Introduction to the Holy Spirit

In his excellent book Forgotten God, Francis Chan makes this statement: “As I thought about this chapter, I realized how ludicrous it would be for anyone to say they were going to explain the Holy Spirit. The Bible says we cannot fully understand God, and I am certainly not the exception to that rule. There are things about God that are mysterious and secret, things we will never know about Him. But there also are things revealed, and those belong to us (Deut. 29:29).”[1]

How well I understand his feeling! I have actually tried several times to write a series on the Holy Spirit, and have given up because of the immensity of the task. On the other hand, especially after listening to Anne Graham Lotz talking about the Holy Spirit and reading her book, Jesus in Me, I was convicted about how little I know about Him even after many decades of Christian life. I thought about how much my life would be enriched if I understood more of why Jesus promised to send Him, and what He wants to do in me. So I’m going to try again, bearing in mind, as Chan says, “The point is not to completely understand God but to worship Him.”[2]

In order to give myself the best chance of success, however limited, I’m going to concentrate in this series on what the Bible reveals about the Holy Spirit as a Person, and what we find out from Scripture about His deity. As narrow as that focus is, there is a mass of information I’m going to try to work through, weeding out tidbits to hopefully whet your appetite to learn more about the incredible gift God has given us in the Person of the Holy Spirit, and to come to love Him.

Let’s begin with the obvious. If the Holy Spirit is God, and if God is eternal—having existed since before time began, then the Holy Spirit did not just suddenly appear on Pentecost Sunday out of nowhere. In fact, we find quite a few references to Him in the Old Testament, beginning at the very beginning, Genesis 1:1-2: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

His work in creation is also mentioned in Job 33:4 (“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life”) and in Psalm 104:30 (“When you send your Spirit they are created, and you renew the face of the ground”).

The psalmist David was also intimately familiar with God’s Holy Spirit. That is obvious from these verses:

Psalm 51:11 – “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Psalm 139:7-10 – “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

We find that same awareness of the Holy Spirit in the writings of the prophet Isaiah. Elmer Towns points out that Isaiah actually gives seven names for the Holy Spirit in just one verse—Isaiah 11:2: “(1) The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—(2) the Spirit of wisdom and (3) of understanding, (4) the Spirit of counsel and (5) of might, (6) the Spirit of the knowledge of (7) the fear of the Lord” (the numbering is his).[3]

Isaiah 61:1 – “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”

Isaiah 63:9-11, 14 – “In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them. Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people—where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock? Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them…. They were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord.”

And our final example comes from the prophet Micah who also knew the power of the Holy Spirit. He says, “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might…” (Micah 3:8).

This should prove sufficient to conclude that the Holy Spirit has existed since the beginning of written time. Further, as R.A. Torrey declared, the Holy Spirit is “an ever-present, loving Friend and mighty Helper, who is not only always by [our] side but dwells in [our] heart every day and every hour and who is ready to undertake for [us] in every emergency of life.”[4]

That is as true today as it was “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:2); it is as true today as it was when Jesus promised to send “another counselor” (John 14:15-16); it is true every day and every hour of your life.

[1] Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit (Kindle Edition), p. 65. Deuteronomy 29:29 reads, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever….”

[2] Ibid.

[3]  Elmer Towns, The Names of the Holy Spirit, Appendix 2. This is from a pdf I accessed online. Unfortunately, this appendix is not included in the Kindle version of the book I have in my library.

[4] R.A. Torrey, The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit (Zellerz Publishing Co., Kindle Edition), p. 4.

Leave a Comment