Who is the Holy Spirit?

Missing: Understanding the Holy Spirit  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  25:32
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When we read Scripture, we read amazing stories of how the Holy Spirit moved among God's people. Yet we look at most churches today and don't see anything resembling that same activity. Why? Has the Spirit gone missing? Has he taken a break? Or maybe we don't understand him as we should, and it is time to turn things around and allow God to be God in our communities.

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We are starting a new series this week called, Missing. We are only two weeks away from Pentecost Sunday, and that should stir excitement in each and every one of us. Pentecost is one of those formative events in church history that is often glazed over. Yet it is also one of those events that we read about in scripture and walk away wondering why the Holy Spirit doesn’t still move with that kind of power in the church today.
As we have been doing all year, we are taking a step back and laying a foundation to build on, and we are building towards Pentecost. We are going to be taking an in-depth look at the author of the Pentecost story; the Holy Spirit. I would dare to say that the Holy Spirit is one of the most misunderstood aspects of our faith. The result of us not fully understanding the Holy Spirit is we just don’t know what to do with Him, like anything or anyone we don’t fully understand.
My desire, as we move towards Pentecost, is that by laying a foundation of understanding the Holy Spirit, we are building towards each and every one of us having our own Pentecost level experience of the Holy Spirit. I realize that I’m throwing that word around a lot, and we will really do a deep dive of what we’re talking about in two weeks.
So to kick things off, we are looking at who the Holy Spirit is, and maybe more importantly, who the Holy Spirit isn’t.

1. The Holy Spirit is a Person

John 15:26 CSB
“When the Counselor comes, the one I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me.
John 16:7 CSB
Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send him to you.
Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit as a person. He will testify; I will send him to you. Along with laying the foundation that the Holy Spirit is a person, the bible also makes it clear that he has a personality.

A) He is wise

Ephesians 1:17 CSB
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.

B) He experiences emotion and pain

Ephesians 4:30 CSB
And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption.
Acts 5:3 CSB
“Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds of the land?
Hebrews 10:29 CSB
How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, who has regarded as profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

C) He is relational

Acts 15:28 CSB
For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision—and ours—not to place further burdens on you beyond these requirements:

D) He is creative

Genesis 1:2 CSB
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
Job 26:13 CSB
By his breath the heavens gained their beauty; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
I share this with you to help us debunk a few misconceptions about the Holy Spirit
Misconception #1 - The Holy Spirit is a impersonal force
This idea is why I ended with the creative aspects of the Holy Spirit’s personality. Genesis says the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters, but Job says by His breath the heavens gained their beauty. Both breath and Spirit come from the same Hebrew word, ruach. This word can also be translated wind, and I think this is why we think of the Holy Spirit as having more in common with the Force from Star Wars then the God the Father. Wind and breath are not things that can be known, but rather things that are experienced. But as the passages we read show, the Spirit is a person that can be known and talked to and taught by.
The problem this misconception creates is that we end up pursuing a “Holy Spirit experience” instead of pursuing a relationship with the Holy Spirit and letting the experience come as a result of the relationship. We chalk the working of the Holy Spirit to unpredictable and random instead of purposeful and directed by a person. I’m convinced that anytime the Spirit moves and it appears to be random, it is a reminder that God’s ways and God’s thoughts are far above our thoughts and our ways. We cannot fully comprehend the way God works, and if the Holy Spirit’s actions seem unknowable, it is because our finite minds cannot understand.
Misconception #2 - The Holy Spirit is feminine
This may seem odd to some of you, but this teaching has been getting some popularity lately. The line of thought goes that because the Trinity is composed of the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit must be the feminine component of the Trinity. As the Father and the Son embody the characteristics that are typical of the male roles, then the Holy Spirit must embody the female characteristics. The issue comes when Jesus has clearly identified the Holy Spirit as him and he.
The other problem with this is that it shows a misunderstanding of God. It suggests that there is some aspect of God’s character that is lacking, and we simply don’t believe that. God is perfectly perfect, and so the Father not only embodies the strength and discipline that are commonly associated with the Father figure, but God is also nurturer and comforter, characteristics that are commonly associated with mothers. God is not missing anything that we need in life, and all three persons of the Trinity perfectly embody all those things.

2. The Holy Spirit is Fully God

Matthew 28:19 CSB
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
2 Corinthians 13:14 CSB
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Jude 20–21 CSB
But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life.
Misconception #3 - the Holy Spirit is a part of God
This comes from an observation I have made over the years, and it is a tendency of mine and many other disciples in my life. How often have we been praying for a situation or an event and asked God to send his Holy Spirit? This is not inherently wrong, but why would we ask God to send the Holy Spirit when we have the ability and permission to ask the Holy Spirit to go? I think this misconception is linked to the first one, that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force that only God can direct. But just like he is a person that can make decisions and talk, he is 100% God and everything that comes with that. He is all powerful, all knowing, ever present, and eternal. We can pray to the Holy Spirit in the same way we can pray to the Father and to the Son.
This has huge implications for the way we understand some of our most basic beliefs and theology. When we surrender our life to Christ, we are told that the Holy Spirit comes and dwells within us; he is the seal of our redemption. There is a big difference between an impersonal force, a part of God, coming to dwell within us, and God himself coming and dwelling within us. It means that all the power, all the wisdom, everything that God is, dwells within you and me.

3. So what?

I understand that this message will hit everyone differently. If you are new to faith, this is a lot of information to take in. For some, this has hopefully clarified some confusion you’ve experienced in this part of your faith and walk with God. Maybe you have been a disciple of Christ for a while and desiring an experience of the Holy Spirit. I hope you take the time to pursue the person of the Holy Spirit and allow the experience to come as a result of the relationship, instead of tirelessly pursuing the experience and missing out on the person who brings the experience. I hope this enriches your prayer life.
No matter where this hits you, take time this week to get to know the Holy Spirit. Take advantage of the resources that the church offers and get to know the person of the Holy Spirit. Allow him to speak into your life and teach you. Let’s pray.
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