Getting to truth on the Holy Spirit is difficult but not impossible. God has shared His word and things about His Holy Spirit for us to know. There are also things we can't know (because He hasn't revealed it).
Let's study some of the basics and see what Scripture reveals for us.
And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)—when you believed in Christ—you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.
There are two explicit “promise of the Holy Spirit” declarations in Scripture. First introduced by John the Baptist1, Jesus makes one promise of the Holy Spirit (e.g. “Helper”) to the apostles in the upper room3 and repeats it again after His resurrection4,5,6. This promise for the apostles includes both guidance into “all truth”3,4,5,6 but also an outward manifestation of power7,8. “Not many days” later, on the day of Pentecost, they would experience the first “baptism of the Holy Spirit“7.
The second “promise of the Holy Spirit” was made on that same day of Pentecost by Peter to a crowd that was responding to the gospel message9 for the first time. This promise is the “Spirit part” of what Jesus shared with Nicodemus2 for those born again. It is the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” for all/any (e.g. Jew or Gentile12) that would respond to the gospel in baptism and obedience9,10,11.
Being baptized with the Holy Spirit only happened twice6 in the New Testament, both of these occurrences3,4 marking “firsts” – the first conversion of Jews3, and then of Gentiles4. It was the miraculous ushering in of the kingdom of God for “the Jew first and also the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
The baptism with the Holy Spirit was foretold by John the Baptist1 and promised by Jesus2 when, “not many days” later on the day of Pentecost2, the apostles would preach the gospel to the Jews in Jerusalem, saving 3,000 souls. The second time we read of the Holy Spirit baptism is at the conversion of the first Gentiles4. It was a miraculous spectacle just like on the day of Pentecost5,6. In fact, it was a necessary display to convince Peter, his traveling companions5 and the Christian Jews back in Jerusalem6 of God’s acceptance of Gentiles into the kingdom4,5,6.
What it means to be baptized with the Holy Spirit can sometimes get mixed with other aspects of God’s promise of the Holy Spirit. For example, Holy Spirit baptism is not the same as water baptism4, nor is it the same as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As a result, other passages7 are sometimes promoted as speaking about this special Holy Spirit baptism but they are forced interpretations often taken out of context.
The miraculous power of the Holy Spirit was promised by Jesus to the apostles just before He ascended2 (He had already given them authority to do miracles1). They first received the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit “not many days later” on the day of Pentecost3. From then on, the apostles alone could bestow the miraculous gifts to baptized believers5,6 by the laying on of their hands4,5,7. There is no other mention or example of this ability of non-apostles with the power to pass it on.
The Holy Spirit is dwelling in every baptized believer2,3,4,7,9,10,11,13,14,15. It is rather “matter-of-factly” stated in many places3,6,9,10,11,14,15. It is also a critical fulfillment to an ever-present Bible theme of God’s desire and promise11.
God literally dwelt among His people during the wanderings (tabernacle) and Solomon (temple) years. However, during the captivity (no temple) and remnant years He was absent but promised a day when He would return5,8. In the first century, Jesus alludes to this promise7,11, and we see the fulfillment of that promise on the Day of Pentecost4. From that point on, we see these matter-of-fact statements by New Testament writers about the Holy Spirit dwelling in believers2,3,6,9,10,11,13,14,15 – and by extension, His church1,12.
The Holy Spirit is dwelling in the born again Christian5,7,8 and was given as a down payment and seal5,6,9 for their salvation5,9 and inheritance6 in heaven. Throughout a Christian’s walk, they are being renewed7 and helped in their prayers to God1 by the Holy Spirit. This promise of His dwelling should be a source of comfort and rejoicing8. Finally, the Holy Spirit is testifying and bearing witness to the Christian through the Word of God2 — it is through God’s word that He speaks to us.
How specifically does the Holy Spirit do these things? We are not told. We only know that He does these things. We are also not told how or what it means when He is grieved due to our sin9, only that He is.
"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God." This somewhat obscure statement occurs in Ephesians1 regarding the Holy Spirit. Understanding that this passage also speaks to something that the Holy Spirit does for the Christian today (e.g. seals), how can a Christian grieve the Holy Spirit? The [more]
The Holy Spirit's gift of tongues is often espoused in today's evangelical world as a "stamp" of God's approval on the individual. In some cases, as with Kenneth Copeland, the gift of tongues is their proof of anointing as a prophet of God. In other cases, it's a testimony [more]
It is believed by some that God's word and the Holy Spirit are the same thing. Proponents of this idea are often rejecting the idea of a literal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God's word and the Holy Spirit are closely related but are not the [more]
Frequently in the discussion about gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Bible's command to pray in the Spirit3 will be brought up. The assumption here is that the few times the Bible actually talks about the Christian's need to "pray in the Spirit" is synonymous to and evidence of a [more]
The Holy Spirit can be a difficult topic to study. As a topic, it probably ranks as one of the most critical in applying a disciplined, Scripture interprets Scripture approach without Scripture weighting. The promise of the Holy Spirit, along with miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling [more]
Before we attempt to understand the purpose for miracles, we should probably be clear about what a miracle actually is...at least according to Scripture. A good definition for Bible miracles would be, "an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs." This is actually the first definition from Websters. Incidentally, [more]
The idea of the Holy Spirit having a dwelling is well established in Scripture. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word "shekhinah" means dwelling or settling and culminates into this Jewish idea of "Divine Presence". We can read of God's (e.g. Holy Spirit's) dwelling among the people of Israel [more]
The inward call versus the outward call. Many today distinguish these as two different types of Godly or heavenly 'callings'. Dividing the spiritual callings found in scripture between an 'inward call' and an 'outward call' is perpetuated at least in part by teachings credited to John Calvin. "Calvinism", or more [more]
Jesus teaches that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a sin that is unforgivable. The “unforgivable” aspect to this can be alarming and troubling. Undoubtedly, there's no Christian that would want to be guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit! Matthew 12:31: Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy [more]
Much is debated today about if miraculous gifts (aka "power of the Holy Spirit" in Scripture and charismatic gifts today) of the Holy Spirit still exist. Miraculous gifts as a topic is sometimes condensed into two camps - cessationists and continuationists. It is a debate closely associated with and connected [more]
"It's a miracle!" That's an exclamation we hear often and have probably uttered ourselves. It might be used to describe passing a test you didn't study for or to sum up a great, come-from-behind victory. For example, the great Olympic victory by the U.S. Men's Hockey team is known as [more]
Whether or not the Bible is the complete revelation of God has profound implications on Christianity today. If the Bible isn't the complete revelation of God, then the door remains open to "other" revelation. "Other" could be other scriptural authority such as the Quran or the Book of Mormon. [more]
Much is said about activity of the Holy Spirit today. In fact, in some Christian religious groups the primary emphasis of their message is the Holy Spirit - it is the "lure" and attraction for converts in their faith. Indeed, the combination ofpower andmystery can be intoxicating. On the [more]
Where we worship God has often been debated through the years. Some hold to the idea that worship must occur in a cathedral -- an often ornate structure dedicated to the worship of God. Others don't take much stock in the structure at all, whether an official worship building [more]
Being baptized with the Holy Spirit (aka Holy Spirit baptism) is a remarkably hot topic - often disputed among Christians today. And yet, there is little direct Scriptural reference to the explicit act of being "baptized with the Holy Spirit." In fact, there is much the Bible leaves to [more]
Connect with us if you would like to discuss any of the content on this site or would like to contribute. Periodically, we also host a virtual Bible answer discussion aimed at refining and improving questions already published.