The Holy Spirit (a 9-part study)

John said that Jesus would "baptise with the Holy Spirit." These words appear six times in the Bible: Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33-34, Acts 1:5, Acts 11:16. "Baptise with the Holy Spirit" has been understood in a variety of ways. So let us look carefully at the context in which the words are used because only then can we begin to understand them. For the purpose of our study, we will examine the account found in John's gospel.

When the Spirit came on Pentecost, what Jesus had said – "you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit" – was fulfilled. What Jesus did on Pentecost is unrepeatable. It occurred once, but the benefits will continue until the Lord returns.

"For we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – we were all given the one Spirit to drink." (1 Corinthians 12:13)

"And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." (Matthew 12:31-32)

When you read of the spiritual vibrancy in the life of the early church do you wonder, "Why is my life not like that? How can I live under the Spirit's influence?"

The Bible records the prominent ministry of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide, teach and recall to the apostles all he had said. (John 14:26; 16:13) Through his ministry, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgement to come. (John 16:8-11) And the gospel, Peter says, is preached to you "by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven." (1 Peter 1:12) God's plan to save believing Jews and Gentiles in one body, says Paul, "has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets." (Ephesians 3:5) The prophecies about Jesus were made known to the prophets; they "spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:21) The Word of God is inspired by the Holy Spirit and its power is stated thus: "For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) Because the Word of God is a living oracle, we are exhorted: "Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." (Hebrews 4:15) The voice of the living God is heard through his Word.

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit" is Paul's instruction to the Ephesian believers. (Ephesians 4:30) If the Holy Spirit were simply a power or a force, and not a person, he could not be grieved. But the Holy Spirit is a person: he can be lied to (Acts 5:3); he can be resisted (Acts 7:51); he can speak (Acts 13:2); he can be insulted (Hebrews 10:29); he can be blasphemed (Matthew 12:31-32); and he takes personal care of God's people. (John 14:16, 26) Furthermore, he is holy.

When you read the New Testament and see the spiritual vibrancy in the life of the early church do you wonder, 'Why is my life so empty? How can I live under the Spirit's influence?'

Before Jesus returned to the Father in Heaven he promised to send the Holy Spirit. The disciples waited in Jerusalem and on the day of Pentecost the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled his promise – he sent the Holy Spirit.