The Characteristics of Holy Spirit

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SCRIPTURE:           Acts 19:1-2 and John 14:16-18 NASB (9-4-05)

TITLE:                       Characteristics of the Holy Spirit

INTRODUCTION:    The Word Characteristic according to the English Thesaurus means to have uniqueness; and distinctiveness.  It describes the special quality of a particular person.  The Holy Spirit is a person and as a Christian, we need to know that the Holy Spirit has been a part of the Trinity of God since the beginning of time.   Trinity is a word not found in Scripture, but used to express the doctrine of the unity of God as subsisting in three distinct Persons. This word is derived from the Gr. trias, first used by Theophilus (A.D. 168-183), or from the Lat. trinitas, first used by Tertullian (A.D. 220), to express this doctrine. The propositions involved in the doctrine are these:

            1. That God is one and that there is but one God (Deut. 6:4; 1 Kings 8:60; Isa. 44:6; Mark 12:29, 32; John 10:30).

             2. That the Father is a distinct divine Person (hypostasis, subsistentia, persona, suppositum intellectuale), distinct from the Son and the Holy Spirit.

            3. That Jesus Christ was truly God, and yet was a Person distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit, and

            4. That the Holy Spirit is also a distinct divine Person.

The word “spirit” (in Hebrew is ruah and is cited in the OT – 378 times (also in Aramaic some 11 times); in the Greek it is pneuma and is cited in the NT – 379 times.) is the word used from ancient times to describe and explain the experience of divine power working in, upon, and around men, and understood by them as the power of God.

Paul has just arrived in Ephesus on his third Missionary journey; he had visited it during his second Missionary journey; to begin a major evangelistic effort.  One year had passed and during that time, Apollos had arrived and left for Corinth.

When Paul had arrived in Ephesus he was informed there are certain "disciples" like him in the area.

These twelve men (verse 7) had an understanding of Christianity much the same as that of Apollos before Apollos had met Aquila and Priscilla.  They had not advanced beyond John the Baptist's initial preaching of repentance in preparation for the coming Messiah.  Paul entered into conversation with them to find out just where they stood in relation to the gospel.  Like Apollos, they knew only the baptism of John into repentance.   

The Holy Spirit had come after Pentecost and these 12 men had been baptized unto repentance by John under the Old Covenant, which ended with Jesus. (Heb. 10:1-18).  John 7:39, “But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. 

John had told them in Matt 3:11, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  Once they understood this through Paul’s instruction, they put their trust in Jesus of whose coming their teacher John the Baptist - had spoken about. Therefore, they believed (v.4) were baptized (v.5) and received the Holy Spirit (v. 6).

The believers at Ephesus were aware of their need to live a better life, but they were not aware of the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them to do so.  Their experience demonstrates the truth that without the Holy Spirit we cannot please God. Thus, without the Holy Spirit we are incomplete Christians. In fact, Scripture tells us in John 4:24, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."  The norm of Christian experience is a cluster of four things: *Repentance, faith in Jesus, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.* 

To know the Holy Spirit is to know the characteristics of the Holy Spirit.  That is why it was important for these 12 men and us to know the Characteristics of the Holy Spirit.  Let us look at them.


I.          The Holy Spirit Is Personal

A.        John 16:13-14 says, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is     Mine and declare it to you. “NKJV. 

            1.         In these quoted verses of the Gospel of John, However, when He is used and the personal pronoun He is used 6 times additional times to describe what He will do.

B.        Therefore, the Holy Spirit is neither an impersonal force nor a mere influence; rather, He possesses a full and distinct personality. 

C.        He is an essential part of a divine revelation.  Everywhere His prerogatives are before us. 

D.        He is the direct agent between heaven and earth in this gospel age.

            1.         The Holy Spirit has been committed the sacred task of applying redemption to believing sinners and of making believers holy. 

            2.         It is He who convicts us of sin, regenerates, sanctifies, teaches, guides, and inspires us.  We are totally dependent upon Him for all that concerns our life in Christ.

            3.         That is why the writer tells us in Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. “

E.        The Holy Spirit is a person who searches the deep things of             God (as in Rom. 8:26); testifies (as in John 15:26); teaches (as in John 14:26); and guides (as in Acts 16:6);

G.        The Bible always pictures the Holy Spirit as person and never as an impersonal force. Therefore, as a person the Holy Spirit relates to        us, He understands, He feels for us, and He is our paraclete which             means that He is our divine Friend and Helper.

*Not only is the Holy Spirit Personal, but:*


II.         The Holy Spirit Is Particular (Deity)

A.        The Holy Spirit is none less than God Himself because:

            1.         The Holy Spirit possesses divine attributes. 

                        a.         The Holy Spirit is omnipresent, which mean that He is present all of the time no matter when or where.  You can call Him…

                        b.         As part of the Trinity, God is not a physical being limited to place and time as we are. He is present everywhere, and he can be worshiped anywhere, anytime.

                        c.         David illustrates this in Psalm 139:7-10, by pointing out that there is nowhere we can go to flee the Lord’s presence. Even if we were to ascend into the heaven, make our bed in hell, or go to the most extreme parts of the sea, we can never go beyond the reach of God’s presence.

B.        The Holy Spirit also possesses eternity, which only Deity possesses.  He is called “the eternal Spirit” in Hebrews 9:14.

            1.         The Holy Spirit is omniscient, a characteristic of God which means He knows all things actual and possible whether past, present, or future. ‘The Apostle Paul eludes this in 1 Corinthians 2:11b “one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” NKJV

            2.         The Holy Spirit is also omnipotent or all-powerful; a quality of deity, which means God, is all-powerful and can do anything that is consistent with His nature. Luke 1:35 tells us this when the Angel spoke to Mary saying “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” NKJV

C.        Divine Works are ascribed to the Holy Spirit:  Some of these works are creation as mentioned in Gen. 1:2; the giving of life as mentioned in John 6:63,  prophecy as mentioned in 2 Peter 1:21), and the Making of disciples as mentioned in Matthew 28:19-20.

*Not only is the Holy Spirit Particular (Deity), but:*

III.        The Holy Spirit is Powerful (God’s Agent on Earth)

A.        In John 14:16-17, Jesus promised that He would pray to the heavenly Father, and that the Father would send the Holy Spirit, who would abide with us forever.

B.        The power that Jesus spoke which is of God may be thought in three ways in relation to the Trinity.  It is founded in the Father, it is revealed through the Son, and it is activated by the Holy Spirit.


C.        From the beginning of time Genesis 1:1 until the end of time the Holy Spirit is working.

            1.         In Genesis 1:2, He brought order into the universe when He moved upon the face of the waters shaping nothing into something.

            2.         In Job 26:13, the Holy Spirit is the Chief architect who garnishes the heavens.

            3.         In Psalm 104:30, the Holy Spirit is a plastic surgeon who renews the face of the earth;

            4.         In Job 33:4, the Holy Spirit is the creation of all who gives life to human beings, and

            5.         In Revelation 22:17, the Holy Spirit is the everlasting life giver, who gives to those who thirsts and come, the water of life freely.

F.         As God’s Agent on earth the Holy Spirit acts in the Ministry of Christ.

            1.         He was active in the development of Christ as He “grew, and waxed strong in the spirit.” Luke 2:40.  We too must allow the Holy Spirit to aid in our development into the person that God created us for.


            2.         The Holy Spirit continued with Jesus Christ   during His preaching and healing Ministries.  We must allow the Holy Spirit to be with our Ministries as Jesus did.  When the Holy Spirit is in operation, people are changed             and lives are strengthened.

G.        The Holy Spirit is God’s agent on earth in the creation of Holy Scripture:  The Holy Scripture revealed certain truths to individuals, which they in turn recorded as sacred Scripture for our edification.  We have Jesus saying, “He is the way, the truth and the light.”

            1.         We have John as he writes from the Island of Patmos in Revelation 1:10 giving us a glimpse of heaven while he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.

            2.         Scripture is given by inspiration (Holy Spirit) as stated in 2  Timothy 3:16, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” NKJV.

            3.         John 14:26, we are assured by Christ the inspiration of Scripture as the Holy Spirit brings the remembrance of the writers certain truth and experiences.

            4.         The Holy Spirit is active in relation to the Bible through illumination, which relates to our ability to comprehend the truths as they are revealed to inspire us.

H.        The Holy Spirit is God’s agent on earth in the work of the Church. 

            1.         As we look to Acts 1:8 we find that the Holy Spirit initially empowered the church to act for Him.  Jesus tells us in this Scripture “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."  NKJV

            2.         He is involved in the expansion of the Church in Acts 2:1-4, and He is seen in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, as equipping the church. 

I.          The Holy Spirit is the administrator of the church’s affairs.  If churches today, would allow the Holy Spirit to work as it did in the earlier churches, our life and work would be entirely revolutionized, causing a change in people lives.


Conclusion:     Jesus revolutionized the world when He came.  He healed the sick, raised the dead, gave life to a lifeless world and died.  But, when He died He revolutionized the time after death. Until His time no one had died and rose.  But Jesus did……..

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