Who Is the Holy Spirit? What Does the Holy Spirit Do?
The Holy Spirit is a divine Person. The following describes who the Holy Spirit is and what He does:
- The Holy Spirit possesses all the attributes of personality and deity: intellect, emotions, will, eternality, truthfulness, omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence (Psalm 139:7; 2 Corinthians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
- The Holy Spirit is coequal and consubstantial with the Father and the Son (John 14:16-17).
- The Holy Spirit aims to execute the divine will concerning all humanity (Ezekiel 36:27).
- The Holy Spirit was sovereignly active in creation (Genesis 1:2).
- The Holy Spirit was involved in the Incarnation (Matthew 1:18).
- The Holy Spirit is at work in bringing people to salvation (John 3:5-7).
- Every Christian possesses the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation (Romans 8:9).
- It is the duty of all those born again to be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
Now that we understand some of who we are talking about when we consider the Holy Spirit, let’s turn to answer the question posed at the beginning of the article, “What is the Holy Spirit’s power?”
The Power of the Holy Spirit Works to Free and Redeem God’s People.
In Isaiah 63, the Prophet Isaiah looks forward to the final day when God will judge His enemies and redeem His people from bondage to the enemies of God (Isaiah 63:1-6). The redemption spoken of here refers back to the Exodus where the Lord saved the Israelites from Egypt’s oppression. By using this imagery, Isaiah predicted the final Exodus, an end-of-days work where people could count on the Lord who rescued them in the days of Moses (Isaiah 43:1-2; Isaiah 63:7-14).
To understand the Holy Spirit’s power, we need to know that the Exodus from Egypt was brought about as a result of the work of God through the Holy Spirit’s power. Isaiah 63:7-14 is full of the work of the Trinity. Consider the following:
- The compassionate covenant Lord, whom we identify as God the Father, planned to show mercy to the house of Israel (Isaiah 63:7-8).
- God the Father sent the “Angel of His presence” (a reference to the pre-incarnate God the Son) to redeem the people of God from Pharaoh (Isaiah 63:9).
- The Holy Spirit made this salvation real by dwelling among the people to guide them out from the slavery of Egypt into the freedom of Canaan (Isaiah 63:10-14).
- We also see the Holy Spirit at work in the indwelling of the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38) where God dwelt with His people.
- Even so, the Holy Spirit remained hidden behind the curtain in the Temple, not making His presence full known among Israel (Numbers 7:89).
The ancient Israelites saw the Holy Spirit’s power in the dramatic rescue from Egypt. In these last days in which the New Testament Church lives, the people of God now see the power of the Holy Spirit much clearer than the people during the first Exodus did.
Christians who are now under the New Covenant understand God by the Holy Spirit has always been rescuing His people from sin and death, foes stronger than ancient Egypt ever was. To better understand this point, let’s explore first the power of the Holy Spirit and then briefly five ways the Holy Spirit is at work in and through Christians and the Church.
The Power of the Holy Spirit Is the Power of God.
The Holy Spirit throughout redemptive history has shown Himself through works of power. The Holy Spirit first was seen at creation when, by His power, the world came into being (Genesis 1:1-2; Job 26:13).
Additionally, the Holy Spirit empowered men in the Old Testament to bring about the will of God in the following ways:
- 1 Samuel 16:13, “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.”
- Samson's feats of strength are attributed by the Holy Spirit coming upon him (Judges 14:16, Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14).
While the Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell God’s people in the Old Testament, He worked through them to achieve things they would not have been able to accomplish on their own.
Five Ways the Holy Spirit Is at Work in a Christian’s Life
1. The Holy Spirit brings non-Christians to new life in Christ.
2. The Holy Spirit gives assurance and boldness to the Christian.
Assurance and boldness for the Christian come from the Holy Spirit who testifies to sons and daughters of God they are born again, which is why Romans 8:16 says, “the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God.”
3. The Holy Spirit seals the Christian.
Christians permanently possess salvation as Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” until the day of Christ’s return. The Holy Spirit’s sealing work cannot be undone; it is all to “the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:14).
4. The Holy Spirit brings forth fruit in the life of every Christian.
The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) are the fruit Christians produce because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who alone can produce fruit in the people of God.
5. The Holy Spirit empowers the Church for worldwide witness.
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to be a guide, teacher, and comforter for all Christians (John 14:16-18). He also promises the Holy Spirit would fuel the mission of God as Christians spread the gospel (Acts 1:8). Acts 2:1-4 describes how the Holy Spirit descended upon the early Christians at Pentecost.
The Power of the Holy Spirit Is Still at Work on the Mission of God.
All those who have placed their faith in Christ are immediately and permanently indwelled by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11). The Holy Spirit today works through Christians to sanctify the people of God and accomplish His will of saving the lost and building up Christians in local churches. The power of the Holy Spirit convicts, teaches, equips, and empowers Christians to grow in grace and spread the gospel to the nations to the glory of God.
Dave Jenkins is the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, and the Host of the Equipping You in Grace Podcast. He received his MAR and M.Div. through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter at @davejjenkins, find him on Facebook at Dave Jenkins SOG, Instagram, or read more of his writing at Servants of Grace, or sign up for his email newsletter. When Dave isn’t busy with ministry, he loves spending time with his wife, Sarah, reading the latest from Christian publishers, the Reformers, and the Puritans, playing golf, watching movies, sports, and spending time with his family.
Photo Credit: GettyImages/Digitalskillet