Who or what is the Holy Spirit

Who or what is the Holy Spirit?  That has become an often-discussed question – due in part to the rise of Eastern Mysticism and New Age teaching in this country.  Many cults deny He is a person and that He is God, saying the Holy Spirit is just a “force” or an “influence.”  On the other hand, the Charismatic Movement within Christianity has overemphasized the Holy Spirit – elevating Him to a position that He would not seek.  As with each study, our aim is to examine the Holy Scriptures.  Who is the Holy Spirit according to the Bible, and what is His role in our lives?  You will be overjoyed to learn what great provision God has made for you through the ministry of His Holy Spirit.  He is God’s perpetual, indwelling gift to you.


A.     Look up: Acts 5:3,4

In verse 3 Ananias is said to have lied to the

__ __ __ __  __ __ __ __ __ , and in verse 4 he is

said to have lied to __ __ __ .

What conclusion can you draw from comparing these facts in these two verses?



B.     Look up: 1 John 5:7

This verse tells us the Holy Ghost is one with the

F__ __ __ __ __ and the W__ __ __ (Son).

Compare John 1:1 and 1:14 for an understanding of Who the Word is.

C.     Look up: Matthew 28:19

Notice the word “Name” is singular; this indicates that the Holy Spirit is God, the third person of the Holy Trinity.

D.     Look up: John 14:16, 17, 26, and John 16:7, 8, 13, 14

1.     How many personal pronouns (“He,” “Him,” “Himself”), which apply to the Holy Spirit are there in these verses?                          



2.     From this, would you say the Spirit is a person or                    an impersonal “force”? ________                        

E.     Look up: Acts 5:3, Acts 7:51, and Ephesians 4:30

List three ways in which the Holy Spirit may be affected as a person.  He may be: ______________,

_________________, and ___________________.



A.     Look up: Genesis 1:2; Genesis 2:7; and Job 33:4

The Holy Spirit was active in _________________.

B.     Look up: 2 Peter 1:21

The Holy Spirit is the author of                                 .

C.     Look up: Luke 1:35

What miracle was the Holy Spirit a part of?


D.     Look up: Romans 1:4 and Romans 8:11

What other miracle was the Holy Spirit responsible for? _____________________________________             



A.     Look up: John 15:26

The Holy Spirit testifies of ___________________.

B.     Read: John 16:8-11

The word reprove means to “convict.”  Of what three things does the Holy Spirit convict unbelievers?

1.     S__ __

2.     R__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

3.     J__ __ __ __ __ __ __

C.     Look up: Titus 3:5, John 3:5, and John 6:63

The Holy Spirit does the work of regeneration when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, (that is, we are “born again”). In John 6:63 the word quicken means to “make alive.”

D.     What is the serious consequence of rejecting the Holy Spirit’s ministry?


Hebrews 10:29-31 __________________________     

In regenerating us the Holy Spirit brings conviction and “tugs” on our heart to draw us to God.



A.     Look up: Romans 8:9

He comes to D__ __ __ __ in the believer.

B.     Look up: 1 Corinthians 6:19

Our body is the T__ __ __ __ __ of the Holy Ghost.

This means our body is a “dwelling place for God.”

C.     A Christian can G__ __ __ __ __ the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

Read Ephesians 4:31,32; list six sins that will grieve the Holy Spirit, and three attitudes that will prevent it.

Sins That Grieve            Godly Attitudes

_______________          _______________

_______________          _______________

_______________          _______________




D.     A Christian can Q__ __ __ __ __ the Holy Spirit

(1 Thessalonians 5:19).

This means to “throw cold water” on His work within us – to stifle what He wants to do in and through us.

E.     In Ephesians 5:18, I am COMMANDED to be

F__ __ __ __ __ with the Spirit.

A Christian is to be under the influence and control of the Spirit.  This is being filled with the Spirit, and it is God’s way of empowering you to live a victorious Christian life.  You can be filled with the Spirit if you:

1.     Live by faith.

(Galatians 2:20) “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live


by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

(Hebrews 11:6) “But without faith it is impossible to please him:...”

2.     Confess and turn away from all known sin.

(1 John 1:9) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

3.     Yield every area of your life to Christ.

(Romans 6:13) “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”

(1 Cor 10:31) “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

F.     As I am filled with the Holy Spirit, He produces the F__ __ __ __ of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23).

This fruit is what God expects to see come forth in your life.

List the nine-fold “Fruit of the Spirit”:

_____________ ____________ ____________

_____________ ____________ ____________

_____________ ____________ ____________



A.     Look up: Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30

1.     Every Christian is S__ __ __ __ __ with the Holy Spirit.  This is our guarantee of eternal salvation.  It is referred to as eternal security.

2.     How should this truth affect you? ________           



B.     Look up John 16:7

The Spirit is our C__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ .


C.     Look up: Romans 8:26,27

The Holy Spirit makes

I__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ for us, that is, He prays on our behalf.

D.     The Holy Spirit is our P__ __ __ __ to witness and serve God (Acts 1:8).

1.     In Acts 4:23-31 the believers united in praise and prayer.  They praised God in verses 23-28.  What do they ask God to grant them (v.29)?

B__ __ __ __ __ __ __ to S__ __ __ __ thy

W__ __ __.

2.     What did the believers do at the end of verse 31? ________________________________                       

3.     What did God give the apostles great power to do (v.33)? W__ __ __ __ __ __ of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

E.     He enables us to K__ __ __ the things of God's Word, for He is our T__ __ __ __ __ __

(1 Corinthians 2:12-14).

F.     What does the Holy Spirit use to perfect (mature) believers?

1.     The S__ __ __ __ of the S__ __ __ __ __ (Ephesians 6:17).  This is the Bible.

2.     Other believers.  What does a man sharpen (Proverbs 27:17)?  The countenance of his

F__ __ __ __ __.

3.     T__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ (Romans 5:3-5).  This is another word for trials; they have a maturing affect.

G.    The Holy Spirit gives spiritual G__ __ __ __ to believers (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

1.     Every Christian has at least one spiritual gift (verses 7 and 11).

When the “light comes on” as you are reading the Bible and you suddenly understand the passage, this is the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit.


2.     These spiritual gifts are NOT for personal use, but for the benefit (edification) of your church (1 Corinthians 14:12).

3.     Some of the spiritual gifts listed in the Word of God were temporary and ceased when the New Testament was completed.  These gifts (tongues, interpretations, miracles, and healing) were given as signs to the nation of Israel (Mark 16:17,18; 1 Corinthians 1:22; 14:21,22), and ceased after A.D.70, when Israel was dispersed among the nations.

4.     Every Christian needs to use his spiritual giftedness to benefit others in the church.



The Charismatic Movement is a modern phenomenon that had its beginnings in the United States prior to the turn of this century.  In the last twenty-five years it has grown into a most active movement in Christendom.  One of the reasons for this is because of the spiritual deadness of most mainline denominational churches coupled with the apparent “aliveness” of the charismatic fellowships.  The test of whether something is right or wrong is this – “What does God say about it in His Word?”  Sincerity, good feelings, impressive results, and so on, do not determine right doctrine – God’s Word does that.  Included here are several summary statements regarding sign gifts and the Charismatic Movement.

A.     “Tongues” means languages.

They were understandable foreign languages (Acts 2:4-11).  The miraculous or sign element of this gift was that the person so gifted could speak a foreign language that he personally had never learned.

B.     The purpose of the sign gifts was two-fold:



1.     They were a sign of impending divine judgment to unbelieving Israel (1 Corinthians 14:21-22; Isaiah 28:11).

2.     Sign gifts confirmed God’s message preached through men (necessary because people didn’t have the New Testament at that time in the Early Church). See Mark 16:17-18.

C.     The sign gifts were temporary in nature.

1.     God said they would cease (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).

2.     They ceased because they fulfilled their purposes.

a.     The judicial purpose of tongues was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when God judged Israel by the Roman army.

b.     The confirming purpose of tongues was fulfilled when the Word of God was complete and could authenticate the prophet’s message.

c.     History records that the gift of tongues ceased – Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen, and Augustine all confirm that tongues ceased in the post-apostolic age.

3.     The sign gifts were miracle gifts and the age of miracles ended with the Apostles.

4.     The gift of tongues is only mentioned in the earliest New Testament books.

5.     One can observe a passing away of the gift of healing in the New Testament.  Early in the New Testament era miraculous healings were not uncommon.  God’s men healed through a spoken word, a touch, and the healing was instantaneous and complete.  They healed people with organic illnesses and diseases.  They even raised the dead.  Toward the close of the New Testament era the Apostle Paul couldn’t even heal himself; and



he instructed Timothy to “take a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.”  Why? The gift was passing away – it was only temporary from the beginning.

D.     What occurs today in charismatic churches would not even have been allowed in the New Testament era when the gift of tongues was still a viable gift.

The gift of tongues was regulated by God because of its propensity toward abuse.  Here are God’s regulations:

1.     No more than three people with the gift of tongues was allowed to speak in any meeting (1 Corinthians 14:27).

2.     Each tongues-speaker was to await his turn (1 Corinthians 14:27). “...by course...” (that is, not all at once).

3.     One person was to interpret the message delivered in the foreign language (1 Corinthians 14:27).

4.     If the interpreter was absent from the assembly, those with the gift of tongues were not allowed to speak (1 Corinthians 14:28).

5.     Women were not to speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:34).

The Holy Spirit NEVER takes anybody out of control (1 Corinthians 14:32).  Letting yourself go, rolling your head, raising your hands and repeating some phrase over and over again until you burst forth with some electrifying ecstasy is both unscriptural and dangerous!

NOTE: In most cases, the Charismatic Movement violates every one of these Spirit-given restraints.

E.     Why is the Charismatic Movement unscriptural?

1.     It elevates “experiences” above the Word of God. The Devil can counterfeit an experience for you. The Christian must walk by the Word of God (2 Corinthians 5:7; Romans 10:17).


2.     Many Charismatic groups say, or imply, you are not saved unless you have spoken in tongues. They claim to have the “full” gospel – but the real “full gospel” is given in 1 Corinthians 15:1, 3, 4. What is the gospel?

a.     Christ D__ __ __ for our sins (v.3).

b.     He was B__ __ __ __ __ (v.4).

c.     And He R__ __ __ again the third day (v.4).

Those who add something to this are in fact preaching “another gospel” – Galatians 1:6-9.

3.     A charismatic Christian elevates the Holy Spirit above the Son of God.  The Holy Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son in every way.  He does not speak of Himself but always of Christ (John 15:26; John 16:13, 14).

F.     Does God still heal today?

Yes! God can heal, God does heal, and God can do anything else He wants to.  He is not limited by our theology.  However, He does not heal through the touch of a man’s hand – through the exercise of the gift of healing, for He has already stated that the sign gifts were temporary.  Today, we are instructed to pray for healing (James 5:14, 15).


The following excerpts are beneficial to understanding the principles of spiritual gifts.  As it is in many cases, you must be discerning.  “Eat the meat and throw out the bones.”


*Condensed from Dynamics of Spiritual Gifts, by William McRae, Lamplighter Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, chapter 5.

The Dynamics of Spiritual Gifts is worthy of your reading time.  In chapter 5, entitled “The Discovery of Your Gift”, one is challenged with the priority of knowing his gift.  Consider three great values in

knowing specifically what gift(s) the Holy Spirit dispensed to you at salvation.

1.     It will function as a signpost directing you in God’s will for your life.  God gave you the gift to equip you for your God-appointed function in the body of Christ, the church. 

Knowing your gift provides concrete and specific direction in many situations and helps you answer the question “What is my place of service in my church?”

2.     It will be valuable in setting priorities in your life. 

To know the gift God has given you will help you not get buried in activities that don’t require the exercise of that gift.  Your gift provides a basis for establishing priorities.

3.     It will assist one in self-acceptance.

A young Christian who knows his gift is helping will not consider himself unimportant because he is not teaching or preaching.  However, the issue is not to study the gifts in attempt to discern yours so you can then serve Christ.  People often ask, “How can you know your spiritual gift?”  That is not the issue.  The issue is:  Walk in the Spirit.  If you walk in the Spirit, you are filled with the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit dominates and controls your life.  As you serve God you will be able to look back in time and see how God has blessed and gifted you.  So, serve Christ and discern your giftedness.  Don’t try to determine your giftedness so you can serve Christ.

What are the different spiritual gifts? Here is a listing:

·       Faith

·       Teaching

·       Prophecy (preaching)

·       Helps

·       Administration

·       Exhortation

·       Giving

·       Mercy




·       Evangelist-Missionary

·       Pastor-Teacher

How can you discover your spiritual gift?  Consider carefully this process of discovery as you are actively serving Christ:

First, your discovery begins with prayer.  We are instructed to make everything a matter of prayer (Philippians 4:6-7).  God wants you to know what your gift is, and He wants you to use it.

Second, become exposed to the spiritual gifts. How? – Initially through study.  Read the lists of gifts given in Scripture (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; and Ephesians 4).  Gain an understanding of what each gift is; ask your discipler or other church leadership to help you with this.  Exposure can also be gained by observing godly Christians who have developed their gifts to maturity.  Watch them as they work out their gifts in service to the Lord. While gaining exposure ask yourself “Which one is mine?”

Third, your gift may be indicated by desire.  As gifts are described, as you see them modeled, and as you are exposed to them, you can expect the Lord to touch your heart and plant desires for exercising of a certain gift. “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine

 heart” (Psalm 37:4). This is the experience of every Christian who is delighting in the Lord through prayer, meditation, confession, and submission.  This God-placed desire is seen in 1 Timothy 3:1 “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”  If you are delighting in Him, this is what you may expect: As you prayerfully study this subject in all its related areas and delight in His will and Word, God Himself will place within your heart desires in the direction of activities and service consistent with your spiritual gift.  A zeal for the Lord in a given direction may well be God’s directive to you.  CAUTION – our hearts are deceitful and desires may be self-induced.  A desire does not necessarily mean a gift.  Christians have desired ministries for which they have no gift.  This is sometimes obvious to everyone except the person himself!  What is the safety check on our desires?



Fourth, it will be confirmed by ability.  Act upon the desires of your heart.  Try it.  Get involved.  Participate.  If it is an area in which you are gifted, the Lord will confirm it by the ability you display. Ability improves and develops with practice.  Don’t judge a young lady’s ability to figure skate by her first attempt – or even her second or third.  Don’t make premature judgments.  Watch for improvement.  Sure and steady progress will be reliable indicators of giftedness.  Who sits as judge of your ability – yourself or someone else?  Because spiritual gifts are given for the profit of others (1 Corinthians 12:7), and not for your own profit (1 Corinthians 14:3), it would be unwise to attempt sole evaluation of your own gift.  Evaluation by others is implied in 1 Corinthians 14:29.  Mature spiritual men and women are reliable evaluators. Esteem their counsel highly.  This is one of the responsibilities of pastors in a local church.  Key advice in discovering your spiritual gift is – be available!  Be slow to refuse opportunities to serve; accept the opportunities that come your way.  The evidence of ability is God’s means of confirming that deep and settled desire to serve the Lord in a particular capacity.

Lastly, the crowning feature in discovering your spiritual gift is this – it will be accompanied by blessing.  If a spiritual gift is exercised in the energy of the Holy Spirit, it will be accompanied by God’s blessing.  These blessings may include: joy, salvation of souls, strengthening of believers, encouragement to the downtrodden, recovery of a backslider, successful completion of a project, and so on.  Discovery of your gift follows this path: prayer, knowledge, desire, ability, and blessing.  The process takes time so don’t be in a hurry.  You may have instant puddings and potatoes, but discovery of your gift will come by a process – a process directed by God’s timetable.



A Brief Explanation


Gifted Men

1.     Evangelist (we call them Evangelist-Missionaries)

(Ephesians 4:11) “And he gave some, apostles; and some,

prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”

These men evangelize an area.  They preach the gospel of Christ, win souls to Christ, and plant churches to carry on that work.  Philip and Titus were evangelists; notice their works (Acts 8:5; Titus 1:5; Ephesians 4:12).

2.     Pastor-Teacher

(Ephesians 4:11) “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”

They are given to the church to remain in a local congregation and minister God’s Word.  They pastor and teach God’s people.  As pastor they protect the flock; as teacher they feed the flock (see Acts 20:28-31; 1 Peter 5:1-4).

Speaking Gifts

1.     Teaching

(Rom 12:7) “Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;”

This gift is a unique ability to study God’s Word and impart His truth to others.  In the power of the Holy Spirit they pass on God’s truth.  It is a communicative ability.  The word teach in its many forms contains the root meaning of systematic teaching or systematic training.  This teaching may be one on one, one on two, or one on many.  It could be used by a lady with a group of children, a lady to ladies, a man to men or women, etc.  It enables one to pass on truth in a systematic progression so that someone receives it, implements it, and a change of behavior takes place.

2.     Prophecy

(Rom 12:6) “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;”

(1 Cor 12:10) “To another the working of miracles; to another

prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:”

(1 Cor 14:1) “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.”

This is the gift to speak God’s Word publicly.  It is proclaiming God’s Word before an audience, before believers and unbelievers.  It was revelatory at one period of time, but when the Bible was finished, Revelation 22:18 said, “… If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.”  The revelatory aspect is finished for it belonged to the infancy of the church and concluded at the closing of the canon of Scripture.  It ceased at that point.  The non-revelatory reiteration continues.  Prophecy is simply proclaiming God’s truth publicly; it is preaching.

3.     Word of Knowledge

(1 Cor 12:8) “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;”

“Word” seems to indicate it is a speaking gift.  It is the Spirit-given ability to observe biblical facts and make conclusions. In other words, it is the ability to understand the Bible.  Many of us would have to read what is written by those who have that gift in order to help us understand biblical truth.

4.     Word of Wisdom

(1 Cor 12:8) “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;”

The word wisdom (sophia) differs from knowledge in this way: the emphasis is on the skill of application rather than the knowledge of facts.  Wisdom is the ability to take the facts that the gift of knowledge has brought out and make a skillful application of it.  It could belong to a Christian counselor, who identifies a problem, and then by his knowledge of the Word of God, draws out the principles that




can be practically applied to solve the problem.  Or it could belong to the preacher who takes from those who have the gift of knowledge and draws out applicable principles of living.  The primary use of sophia is “spiritual understanding of God’s will.”  It is the ability to understand God’s will and make an application to obedience.

5.     Exhortation

(Romans 12:8) “Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

The word exhortation means “to comfort, help advise, or strengthen.”  It is the gift of strengthening.  The gift of exhortation is the ability to provide comfort, courage, help, and strength to someone who needs it.  The person with this gift comes alongside of someone with a problem and strengthens them to bear their load.

Serving Gifts

1.     Administration

(Romans 12:8) “Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.” (1 Corinthians 12:28) “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”

The word ruling in Romans 12:8 and governments in 1 Corinthians 12:28 both refer to leadership – they are synonymous.  They mean “to lead, to manage, to have charge of, to oversee, to rule.”  The gift of leadership is the ability to see an objective, formalize it, mobilize a group of people, and then get them to reach that objective.  Pastors have this gift and are instructed to “rule well.”  However, others in the church have this gift and will exercise leadership in some area or ministry of the church.




2.     Helps

(1 Corinthians 12:28) “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”

(Romans 12:7) “Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;”

The Greek word for helps is also translated “support” in Acts 20:35.  It is the supporting gift.  The word literally means “to take the burden off of someone else and place it on yourself.”  This gift is the ability to come alongside of the church leadership and assist in ministering to people.  People with this gift are essential; they help get the job done. It is a “behind-the-scenes” gift that enables the church to function.

3.     Giving

(Romans 12:8) “Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that

giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

The word giveth is actually a compound word meaning “super giving.”  Everyone is to give according to how God has prospered him.  But some people are super givers; they can give above and beyond others.  They are to give with simplicity; that is, with singleness of motive.  What is that motive?  It is to meet the need present.  Most of us give with two motives – meet the need but make sure there is enough left for us.  Someone with the gift of giving can do so with only thought for the meeting the need.

4.     Mercy

(Romans 12:8) “Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

The gift of mercy is the enablement to sympathize with a suffering person – to come alongside the poor, the sick, the destitute, the orphan, the widowed, those hurting and minister.


5.     Faith

(1 Corinthians 12:9) “To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;”

This gift is a supernatural capacity for believing God; it is an intense ability to trust the Lord, to believe God in the face of enormous obstacles.  Everyone is to exercise faith, but the person with the gift of faith far surpasses them.  If you have this gift, spend time on your knees believing God, asking and trusting.  Encourage others by allowing them to see what God does in response.