The Holy Spirit Acts as a Person

In a previous article we looked at three characteristics of personality displayed by the Holy Spirit—knowledge, will and emotion. These are characteristics of a person, not an inanimate object.

Now we will show how the Holy Spirit’s actions also indicate personality. As Charles Ryrie says, “Actions are attributed to the Holy Spirit that cannot be attributed to a mere thing or influence or personification or power or emanation. Such actions, then, must be those of a person, thus proving personality of the Spirit.”[1]

I shall present these with little commentary since the list is long. However, I am aware this is not an exhaustive list. If I have left off your favorite, it may be one we will discuss under a separate category.

Here, then are actions that only a Person can perform:

He speaks – The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons (1 Timothy 4:1); Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Revelation 2:7).

He teaches – But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26); I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you (John 16:12-14).

He searches and reveals – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10).

He testifies or witnesses – When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father—the Spirit of Truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me (John 15:26); The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:16).

He guides – For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God (Romans 8:14).

He convicts – But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:7-8).

He restrains – Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years (Genesis 6:3).

He commands and directs – The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it” (Act 8:29); Paul and his companions traveled through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to (Acts 16:6-7).

He performs miracles – When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:39).

He calls people for special service – While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2); Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood (Acts 20:28).

He sends people out into Christian service – The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus (Acts 13:4).

He intercedes – In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans (Romans 8:26).

R.A. Torrey says,

“The Holy Spirit is not merely an influence that comes upon us and impels us to pray, nor is he a mere guidance to us in offering our prayers—He is a person who himself prays. Every believer in Christ has two divine persons praying for him every day: first, the Son, our ‘Advocate with the Father,’ who ‘ever liveth to make intercession for us’ up yonder at the right hand of God in the glory (1 John 2:1 and Hebrews 7:25). Second, the Holy Spirit who prays through us down here on earth.”[2]

That’s an impressive list, isn’t it? Charles Ryrie gives us the final word:

“Granted, some of these actions can be performed by inanimate or impersonal objects. For example, a book can teach. A plaque can testify. A map can guide. But behind such impersonal objects are the persons who were involved in creating the impersonal or inanimate objects. These examples are, therefore, legitimate evidences for the personality of the Holy Spirit.”[3]

  1. Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Holy Spirit (Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition), p. 14.
  2. R.A. Torrey, The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit (Zellerz Publishing Co., Kindle Edition).
  3. Ryrie, p. 15, emphasis added.

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