An in-depth study of the Holy Spirit seems to be, not only in order, but needed. Almost everyone has heard the term, Holy Spirit (translated Holy Ghost in the KJV and some older writings). Yet few can give a rational view concerning this third person of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is an individual separate from the Father and the Son and is referred to as ‘he’ which sets him along with the other two entities. One of the apparent reasons that less is known of him than the others, is that his works and actions are somewhat more in the background and referred to in some cases rather vaguely. Let us examine some of the reasons a study is needed.
First of all he is a Bible subject of distinction and is, surprisingly, mentioned and discussed numerous times throughout both testaments. Let’s look at some of those statistics. He is mentioned in some way 352 times in the Bible, 88 of which are in the Old Testament and 264 times in the New Testament. He is referred to by 18 names in the Old Testament and 39 names in the New Testament.
Another reason a study of the Holy Spirit is needed is due to the extraordinary amount of misunderstanding concerning him. One facet of the misunderstanding is what is referred to as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. During the times in history as the plan of God was unfolding, instances arose quite often when it was necessary for the Godhead to circumvent their natural laws which had been put in place, in order to keep the progression of the plan on track. In such cases, one of the three entities found it necessary to intervene in some way or to actually guide individuals in the way they should go. This included numerous prophets, judges and other men sent by God to help steer the people. He was even instrumental in the creation and is mentioned in Genesis 1:2, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
When the Bible refers to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, it has reference to a supernatural situation. There are only three events in which individuals were baptized in the Holy Spirit. First is when John baptized Jesus Christ in water and the Holy Spirit descended upon him with the appearance of a dove and entered into him…dwelt in him until his death on the cross. The third account was when the household of Cornelius was converted, the first of the Gentiles to enter the Lord’s church. The other instance was that of the 12 apostles on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) after the ascension of Jesus into heaven. The Holy Spirit filled the room where they were with the sound of a rushing mighty wind and descended upon them in the form of flames, entering into them and guiding them into all truths, bringing to their memory all that Jesus had spoken to them and endowing them with miraculous powers, even to that of raising the dead. Plus they received the power to lay their hands on other newly baptized converts and endowing them with a spiritual gift. There are 9 gifts specified that were given to the different converts.
The gift of the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, the gift of faith, the gift of healing, the working of miracles, the gift of prophecy, the gift to discern spirits, the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. These are found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. You will notice the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. These gifts were given to the apostles on the day the Holy Spirit descended upon them, and it was for the purpose of them to enable the apostles to speak in all the various languages and dialects which were assembled there on that Pentecostal celebration, which were many. They were enabled to speak in those different languages even though they had never learned or been taught them. Those gifts they were able to pass on to the new converts were for the same reason.
Some people today profess to be able to speak in “unknown tongues”. First of all, their jabbering isn’t a tongue (language) and secondly, they did not have an apostle lay his hands on them to bestow such a gift. It is not disclosed in the scripture, the date the miraculous gifts ceased, but Paul plainly tells us that they would do so. And once all the New Testament writings were finished and had been passed around to the various congregations of the body of Christ, there was no further need for them. Some scholars contend that they ceased approximately 64 A.D. The reader is encouraged at this point to read 1 Corinthians chapter 13 in its entirety, giving special attention to verses 8 through 13, where Paul explains the ending of the miraculous period.
After the prophesied destruction of Jerusalem came to pass, we have no further record of a legitimate miracle being performed. There have been many instances where miracles have been claimed, but none with merit.
Another reason for the study of the Holy Spirit is his role in Christians lives and his guidance of truth. The Holy Spirit dwells in Christians. Yes, it is true, but not the miraculous indwelling as found in the instances listed above of Jesus, the apostles and the household of Cornelius. The Holy Spirit guided the pens of every author of the Old and New Testaments. Therefore, the writings are the words of the Holy Spirit and are true, inerrant, everlasting. As we hear the word proclaimed, as we read from God’s word and as we witness the lives of good Christians about us, we ingest the teachings into our hearts and meditate upon them. This is the non-miraculous means by which the spirit dwells in us. These words were brought to us by miraculous means of the Holy Spirit and as long as we keep them in our hearts and abide by them, the spirit remains in us and the blood of Christ continuously cleans us of our sins.