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Don Stewart :: Is the Holy Spirit a Person?

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Don Stewart
The Holy Spirit, to many people, is an enigma. Some see Him as an impersonal force or influence, some deny His very existence, and others are not certain who or what the Holy Spirit is. The Bible, as we have established, teaches that the Holy Spirit is a person, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. By "person" we mean one who has his own identity or individuality as a rational being, conscious of his own existence. The fact that the Holy Spirit is a person can be observed in four ways: He has the characteristics of a person, He acts like a person, He is treated as a person, and He is the Third Person of the Trinity, and therefore, is personal.

Characteristics Of A Person

The Scriptures attribute to the Holy Spirit characteristics that only a person can possess. He is portrayed as a thinking being, an emotional being, and a volitional (choosing) being.

1. A Thinking Being

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit has the intellectual capacity to think:

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10).

The Holy Spirit thinks and reasons. These things imply personality.

2. An Emotional Being

The Holy Spirit not only thinks like a person. He has feelings like a person. He can give and receive love.

Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me (Romans 15:30).

He can be grieved:

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).

The Holy Spirit can be insulted:

Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insult the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29).

He responds emotionally the way that a person responds.

3. A Choosing Being

The Holy Spirit also has a will to choose:

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11).

These attributes are consistent with personhood. Therefore, we see that the characteristics ascribed to the Holy Spirit - thought, feelings, choice - are attributes of a person.

ACTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

The deeds that the Holy Spirit performs are deeds only a person can do.

1. Teaching

These things we also speak not in words which mans wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:13).

2. Giving Guidance

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God (Romans 8:14).

3. Comforting

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him to you (John 16:7KJV).

4. Commanding

Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot" (Acts 8:29).

5. Giving Understanding

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 (John 16:13).

6. Speaking

As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work which I have called them" (Acts 13:2).

These deeds attributed to the Holy Spirit are not the acts of an impersonal force; they are the acts of a person.

Treated As A Person

Whenever the Holy Spirit is encountered in a historical situation we discover that He is always treated as a person. The Bible records that Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit.

But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself" (Acts 5:3).

You can lie only to a person.

Stephen told the Sanhedrin that they were disobeying the Holy Spirit by resisting Him:
You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you (Acts 7:51).

You do not disobey an impersonal force, you disobey a person.
On another occasion Simon Peter went to the house of Cornelius as the Holy Spirit directed:

While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold three men are seeking you" (Acts 10:19).

Consequently whenever we find the Holy Spirit in a historical narrative He is consistently treated as though He is a person, never as anything less.

Part Of The Godhead

The final reason that we conclude that the Holy Spirit is a person is that He is addressed as God. He is a member of the Godhead which consists of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus said:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

The Father and Son are personal beings and the Holy Spirit is treated in the same manner and assumed to be a person.

Blasphemed

Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit could be blasphemed:
Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men (Matthew 12:31).

Only God can be blasphemed. Thus, if the Holy Spirit is God and God is personal, then the Holy Spirit must be personal.

Conclusion

We conclude the following concerning the Holy Spirit:

1. The Holy Spirit has the attributes of a person.
2. The Spirit also performs the acts of a person.
3. The Holy Spirit is treated as a person.
4. The Holy Spirit is God, and therefore, by nature is personal.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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