7-11 � The HS prophesies to us.

The common terms �by the HS,� or �through the HS� all express that the HS is the One causing and affecting the action being taken.

The Believer's Paraklete

SESSION 5 - GO TO TOP

Our Helper. The ideas of the HS as a Helper, Comforter, Advocate, and Counselor all come form the one word in Greek parakletoV which literally means �one called alongside.� This title is only used by John. But the idea of support is universal throughout the NT.

  • John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7 � all of these Jesus uses this title.
  • 1 John 2:1 � the HS helps us as a conscious guard against sin.
  • Rom 8:26 � The HS helps us in prayer.
  • 2 Tim 1:14 � The HS helps us guard the faith.
  • Acts 1:8 � The HS helps us bear witness.

Baptism and Filling of the Holy Spirit

SESSION 6 - GO TO TOP

Definition The normative experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit for the purposes of God in the Christian�s life.

Terminology 

  • Baptism � to be immersed completely into. Acts 19:1-5; Matt 3:11, cf. Acts 1:5
    There is always a distinction in the Bible between John�s baptism for repentance and the baptism of the HS. Between water and the Spirit.
  • Filling � to be full of or to be filled with, a passive verb.

Purposes

  • A bold witness. Acts 1:8 clearly outlines the purpose of the filling of the Holy Spirit  Jesus mentioned it and asked the apostles to wait in Jerusalem for it. Sure enough, the entire book of Acts is a historical account of the results of the Acts 2 prayer meeting. Right after Acts 2:4, Peter preaches an evangelistic sermon and 3,000 are saved. On and on the events continue based on this pivotal principle.
  • Holiness in the Christian Life. Paul spends much of his writings verifying and mentioning the HS in the church for corporate worship, for the individual growing of the saint, and for attaining to the Holiness, Righteousness, and Perfection of God.
  • Service in God�s Kingdom. The gifts of the HS, the Spirituals, are given for the purpose of serving the Church and the Kingdom of God, which makes the believer a part of the greater work of God in His plan for mankind.

The Initial Physical Evidence: This is normative in the book of Acts. There are three out of five places where speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence.

Examples in the Book of Acts:

  • Acts 2:1-4
  • Acts 8:9-18
  • Acts 10:44-48
  • Acts 11:15-17

The Spiritual Gifts Part 1

SESSION 7 - GO TO TOP

1 Corinthians 12 - Opening Considerations. The word Gift is not actually in the original language. These are simply labeled �The Spirituals.� This is not a complete list. Paul is using these as some of the overall examples. There are other lists, which means that these cannot be the only gifts the HS bestows.

background of this list of spirituals

  • From the beginning of ch. 5, Paul has been dealing with specific problems in the Corinthian church such as:
    • Dealing with sin
    • Lawsuits
    • Marriages
    • Meat sacrificed to idols
  • In ch. 11, Paul directly addresses propriety in worship and the problems with the Lord�s Supper. His very next problem subject is the Spirituals.
  • The problems the Corinthians had with the Spirituals will be discussed in the next session in ch. 14.

Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

The nine spiritual gifts mentioned can be categorized in these labels:

Leadership/Direction Power/Physical Manifestation Encouragement/Rebuke
Message of Wisdom Faith Prophecy
Message of Knowledge Healing Distinguishing Between Spirits
Miraculous Powers Speaking in Tongues
Interpretation of Tongues

definitions

  • Wisdom � This gift works with knowledge in that it gives us a �what to do with� the knowledge we have received. But wisdom is always from God. This is a supernatural ability to make the wise and right choices with the knowledge given.
  • Knowledge � This is a factual thing that one could not naturally perceive or know on his/her own. God gives them a supernatural view of the circumstance, need, etc. They have an understanding from God, not their own, even if they have not personally experienced the need.
  • Faith � this is an extreme belief in God�s ability and character to do what needs to be done. It is an almost innocent, childlike expectation that as soon as God is called on, there is no need to worry or wonder if God will move. It is not IF but WHEN God hears, He WILL answer always.
  • Healing � these are given so that God can manifest His ability to heal in mankind. When these people pray for the sick or disabled, God heals them. This is partly linked with the gift of faith. But it is a faith that heals when prayer is given.
  • Miraculous Powers � These are not healing miracles but other sorts. When these people pray for financial needs, relational needs, or impossible situations, God makes a way where there was no way. This is also linked with the gift of faith.
  • Prophecy � often a leadership function in the church, pointing as did the OT prophets to the moral, temporal, or present temperature of the congregation. Often these are rebukes, encouragements, and reminders to the saints. These come in times of wariness, trouble, or even when everything seems good and well.
  • Distinguishing of Spirits � This is a supernatural understanding or discerning of the type of spirit one is dealing with. Not a natural �gut feeling� but a God-given ability to perceive the motives and intentions of a spirit.
  • Speaking in Tongues � This is the corporate purpose of tongues, not the individual prayer language. Hence, an interpretation must follow for the enrichment and encouragement, as well as the understanding, of the entire church.
  • Interpretation of Tongues � goes hand-in-hand with the spoken tongues, it is the follow-up to what was uttered.

Points to remember about the spirituals:

  • Although many of the gifts tend to be linked to one another in the three categories, this does not mean that a person has all of the gifts in a category. They all have specific and special applications and definitions.
  • No one person has all the gifts. If this were true, Paul would not use the illustration of body parts in the next section. This means that we must come together corporately for the gifts to be fully active and effective. And each one of us is designed to hold a part of the key.
  • All of these gifts come from the HS alone. God equips us through His HS to encourage, serve and minister in the corporate setting, as well as the individual.
  • These are part of a lifestyle of Christian living. We should not be saying two contradicting things. And we shouldn�t be living two contradictory lifestyles either.

Notes on 1 Corinthians 12:27-31a

  • This hierarchy shows the goals of the HS. First those who do new works, then those who lead others into righteousness, thirdly, those who teach God�s Word, and then all other things, such as the restoration through healing, miracles, and others. A healthy church needs all of these gifts operating all the time to grow in Christ. These all together create a God-given balance in the work of God�s Kingdom.
  • The answer to all of the questions is no. Of specific trouble is the one asking if all speak in tongues. This is in the context of corporate tongues, not the prayer language. Every Christian is expected to exhibit a prayer language in the early church.

The Spiritual Gifts Part 2

SESSION 8 - GO TO TOP

Principles from 1 Corinthians 13-14

Notes on 1 Corinthians 12:31

  • Eagerly desire the greater gifts. What gifts are these? The answer is in 14:1. Prophecy.
  • The most excellent way. This is the way of love. Love here is ajgavph love, which is a love that Paul spends the rest of the chapter defining. It is a godly love, an unconditional love, the love we should have for strangers and enemies.

Notes on 1 Corinthians 13

  • This chapter is couched between a chapter on the spirituals and a chapter specifically explaining prophecy and tongues and interpretation. It is the linchpin of the entire order of working in the spirituals.
  • Paul uses examples from the spirituals, such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, and faith. Later on he refers to more of the gifts toward the end of the chapter.
  • Paul�s main point is that without love, the gifts are rendered ineffective.
  • Paul uses negatives to show what love is not. This is a literary device which clearly defines what love is to be.
  • Paul�s sub-point is that love will outlast all other virtues. It is not that love itself is greater than faith or hope, but that when they have come to pass, love will still be existent.

Notes on 1 Corinthians 14

  • In vv. 1-5, Paul holds prophecy in a higher regard than speaking in tongues for the reason that prophecy can be understood by the church. The point of the gift is that everyone in the church be edified, encouraged, comforted, or strengthened. This is the reason Paul takes this view. There is an inherent problem in the Corinthian church. They seemed to think that tongues was greatest because it is a foreign language and no one can understand it. There is a philosophy that if something cannot be understood, it is a great thing. Paul is saying the exact opposite. It is not wrong to speak in tongues at all. Paul encourages it. But he makes the point that it can only be a help to the church if it is understood.
  • Vv. 22-25. Tongues without interpretation are for believers. Tongues with interpretation and also prophecy are for unbelievers. The idea here is that an intelligible word must be spoken and understood with whatever method so that those who do not believe will understand and sense God�s presence, as well as for those who are believers.
  • Vv. 26-40. Helpful rules for the orderly worship of the saints. Discuss in class.