The Holy Spirit, God’s Greatest Gift BY William Boekestein for Core Christianity
(53) Q. What do you believe concerning “the Holy Spirit”?
A. First, that the Spirit, with the Father and the Son, is eternal God. Second, that he is given also to me,so that, through true faith, he makes me share in Christ and all his benefits,comforts me,and will remain with me forever.
In the days after Jesus’s physical return to heaven, the disciples were waiting. Jesus had commissioned them to be his witnesses in a hostile world. But they lacked the power to take the first step. What was missing from their lives? The Holy Spirit. But the disciples weren’t waiting for the energy of an impersonal force. They were waiting for Jesus to answer his promise to always be with them (Matt. 28:20).
The Holy Spirit’s ministry is truly the difference between knowing about God and knowing God. He alone can transform us from natural to spiritual people. He’s the other comforter (John 14:16) who can bring joy into seemingly hopeless situations. Unless we experience the Spirit’s comfort, we’ll seek consolation in the wrong places. Unsatisfied, we’ll be half-hearted in worship and in kingdom work. Knowing the Holy Spirit is a matter of spiritual life or death.
Who Is the Spirit?
Some people say that the Holy Spirit isn’t a distinct person of the Trinity; they think of the Spirit as God’s energy or the way of describing God’s presence. But Scripture reveals the Spirit as a unique divine person. He can be lied to (Acts 5:3) and grieved (Isa. 63:10; Eph. 4:30). Jesus described the Spirit as a personal being like himself (John 14:26). Here’s how Jesus previewed the coming of the Spirit: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (15:26). Put more briefly, the Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son.”[i] So the Holy Spirit is clearly distinct from the first and second persons of the Trinity.
At the same time, the Spirit is equal to the Father and the Son in divinity, glory, majesty, eternality, and immensity. The Athanasian Creed summarizes Scripture’s teaching: “We worship one God in Trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confounding their persons nor dividing their essence.”[ii] We may not collapse the three persons into one or split the divine essence into three. With the Father (Mal. 2:10) and the Son (John 1:3), the Spirit created the world; at the beginning “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters (Gen. 1:2). And while the three persons of the Trinity are never separated in their perfect works, the Father can be called creator, the Son deliverer, and the Spirit sanctifier—the Holy Spirit works to make the unholy more holy.