At one time I had no idea that the Holy Spirit was anything more than an air of righteousness that surrounded a person, enabling her to live and walk graciously, with poise and in obedience to God. In fact, I seldom thought of him as the “Holy” Spirit; he was just the Spirit, and since I didn’t even acknowledge him as a being, it was more like the spirit with a small “s;” a characteristic, rather than a character.
Then I met some people who knew the Holy Spirit as a living being, not just an energizing force or a holy feeling. There was something very different about them; a vibrancy, a boldness, a confidence. When I asked what it was that made the scripture so real to them; what it was that gave them such assurance, they answered without hesitation, “The Holy Spirit who indwells us. He is a gift of the Father through Jesus Christ.”
I determined to learn more about the Holy Spirit by studying the scripture. I sought the counsel of my heavenly Father to help me understand. The following is what I discovered. Of course, it’s a simple and limited study, but it led me to be filled with the incredible and limitless Spirit of the living God, and he was and is enough to radically impact my life and many others.
I pray that everyone who longs to intimately know Jesus Christ and our heavenly Father would take the time to also read the passages in the Bible about the Holy Spirit, personally seek the Father’s will concerning him, and be filled by him.
The Holy Spirit is a Being—Not a Feeling
First I discovered the Holy Spirit had many attributes that characterized him as a being rather than a feeling or an attitude. The following scripture references teach that the Holy Spirit:
Loves – Romans 15:30
Wills – 1 Corinthians 12:11
Hears – John 16:13
Makes decisions – Acts 15:28
Intercedes – Romans 8:26
Searches – 1 Corinthians 2:10
Knows God’s thoughts – 1 Corinthians 2:11
Can be lied to – Acts 5:3
Grieves – Ephesians 4:30 and Isaiah 63:10
Gives gifts – 1 Corinthians 12:8,11
I continued my study with a new perspective of the Holy Spirit.
* John 7:37- 39: On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this, he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
John 14:16-17: “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.”
Also in John 16:5-15, Jesus addresses the disciples’ grief over his leaving them, and he encourages them with the promise of the Holy Spirit. All that the Spirit was to be for the early disciples, he will also be for us. He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgement. He will guide us into all truth, he will tell of things yet to come and he will bring glory to Christ by making him known to us.
There is a distinct relationship between the Father, Son and Spirit. In verse 15 we read, “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.” I need to repeat that. All that belongs to the Father also belongs to the Son. The Spirit takes it from the Son and makes it known to us. Amazing!
I received the indwelling Spirit of God almost 30 years ago, yet Jesus’ words still cause my heart to leap with joy! “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this, he meant the Spirit….I still feel the living water of the Spirit bubbling up within me.
The Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts
I doubt that any believer would question that the power within the apostles and in their acts was the Holy Spirit. We can have the same powerful Spirit indwelling us today. The primary purpose of the Spirit is to impart the things of heaven to those who believe so that Christ will be glorified. John 16:15 When we are filled with the Spirit, we are empowered to share the gospel and to share it with power. That purpose has not changed from then until now.
I’d like to share the journey I took through Acts beginning with Jesus’ words from Acts 1:4-5, 8:
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.-” … – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
When I read “to the ends of the earth,” I realized this same powerful Holy Spirit was for believers today too, because the “ends of the earth” still needs witnesses who will share the gospel with power. The Holy Spirit will empower us as witnesses.
I especially enjoyed reading of the GIFT Jesus’ Father PROMISED. A gift is something that is given without cost to the recipient. Wow! And to think the gift of the Holy Spirit was promised made me feel he was extremely important. I knew if my heavenly Father promised something, he would surely keep his word. So moving on in Acts:
Acts 2:4: All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
All of them were filled.
Acts 4:31: After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
The Holy Spirit enabled them to speak the word of God boldly.
Acts 8:15-17: When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Some had been baptized by John into the name of the Lord Jesus, but that was before the gift of the Holy Spirit had been given. Remember Jesus saying, “but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.” Now these others were receiving the gift that had already been given to those who were waiting in Jerusalem as Jesus had commanded.
Acts 9:17: Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Paul believed first; then he was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 10:44-46: While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
The Holy Spirit is available for all!
Acts 19:1-6: While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
These had likely already been baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus just as those in Acts 8:16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus., but now the baptism into the name of the Lord Jesus came with the power of the Holy Spirit when Paul placed his hands on them.
Often one believes, just as those who were baptised in John’s baptism. They’ve repented, and they believe, but they have yet to encounter the Holy Spirit in their lives. That was my experience. As I read of him, and saw him in the lives of my believing friends, I began to desire him more and more.
John 3:8: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
The result of his presence is evident in the lives in whom he dwells.
The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Lives of Believers
More scripture reveals that the Holy Spirit:
Regenerates us who believe. John 6:6
Enables us to communicate the gospel with power. 1 Thessalonians 1:5
Strengthens us with power in the inner man. Ephesians 3:16
Leads us into a holy life. Romans 8:13-14
Bears witness with us that we are God’s children. Romans 8:16
Quickens our mortal bodies. Romans 8:11
Teaches all things. 1 John 2:20, 27
Guides us into all truth. John 16:13
Reveals to us the deep things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:10
Produces fruit. Galatians 5:22-23
Gives spiritual gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:4, 11
Brings to remembrance the words of Christ. John 14:26
This list is not complete. I would encourage everyone to study the Holy Spirit for themselves. After prayerfully doing a scriptural study, I’m sure you’ll want to respond in obedience to the Father’s will.
Receive the Holy Spirit by ASKING for Him
I went to the Lord and desperately sought to understand. All that I had been studying was new to me, and I was a little hesitant to ask God for something so unfamiliar. However, I was reminded of the passage I used in my very first testimony in a Sunday morning meeting.
1 John 5:14-15: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask— we know that we have what we asked of him.”
I believed I was asking according to his will. I’d read all these things about his promise, his gift to his children. After all, I could surely trust my Father to watch over me as his own child. The gift of the Holy Spirit is something Jesus wants us to have. It IS according to his will, so we can come to our Father with confidence, knowing he hears us, and that he will give the Holy Spirit to us. Amazing!
Matthew 7:7-11: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
I knew my heavenly Father would not give me a stone if I asked for bread. I prayed in earnest, asking to receive his promised gift. I purposefully mentioned that I was praying to God, the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of Jesus Christ. I wanted to be absolutely certain I was praying to the true God. Then I trusted his care for me, and knew he would not give me a snake when I was asking for fish.
I asked. I received. It was just like that! And it will be for you too. You can completely trust your Heavenly Father to give you the incredible gift of the Holy Spirit. He wants you to have him dwelling within you, and he wants you to be aware of what that means. God desires to impart his own life within you, to empower you to bring glory to his Son, Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:18: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
Being filled with the Spirit can only occur when you obediently turn to your Father and ask him for his indescribable gift. When you do, you will never be the same. You will journey into a marvellous heavenly adventure that has no earthly comparison.
Jesus announced the coming of the Holy Spirit.
He encouraged us to ask for and receive his Father’s gift.
The apostle Paul commanded, “Be filled with the Spirit.”
Your heavenly Father desires to give him to you in fullness.
Will you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?
By Linda McCrae Tame